Ep4 – The 30-day No Alcohol Challenge and Sleep Hacking with James Swanwick

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In today’s episode, we have James Swanwick, an entrepreneur with dual Australian and American citizenship. Formerly an ESPN Sports Center anchor, he is now the host of the James Swanwick show, on which I had the pleasure of being a guest a couple of weeks ago. James is the innovator behind the 30-Day No Alcohol Challenge, a program designed to assist individuals in cutting back on alcohol consumption, and the 47-Day Habit Hacker.

The podcast with James Swanwick covers:

-Blue light blocking glasses for improved sleep.
-Alcohol abuse and 30-day challenge.
-GABAergic substances for alcohol withdrawal.
-Alcohol addiction and recovery strategies.
-Reframing societal perspectives on alcohol and personal growth.
-Reading strategies for academic success.
-Retaining knowledge through note-taking and book reviews.
-Learning and memory retention strategies.
-Sleep habits, napping, and meditation for better productivity.
-Meditation practice and its benefits.
-Meditation and productivity with James Swanwick.
-Overcoming fear and procrastination through action.
-Success, happiness, and personal growth.
-Novelty seeking and its impact on mental well-being.
-Self-doubt and curiosity with James Swannack.

Speaker 1 0:07
and welcome to another episode of The headfirst with Dr. Hill Podcast. Today our guest is James Swanwick, who is an Australian American entrepreneur, former Sports Center anchor on ESPN and host of the James Swanwick show, which actually I was on a couple weeks ago. He is the creator of the 30 day no alcohol challenge, which helps you reduce alcohol and the 47 day habit hacker. This is how everyday people can achieve more in 47 days than they ever thought possible. He’s also the creator of blue blocking glasses, swamis, which I have a pair on right now, which helps avoid your brain getting pushed into staying up all night. And he’ll probably tell us a bit more about that. But welcome to the show. James, talk to

Speaker 2 0:46
him. Great to have me here. Definitely. Yeah.

Speaker 1 0:49
So we’re sitting around with our fashionable Swamis. Yeah, I, of course know some of the science. But if you could maybe unpack for us why you created these things. What’s the what’s the point? Yeah, well,

Speaker 2 1:01
I mean, I always slept seven or eight hours a night, but I would sometimes wake up feeling a little bit tired and foggy. And I wasn’t sure why, given that I was sleeping. What you know, National Sleep organization says is the right number of hours. So I started Googling it. And I realized that the blue light that’s emitted from electrical devices like from your cell phone, your TV screen, your laptop computer, sure, it’s emitting this blue light and the blue light hitting your eyes and your brain suppresses your melatonin production. Melatonin obviously helps you sleep. And I thought, wow, you know, here I am. I’m an entrepreneur and working late at night on the computer. I’m checking my Instagram and Facebook on my cell phone as I’m laying in bed before I go to sleep. This is probably what’s happening. So I actually pulled out an old pair of ski goggles from my cupboard. It was like these these yellow tinted ski goggles, and I put them on as I watched reruns of the TV series, Mad Men for about a week. And I kept getting sleepy during the show. And I realized that my sleep was really, really good. And I woke up feeling refreshed and I go, Well, this technology really works. The problem was is that it was a very ugly unstylish pair of ski goggles. Yeah, exactly. And I wanted to go out at nighttime, socialize, have dinner with friends. So I thought how can I put the technology into a stylish frame so I can go out in Hollywood on La, socialize with friends and still look cool, but get the benefits of blocking that dangerous blue light and helping me sleep? Long story short, I got a few prototypes together and I came up with what we’re wearing now is just one is blue light blocking glasses.

Speaker 1 2:28
It’s wonderful. So you can use them for how long? how long they’ve been. But we launched we launched

Speaker 2 2:33
in November 2015. On Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. And and yeah, it’s been it’s been amazing. I know. Lots of people will hundreds of people across the country in the world now have been using these glasses and saying that their sleep has improved dramatically, not just increasing the number of hours but just the quality of their sleep sure

Speaker 1 2:53
didn’t do you think that would be more of an onset improvement? I mean, from my perspective, the thing that’s suppressed when you have blue light is melatonin as you can melatonin production. But that’s really more about onset versus staying asleep. Is that what you’re hearing are from your customers who are using this one? Yeah,

Speaker 2 3:10
it’s it’s, if you put these glasses on at a time, when you ordinarily would be staring at your screen, you will certainly speed up the time that takes for you to get sleepy kind of fall asleep. And then during the night, the amount of time that you have in that REM sleep is certainly longer because here’s the thing, even if you if you’re not wearing glasses, and you’re looking at your computer screen, and you fall asleep quickly, it’s still going to take your body as I understand it 90 minutes or so to create that melatonin that that level of melatonin that you need to be able to get into that deeper. Absolutely. So all the reports back we’ve got from people who’ve got the glasses have been sleeping more, sleeping more deeply and waking up feeling more refreshed.

Speaker 1 3:57
That sounds great. Now the only the only sort of complaint I have is I wear prescription glasses and he plans to like partner with Warby Parker or something so he can get me Swan ease with you know Warby Parker frames or something. Well, we

Speaker 2 4:10
do have we do have fit overs at the moment so we can get you a pair of fit overs. They are available for people with prescription and we’ve been looking into trying to find a scalable way to have the lenses done for people with prescription. So that’s coming 2017

Speaker 1 4:27
Okay, well I’ll keep my eyes open for that so to speak. So. Alright, let’s switch gears a little bit. So you and I have both worked in areas of drug and alcohol abuse for a while and I don’t know a lot about your challenge your 30 day but it reminds me of these other you know, we used to participate in something called dry you Arey when I was working for a company called alternatives addiction treatment. And in dry weary we challenge people to do 30 days. Yeah, without any alcohol. Yeah. It’s actually not a big deal for me. I don’t really drink alcohol so I didn’t really notice but some of our intern was working there. It was life changing. I mean, a lot of the interns are students, you know, UCLA and USC students. And the idea of stopping drinking for a sophomore or junior in college for 30 days when the quarter first starts was a little mind blowing, they didn’t have the lifestyle sort of accommodation ready to go. Tell me about your 30 day challenge.

Speaker 2 5:18
Well, look, I grew up in Australia. I’m Australian American. And it’s a pretty big drinking culture there is it? Yeah, it is huge. It’s, you know, 18th birthday, you get drunk until you vomits, you know, 21st birthday party. And then there’s lots of sports and guys having Sunday barbecues and the afternoons and alcohol is just part of this society there. It’s just it’s a very, it’s very much encouraged celebrated. It’s kind of like, yeah, have a drink, have a drink? Sure. So I wouldn’t say I drank heavily, but I just drank what I consider to be a socially acceptable level when I grew up in Australia. Now, that means I probably would have one or two beers each night, maybe maybe I’d have a glass of wine as I got into my late 20s or 30s. Some weekends, I’d get drunk and have fun and watch the football on a Sunday afternoon. Sure, a couple of times, I did some crazy stuff. But I was certainly not an alcoholic. It was just I was just what I considered a solid social drinker. Here’s the problem, though. I got to about 35. And I’d put on a few pounds. Okay, I started to look a bit weathered in the face. And I got, I realized that I was just tired all the time. Yeah. And I remember I woke up in Austin, Texas. I was, it was 2010. I’d been at the South by Southwest festival, and I had a hangover. I’d only had to Bombay Sapphire gin and tonics the night before, but that was enough for me to wake up and just go, Oh, she’s a headache. I feel ordinary. Yeah. And I went to an IHOP, which is like an International House of Pancakes right next door to the hotel for a hangover breakfast. And I’m sitting in this IHOP. And I’m looking at these people eating all you can eat pancakes with maple syrup. And I’m sitting in this hotel room outside of Austin, I’m hungover, I’m tired. And I’m like enough, James enough, it’s time to take a break. So I just said to myself, I’m going to see if I can go 30 days without drinking, just to see what happens just to flush these toxins out of my system and just see how I feel. It was just a personal bet with myself. And so that’s what I did. I got to 30 days, and I lost 13 pounds. In 30 days, my skin was better. I was more productive. I slept better quality of my relationships, I know, were noticeably better after 30 days. And then I went wonder if I can do 40 days. And I went, what am I going to 50 days. And then I got to 50 then I got to 60. And I haven’t drunk since it’s been since 2010. Since I last had had a drop of alcohol. The pros of not drinking far outweigh any temporary illusionary pleasure that I haven’t got from drinking.

