On Being Honest

What does it mean to be honest?

Different things to different folks. To me, it means saying what you mean, meaning what you say and doing that.

Sure, it’s brilliant to be honest with others. I think what is equally important (yet not conversed about enough) is being honest with yourself.

Where might you be being dishonest with yourself today?


One area I can think of where people aren’t honest with themselves is goals and habits.

Are your daily habits aligned with your goals?

If you had the opportunity to honestly rename your goals based on your habits they may paint a better picture of where you’re headed.

One keystone habit I’m trying to create is sleep. My goal is to be healthier, more fit and more vibrant. And yet, I’m up at 4:30am writing this note.

My action does not currently line up with my goal. Tomorrow I’m at a wedding. My action probably won’t line up this whole weekend–it’s my cousins big fat Indian wedding.

I’ll aim at Monday.

For the moment, I’ll bask in the joy of self-expression and indulge in the ‘publish’ button after a long hibernation.

Polarities exist. They’re fun and helpful to hold. Polarities aren’t the best for goals. I’m seriously going to give better sleep a shot.

Onwards & Forwards Young Brown Man.

ps: Anik Khan dropped BIG FAX. Check it out. http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-Iv604AtvJBA/U_O7UlUtBSI/AAAAAAAAEAY/lsS6ewLVjbY/s1600/i.b.b.h.5.png

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Chappelle on Rachel Dolezal is all you need to read

Chappelle on Rachel Dolezal is all you need to read

DaveChappelleThe media asked Dave to comment on Rachel Dolezal. I’m going to assume a bit of what they were hoping for from the comedian was malice remarks, further defaming the character of Dolezal and adding on to the fire of the 24 hour news-cycle.

Ironically, Chappelle did the opposite. He called the situation as it was–odd, and kept it moving. The response speaks to the character and humanity of Dave Chappelle. His response is the sensible one and the one that we should lean towards as a society.

Here’s Dave’s answer:

Chappelle: “The world’s become ridiculous. There’s a white lady posing as a black lady. There is not one thing that woman accomplished that she couldn’t have done as a white woman. There’s no reason! She just needed the braids! I don’t know what she was doing.”

“The thing that the media’s gotta be real careful about, that they’re kind of overlooking, is the emotional context of what she means. There’s something that’s very nuanced where she’s highlighting the difference between personal feeling and what’s construct as far as racism is concerned. I don’t know what her agenda is, but there’s an emotional context for black people when they see her and white people when they see her. There’s a lot of feelings that are going to come out behind what’s happening with this lady. And she’s just a person, no matter how we feel about her.”

“I’m probably not going to do any jokes about her or any references to her for awhile ’cause that’s going to be a lot of comedians doing a lot. And I’m sure her rebuttal will be illuminating. Like, once she’s had time to process it and kind of get her wind back and get her message together.”

Quotes via Jezebel

ObamaHumans of New York: Who has influenced you the most?

POTUS Obama: “My mother. She had me when she was 18 years old, and my father left when I was one year old, so I never really knew him. Like a lot of single moms, she had to struggle to work, and eventually she also struggled to go to school. And she’s really the person who instilled in me a sense of confidence and a sense that I could do anything. She eventually went on to get her PhD. It took her ten years, but she did it, and I watched her grind through it. And as I got older, like everyone else, I realized that my mother wasn’t all that different than me. She had her own doubts, and fears, and she wasn’t always sure of the right way of doing things. So to see her overcome tough times was very inspiring. Because that meant I could overcome tough times too.”

Lay Low & Learn; Preparing to thrive beyond 2015

Lay Low & Learn; Preparing to thrive beyond 2015

All my life I’ve been obsessed with breaking out and doing things differently. When things were going well I’d think about how we could be improving. My mom’s complaint has always been that I’m never happy enough–**tips hat that way**, it’s true. 2011-2014 taught me a lot about starting and finishing my own things. Battle scars and bruises, I learned how difficult both leadership & entrepreneurship can be. Labors of love. You do them because you’re passionate, but this year–none of it. I’m going to try my hat at getting behind the mission of other people that I believe in; folks I can learn from & folks that inspire me.

