Sunday 3 July 2011

Half time review of 2011

I'm writing this post from one of the most gorgeous hotels I've ever been lucky enough to stay in. The luxurious Oitavos hotel situated on the spectacular Portuguese Estoril Coast, which is about 40 mins from Lisbon and near the most westerly point on the European mainland. Our balcony overlooks the forest and the sea stretches out to the horizon. The weather is perfect and earlier we borrowed some mountain bikes from the reception and cycled along the coast to Guincho beach where the Atlantic ocean crashes against the rocks. For lunch we had the most delicious local clams and hams followed by fresh sushi. Not a bad way to celebrate being officially unemployed for the first 6 months of the 2011.

The best thing about this is knowing that I don't need to rush back. Even though I'm on my way back to London soon, if I wanted to stay longer I could. I can do my projects from anywhere as long as I have wifi. This is much easier than most people believe.

Saturday 23 April 2011


Hey everyone, I just wanted to update you on why I've been so quiet recently. Basically apart from a brief trip to India, I've been dedicating every bit of time possible to a new project that's launching this summer. The project is called flup (short for follow up with me) and it's an online system that helps you swap contact details safely and easily, and arrange follow ups (we call it a flup).

The project is very much a 'scratch my own itch' type project. For years I've been going to meet-ups and conferences, meeting great people, swapping business cards but then failing to follow-up, add them to my network or build real relationships. Who knows what opportunities I may have missed! I always believed that following-up could and should be easier. flup is an attempt to solve this problem for myself and anyone else who wants to get more from their own personal and business networking.

We made a conscious decision not to talk about before we had 80% of the system built, so we've been busy designing and coding away using tools like Ruby on Rails, Compass and HTML 5 and now it's almost ready.

I need your help...

We're about to go into beta-testing of the system and we're currently allowing people to reserve a unique personal address like mine which is If you're interested in getting your own name (they seem to be going fairly fast) or want to help beta-test then you can do so here

There's also a Twitter feed @flup that you can follow and a flup Facebook page that you can Like if you want to hear more about the business as it develops.

I hope to write more about how we generated the idea, gathered a team and brought the business to life over the next few weeks, but if you have any questions then feel free to leave a comment.

All the best,

Thursday 24 March 2011

4 Hour Body experiment - final report

OK so it's a bit late, yes I'm sorry, but here's the final report after my 5 week use of the 'Occum Protocol' in the new Tim Ferriss book The 4-Hour Body. My goal was to increase my weight from below 69kg to above 75kg in 5 weeks by adding muscle not fat.

In the end I made it to 74.7kg, just 300g off my target weight. Soooo close, and in no way a failure. Putting on over 6kg in 5 weeks is still impressive in anyone's book. In fact looking at the graph the only period where I dropped some weight and then failed to gain, was during a trip to Glasgow where I didn't have access to as much food or goats milk as I should have been consuming. As a sidenote I also now feel significantly stronger and am now pushing much higher weights than before I started.

So basically that's it, if you stick with the programme it works! 
There's more details in the last two posts:
Thanks to Tim for putting together a really simple and effective diet and exercise plan.
And thanks to the guys at Pareto Nutrition for supplying me with PAGG for the final two weeks.

Have fun with your own experiments! My next mission is strength, so onto the next chapters in the book. All the best, Michael.

Monday 21 February 2011

4 Hour Body experiment - 2 week progress

For the last 2 weeks I've been focusing on following the 'Occum Protocol' in the new Tim Ferriss book The 4-Hour Body. My goal is to increase my weight from below 69kg to above 75kg in 5 weeks by adding muscle mass not fat. The approach is to use a few principles that might seem counter-intuitive to hack your body and create exceptional results without too much effort.

Why am I doing this? Well, your body is the most important gift you have, so I believe that you should figure out how to make the most of it. After spending way too much time in the office, and not enough time getting in shape, I now really want to make sure I'm in peak physical condition, and this is the first big step.

After 2 weeks I can definitely say that it's already working!
The blue dots show weight in kgs. The green line is where I need to be in order to hit target. If I go below the red line it's not working, if I go above the yellow line it's working better than planned! The graph also shows the week previous to starting the experiment where I was already eating well and exercising a little but as you can see, I was actually losing weight.

As soon as I started on the plan my weight began to shoot up and I've consistently been above target since. This is with minimal gym time but a big focus on food input. What's interesting is that lots of people doubted that this plan would work at all, but for me at least it is proceeding perfectly and I'm not getting fat either.

Here's what I've learned so far...

Tuesday 8 February 2011

The Art of Focus, 3 tools and techniques to help you beat distraction addiction

Have you noticed something different in the last few years? Have you noticed that many people, maybe even you are addicted to information stimulus. We've become addicted to distractions that get in the way of what we want to do.

It's hard to imagine now, but only 20 years ago most of us wouldn't have had a mobile phone. We might have just set up our first email account, but we'd rarely check it. SMS wasn't used much (did it even exist?). Twitter and Facebook were a long way from being conceived. There weren't many distractions really. I'm not sure if this was a better time, but for me it was a very creative time. I'd lock myself in my room and create music, free from any distractions or disturbances. It was just me, my imagination and my music.

Now when I sit down to create there is so much temptation. The modern computer is an incredible tool, it gives us all the power to create things that 20 years would have been out of our reach. My little Macbook is a typewriter, a photography lab, an artistic workshop, a global communication device, an endless library of knowledge, a video production suite, a unix supercomputer, a publishing house, an incredible digital recording studio. It can do so many things, it has endless possibilities.