Speaker 1 7:43
Let me ask you if you’re drinking mostly daily, before that, when you stopped we initially did your 30 days was their initial period of time we’re falling asleep was actually harder before you get out of your system. Yeah,

Speaker 2 7:55
yeah. And for me the first week, and for a lot of people who take my 30 day no alcohol challenge program, it’s about seven to 10 days. You have a little bit of irritability as what I call it, because your body’s so used to getting this drug, and all of a sudden you’re depriving it of the drug. All of a sudden you start to like, some people get headaches. Some people, like I said, are irritable, the sleep is compromised a little bit. You can almost feel like oh man, this is not working, but about seven to 10 days, which is when the toxins finally leave your body and your body started to adjust. All of a sudden you wake up and just go wow, now I feel a major, you know, I guess it’s just like trying to wince like a heroin addict off heroin. It’s like, you know, for the first amount of time you do a cold turkey, you got the shakes, you’re sweating, your body’s like craving it. So yeah, a lot of people who do it say the first seven to 10 days, you’re irritable. But after that you’re off to the races.

Speaker 1 8:48
You know, wonder if l theanine would affect the initial early detox period because alcohol most of the reason why we feel we get tolerant to it is because of the strong GABA affects the neurotransmitter. It makes alpha waves. So the overall arousal that happens when you withdraw from alcohol, if you’re tolerant to it is because the body is to some extent forgotten how to make the neurotransmitter GABA. Yeah, and it took several weeks for it to start really rebuilding its GABA ergic system, if you will. And it doesn’t even do it that well. If you’re a chronic drinker, not at the level you were describing, but an alcoholic level of, you know, lots of drinking every day for many months or years. Those folks will often take many years even after being completely sober, and still not be able to sort of calm their brain down go to sleep at will. This sort of acquired pattern that’s a GABA ergic or GABA phenomena. Yeah. I wonder if the initial withdrawal in the first week of this 30 Day Challenge could be helped with other GABA ergic

Speaker 2 9:45
Yeah, what are some of the other ones I mean, I always tell people take a bunch of vitamin C because vitamin C helps you a lot in that when you’re going through withdrawal. Huge

Speaker 1 9:53
it’s an adaptogen and it also is water soluble so you can’t overdo vitamin C, any extra vitamin C It gets peed out. Yeah. And it helps all kinds of tissues. It’s a really pretty profound antioxidant as well. The sort of most common GABAergic is L theanine, right, which is a found in tea leaves. So people may find that drinking tea. Yeah, of course, they’re GABA. They can also go to the drugstore, Amazon or wherever and buy, it’s really cheap, you know, Elfine, and capsules off the internet. It’s a fairly innocuous substance if you aren’t super sensitive to GABAergic. Yeah,

Speaker 2 10:26
peppermint tea. I mean, any kind of tea I think is going to be soothing and calm and calm you down a little bit. Um, a lot of people I know, like I said, vitamin C has always been like the easy fix. And I always not the easy fix, but like, it helps people with their withdrawals. The other thing is, it’s so simple, I don’t know, it’s, it’s not so medical, but take a bunch of water, like, keep drinking water, just flush the system out water, water, water and put a little bit of lime or lemon in there to make it a little bit more palatable if she likes her. And just drink it by by the gallon. And water solves a lot of things. I

Speaker 1 11:02
tell ya, I totally agree. So people do people do this 30 day challenge on their own? Is it? Is it facilitated? Is it supported? Is there a website? Yeah,

Speaker 2 11:10
so it’s an online program. It’s a 30 day no alcohol challenge.com. And people say right, I want to quit for 30 days. So they sign up every day. For each of those 30 days, I’m going to send you a video, okay, via an email. And then day one is going to say day one, welcome to the 30 day no alcohol challenge. Here’s what I want you to do today, when you really want to drink. Day two, here’s some mantras, you can say to yourself, day three, here’s what you say, when friends are pressuring you to have a drink, go on, just have a drink. Day four, here’s how you should walk around the supermarket. So you avoid the liquor section, they five, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So hungry. So I’m giving 30 like 30 tips throughout each day. And it’s most importantly, its accountability. So every day 6am in your inbox comes as the video for me, and it just keeps you on track. You also go into a closed Facebook group of members. So people all around the world who are also doing the challenge or who’ve completed the challenge are in there. So you can go in there and post, for example, wow, I really want to drink today. This kind of sucks. And then within like 10 minutes, you’ll have 15 people already responded saying it’s okay. You can do it or you should try this. Right, right. So that community aspect of it. And that accountability is what is key. Because what I can tell you from my own experience, I used to smoke cigarettes. And when I would quit by myself, I would quit but then I would take it up again. Sure. But as soon as I was held accountable, and I publicly said you know what I’m going to give up drinking and I did it with a couple of other friends of mine. And plus we gamified it we put a little bet around is like I will have to pay $200 If I have a cigarette in the next 30 days, I’ve managed to finally finally quit so. So the part about the 30 day no alcohol challenge, which is most important is the community and it’s the accountability.

Speaker 1 12:53
That’s great. I’m a big fan of the community piece. You know, of course, the traditional way, if you will, of quitting alcohol is 12 Step programs. Yeah, I’m not a fan of AAA or 12 Step. I think it’s closer to a cult than a self help group. I think it’s got all kinds of issues. But what I do think is useful is the community and the mentoring piece of it. There’s another organization, which a lot of the things you’re describing your videos sound like things they would do. And it’s called moderation management. Mm. And it’s about getting control over behavior that might not be in control, including things like taking 30 days off. And they walk you through, not only on their manuals, but on their little support groups, things like how do you route yourself through the supermarket so you don’t always walk through the liquor aisle or things like that. So you may want to grab their book and yeah, destroy it. Yeah,

Speaker 2 13:40
I’ll definitely check that a lot of these things is just habits, you know, it’s habits. That’s what people think I’m an addict, I’m, well, no, you’re not. If you just stopped driving past the liquor store and thinking about it, then maybe you won’t go in there. If you remove alcohol from your home, instead of leaving it on the kitchen pantry, where you the visual cue is there, then you’ll be less likely to to drink it. So I don’t want to you know, play down the fact that some people who are alcoholic is there’s a physiological thing that’s going on with their addiction, but certainly just changing very basic habits can be absolutely influential.

Speaker 1 14:15
And even if there is some major physiological addiction, you know, 95% of problem drinkers in this country. 95% of problem drinkers become non problem drinkers with no intervention. Yeah, no formal intervention. No AAA no therapy. No, no, no, like sitting down and saying, you know, we think you’re making too much. It’s 95% of people self correct. Eventually. Yeah.

