OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time

OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson features the best Big Ideas from the best optimal living books. More wisdom in less time to help you live your greatest life. (Learn more at
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OPTIMIZE with Brian Johnson | More Wisdom in Less Time





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Aug 23, 2016

Jocko Willink and Leif Babin were two of the most senior (and decorated) SEALS on the ground in the most intense battles of Iraq. In this book they share their leadership lessons on how U.S. Navy SEALs lead and win. It’s an intense, impactful read. Big Ideas we explore include a definition of Extreme Ownership, the fact that there are no bad teams, only bad leaders, how to prioritize and execute and remembering that discipline = freedom.

Aug 22, 2016

Here's an awesome standard: Outperform your contract. At work. At home. Let's astonish.

Aug 21, 2016

Movement. It’s about more than just exercise. Did you know you can be active *and* sedentary? Yep. In this class we’ll take a look at how to optimize your energy, genes, mind, mood, and body as a perpetual motion machine!

Aug 20, 2016

David Ludwig has both an M.D. and a Ph.D. and is a professor and researcher at both Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health. He’s overseen dozens of diet studies, authored over 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles, and supported thousands of patients looking to optimize their weight. In this book, we learn how to conquer cravings, retrain fat cells, and lose weight permanently.

Aug 19, 2016

What's the #1 rule of confidence? "The *actions* of confidence come first; the *feelings* of confidence come later."

Aug 18, 2016

Did you know the word "character" comes from the Greek word for "chisel"? Yep. Just as you chisel away at a marble statue to create a work of art, we need to chisel away at everything that gets in the way of making our lives a work of art.

Aug 17, 2016

Christopher McDougall is a brilliant story teller (and author of Born to Run). In this great book, he weaves together a number of different narratives, with an emphasis on two: one about an extraordinary wartime adventure on Crete and the other about Natural Movement. In the process, he shares a ton of Ideas on how we can each tap into the extraordinary superpowers latent within. Big Ideas we explore include the ancient Greek meaning of the word “hero,” the mantra of the hero, why weeds + fat are optimal fuel and a great test.

Aug 16, 2016

Michael Phelps tells us there’s a big difference between “Can’t” and “Won’t.” His coach, Bob Bowman, told him, “‘Can’t’–that’s a tough word.” Let’s preserve our power and quit throwing around “can’t” when we really mean “won’t”!

Aug 15, 2016

The Spartan Race tagline is "You'll know at the finish line." But getting to the STARTING line is way more important.

Aug 14, 2016

This is a *super* popular book in the Paleo movement that, as the sub-title suggests, introduces us to the Whole30 and can change your life in unexpected ways. Dallas Hartwig and Melissa Hartwig created the Whole30 that has inspired tens of thousands of people to follow their plan and change their life. I’m one of those people. I talk more about how my life changed as a result in the Note. Big Ideas we explore include +1 or -1 bite by bite, the experiment of ONE, the four tests of Good Food, are grains necessary? and your personal health equation.

Aug 12, 2016

Joe De Sena is the founder of the Spartan Race. He’s also, as Angela Duckworth, author of Grit, tells us: “a paragon of grit” who “shows you how you’re capable of so much more than you think.” A paragon of grit. That’s the perfect description. After inspiring us with stories of real-life heroes and ancient Spartan lore, De Sena walks us through the seven pillars of Spartan training + a 30-day plan to get Spartan Fit. Big Ideas we explore include getting to the starting line, developing obstacle immunity, making thousands of small decisions and your gritty oath.

Aug 11, 2016

Want to know what happens when we industrialized our food. Here are 5 key things to keep in mind.

Aug 10, 2016

Michael Pollan is one of the world’s leading thinkers on nutrition. Time magazine voted him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. He’s also a Professor of Journalism at UC Berkeley. One of the things I most love about him and his work is that, as a journalist, he takes a much wider, more objective view of the nutritional landscape—which can often be dominated by (and muddled by) individuals with *very* strong, dogmatic, inflexible ideologies. Big Ideas we explore: Nutritionism (vs. food), the big experiment (that failed), the Aborigine in all of us, the 5 fundamental transformations of industrializing food and Lucky Charms, Cocoa Puff and Trix cereals as health foods as per the American Heart Association. (<— Can you believe that? Crazy. And true.)

