What I learned from Menfluential 2018 conference

This post summarizes my attendee take aways from Menfluential Conference 2018. Antonio Centeno and Aaron Marino host the two day Menfluential event which showcases social media influencers, businessmen, fitness gurus, men’s fashionistas and men’s grooming experts.


Starting anything new sucks. It’s painful and the results are embarrassing. You have to hang on until it starts to be fun. “In 500 years you won’t exist, in 1,000 years you won’t matter, so don’t be afraid to try something new” said Ryan Masters. Don’t wait, get started!

You have to invest in yourself and continuously learn. A $30 book or a $1000 course could give you an edge worth 10X the price tag. Once you decide learning isn’t worth it, it’s game over.


“Clear to neutral” when taking a long break from working. Tidy up your desk, close windows on your computer, close tabs on your browser. Resume work from a clean slate. Less clutter leads to clearer focus.

YouTube, Blogging

Until you reach 10,000 subscribers, you have to bring traffic from another platform. The algorithm won’t recommend your content in the beginning, not until you have a strong audience.

Choose simple headlines like “how to do X without Y”. Don’t try to be too clever, keep it simple.

Choose photo/thumbnails that spark curiosity. Make the viewer ask a question desperately needing to be answered. Consider simple questions like: “what is going on there? Why is he making that face?”

Consistency and volume are crucial for growing an audience. Publish new content on a strict cadence (daily, weekly, monthly). Cranking up the frequency from weekly to daily resulted in exponential growth for one YouTuber.

YouTube is a platform, not a business. Most businesses don’t make money directly from content, they make money by converting viewers into customers who pay for products and services.

If you don’t have haters yet, you’re still getting started. “You could teach blind kittens to read on YouTube, and someone will have a problem with it.” says Aaron Marino.

Monetize now, not after you get subscribers. 1M subscribers multiplied by 0 profit is still 0 $$. What if the money never comes? You will have wasted a lot of time and resources for nothing.


The added value of fitness is building toughness through voluntary hardship. You muscles and your mind grow.

Strength training is the foundation. If you’ve never been to the gym, start here, get on the “strength ladder”. After strength builds, everything else falls into place, including body fat percentage.

Focus on the big 3 (compound lifts) – bench press, squat, dead lift.Find a trainer to teach you safe technique so you don’t break your back.Strength is a better measure than the scale, because your weight may fluctuate or plateau. Measuring your fitness level by tracking the amount of weight you can lift is a satisfying way to see progress.


People buy their way out of problems. Look for a bleeding neck problem, one the must be solved, fast. Paint a clear picture of what will happen if your product/service is used or not used.

On solving problems… > Find a need> Fill a need> The worst that can happen is nothingFocus on the simple, avoid complexity. Complexity is an excuse for a failure. You can blame the complex stuff instead of holding yourself accountable. John D. Rockefeller, the 340 billion dollar man, got his start with boring business tasks of turkey farming and book keeping.————————

There are three types of people in your sales funnel:1. Freeples2. Sheeples3. Leads (potential clients)Freeples have a hard drive full of free ebooks, spreadsheets, and other junk. They collect stuff and never bother to contact the business or buy products.Sheeples follow the crowd and don’t know what they want. They stay lurking in the background and never contact the business or buy products.Potential clients know what they want. They know you can help solve their problems. They contact you to ask for help. They will pay you to help solve their problems. This is the type of person that can support your business. Focus on converting these people into paying customers.

Waste less time emailing and instant messaging clients. Get potential clients on the phone. Close them on the phone. You can quickly weed out clients who aren’t serious enough to get on the phone. And, you can work out details much faster on the phone compared to back-and-forth emailing.

Thank you for reading!

What I learned from asking companies for money

I did something unusual as a 3rd year undergraduate computer science student at UCLA. I went to a crowded career fair on campus, and I didn’t give anyone my resume or apply for a internship. I walked around politely introducing myself and asking for money.

My cause was a good one. I needed a few hundred dollars (pocket change to a corporation) to buy dinner for students at a hack-a-thon. The event focused on building software for people with disabilities. An example project was a smartphone app for identifying currency denominations, for people with impaired vision.

My request was met with a wide range of reactions. One person quickly, but not rudely, told me she only has budget for collecting resumes. If I could promise a stack of resumes, she could give me money. I walked away and I later I figured out she was a “recruiter”.

Another person I met represented a semiconductor company. No students were lined up to talk to her. When I approached and gave my pitch I was surprised by her rude answer, delivered in a nasty, sarcastic tone. “Why would I sponsor your event for computer science students? I’m only interested in Electrical Engineering students.” I wonder why no students wanted to talk to her. I will remember this forever and I will never consider working for her company.

A few companies took me seriously, and I formed a relationship with one. That company, Symantec, sent me ~$200 which went towards Inn-N-Out burgers for 2 dozen hungry engineering students. It helped that I knew Jeff, a guy on the inside, and one of the hack-a-thon mentors, who was able to explain the event and convince the manager to support my cause. My relationship with Symantec turned into an internship, then a full-time software QA engineering position, then a supervisor position, and now a manager position. 7 years of contributions, multiple patent filings (2 approved by USPTO!) That’s a huge return on that $200 investment.