Speaker 2 14:35
I’m not a fan of AAA either. And, but not because I think what they do is no good. It’s just I don’t really know what they do. I mean, I know about the toolset. Here’s the thing. I never considered myself an alcoholic and I can say without question, I was not or am not an alcoholic. So when I created the 30 day, no alcohol challenge program. It was really for people who can see Did themselves social drinkers that know that drink that drink just a little bit too much that it’s holding them back from life. I’m not a doctor, I cannot prescribe medication. I can’t turn to someone who says I am a rage. You know, I’m an alcoholic, and I’ve got a serious problem. I’m probably not the best person to help that person. I would say go to a doctor, go to an expert, maybe try Alcoholics Anonymous. I don’t want to say I’m an alcoholic, because No, I wasn’t. And there are a lot of people out there as well, who maybe would maybe they would be medically diagnosed as being an alcoholic. They don’t want to admit that they’re an alcoholic either, right, which is why I never wanted to go to AAA, I never wanted to learn about the 12 step program. I don’t want to go there and say, Hey, my name is James, I’m an alcoholic. I’d rather just say, Hey, I’m James. I’m a social drinker. I’ve been drinking most of my adult life amongst friends. Sometimes I just drink a bit too much. I want to stop or I want to reduce. Yeah,

Speaker 1 15:53
I think that’s a valid way to, to approach it. And this this need, if you will, to categorize what you’re doing as alcoholism, I think is one of the big problems in these support groups. Yeah, it forces you to become powerless to take on a label to take on an identity as alcoholic as helpless and hopeless as powerless in the face of a substance. But a substance is not some magical, you know, thing from above that you can’t escape and you can’t avoid it. Yes, it causes learning. Yes, there are triggers and cues once you’ve gotten so addicted to it, but that’s all learning and you can relearn. Now hopefully you don’t necessarily drive down Sunset Boulevard and see flashing billboards. And every time you turn around, there’s another message coming from marketing to get you to drink. We have a cultural piece around the business of alcohol that’s a little different than how individuals make it dysregulated and your use. Do you have any thoughts around? How we you know, you know, you’re Australian, I can tell the number of Foster’s beer commercials I’ve seen on American television recently. So yeah,

Speaker 2 16:52
look, I mean, on Sunset Boulevard, there’s George Clooney, the Hollywood actor is advertising a tequila brand of his with Randy Gerber. I think it is okay. And the image is, well, there’s two billboards. One of them is George Clooney riding on a motorcycle with a leather jacket. And then there’s the ticket, his tequila brand, right? And the association is if you want to be cool and sophisticated and suave, like George Clooney, then obviously you would drink this tequila, right? Then there’s another one with him and Randy goober at Gerber. And there’s two guys that just they’re sitting down and they’re laughing and cheer just and they’re sipping on a drink. The idea is like, Oh, you’ve got companionship, companionship, you’re on a, you’re in a tribe. It’s what guys do. It’s how you share a funny, intimate moment. So the association is good times friendship, you’re in a job. Yeah. This is why people struggle so much with like, giving up alcohol because they’re like, Oh, if I quit alcohol, I won’t be able to socialize. They have this inherent fear that they’ll be ostracized from the tribe. Now, when we were when we were cavemen back when we had back in the day, our tribes were about 120 150 Strong, right? So if you were ostracized from a camp, it was almost certain death because you get eaten by a bear or a wolf or a rival tribe would kill you or rape you or whatever. But today, guess what, if you’re ostracized from a tribe of drinkers, you could just go into another tribe. It’s called meetup.com, Facebook, yoga class or the gym down the road, like you can just move into another tribe. So all this this imagery, these beer commercials of Budweiser of like goofy guys and hot women, you know, associating like, Oh, you’re gonna have a good time. It’s all nonsense. I mean, you can have a good time you can be in a tribe, you can connect with another human being without having to drink alcohol to do so fully agree

Speaker 1 18:37
and you know, honestly, no amount of tequila is gonna make me as cool or suave as George Clooney just don’t have his hairline is you know, acting chops. Do what a nature motorcycle but but that’s, you know, as far as I get, so, that’s great. Alright, so the alcohol industry and our cultural perspective on it might be a little warped. This is a way of, as you say, reframing, you know, coming up with this idea that we don’t necessarily need to take on identity as a drinker to have fun or to have a successful fulfilling life or a fun life. What other sorts of misconceptions Do you see? And how we live our lives? That’s a kind of open ended question. But in terms of alcohol, yeah. Anything really? Yeah. Yeah. Well, I

Speaker 2 19:20
mean, this, this idea that to drink alcohol is drinking alcohol is needed for romance, for example, like a guy taking a woman out on a date. It’s like, oh, you have the candlelight dinner and you have like the pouring of the bottle of wine where you got to have a white bottle of wine over dinner over a romantic dinner. Well, who says this idea that you need to have champagne to celebrate something? So what happens? You go to a wedding and you toast the bride? Everyone raised the champagne. So all these these weddings are buying cases in cases of champagne because we associate champagne with celebrate, right, right? Well, like I said before, who invented that? I’ll tell you who? The champagne company. Yeah, who invented the idea. Wine and romance. I’ll tell you the wine company who invented this idea of of guys and male camaraderie, who made it that in terms of drinking beer, Budweiser, Coors, all these kinds of things. So I think when we just reframe our brain and just start to say, you know, what all these things that we associate with drinking, if we just remove the drinking part, can I do those same things? Without that? And the answer invariably is yes. And when you start to get fine tune into that you start watching TV, like you’ll watch a NFL on a Sunday afternoon and and whenever it’s like they go to a break, or quarter time a halftime, what, what TV commercials, do you see? Alcohol? Yeah, it’s all Budweiser and Coors. And then you throw in a Pizza Hut, and all that kind of stuff. But the alcohol commercials, it’s all it’s all the same stuff. It’s the guy sitting down having a good time, smoking hot women, right? Who are like in the shot, kind of like associating like, you can get smoking hot women. And you’ll be around that community, if you’re like one of the tribe in one of the cool dudes. So again, it’s just reframing your brain and just saying, remove alcohol from it. And you can do every single exercise or every single action without it.

Speaker 1 21:13
That’s wonderful. All right. So you’re not an entrepreneur, you’ve got probably all kinds of irons in the fire. All kinds of ideas, business lines, things you’re you’re trying to advance. One thing I read, I think in one of your sites was how to read a book a day. Yeah. Tell me about this. Yeah. Well, I

Speaker 2 21:29
read a book a day on the day that I read a book, I read a book a day. So I’m about four books a week. So

Unknown Speaker 21:36
kind of books do you read

Speaker 2 21:38
a biography self help book, I don’t really read novel fiction. Okay, I read, you know, books, like how to books. I love that kind of stuff. So yeah, I learned how to do it about three years ago. I don’t read every single word of the of a book, I skim through it. Sure I speed read. And my style for doing it is I will read the back of the book first. So I’ve got an idea about what it’s about. I’ll read the chapter. So and a lot of the times, the author will put the benefits of the books as the chapters. Right, right. And then I’ll do one skim through of it for about five minutes, where I’ll just kind of like brush turn over each page, and I’m looking, I’m looking at the first sentence of each paragraph, I’m getting an idea, I’m forming a thing, oh, the shape of the book, the shape of the book, this books about this, okay, I looked at the chapters, so he’s going to teach you about this. Alright, I picked up some things there that I’m glancing through, I’m gonna go okay, right. Honestly, after five minutes, I kind of know, I’ve got a good grasp of what the book is without actually having traditionally read it, then I will go back and I’ll spend more time on it. And I’ll go through some chapters. And I’ll stay and I’ll read every word of every page on one page, but then I’ll like flick through and go oh, yeah, these are just examples that he’s using to try and illustrate the first point that he’s made. Okay, I got that. All right. This is on this. Okay, cool. Yep, we’re getting through and I can I can knock over a book in 45 minutes to an hour. That single handed skill, I think has completely transformed my life in terms of the speed with which I put knowledge into my brain, and then how I’m able to implement it. Where people get stuck, though, is that they go well, if I bought a book, I have to read every word and go, how to read our book, day how to overcome addictions, and like read every single thing. They won’t feel good about themselves. If they haven’t read every single word. No. What do you get out of each book, one, two, maybe three main points that you will carry on because the human brain forgets 90% of what it’s learned seven days later. So for me, it’s like, what are the two or three main points out of this book? I’ll write it in the back inside the back cover. And then sometimes I’ll go back to the book, and I’ll go, what was that book? Oprah Winfrey wrote that book? What I know for sure. What are the three things I got out of this? I always say nice things to people never say bad things behind people’s back. Always think of the positive. Got it. Cool. Move on to the next one.