Aug 9, 2016

There's REAL work and then there's pseudo-work. It's all about intensity. Remember: Work = Time x Intensity.

Aug 8, 2016

What if happiness began at the end of your fork? The latest research on neuroscience and nutrition tells us that’s a VERY wise place to start. And, of course, that’s what this book is all about: A Nutritional Prescription for a Sharp Brain, Balanced Mood, and Lean, Energized Body. It’s a really well-written, eye-opening look at how we got into the nutritional mess we’re in and the extremely damaging effects of the modern American diet. And, of course, more importantly, how we can optimize our nutrition so we can dial in the three facets of happiness: our focus, our mood, and our energy.

Aug 7, 2016

High standards are great. Perfectionism? Not so much. In this class, we’ll take a look at why it’s so important to embrace the constraints of reality as we have fun incrementally optimizing–aggregating and compounding tiny improvements over time to create magic!

Aug 6, 2016

Fats. They are not created equal. Here's a quick look at the good, the bad, and the truly evil.

Aug 5, 2016

Want to know learning's enemy #1? Here it is: the fluency illusion. And, here's how to beat it!

Aug 4, 2016

Cal Newport is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Dartmouth who went on to MIT for his Ph.D. and is now a Professor at Georgetown. In this book, Cal shares the top ideas he gleaned from interviews with non-grind Phi Beta Kappa members at elite schools across the country. They had to perform well AND they had to achieve those results without grinding away. Their practices, although discovered independently, reflect the same wisdom shared in the science books. It’s great to see the overlap. Big Ideas: pseudo-work vs. real work (and a secret formula), conquering procrastination, when/where/how long should you study?, #1 way to learn (and #1 trap), the importance of spacing out your work and the power to choose your future via excellent grades.

Aug 3, 2016

Did you know fast-acting carbs light up the addiction center (called the nucleus accumbens) of your brain? Yep. Here's a quick look at some fascinating reseaarch on this and a tip on how to conquer your cravings.

Aug 2, 2016

Joan Vernikos was the former Director of NASA’s Life Sciences Division. Basically, she was responsible for understanding how to optimize the health and well-being of our astronauts. In this book, she walks us through how our sedentary lifestyles are surprisingly similar to the gravity-free lifestyles of astronauts in space. Just as an astronaut’s health rapidly deteriorates outside of gravity’s pull, OUR health erodes when we adopt a sedentary lifestyle. Big Ideas we cover include Gravity 101, why gravity is so N.E.A.T., how to build G-Habits and why your telomeres don’t like you sitting so much.

Aug 1, 2016

Here's a fun interview with Pilar Gerasimo and Dallas Hartwig about their new podcast called The Living Experiment. Check them out!

Jul 31, 2016

"Edible foodlike substances." That's what Michael Pollan calls the stuff food scientists are cooking up these days. Remember Rule #1: Eat food. If your great-grandmother didn't eat, you probably shouldn't eat it. If it doesn't rot, don't eat it. If your 3rd grader can't pronounce ingredients? Don't eat it.

Jul 30, 2016

This book is very different than the types of books I usually focus on. It’s not “self-development” per se; it’s more like “state-development”—as in, the optimal politics for our nation and world. The main thrust of the book is that we are entering a revolutionary time, the era of “Great Connection.” His primary focus is on a macro level. In our Note we focus on how we can apply this wisdom on an individual level. Big Ideas include a look at the #1 illness of our era and how to deal with it, why we need Hard Gatekeeping, the difference btwn complicated and complex and building a 10,000 year clock while answering the call to revolution.

Jul 29, 2016

Want to reach your optimal weight while preventing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and cancer AND while feeling energized as you live longer? Eat more fat. That’s what Dr. Mark Hyman—one of the world’s leading Functional Medicine doctors—tells us. This book is ridiculously packed with Big Ideas—walking us through the eye-opening science of why fat is awesome along with a plan on how to “reboot our biology to our original factory settings” via a 21-day program followed by a long-term plan to rock it. We explore the surprising truth about fat, good fats vs. bad fats, going pegan (think: best of vegan + Paleo), a quality carb, and dealing with root causes rather than symptoms.

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