On today’s podcast, I’m honored to interview Kamal Ravikant. He’s the author of two awesome books – Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It and Live Your Truth. What’s awesome about Kamal’s writing is that he’s vulnerable and authentic enough to share some really raw and profound truths that I think lots of us need to hear.
“We don’t stumble accidentally into an amazing life. It takes a conscious commitment to figuring out what we stand for – finding our truth. It begins by looking inside ourselves, because when it rises from within, we have no choice but to express it, to live it. That is when magic happens.”
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KK: I want to share your journey – I think it will come out in this – but let’s start with how you define success today.
KR: How I define success now is very different from how I used to define it. We’re used to building big companies and attaching big numbers behind them and that used to be my definition of success until a few years ago. The company I was building crashed and I lost everything and I got really sick and so I fell apart with the company. I got out of it by basically teaching myself to love myself and that’s changed my life. Then I wrote this little book, Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends On It, to share what I had learned not expecting anything out of it. That book ended up becoming a big bestseller and the e-mails I get from people about how its changed their life quickly changed my definition of success. Before it was a number but now I think success is being a full on expression of yourself. When you are who you really are and share it, the world responds in ways you never could’ve imagined. Writing the books and them doing well is far more fulfilling to me than going after an actual number.
KK: In reading your books, I read them both back to back, it was interesting that you could see almost your own personal evolution in the two books.
KR: Yes, and that’s the magic of writing – I get to share it. I’m a human being so everyone else can hopefully identify and learn from it and hopefully I can help people from learning some of the lessons I’ve learned the hard way.
KK: So you talk about really being our true selves and living our truths, so to speak. How do we find that, or what is the journey to getting that? It seems like we’re covered in so many layers of expectation or adapting to what others expected us to be, how do we start peeling away those layers to even figure out what our truth is?
KR: Actually I think it’s more simple than peeling away layers, I tried it and it didn’t work for me. I think it the end – there is no simple formula – it’s a fundamentally personal process and I think the truth is, its something that has to resonate with you. For some that may be a belief in God, that may be a belief in something else. When something resonates with you, its yours. No one can tell you what resonates with you or can control that. When you do that, the next step is to go all in on it. That is the fundamental key and that is when the magic in life happens. When you go all in, you may find an even deeper truth and keep going and that’s yours. It’s really as simple as that. I don’t think you have to peel away others’ expectations to find whats just true to you. Everybody has access to that – you can listen to a song and there can be a line that really sticks to you and that may be your truth. There’s nothing complicated about it.
KK: I think those are the hardest things – the simple ones.
KR: That’s why I’ve stayed away from writing a how-to because I don’t want everyone to end up at my truth. I think loving yourself is a universal truth that’s been around but when its something that comes from you, there’s a power in living it that nothing else can match. You have to figure out what feels right to you and go all in.
KK: So where many of us get stuck isn’t that we don’t know, its that we don’t make that leap or have the courage to share – whether we think we’re too weird or nobody will understand. I’ve certainly written a blog post and get to hit the publish button and think ‘oh my goodness people are going to think I’m crazy.’
KR: That’s when you know you’re doing something real. I was terrified putting both of the books out, even more scared the second time because of all the expectations after the first. I could’ve taken the safe route and written more of a follow-up and know it would’ve done well but with the second one I wanted to go deeper in a way that makes people read it and something inside them shifts. I was reading a review the other day and someone said it was nothing like the Love Yourself book and that was the point! I think you kind of take risks when you’re sharing of yourself. If you’re not, then you’re not sharing of yourself. You look at anything great that comes in life and there’s a risk – falling in love is a risk. Fundamentally, I think all of these things are worth it because of who you become in the process of risking.
KK: I think you’re right and I think we know that but it certainly doesn’t make it any easier each time – not even hitting publish but even just putting pen to paper can be brutal.
KR: I guess if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. I think once you do it and live it, you get to see the effects of it and who you become and you can’t escape anymore. You’ll come back to it because it becomes your reality.
KK: Let’s talk about your life now – I know you don’t like giving a how-to – but I want to talk about a typical day in your life now and what James Altucher refers to as your daily practice. What is your daily practice?
KR: It’s very interesting, my life these days is very loose in the sense that my schedule is very flexible. I’ve been traveling a lot speaking about the book. I’ve found that my schedule is all over the place and when I’m back home quite often I fall off the wagon but I fundamentally try to do a practice that scares me from the inside out which is the practice that I talked about in the Love Yourself book. It’s a practice I came up with where I learned to love myself so I do that daily. Regardless of whether I do it in the morning or at night, I do it. Ideally, its get up and have coffee and take in the day, go work out, meditate, shower, and then the key top three things that need to get accomplished that day that really matter and then work on them. I like working in sprints, and I used to work myself so hard I would work myself sick but now I work in sprints. I think human beings are designed to be lazy and sprint. If we’re lazy all the time we’re miserable and if we sprint all the time we get burnt out so there’s a method called the Pomodoro technique where you basically work in 25 minute sprints. You pick your task, totally shut everything off, and focus only on that for 25 minutes and when that 25 minutes is over you have to take a break. That’s the best method I’ve found for myself.