Speaker 1 24:03
That’s great. That’s great. Range, a lot of the how I tell my students to read research papers, I mean, I teach a lot of young freshmen and sophomore students, and they’re often I hand them, you know, hundreds of pages of research literature to get through and they’re often you know, overwhelmed by Yeah. And I tell them, you know, read the abstract, read the conclusion, go back and read the first sentence of each paragraph. Yeah, and read for just not for content, correct, you know, and then figure out if something you want to invest in the Yes, with research papers, I imagine the kinds of things you’re reading to not everything’s a winner, you know, you weren’t necessarily gonna want to spend the time and investment to get through even the 45 minutes of everything you want to read each week. So going, Okay, this is not, you know, parse out into the knowledge I want it to be later or something else, something better. Yeah. You can get a lot of that simply by getting the gist without actually understanding what you’re reading. Yeah, I think is pretty good.

Speaker 2 24:53
You know, it also is interesting. At the end of each chapter of most of these books, they do a summary like they summarize what They just spent 30 pages talking about in the previous say, you can actually just go to the end of each chapter you could read the first paragraph and the last paragraph of each chapter in a lot of these self help type sure sure and just go Yep, got it. Yep got it. Okay cool move on. So you know I people go oh, you’re not really reading the book well, I’m getting the benefit you get the information sure getting the information and I’ve got the knowledge and I’m I’m implementing what I learned because knowledge isn’t power applied knowledge is power.

Speaker 1 25:30
Let me tell you I work for you know, plot driven story books but next glean information the same way from those not either that’s for the experience of reading not for the information that’s between the covers. Now is this all physical? hardcopy books are you reading on Kindles in electronic for I like

Speaker 2 25:43
I like physical books. If you’re in my living room in my West Hollywood apartment that you would see a bookshelf that is overflowing with books or book books underneath my coffee table. I’ve been supposed to put up bookshelves for the past three months, but I just haven’t got around to it at the moment. I like physical books because I like to grab a pen, hold the book and underline certain things. And I don’t know I can do stuff on Kindle and stuff. But we’re spending so much time on electronics. These days. Anyway, I don’t want to spend more time on it. I would rather just is something quite nice about holding something physical in your hand or drawing an underline through something interesting writing some notes through it. Here’s the other thing people are so scared about drawing in their books is like oh no, I can’t do that. And like I get pens, I underline I circle I like read this 10 times I’m, I’m scribbling all over that book. So I like hard. I like real physical books.

Speaker 1 26:38
That’s a great old that may be shrinking. You know, you may have to hoard your stash of paper pulp for the next decade or two.

Speaker 2 26:44
I think it’s making a comeback, though, is it? I think I think it’s I think it’s making a comeback record

Speaker 1 26:48
are now available again. Because they while at the quality experience of listening to a record a wax, you know, yeah, record is higher than listen to a CD. It’s nice. It’s a more organic sound. Reading a piece of black and white paper is different than reading a screen. Yeah, even with high resolution screens, it’s still a little different experience. Yeah. And

Speaker 2 27:07
also, here’s the other thing, just the act of underlining something, and then writing down and know, cements that knowledge in your brain so much more than if you just you know, highlight it on a screen. There’s something powerful about the pen and ink hitting paper that just puts it in the brain. Maybe you can explain it like what’s the science behind that?

Speaker 1 27:28
I don’t know, it’s a short answer. I tell my students this too. I say, you know, read, I didn’t they never do this. But I tell them to read my assigned reading before I present it in class, right? And then come to class and don’t bother taking notes. And anything that makes sense. Yeah. So that you’re drinking it in as opposed to scribbling, you know, the whole time and then go home and the next 24 hours after you get the lecture, go through the reading and notes again. Yeah, and make underlyings physical notes. And I think it’s the motor learning piece, it’s actually putting an effort into it that makes that makes it more salient to your system, you know, things you do your brain notices.

Speaker 2 28:04
I’ve got the best way to retain knowledge and information ever in the history of man.

Speaker 1 28:09
Oh, my goodness, let me teach it. Yes.

Speaker 2 28:13
So this is what I do. I have a YouTube YouTube channel, James Swannack, and a podcast and I do book reviews. So when I finish a book, when I put it down, I’ll literally pick up this phone, if you’re listening, and you can’t see I’m picking up my iPhone. And I’ll just open it up. And I’ll hit record on the camera. And I will literally do a five minute review of the book. So I will say I’ll just do it like this. And then I’ll hit record. And I’ll go, how do you improve your memory? The five ways to improve your memory I just read this book improve your memory by John Smith. Well, the first way that he talked about was blah, blah, blah. The second way was this are thinking about in my own life. I should really try that. Yeah, the third way was this. The fourth way was this the fifth day with this. That’s it, check out the book, how to improve your memory by John Smith. Now, because I’ve done that, and I’ve set it back after I’ve completed it, because I’ve now taken on the role as the teacher as the educator, and they’ve actually done the studies. I wish I could cite the exact study. But if you teach it, it’s something crazy, like seven to nine times more retention. If you teach something after you have learned it, and I think about it in my own life, everything I’ve ever learned whenever I’ve taught it to someone else, it just reinforces that knowledge. Yes. And it just sharpens my skill. So you should tell all of your students. Absolutely whenever they learned something from you, the lowest thing that they should do, or the smallest thing that the easiest thing I should do is just pick up a phone and just talking to a camera for five minutes. The next thing I could do is just you know, get their brother or sister or mother or father or something and just try to teach them about what they’ve just learned from you.

Speaker 1 29:53
Yeah, I tell my grad students that a lot you find that grad students are often in a position of teaching stuff they don’t quite know. And so And that’s and that’s when they discover they don’t know it and they start trying to explain it. Yeah, no, I when I was in grad school, for some reason, I ended up in a course as a teaching assistant, a course called Sex and the law. And I’m a neuroscience and psychology and Gerontology kind of focused person, and I don’t have a sex or law focus. And I’ve taught this course, as a TA for, I think, three years in a row. And I know an awful lot now about the history of constitutional law in this country, and precedents and privacy. And, you know, the loving case and the condom cases and the Michael Jackson case, I have a huge amount of knowledge that I don’t really need. But the way I learned it was by listening to this really interesting professor and then having to reteach it to undergrads. You discover what you don’t know very quickly, when people that know less are trying to understand it

Speaker 2 30:47
very quickly. And a great analogy for that is, is getting up and speaking on stage. Like, you can read all the books in the world about public speaking. Yeah. But until you actually go up in public speak, like it’s how much do you do you share? Really? No,

Speaker 1 31:02
you know, what are you it’s not the first or second or 10th time you public speak that you get it? Right. It’s, you know, after you’ve done a lot of it, the only way to get good at it, in my opinion is to do a lot of it

Speaker 2 31:11
do a lot of hair. And and so the only way to really retain information because like I said, I wish I knew the exact name of study, but there was this other study was like, if you read a book, or if you teach me something right now, Doctor, you teach me something. In seven days, I will only have retained 10% of what you told me. Yeah, because that’s just the way the human brain works. But if I then go, if I teach this directly after you’ve taught me, then, you know, it’s seven to nine times, if I recall correctly, that more information I retain,

Speaker 1 31:42
yeah, there’s there’s tremendous ways to enhance that to spaced practice works better than massed practice. If you’re really trying to embed information in your brain, you shouldn’t take it all in one chunk, you should do it and you know, a couple hours at a time and try to build in sleep periods between each information exposure because sleep is one of the places where retention or consolidation, moving from short to long term memory really occurs, you

Speaker 2 32:04
can really improve your memory with sleep. It’s incredible. Not only

Speaker 1 32:07
that is necessary, there’s really no other way to have really deep learning without periods of sleep to consolidate that information.