What I learned from all of this is:

* First impressions really matter.
* The way you carry yourself in one context reflects how you will carry yourself in other contexts.
* People can smell it when you don’t care about connecting with them, and they will act accordingly.
* Supporting someone’s cause can forge a very strong relationship.
* Who you know can really make a difference for opening doors.
* Don’t be afraid of rejection! Just move on and ask the next.
* Relationships matter, a LOT.
* Even the most trivial business interaction is an opportunity for relationship building.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this blog, please consider subscribing. Subscribers mean a lot to me.

How and Why to Understand Trust

Trust is the Currency of Relationships

You have a very small group of friends you could call at 3am to bail you out of jail. You built trust with these people over years if not decades. You know they would rescue you without second thoughts, because you would do the same for them. If trust could be put in a joint bank account, this account would pay dividends.

You trust your spouse 100% (hopefully), and this allows you to accomplish feats otherwise impossible. Telling your partner ‘I trust you’ is more powerful than saying ‘I love you’. Since you feel safe at home, you focus your energy on threats outside.

Relationships make or break your business, inside and out. According to the Gallup Q12 Employee Engagement Study, having a best friend at work is a key factor for employee engagement. The best friend satisfies the need to build trust in the workplace. Since you feel safe at work, you focus your energy on working together to reach your potential.

Currency is Trust

When customers buy your product they trust you will deliver to them value. This trust starts before they buy; it starts with a relationship. Often, the relationship is formed through public speaking and media.

An inspiring idea comes from Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba: If you have 1 billion dollars, that’s not your money, that’s trust society gives you; they believe you can manage the money better than others. The people of the world are putting their trust in you to use resources to bring good into the world.

Trust Cycle

The Trust Cycle illustrates how trust grows between two parties. First, trust is given. Second, trust is received. Then, mutual trust is born and exchanged.

The Trust Cycle

Think of it this way: trust starts with you. You can go around waiting for your family members to repair the relationship, or you can “be the bigger person” now and give them trust.

Flow of Trust

Where does trust start? It starts where anything else starts, with leaders. Giving trust without expectation of return requires courage, a risk taken, a leap of faith.

Flow Of Trust

The leader serves a group of followers. The leader takes the first step by giving trust. The followers return trust to the leader. Trust starts at the top and flows downhill.

360 Degree Trust

Trust flows in all directions. This model helps you analyze your relationships and focus on those with weaker trust. By carefully listening to your peers you may find unexpected hints of mistrust. The mission and the process are abstract. There is no mutual exchange of trust for mission and process; instead, trust comes from understanding.

360 Degree Trust

Observe these many angles:

  • Trust in leaders
  • Trust in the processes
  • Trust in peers
  • Trust in the teams
  • Trust in the mission
  • Trust in partners
  • Trust in partner teams

Thanks for reading!

There are no uninteresting things; there are only uninterested people.

This is a story told by Marion D. Hanks of an obscure woman in London who insisted that she never had a chance. She muttered these words to Dr. Louis Agassiz, distinguished naturalist, after one of his lectures. In response to her complaint, he replied:

“Do you say, madam, you never had a chance? What do you do?”

“I am single and help my sister run a boardinghouse.”

“What do you do?” he asked.

“I skin potatoes and chop onions.”

He said, “Madam, where do you sit during these interesting but homely duties?”

“On the bottom step of the kitchen stairs.”

“Where do your feet rest?”

“On the glazed brick.”

“What is glazed brick?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

He said, “How long have you been sitting there?”

She said, “Fifteen years.”

“Madam, here is my personal card,” said Dr. Agassiz. “Would you kindly write me a letter concerning the nature of a glazed brick?”

She took him seriously. She went home and explored the dictionary and discovered that a brick was a piece of baked clay. That definition seemed too simple to send to Dr. Agassiz, so after the dishes were washed, she went to the library and in an encyclopedia read that a glazed brick is vitrified kaolin and hydrous aluminum silicate. She didn’t know what that meant, but she was curious and found out. She took the word vitrified and read all she could find about it. Then she visited museums. She moved out of the basement of her life and into a new world on the wings of vitrified.And having started, she took the word hydrous, studied geology, and went back in her studies to the time when God started the world and laid the clay beds. One afternoon she went to a brickyard, where she found the history of more than 120 kinds of bricks and tiles, and why there have to be so many. Then she sat down and wrote thirty-six pages on the subject of glazed brick and tile.

Back came the letter from Dr. Agassiz: “Dear Madam, this is the best article I have ever seen on the subject. If you will kindly change the three words marked with asterisks, I will have it published and pay you for it.”

A short time later there came a letter that brought $250, and penciled on the bottom of this letter was this query: “What was under those bricks?” She had learned the value of time and answered with a single word: “Ants.” He wrote back and said, “Tell me about the ants.”