KK: You know, Meron Bareket shared that as well. He was able to get so much more done in so much less time and then leave the rest of his life to be able to get outdoors and enjoy time with his friends and family.
KR: I think the irony is that I used to spend up to 16 hours a day at the office and you think about how much of that time is truly productive time spent on what really matters and moves your company and ideas forward and its a small amount. You can send out emails, attend meetings, and not accomplish something that really matters. When you work like this, you only focus on the things that really matter and then the rest of the time you just enjoy yourself. Its a beautiful system, I think it was an Italian man who came up with it. Pomodoro means tomato in Italian and he called it that because he used a kitchen timer that was shaped like a tomato to keep track of his time.
KK: I think there’s a certain courage in that too. To be courageous enough to cut our work day down to only what matters because I think it can be somewhat comforting to go to an office and just hang out, do that busy work that feels work.
KR: I’ve heard many successful people say this, its not my own, but if you can get three things done during the day then you’ve accomplished a lot and you’re moving forward. Putting that together with the pomodoro technique is, I think, magic.
KK: Are there any habits or growth areas that you’re exploring for yourself next?
KR: I have this thing I do that when I decide that I really want to have a habit or be something I just make a commitment and write a vow to myself. If you make a vow to yourself, it is a fundamentally basic act that you can’t go back on. You may slide but you can not break it. I would make a vow to myself like staying healthy and getting in shape and I will make myself keep that vow for 30 days. After that, it doesn’t mean that I’ve broken the vow, it means that I wake up and I keep it. There’s no failure there, its just a work in progress. Because of all the travel in my life right now, I’d like to get back to this morning routine. You’ve heard everyone say it and its so powerful – you set a routine in the morning and let it really take care of you, it shows in the rest of your day. If you start off with taking care of yourself spiritually, emotionally, and physically and something that is a fundamental expression of you like writing is for me then your day is just going to rock. My next thing would be working on that and start that habit again because I have slipped pretty far on it.
KK: That was another really tie-in where you said if we do the work that is fundamental to us early in the day, that’s another way of being true to ourselves, just getting up and doing that first before the rest of our world has the opportunity to take over.
KR: Yes, and that’s hard for me honestly. I sleep with my iPhone next to me and I’m looking at my e-mails. I used to have this one rule that worked really well though I haven’t done it in a while which was no internet after 11pm. I have no cable so if I shut off my internet my only choice is to create or read and really absorb something instead of just bouncing around the web which is what we tend to do. I found this was great at the end of the day so I would be writing or reading so I would be growing.
KK: That’s a good point. We don’t have television either but its amazing how much trouble you can get into just on Apple TV these days.
KR: These things allow us to access content so quickly that you won’t get bored but you also don’t really focus your brain and you want more and more so you can spend an hour on Facebook and really not move forward. So all of these things, you have to give yourself no choice but to do something fundamental. That was a really good one and I’m going to start applying that again.
KK: So coming back to habits, if we put in those boundaries and systems so we don’t really even have to trust ourselves, those are really powerful. If we put the support systems in place to back up the decisions we’ve already made, we don’t have to have the willpower to make those decisions again and again.
KR: Honestly, I’m a fundamentally lazy guy and I would find a way around it if I didn’t put these systems in place.
KK: That’s a good point. I’m an early bird so I would have to turn off the internet as early as 7pm because I have a hard time staying up as late as 9 some days but I love the principle of putting in those boundaries and having that forced wind down and growth time. That is such a powerful window – Tim Ferriss talks about the power of what we read before we go to sleep and that our mind really goes to work on that.
KR: I’m also thinking about adding some sort of inspiration in the morning – some video, something that inspires me. That’s a great way to start your day. Sometimes we inspire ourselves but sometimes we need inspiration to start the day off in a great mental state and that sets the pace for the rest of the day. In James Altucher’s daily practice he talks about the spiritual, emotional, mental, physical and if you can knock those off in the morning, the rest of the day will reflect that.
KK: Absolutely. I think that’s how I first learned of you, through his writings and his books. Then I just kind of fell down the rabbit hole.
KR: James is just amazing – he is the real deal. I’m so grateful to know him and so grateful he exists.
KK: Well thank you for embarking on this path, yourself, and for really sharing it with us and coming out the other side and saying you’re okay and even better! I think there’s a lot of power in that as we decide whether to live our truths or to not make those courageous decisions every day. It’s really powerful for you to share your journey, the good, the bad, and the ugly, and where its led you today. I think its very powerful.
KR: Thank you. One thing I would add is that we all slip backwards, we’re human. One thing I’ve learned is to be more gentle with myself and expect myself to slide back occasionally. I’m not perfect. When you do that, you pick yourself up and gently move yourself forward. Its really that simple. The habits we put in place need to work with our humanness. When they work well then we’re better and the world is better. It’s a long-term game that compounds over time. I’m really grateful for our talking, thank you.
KK: Thank you, I love that line – work with our humanness. I think that sums it up pretty good. Thank you again for your time and inspiration. You’ve certainly been a mentor to me and it’s been an honor to speak with you.
KR: Same here, thank you.
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