Speaker 2 32:14
I think about all the college students out there, me included 20 years ago, when you pull an all nighter to study before an exam and you think that you’re doing the right thing or as good a thing that you can do by staying up until five in the morning, getting a cup of our sleep and going and doing the exam but in actual fact, you’ve beat you hurting yourself because your memory is not functioning the way it’s it should be Yeah, if

Speaker 1 32:36
you’re sleep deprived, your decision making is off, your reaction times are off, your perspectives are off so much you can’t tell where your performance is. So you make silly mistakes on the exams and things just because you’re overtired and retention hasn’t been helped, you know without periods of sleep between periods of knowledge. Can

Speaker 2 32:50
you can you can you take naps does naps during the day. Like what happens if you’re a poor sleeper at night? Let’s just say instead of getting what they recommend, which is seven or eight hours sleep and you only get four or five? Yeah, okay. I think Medically speaking, we would say that’s poor. That’s a poor number. Most people most people, can you get up to the benefits that you would ordinarily get from eight hours by just taking 120 minute nap in the afternoon or a 30 minute nap Do you think probably

Speaker 1 33:17
not a 30 minute nap? Okay. memory consolidation appears to occur during slow wave sleep slow wave sleep is delta sleep and it’s deep dreamless sleep that occurs between early sleep which is very light stage one, stage two. And REM sleep at the end of each cycle is very active it looks it’s called paradoxical sleep because the brain looks awake and REM. In between those and stage two, three and four. There’s slow wave sleep, delta sleep. And this is where consolidation really occurs memory consolidation in the first 20 minutes or 10 minutes, 15 minutes, you’re asleep. You’re in stage one. And if you’re taking daytime naps for 20 minutes or so you’re probably only in stage one. If I woke you up in stage one sleep and said, James, were you sleeping, you’d be like nope, I was just thinking or remembering or I was just daydreaming. Stage one sleep feels like we’re awake and we often replay experiences a little bit from the day it’s the stage beyond that reconsolidation really starts to kick in. So if you’re trying to hack your sleep for learning purposes, a 20 minute nap won’t do it. But an hour nap probably would or for you know hour and a quarter I it’s going to be variable because you don’t want to be woken up in the middle of your sleep cycle either. Not not really impairing learning, but impairing, you know, being being awake. It’s hard to wake up after one half of one sleep cycle. Yeah, but for most people a full cycle might be 45 to 90 minutes. And I would say that’s probably about the beautiful sort of amount of sleep to get for consolidation specifically, although in napping is kind of a weird thing. Humans modern humans live in a very weird way. I’m sure you’re very focused on this that we live in a world that is full of artificial light and therefore Our world is constrained to start at whenever we need to start 6am 5am with electric light, and our world keeps going until midnight 1am 2am because of other electric light, yeah, so the photo period entrainment circadian rhythm and the brain and the earth daylight cycle are often sort of sliding past each other and not really well trained and a lot of mental illness and physiological problems and health problems come from your circadian rhythm not being lined up with the earth photo period. Yeah, and poor entrainment of that is a massive problem, which is enhanced, the problem is made worse through lots of electric electric light. Yeah, so in a in the best of all possible worlds, the summon go down, would have no screens, suppressing melatonin, we would wake up in the morning to natural sunlight. But at that point, we probably would change into a different sleep regulation. Anyways, there’s a lot of evidence starting to emerge a lot of it from like spiritual writings and things that suggest that before we had reliable electric light, we would sleep at dusk for four hours, be up for an hour or two in the middle of night and then sleep for another four ish hours. And that that middle period, the the in between the two sleep periods became this sort of magical time for, you know, soaking the beans for tomorrow morning and having sex with your partner praying, composing poetry, it became the sort of routine and ritual, you wake up after four hours, do some things and then go back to sleep for four hours. We don’t do that today, we sort of get the impression. Well, if you don’t sleep for eight hours straight, something’s wrong. Yeah. And that’s not necessarily the only way that we can sleep, you know, supposedly, maybe apocryphal that Socrates had this way of sleeping where he slept for 20 minutes every four hours.

Speaker 2 36:43
Wow, you know, and he could just fall asleep on cue like that. But yeah, I’ve

Speaker 1 36:46
talked a lot of people who’ve tried to sleep hacking ways of sleeping. And, you know, there’s lots of literature out there, or rather, bro science out there in the internet, that suggests people try this, um, it’s hard to do. It’s not that successful. And it probably doesn’t enhance performance. But it just shows the human brain can handle and can regulate under various circumstances. So just because we can handle being up until midnight, or 2am, watching Netflix all night long, and then get four hour sleep and go to work the next day and jacked up on caffeine. Just because we can handle it doesn’t mean that it’s the optimal.

Speaker 2 37:22
So I find I find napping in particular, very hard to be honest. And I think it’s because you know, I’m an entrepreneur, and in today’s life, whether I’m an entrepreneur or not, but we all live very busy lifestyles, right? And so I always think, well, if I’m taking a nap, I’m not working and I’m not not being productive. The irony is, is that taking a nap is actually improving your product productivity.

Speaker 1 37:45
Can I also don’t nap all that? Well, I mean, historically, I’ve been too much of it ever really naps? You know, after the age of five, basically.

Speaker 2 37:53
Ben Greenfield, who we both know. But fitness. He said that single handedly taking naps was the biggest the biggest thing for him. And so I’ve been trying to incorporate it into my days. And usually I try to get it done around four o’clock, you know, somewhere around anywhere between three and five, for about 30 minutes, 40 minutes or so. Sometimes I fall asleep. Other times I just sit there. What I do, my mind does quieten down, and I’m happy with that, you know, I’m happy if just sitting down and not actually sleeping, but just kind of dozing a little bit. Yeah. That that is very rejuvenating for me.

Speaker 1 38:29
I think for other people who the idea of napping sort of like I can’t shut my mind off. Well, you know, I can’t take time, like you said the entrepreneur, you know, must be moving, moving, moving the shock thing if you stop something, you die? Yeah, I think for some people that have that, that inability or resistance against napping, meditation would be almost as efficient in terms of rebuilding and resetting and dropping cortisol and giving a new perspective. And that can be done of course, in 2030 minutes pretty effectively.

Speaker 2 38:56
Yeah, you were on my podcast, the James Swannack show and you were talking about trying to help people with ADHD and you said 15 minutes of meditation or 15 or 20 minutes. It wasn’t meditation a day can have huge benefits to that. Um, I, I’ve done a 10 day silent meditation is the passion in Joshua Tree. And that was amazing. But I gotta put my hand up and admit that since then, I’ve rarely done it. What I will say is that I’ve started using this app called calm ca LM. There’s another one called Headspace. I have as well, but I’ve been doing calm and they have this like, just 10 minute blocks. Yeah. And that 10 minutes for me is pretty is the sweet spot. I think if it was 20 I’d be like, this is a bit intrusive into my life, but 10 minutes is just enough where I’m like, Okay, it’s more than five minutes. Yeah. And so I know I’m getting something significant, but it’s not, like hardcore at it. And it’s, I guess what I’m trying to say is it’s it’s a manageable block of time for me to be able to consistently do it on an almost daily basis. And

Speaker 1 39:58
that should be the criteria for isn’t good. You know, somebody always people always asked me, Hey, what’s the right kind of exercise to do? It’s the kind that you actually do. That’s the answer. It’s not so much about is running or swimming or whatever out to me, it’s really about what you do. The same is true for meditation, it doesn’t really matter if it’s TM, or if upasana or somata, or metta or something else, or MBSR. It’s about the regularity of the practice. Yeah. So actually do a five plus 15 practice, really, why don’t you just call it 20. Because it’s five minutes of single point awareness of somata. You can hack your attention down by watching the sensation of breath, as Yeah, I did for five minutes. And I use Insight Timer. So I haven’t played three bells, the beginning and the end, and one belt five minutes in. Yeah. And so for the first five minutes, I’m packing my attention down the single bell sounds. And then I go to the pasta to present time awareness. And so I use it as a one two punch to settle the system, and then open the focus. And I find it to a really nice, basic technique. That still doesn’t feel like I’m having to, um, my knee hurts. I’m getting distracted. Like, it doesn’t produce a challenge. It doesn’t scare me away from doing it. Once I missed it, you do it. When I don’t do yoga, do it first thing in the morning? I do I do Ashtanga Yoga. My yoga teacher would like me to do it six days a week, I usually do it three or four. So usually, in lieu of yoga, they do a 20 minute morning sit. So hey, Sam. So

Speaker 2 41:26
here’s a question. People will say I’ll do it first thing in the morning. But I always find that peculiar, because if you’ve just woken from asleep, then presumably you’re not your mind is not active, you’ve been sleeping. So why would you do it, then? Wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t it make more sense to do it in the afternoon when you become active?