2015 is a prep year. En Boca Al Lupo. It’s all about learning and growth.

2014 was a success. 2015’s goals are about the self & balance. I’m focused on the man I want to be 15 years from today. I’m building for that.

There are three areas for improvement & assigned accountability metrics:

  • Mental-
    1. Find a mission you believe in; an amazing group of people & product. Be present and invested every moment.
    2. Discipline: Routine, Workout, Duolingo
    3. Self-control: Fasting, Dieting, Self-imposed restrictions & abstains
    4. Greater capacity for handling stress
      1. Develop internal leadership & coping skills. Be able to access & practice values in the hardship.
    5. Work on tougher problems. Connect dots. Journal more.
  • Physical-
    1. Meet United States Air Force weight requirements within the first quarter of 2015.
    2. Invest heavily in Jiu-Jitsu; be in the dojo 2-3 times a week within 2 weeks of a new apartment.
    3. Find the right diet for you. Spend Q1 with Meats & Veggies. Limit bread & rice.
    4. Get to bed by 11:00 or 6-8 hours of sleep every night
    5. Dress like a man
      1.  Fresh cut | Suit cut
  • Emotional
    1. Know your worth.
    2. Love.
    3. Chase moonshots.
    4. Let things happen. Think less. Live more.
    5. Clean up your solar-system. Don’t play with people that don’t serve you. Serve others. Cut ambiguity. Transparency.
    6. Be there person you’d want to be friends with.
    7.  Light up the room. Keep it short, light, & happy.
      1. Be tactful in communication. Mind your tongue.
      2. Recognize how great people are; remind them.
      3. Think 10x before saying one thing.

Pre-2015 taught me a lot. I took tons of notes. Now it’s about deploying those lessons into the field of life. I’ll keep learning along the way, but here with a balanced focus on the future and laser attention to the mission.

The last 23 years have filled me with a lot. The next 23 are about the space in between.

“Doubt is a pain too lonely to know that faith is his twin brother“ Gibran

Photo on 11-10-14 at 9.18 PM #2

Leadership today Sucks.

Leadership sucks today. 

The world is begging for better leadership. Leaders that espouse high ethical values, courage, honesty, integrity, and the grit it takes to battle through the dirt, practicing these values. Mistakes are normal. All people make mistakes. Leadership doesn’t have to be perfect, but it must be honest.

The leaders of the PBA of New York just asked the Mayor to not attend Police Officer Funerals.

The old-guard leaders of race-relationships use inflammatory rhetoric to express complex ideas.

The leaders of the United States are on the Payroll of CitiGroup and other organizations like them.

We are lacking quality leadership in America and it’s really killing us.

How might leadership behave differently?

POLICE Black boys are 21x more likely to be shot by a cop than their white counterpart. Acknowledging that statistical fact (driven by data) is one step towards solving the problem.

The first step to solving any problem is recognizing that one exists. This doesn’t mean blaming anyone thats innocent or talking poorly about cops. This is taking statistics and having it inform your work. If the stats point to something—it’s a problem.

Recognize a problem. Speak to it. Solve it. That’s good leadership.

The frustration can be understood because Cops have a job to do and their safety is seriously questioned often. It’s tough to be flexible with your back against the wall.

CIVIL RIGHTSAl Sharpton could tone down the rhetoric. It’s not based on solving problems anymore. He’s throwing gas on a fire and making it more difficult to have conversations by doing so.

Our leadership in the space needs to do more than just recognize White Privilege, but recognize that privilege is a dynamic and complex structure that everyone plays some role in. Forums that connect us to police officiers and the structures that build power are a better means to solving these problems and a better pathway for expressing our frustrations.

The frustrations exerted can be understood, because “How Long Must We Wait” for rights is real. How many black and brown boys must be killed before somebody recognizes that their backs are against the wall too? Must we work so hard to gain respect?