And yet now we sit in front of our computers or stare at our phones endlessly checking email, refreshing the Twitter stream or spending too much time browsing around Facebook. Instead of initiating action, we now await stimuli and respond to it. If there is no stimuli we feel somehow disconnected, we're not sure what to do, we have become addicted to this constant stream of new information. All these systems work on a similar principal to fruit machines and computer games, that of random rewards...

Friday 4 February 2011

Never be scared to fail - take action, fail fast, learn quickly and keep going

At the end of December 2010 we began a demand test for Bulbomatic, a muse business idea. The idea of a muse business is that it isn't dependent on you being involved. For example if you setup a design agency, become a lawyer or any type of freelancer, then you're basically exchanging your time for money. With a muse business the goal is to setup a system that you can eventually remove yourself from, so you can earn money without having to trade your time directly for money. A muse business is ultimately more scaleable, as it's growth isn't dependent on the amount of time you put into it (in the long run). Ultimately it's a way to have both time and money.

Bulbomatic was a test case to go through the process of early stage business creation. We followed the steps that I talked about in a previous post case study - 7 simple steps to test any idea or muse business. We ran the test page for 4 weeks, here are the results and learnings.

Sunday 30 January 2011

The 4 Hour Body is here! - time to set some fitness goals and self-experiment

The package has arrived and it's big!!

 This week I finally received my (official UK) copy of The 4-Hour Body: An uncommon guide to rapid fat-loss, incredible sex and becoming superhuman: The Secrets and Science of Rapid Body Transformation. Quite a title!!! In case you don't know this is the second book by Tim Ferriss and the follow up to his best seller The 4-Hour Work Week. I have to thank the first book for giving me the push I needed to transform my work life, start this blog and create the freedom to do the things I'd dreamed about but never got round to doing. So I was more than curious to see what this new book would be like and if it would assist me in improving my health, fitness and body.

For those that have been following me you probably know that I didn't want to buy a 'real' book again. I simply couldn't wait for the Kindle version of this, I'm only human!

So what's the verdict? Well it's a huge book and I've only spent 2 days with it so far, but I've followed Tim's instructions, picked an initial goal, and read the pertinent chapters.

Thursday 27 January 2011

Don't censor yourself

Blogging is great. If you don't already do it you should give it a try. Everyone seems to have a unique story to tell or an interesting point of view on the world, and blogging about it attracts people who have similar interests or views as you do.

Many people tell me they would love to blog but don't feel like they have anything to say or they just don't want to put anything out because whatever they write isn't quite perfect.

The simple answer to this is 'don't censor yourself'! 

We all do it each and everyday, some more than others. We think about what might happen if we say something wrong. Sometimes we are so hesitant that we miss the moment completely. I did this yesterday at lunch when I overheard two chaps on the next table talking about setting up an online social enterprise in an area that I know very well. I kept my mouth closed and probably missed out on making two new contacts and who knows what other adventures.

Yes we sometimes have to censor ourselves for self preservation! But is that little Mary Whitehouse in our heads a little bit too in control of what we are doing? Is she holding us back?

Friday 14 January 2011

Minimal living - cutting the chains of property and junk

First of all apologies for not posting for a couple of weeks. I've been a little busy working on my current big project. I'm about a week away from completing the sale of my London flat. This process started over 5 months ago, so it's taken quite a while and has been a bit of a rollercoaster.

A few years ago I read a fascinating book, Authentic: How to Make a Living by Being Yourself which talked about the French origins of the word "mortgage". Mort = Death, Gage = Pledge. Mortgate = Death-pledge. This phrase lodged itself deep inside my head. For many people, myself included, a mortgage is a big trade. We're effectively exchanging a huge portion of scarcest commodity (our time) to make money to service a pledge which makes the banks rich and often goes on till we die (or are close to dying). Think about that for a minute. It's a bit scary!

But property is a great investment right? And highly leveraged debt (mortgage) is the only way to get your hands on it!? Well, yes and no. I had a very practical financial education from reading books such as Rich Dad, Poor Dad. If you struggle with money I'd strongly recommend reading these books (they were a huge help for me). They contain sound strategies on how to add property into a portfolio and make money. But they also point out that your own main property is rarely an investment, it's actually a financial liability i.e. it costs you money each month (unless you totally exit the market when you're up, which most never do).

Tuesday 4 January 2011

2011 begins: How's your first day back at work?

For many of you today will be the first day back at work in 2011...

I congratulate you if you're excited by this, if you feel joy in your work and if you truly believe that what you're doing with your time is a good use of the small and finite amount of time that you have left. That's an awesome achievement, you should be incredibly proud and grateful!

If on the other hand you loath being back, you had the commute from hell, you've sat in your first pointless meeting, you don't understand why you're doing this (again), then stop and think before you carry on with the madness.

Question why you are back at work.
Question why you need to earn even more money this year.
Question what you are spending this money on.
Question if it actually makes you happy.
Question what you do.
Question why you do what you do.
Question why your company is doing what it is doing.
Question if they are good or bad.
Question who you are really making rich.
Question if they are even really happy.
Question if you are excited by what you do.
Question if you are using your skills to achieve anything beyond money or making other people money.

Think about what you would rather be doing right now.
Think about what amazing things you could be doing if you had an extra 50 hours per week.
Then question why you aren't doing it now.
Then stop making excuses and stop procrastinating and go do it now.

You get one shot at life (as far as anyone knows).
2011 could be an amazing year for you, but only if you make it amazing, do it.