Speaker 1 41:42
Yeah, I mean, you’re sort of teasing the idea of state versus trait training. And I think that meditation trains traits are should it should be used to train the baseline more than the moment you’re in. And so yeah, you can use meditation to calm down and be less stressed. But that’s actually not what meditation really does. It’s attention training. That gives you more self control. It’s more it’s executive function training, and largely be at some author of upasana Mehta, those are all to some extent, attention training, or executive function training. And I think that if you build the muscle, you then have a different day. And if you do it first thing in the morning, it can change the entire tone of your day, and actually give you the sense of more spaciousness moment to moment more time or self control. If you do it at the end of the day, you can use it to let go of the day. So you aren’t as stressed and going into sleep and things like that. Yeah. So I think if you’re only gonna do it once a day, I encourage folks to try to do it first thing in the morning.

Speaker 2 42:39
And just to be clear on that, when you say first thing in the morning, can you do it literally while you’re still laying in bed on your on your back? Or would you probably

Speaker 1 42:46
not only because most people aren’t good at staying awake when their eyes are closed, and they’re lying down

Speaker 2 42:52
that but if you were if you’re up and you know, you can just lie down and they’re comfortable. So it’s fine, because a lot of these phones out of these apps say sit upright with your back against the thing. Yeah, optimal spot. I’m like, Well, no, my most comfortable spot is lying on my back lay on my bed.

Speaker 1 43:06
Yeah, comfort is not the goal. I think in meditation, the goal is being able to a position that has no tension. So you can do it without worrying about how you’re sitting. So lying down works for that, if that if you can do that standing up works for that too. I tell folks to sit up, sit upright with their back away from don’t sit against anything, balance your shoulders, over your hips, in a posture you can maintain without strain for 20 minutes, find a relaxing place to be if laying down is what that is for you. Great. Most people who lose start meditating, a few minutes into eyes closed. falsely, well, I

Speaker 2 43:40
like laying on my back because I did tend that the 10 days very passionate, where they make you sit sit upright to it that I went through phases, where it was absolute pain and agony. And you know how to move at all and I remember it was very hot on one of the on a few of the days and a little bit of sweat was just trickling down tripling down on the inside leg. And all you want to do is just go and grab it and sing it. But you can’t do anything like I can get through this and just waiting for the guy’s voice to come up to say it’s the end, you know, the 60 minutes. Right? Right. So now I’m like I went through hell I’m gonna download.

Speaker 1 44:14
That’s great. Yeah, so I don’t think it matters the short answer in terms of when you do it. There’s an old joke, I think and one of John Kabat Zinn’s books that says something to the effect of, if you only have half an hour to meditate, do it in the morning. If you have an hour to meditate, split it up into it in the morning in the evening. If you don’t have an hour to meditate, you must meditate for two hours. You definitely need that. Yeah. So regularity is the key versus amount or type or anything else in my opinion. So yeah, good. Alright, so James, you an incredibly active guy. You’ve had all kinds of careers. You’re an entrepreneur who’s moving in a bunch of different directions at once. How do you do it? What’s What are your What are your secrets for being James SWANA

Speaker 2 44:58
Well, I have Ah, I have two mantras. Both of them are three words each, okay? The first one is just do it, okay? And that’s just like the Nike slogan. And the other mantra is, do it now. Okay, so just do it. Do it now. Okay. I think I learned the do it now part from when I was a newspaper reporter back in Brisbane, Australia in the early 90s. I was a cadet journalist, worked on a Rupert Murdoch broadsheet newspaper, and as a reporter, you you’re given a story of like, 10 o’clock in the morning, and you have to go out and speak to people and write that story. And you have a daily deadline of like, 5pm to submit it to the sub editors, so it can appear in print the next day. Sure. So that that do it now mentality was very much entrenched into my brain from very young age. These days, people are like, oh, yeah, you know what we should we should catch up. We should get together. I was like, well, actually, we’re, we’re talking right now. We’re here. This is the catch up. But let’s do it now. Like, it’s amazing how many times people want to just put off things. Los

Speaker 1 45:59
Angeles. Yeah, we should catch up. I’ll have well, my person call your person to our machines can do lunch, right?

Speaker 2 46:05
Yeah. So I’m like, Forget all that. I’m like, do it now. I mean, I was at a conference in Las Vegas. Last week. Vision Expo was glasses. And there was a guy there. And I said, I want to get my swinney’s blue light blocking glasses tested. Again, I’ve already had it tested several times, but I always want to get new shirt, new things. And I said, Can we put them in your spectrometer so we can see how much light blue light that are blocks? And he goes, Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Okay. Yeah, this is how much it’ll cost. And you can send the glasses over to Florida, where we’re based. And we’ll do that next week. And then once you’ve you’ve submitted that I’ll have the accounts department, send you an invoice, and then you can send the invoice back and then we’ll schedule a time to do and I’m like, I’ll tell you what, I put out a pair of swans that I had here. This one is that you can take back to Florida with you. Yeah. Who’s the person in your accounts department? I can call now and just pay the pay the money. Oh, well. Yeah. And he was like, literally perplexed as a problem. Anyway, this is it happened. He took the glasses back. I phoned up I booked it. I paid the money. It was done all within two minutes. Yeah.

Speaker 1 47:11
And he was thinking a two week. Yeah. So

Speaker 2 47:14
I’m like, do it now. That’s great. And then the first thing which was just do it, it’s, you know, look, I have a lot of fear. It’s not like, I’m not trying to say that I don’t have fear. It’s just I think, I feel the fear of doing things. And then I just say, eff it. Just do it. Just do it anyway. Right, right. So the best example I can give is, I was a sports center anchor on ESPN here in the US for a couple years 2010 through 2012. And for 20 years, I dreamed of being a television host and I was never on TV. And then finally I got this opportunity to audition for ESPN in 2010. And I was so nervous because I had 20 years. I want to get this one. And as I remember I went to Bristol, Connecticut where ESPN is based. And I walked into the studio not dissimilar to where we’re recording this now. There’s a big teleprompter, they put an earpiece in as a cameraman, a teleprompter operator. The director is talking in my ear and he goes yeah, just read this the words on the teleprompter screen and 321 and I had a panic attack. Oh, no. I was like, oh my god, I’m like, I’m so nervous. And it would build up just from the build up. I mean, I was I was fearful of failing. And I was fearful of succeeding. Quite honestly, I’m like, what happens if they give me this job, and I’m on TV now people are gonna realize maybe I’m not that good, right? The

Speaker 1 48:31
worst thing and not getting the job is getting the job. Exactly. So I was

Speaker 2 48:35
like, Oh, my God, I must have completely blown this audition, which I did. I begged the producer to let me come back the next day and give it an another go. Thankfully, he let me do that. I went back I did it. It was much better. He ended up giving me this job. And I was on air on ESPN. Four weeks later. But the four weeks later went up just before I made my day, boo. An hour before I was about to go live on SportsCenter, I was so nervous, I had another panic attack. I was urinating every like 10 minutes is my whole body was shaking. But I’ll tell you what I kept saying to myself, I just kept saying, Just do it. Just do it. Just keep moving forward. Just keep moving forward. Just do it. Just do it. So it was it was okay to feel the fear. But I just said yeah, sorry, of being in the table there. Disrupting the million dollar studio here. I’m very sorry. I said just do it. Just do it anyway. So you asked me like how, what’s my philosophy and businesses and things like that? I just like, I decide I’m going to do something, I just do it. And then I say when’s the best time to do it? It’s now