Policy- Growing up I thought a statesmen was inspired by Gandhian, MLK values. This doesn’t seem to be true, but they sure do talk a lot about it.

Policy is written in checkbooks. Power is centralized. Banks write the rules they play by. Growing up I thought politicians were the people that stood for what was right, but todays politician seems to care more about his/her future than the road they can pave in the next 4 years.

Politicians need to be upfront about the problems. I think DeBlasio did a good job in addressing the issues. If the PBA decides to overreact and act like there isn’t a problem, that’s an outcome we can deal with. Politicians should stand by people and cops are people too.

It’s the job of our generation to build the future of leadership and to ensure that high ethical values and strong determination for solutions are at the forefront of those we raise up to the podium.

Imagine what the conversations we’re having today would look like if those in power had the foresight to facilitate conversations that included everyone… rather than playing the oppression olympics or measuring sticks.

Clear the fog. Identify your values.

Clear the fog. Identify your values.

(Originally written on LinkedIn)

Values are built in- honesty, integrity, courage, and service. These are things we grow up with; innate identity that can carry us through life. As we move into a new generation of business, it is of great importance for us to put our values at the forefront or core of business.

Value led business means better business, happier employees, and a greater value to community.

In a recent conversation with Ben Williams, serial entrepreneur and founder of Reelio, Ben said he’d rather teach somebody coding than to hire somebody without strong values. “You can’t teach honesty, but anyone can learn code.” Appreciating the tangible, I asked him how he chose his values, to which he responded that you don’t. “You already have them. It’s about clearing the dust and recognizing what they are.” He takes long walks and spends 45 minutes every morning identifying his goals and aligning himself.

Diane Hessan is another CEO worth highlighting. Diane sold Communispace for enough money to never work again, but she decided to join Startup Institute in order to help people kickstart careers at high-growth companies around the world. While Diane had a great answer to my question on values, she shared a more compelling story that captured her values best (earlier in the conversation). In 2001, during the dot com bubble burst, her company was faced with serious budget shortages–it had to lay people off. Before making that decision, she made a choice to give employees time to brainstorm solutions and see if they could come up with other options.

The employees brought to the table an idea for everyone to take a pay cut+stock options. Everyone could keep their job.

This human solution to a market problem was a direct result of Diane’s people-centered values and leadership. Simple things, such as knowing everyones name in her company, speak to how much she values people and they shine a light on her values. Values were not just an option on the path to success, but for Diane they directly enabled her business to succeed.

It seems that in business values and success could not be correlated, but Ben and Diane are two examples of the opposite. Peter Drucker often cited Frances Hesselbein as a core example with her ability to operate highly functional organizations that are value driven and highly successful. Furthermore, Craig Jelinek (Costco) shows us that you can be profitable and still very value based. Costco just gave employees Thanksgiving off–and they are still making great earnings! Costco also pays its employees a living wage and employee happiness shows through their relatively low turnover rates.

Adam Grant and Simon Sinek seem to base their theories on the same logic. Good business and good culture makes for successful individuals and successful companies.

Now, the local small business fried chicken entrepreneur may focused on making enough sales to pay the bills. Investing in the human capital of employees could seem far from the business or product. It is not that he/she lacks values. Rather, it is priorities by maslows hierarchy that can push them away from practicing their values in a stressful business environment.That said, we must continue to study this area and space looking at and testing different models in policy, business, and culture to see what works.

Business is our largest engine in transporting and building skills, people, and goods.If we allow business and values to remain divorced then we will always remain a fractured and highly unequal society. Instead, let’s practice our values and let business be an engine to drive growth, prosperity, and progress.

This starts with you. Regardless of who you are in the organization practicing your values at work. This is especially important in leadership. You act as a light for those around you. When you understand your values you can better understand yourself, your actions, and your alignment.

Clear the fog. Identify what values mean the most to you and make it a habit to practice them intently. Maybe start with Ben’s idea, take a walk or break in a coffee shop before you start your day.