She began to study ants. She found there were between eighteen hundred and twenty-five hundred different kinds. There are ants so tiny you could put three head-to-head on a pin and have standing room left over for other ants; ants an inch long that march in solid armies half a mile wide, driving everything ahead of them; ants that are blind; ants that get wings on the afternoon of the day they die; ants that build anthills so tiny that you can cover one with a lady’s silver thimble; peasant ants that keep cows to milk, and then deliver the fresh milk to the apartment house of the aristocrat ants of the neighborhood.

After wide reading, much microscopic work, and deep study, the spinster sat down and wrote Dr. Agassiz 360 pages on the subject. He published the book and sent her the money, and she went to visit all the lands of her dreams on the proceeds of her work.

Now as you hear this story, do you feel acutely that all of us are sitting with a our feet on pieces of vitrified kaolin and hydrous aluminum silicate–with ants under them? Lord Chesterton answers: “There are no uninteresting things; there are only uninterested people.”

Keep learning.

Hanks, Marion D. “Good Teachers Matter.” Ensign, http://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/07/good-teachers-matter?lang=eng.

You Don’t Have a Motivation Problem, You Have a Vision Problem

I need a compelling #vision to know where I’m going. Once I know what direction to go, I can move as fast as possible. If I don’t have a vision, I go in circles, moving slower than a snails pace.

It takes vision to live deliberately. A lack of vision takes you to your default future, you just go with the flow. Where do you want to end up?

So ask yourself, what is my vision for my #self? My #home? My #family?

#manager, what is my vision for my employees?

#leader, what is my vision for my team?

#engineer, what is my vision for my project?

#blogger, what is my vision for my blog?

#entrepreneur, what is my vision for my business?

Your operating system is what holds you back

Elon Musk. Barack Obama. Lance Armstrong. I need to be these men to achieve my wildest dreams. I can’t be anyone but myself. All I can do is upgrade my operating system.

To have something you’ve never had you have to do something you’ve never done. To do something you’ve never done you have to be someone you’ve never been.

Imagine if you had Elon’s entrepreneurial might and his ability to marshal capital and put it to use. If you had Barack’s remarkable public speaking talent and ability to organize massive groups of people behind a common cause. Lance Armstrong’s athletic excellence and champion’s mindset. What would you accomplish if you were them? If your mind ran the same operating system as theirs?

Everyone has a different operating system. It’s always running just below the surface, dictating how we act and react to situations. Each operating system is shaped by past traumas and victories. Transformation involves upgrading the operating system in order to act/react differently, producing different outcomes.

Practical strategies for upgrading your operating system involve digging up the past and acknowledging it. You can also force yourself into transformational circumstances. Like Jia Jiang, in Rejection Proof, face rejection again and again until the fear is gone. Afraid of public speaking? Talk to strangers at every opportunity. The idea is you have to do something uncomfortable to upgrade your operating system. Otherwise your outcomes won’t change, even if you win a lottery.

As TD Jakes beautifully said, You can change your hair, your clothing, your house, your spouse, your church, your residence, but if you don’t change your mind, the same experience will perpetuate itself over and over again, because everything outwardly changed but nothing inwardly changed. There is nothing as powerful as a changed mind.

Upgrade your operating system.

Kiva Makes a Difference

I almost forgot about Kiva after donating for the first time. I didn’t think about it much until this holiday season when my dad told me to give to a charity instead of giving him gifts. I had an epiphany: why not both? I gave my dad a Kiva gift card.

What is Kiva?

Kiva is a not-for-profit that specializes in micro-lending. Instead of just donating to a named charity, donors choose a borrower. Funds are distributed to the borrower through a local bank partnered with Kiva. Then, as the borrower makes repayment, the balance is credited to the donor for use towards a future micro-loan. Also, the borrower is encouraged to give updates on goals, as a way of connecting with their charitable lenders. Kiva is a platform enabling less-privileged people to gain access to desperately needed funds.

The Gift of Giving

I gave my dad a Kiva gift card this holiday season. Now he will learn about someone who needs his support and give them some of the money they need to get started. Some examples of possible borrowers my dad will find are: farmers who need cash to buy a new animal. Students who need to pay tuition. I gave him the gift of giving.

Who I first donated to on Kiva

I donated to a young Peruvian woman who needed help paying for higher education. She has partially repaid her loan and continues making regular payments. She is almost done with school and is already working at PepsiCo as an intern.

An Aside on Charitable Donations

Employees may not be aware of their company donation matching program. During 2017, our family increased our charitable donations and took advantage of Symantec’s (my employer) donor matching program more than ever. Using your employer match program can sometimes double the amount of the donation. Use it!

Get Started

It’s simple to sign up and start browsing Kiva loan applications. The minimum loan contribution is $25.

If you use my link to sign up, Kiva will give me $25 to loan out to someone in need.


Reflecting on Derek Sivers “Either HELL or NO“.

It’s okay if you don’t have something you’re really excited about. Books. Podcasts. Albums. Projects.

It’s okay to take a break.

It’s okay to wait for a HELL YEAH option to present yourself.

It’s not okay to fill every moment with activities you aren’t thrilled about.