Speaker 1 49:40
Yeah, reminds me of the ADHD coaching technique, which is touch it once. When your mail comes in. It’s either going in the trash or it’s getting dealt with. It’s not going into a pile. I like that. Just tuck everything that comes in that needs to be dealt with touch it once. Yeah, because once you’ve put it onto some in the future pile or task list, whatever it’s no longer happening. And yeah, now it’s just building up and occupying cycles, you’re worrying about it, you’re thinking about it. And you know, for me, I’ve moved into a more of a just do it now, kind of mentality because I would spend, you know, for grad school is procrastination, and when you didn’t grab sleeping these big amorphous tasks that don’t necessarily have an endpoint. Yeah. And so it’s this looming thing forever, that you spend more time stressing about than actually doing. Yeah. And so I’ve been trying to move on not so successfully, always trying to move towards that just do it philosophy as well. There’s

Speaker 2 50:30
two great books I’d recommend in terms of tidying and being organized. And in the now it’s called the magical art of tidying. It’s by a Japanese author, sold over a million copies. And then there’s another one, which I have just been given as a gift, but I’m yet to read, which is called, you can’t change the world if you can’t find your keys. Because I have this habit of losing my love putting keys down and things and and the philosophy of it, just to give you context is, whenever you’ve got dirty clothes, or dishes or something like that, do it now like get it over and done, just like you’re suggesting, like when the mail comes in, you touch it once, just get it over and done with right now because the more you leave it there, even if it’s not seemingly disrupting your day, there’s something going on in your subconscious that you have an uncompleted project, and it’s taking up mental space. Yep. There’s also a former Navy SEAL, who spoke at the University of Texas gave a very famous inaugural, I think it was a college graduation speech, you can find it on YouTube, it’s 20 million views. And he said, the first thing you should do when you wake up in the morning is make your bed. Oh, yeah. And people when he said this, he was giving this big talk. And that was the first tip that he gave to live a successful life, you could hear people in the audience kind of like giggling and laughing going, is this navy seal, his best advice is really just to make your make you better. But he went on to explain, he said, The reason why it’s so important is that when you do one simple task, and you win at it, and you complete it first thing in the morning, that sets in chain, a whole series of events for the day where you want to complete the next thing and the next thing and the next thing, it gives you a dopamine release when you make your bed, the visual side of that, and the visual and the feeling that you get from having completed a task and then seeing it transfers over to all elements of your day. So first thing in the morning, when’s the best time to make your bed? Now, right, right now, right? Right now so. So if it’s, you know, Navy SEALs talking about it. And I’m sure you as you know, as a mind expert, and you’re a scientist, there’s got to be some science behind the act of feeling good about completing a task, even if it’s as minut as making a bed. Yeah, I

Speaker 1 52:47
don’t actually know necessarily what that would be. Certainly the sense of control and taking control the environment, the ritual of having completion, there’s lots of things in there that could be operating. I don’t make my bed in the morning. So I should probably comment too much more on that particular aspect. But we got a wonderful talk for our time here. I think, James, anything else? You want to tell folks? You know, you have a you’re productive? You’re successful guy. What’s the difference between being okay, at what you’re doing, but in great, what you’re doing outstanding at what you’re doing? Is there any sort of way that you evaluate how you’re performing? Yeah, and get yourself to either? Yeah.

Speaker 2 53:24
But there’s a couple things I’ll borrow from raw steel from Tony Robbins, the motivational guru and coach, he, he says the difference between excellence and outstanding is only about two millimeters, okay? So when you complete a task, you look at it, or you’re working on a project, and then you think it’s done. You look at that again, and you go, how can I make it just a little bit better? And that’s when it becomes outstanding. Okay. So for keeping in contact with friends, for example, sporadically calling a friend to catch up or it’s been like six weeks, haven’t spoken to a friend, I’ll give that person a call versus like putting it in your calendar. For every six weeks that on on every six weeks on this date, a little notification pops up, it says call John catch up with John, John, that’s outstanding. Because now you’ve you’ve got that you’re not going to miss that you have a constant reminder, whereas in the first scenario, maybe you forget it. Yeah, it’s calling someone. It’s listening to a friend that’s being outstanding, you know, rather than just like, you know, you feel obligated to catch up with your friend. It’s genuinely taking an interest in listening to that person. And like that’s, that’s been outstanding. So, just doing a little bit more than what maybe an average person or even someone of excellence would do. Makes you outstanding, according to Tony Robbins and I absolutely believe it and adhere to it and try to practice it all the time. I don’t always get it right, mind you, but I think if you’re always conscious of it, how can I be outstanding? What’s an outstanding act, then you certainly are going to do a lot better in life. Um, in terms of happiness and success, you know, I’ve gone through phases where I was, you know, I had a lot of success very young for my age. And then I was a sports center anchor on ESPN, I was paid very handsomely. Sure. I was on TV, I had a Z level of fame, if you like, some people recognize me. And I was like people that wow, you get to be on TV getting paid this amazing salary, you could talk about sport all day. For me, it was the realization of 20 years, it was amazing. It was incredible. It was awesome. But at the same time, I didn’t feel successful doing it because I there was so many other things that I wanted to do. Okay. So I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I wanted to determine my own value, I wanted to be able to help as many people as possible, not because I’m so great, and I want to help the world and feel good about it. Be because I want to help the world and get paid for it at the same time. Like, I want to make a lot of money. And I’m very open and honest about that. But I want to do it by helping people. Yeah. So you asked me like, you know, what are my thoughts around success and everything? It’s fight for me, it’s been the balance of earning enough that I feel good about myself. Okay. being super, super healthy, because I’m very, very health conscious. It’s the quality of my relationships, and it’s being able to, to help people as possible. But I will say, I will say this, my bank balance does make my happiness level fluctuate up and down. And I don’t I don’t mean, too many people don’t. Too few people say that. I think like Sumeet acknowledge that acknowledge that. Yeah, too many people, I think, say I want to change the world. I want to help as many people as possible. That’s what motivates me, it motivates me. But just hanging up in the air. What motivates me is having a lot of money in the bank account. And I’ll tell you, why not just so I have money, but because I can so I can provide for a wife and children and build a family and be healthy

Speaker 1 56:58
freedoms that money brings versus the money itself. Absolutely. Yes. So

Speaker 2 57:02
So Success for me is definitely a bank, a number of bank balance numbers, but it’s also all the emails and messages I get from people who say to me, I’m sleeping so much better now because he just won his glasses. Hey, I quit alcohol. I used to be a big drinker. And I’ve lost 45 pounds sure shows one guy James Lee, he lives over in Dublin. He’s gone 175 days now his whole life has transformed because of it. Just I don’t want to labor on this point. But it’s funny as well how fickle the human mind is because now I get those messages with such regularity. I’ve sometimes very guilty, so maybe I found myself just going oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. And just taking it. Yeah, you know what’s going on there? Maybe you can explain that to my mind.

Speaker 1 57:50
Oh, no. I mean, I still get people telling me that you have to love neurofeedback, of course. And so I’m changing people’s brains, often quickly. So they come to see me 20 years of not sleeping or being anxious or being ADHD. And two, three weeks later, like all these life changing, things are happening. And they’re describing them. In the back of my mind. I’m like, Okay, this is besides back. Yeah, I’m having a sort of be like, Wow, that’s wonderful to you to validate their experience, because it’s real. Yeah. But I’m also be a little jaded, because like, of course, your ADHD is gone. Of course, just like this is gone, because that’s what happens when you do this stuff. So it’s an interesting balance to have to both validate their individual transformation and to take it in stride from our perspective. Yeah, I think my good at that Yeah.