[how to] Hack Your Productivity & BE Super Productive

Since returning from India—EPIC trip, I have been working with clients in New York City. I work with businesses making a social impact(and one non-profit—I’m a sucker for non-profits) and create solutions for them primarily in business development, partnerships, and digital&social strategy (trendy words for marketing).

I get to have a social impact while helping dreamers execute their big ideas, learn from these clientors (client-mentor), and gain experience across sectors. It’s purposeful+profitable work: the good life.

This work allows me to create my own schedule, be flexible, and get things done. This freedom has been brilliant and awesome, but it’s easy to stray into daydreams or tasks. Any of my working friends (working at home or at office) know what I’m talking about.

These are a few things I’ve been doing—alongside mindfulness practice, that have really helped ensure maximum productivity.

Track Yourself

Metrics have incredible value. Tracking data of our own workday can enlighten us to our habits and help identify spaces for change.

I have an excel sheet where I track my tasks. At first I tracked everything—including my tangents into Facebook and Inc, FastCo and Medium (they’re so good!). I was wasting so much time! When I identified that, I could put more of my time towards client-work and my bank account smiled gleefully for it. (Until I shout first rounds on me!)

Tracking myself helps me visualize that and take control of my habits. I useWasteNoTime to limit my daily use of Facebook under an hour daily.

I also track my tasks. When I work on something I note my start time, finish time, and how long it’s taken. Now that I’m more mindful about how I’m working I naturally work more effectively. This has helped me work less+produce more. Don’t work more. Work smart.

Have a Plan

Make a schedule either the day before or at the start of each week. I know, life’s crazy and there are 1,000 really awesome things happening—all of them coming up last minute. Remember—plans go into a schedule and then schedule becomes routine and soon enough routine is habit.

Pro-tip: If you find your schedule is really rough start tracking what you spend time on. After a week or two of this go ahead and arrange your schedule accordingly. It’ll pan out.

Producing good work is a habit. Consistency is a habit. Practice does make better.

Get Away

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. It’s often glorified and made out to be much more glittery than it is. It’s hard (unless you’re dropshipping…) and is very demanding. Intrapreunership isn’t easy either- It’s tough to be an innovator in an organization-one that’s usually older than you, when you are moving 10x faster than everyone around you. Whether you are at your own company or at someone else’s trying to make value happen—you are an innovator.

The best innovators aren’t the ones who work all day and catch two hours of sleep. Instead, they are the mindful folks that are working smart. Take a few moments for mindfulness training, step outside for a walk, call a friend and grab coffee. Just get away and explore things outside of that bubble for a moment. Do this enough and you’ll find that you don’t stress as much on the little things.

GET Healthy

Health is critical. Without your health, you have nothing else. How often are you so busy working that you forget to get up & go out. It’s dark out by the time you realize. Go out for a jog, go gym, kickbox. I really like swimming as an activity. Doesn’t matter that I’m the worst swimmer in the Northern Hemisphere.. I’m staying active!

Protip- Nobody is actually healthy. Health is, like happiness, a destination. Living a healthy lifestyle through our intake, sleep, and exercise will make for one hell of a journey. I’m not healthy either, but I’m working on it—get healthy.

Mental Resilience

Anyone can provide results. Fewer people can crunch deadlines and pump out top notch work. Even fewer people can do this with multiple deadlines and various clients. Mental toughness is the ability to keep crunching when you little left to give. It really is the ability to do those last 15 lunges to close your set or to crab up the hill during double sessions.

Mental resilience gets you through those six inches that Al Pacino talks about in Any Given Sunday. Build your mental resilience and deal with life six inches at a time.

Got haters? Tough Boss? Got enemies? Mental resilience. Being strong in mind will result in confidence and your ability to push through.

What works for you?

Let me know in the comments, tweet them to me at @marvin_mathew, or email me marvinmathew7 @gmail.

And if you want to put your passions + skills to work for you, holler! In Adam Grant fashion, how can I help?

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