Speaker 2 58:30
Yeah. And I there’s has to be something going on with the human brain where we get so used to a certain Yeah, that all of a sudden now that same Neurofeedback isn’t stimulating anymore. Now we need something more something better.

Speaker 1 58:44
It’s novelty is what you know, when things were like they were, it’s less interesting. There’s less danger and less benefit when things were like they were when there’s new things. Yeah, those are potential sources for danger and sources for game. And so novelty is incredibly exciting, because it usually means an opportunity to avoid danger or to get pleasure or feed or something. That’s

Speaker 2 59:05
why there’s so many affairs in the world, right? Because the novelty it’s always like the

Speaker 1 59:09
Coolidge effect. So that called, you know, new new stimuli can get rid of satiety. So like you’re you’re full, but you still want dessert. Yeah, that’s the Coolidge effect. Yeah, you’re bored of your partner, but that other partner looks kind of hot. That’s the Coolidge effect. satiety is eliminated by novelty. Yeah.

Speaker 2 59:26
How is it weighted? Like to understand that novelty and know that exists and and look at it as like, a bad temptation, like something that you do not want to act on?

Speaker 1 59:38
I don’t know. It’s a great question. That’s more psychology. I’m more of a physiologist and a psychologist. But I would say the brain is tuned to have a certain bias towards or against novelty seeking. When that bias is very, very high. It operates and things we call like ADHD for instance. But we have a we have a range, and we can go from a high novelty seeking bias to a low novelty seek by us, and we can learn to tune our brains that way actually, and things like Neurofeedback things like meditation, things like other contemplative work will actually tune your mind to need or to feel like it needs less novelty. So I think that’s really the goal there is if you’re always looking for the new thing, that’s a problem, no matter where it is, if it’s in your bank balance, if it’s in your job, it’s with your spouse, it’s with a TV show, you’re watching the book you’re reading, it’s always a problem. If you’re always not engaging with the present moment to look for the next thing.

Speaker 2 1:00:31
Having said that something a present moment can be detrimental to your life and you might be stuck in a bad situation. Absolutely. I know you’re doing is playing a story in your head going, My life sucks. My job sucks. My boss sucks. My wife sucks and everything sucks. In which case, novelty is the best thing that you can go

Speaker 1 1:00:48
is the present moment has is also a stuck time. It’s no longer a moment, you’re now stuck in that presence. I have a three word mantra for you. Intention, not momentum. Okay? So, in the moment, if your intention is strategically, willfully moving and intending to the next thing, if you’re stuck your momentum, I suck, I suck. I suck. But also if you’re just reacting to trashes full TVs on wife’s annoying, you know, here’s some weed here’s some alcohol if you’re always reactive, your momentum you can’t choose what direction to steer your functional capacities in. Yeah, so I like the idea of being engaged in the moment so that you can point yourself to the next moment intentionally Yeah, versus with momentum.

Speaker 2 1:01:30
I’ve been listening to the Power of Now by Eckhart surely wonderful audio book, I go running now. And I listened to it. And he keeps reminding me the whole time. It’s like, you are not You’re not the thought. You’re the space between your thoughts. Yeah, yes. So he said, Whenever you think like, I suck, notice yourself thinking that you suck. Yes. And just get out. There’s me thinking that I suck. And that is freedom. That’s Yes. That’s that. Say

Speaker 1 1:01:54
you dis identify or dis individuate your perspective, another meditation teacher of mine always says something that effect of, you know, your mind has led you astray whenever you reach a conclusion. Right. So those kinds of conclusions, the self judgment, self doubt, I would encourage folks to replace judgment with curiosity, internally, as much as possible, because it’s a much more useful tool, being curious about how things might be or what things might mean. Yeah, as opposed to be like, Oh, this is happening. And this is bad. Yeah.

Speaker 2 1:02:25
There’s a book by Byron Katie. Chords. I’m gonna forget it here. I’m gonna try and look it up on volunteer. Sure. But she always it’s the art of questioning everything. So it’s four questions to ask yourself whenever something is spiraling out of control when they think something. So in my important stuff, it might be like, I think the first question is, is it true? I think the says it useful, or can you know that? Are you absolutely 100% sure that it’s true. Is that like the fact? Yep. And then I think the other question is, if it was true, how would you feel about that? Or if it was not true? How would you feel about that? And then the next question is, now that you have this insight, what are you? What do you feel about that? How is your feeling change? And it literally just walks you through these four questions. It’s called here it is. It’s called loving what is by Byron Katie, equanimity in 2002. But it’s literally all it is, is just taking yourself like as an example. He said something about me behind my back. While the question would be well, did did He say, what did he actually say? Because someone told you that they said this, but what was actually said, and then even if you had a transcript, what was actually said, what was the context with which it was said? Was it said like that guys? And ask or was it said, like, ah, know how that goes and asked, yeah, there’s a totally different meaning to it. And then, again, I guess just going through those questions, starts to remove yourself from whatever your instinctual, instinctual, initial feeling was, and it just questions everything.

Speaker 1 1:04:01
It’s great. It’s wonderful. Well, we have reached the end of our time, but can you tell us are there any projects you’re working on or things you want our listeners to know about? And where else can they find you and track you down and learn more about the great world of James Swannack Thank

Speaker 2 1:04:13
you. Well, if you want to check out the blue light blocking glasses, you can go to Swamis glasses.com, Swa n n ies glasses.com If you want to join the 30 day, no alcohol challenge or just learn a little bit more about that you can go to 30 day no alcohol challenge.com I give away a free book there as well. And then my personal website is just my name James swannack.com. It’s J mes Swa N W. I C K it’s actually spelled Swanwick but it’s pronounced

Speaker 1 1:04:42
changed my product, my pronunciation halfway through the show if you were watching that, it’s an Australian thing Swannack or Yeah, well,

Unknown Speaker 1:04:49
it’s just a silent w you know, it’s like Warwick, Warwick

Speaker 1 1:04:53
to ask when you went to ESPN to they make you say sports instead of sport.

Unknown Speaker 1:04:57
Is that an American thing? Sports? Yeah, yeah.

Unknown Speaker 1:04:59
We would ever say sport in that way.

Speaker 2 1:05:02
No. I don’t recall that. I don’t recall that I did. I actually always got St. Louis wrong always said the St. Louis Cardinals. Say it’s St. Louis. I’m like, oh, okay, sorry. And I always wanted to call like, American teams Yankees, because in Australia, every American. Thank you. So

Speaker 1 1:05:20
we have a very specific team. I’m from Boston. So that means something from you know, the Yankees. We don’t we’re not a big fan of the Yankees in Boston. So the fun nights

Speaker 2 1:05:30
were when when the director said in my ear said, Oh, we’ve got the timings wrong. There’s 28 seconds you need to fill before the credits rolled out. So it would come back from the last story. And I had to stand in front of the camera for 28 seconds and just talk about anything I can as a director is going 2827 2625 That was tough. Yeah,

Speaker 1 1:05:49
it sounds like that was tough. That’s it. Well, James, thank you so much for coming on the show. You’re been a great guest on headfirst with Dr. Hill. And I think my appearance on your show and your appearance on my show will probably come out around the same time so people can get their fill of the James and Andrew experience.

Unknown Speaker 1:06:06
Thank you very much for having me. It’s been a real pleasure. Thank you. Take care, James.


James Swanwick

James Swanwick is an advocate for the 30-day No Alcohol Challenge, and has worked as an ESPN anchor on SportsCenter, is the author of ‘Insider Journalism Secrets’ and co-founder of international agency, Crocmedia, as well as the inventor of “Swannies”. He has been a print or TV journalist for 20 years, writing for newspapers and magazines in the US, UK and Australia. 

This collection features a range of media entities, including the Associated Press, Sky Sports, ESPN, WPLJ radio, Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Daily Telegraph, The Sun, Sky Movie Channel, Q104FM, Loaded magazine, Woman’s Day, The Courier-Mail, and various others.