Contrary to Popular Belief, Peak Peformers Get Sleep

Peak peformers get sleep

Many people think peak performers are always burning the candle at both ends. I certainly believed that at one point. Others of us struggle to find balance and give up healthy habits like exercise, or spending time with friends and family, in an attempt to work harder thinking we will get more done. In extreme cases, some peak performers get anxious at just the thought of sleep because they fear the lack of productivity that occurs during restful periods.

To the contrary, as humans, we need to commit to balance of which adequate sleep is a crucial component. When we are asleep, we become free of all of the stress from the outside world and our body’s energy is able to restore & renew.

There are three very basic factors of sleep:

1. The time you enter sleep

2. The quality of sleep you get during rest

3. The time you wake up

To help improve these three factors you have to have proper sleep hygiene. Sleep hygiene is a fancy term used to describe ways to set yourself up for optimal recovery during rest. Organize and implement simple sleep hygiene principles and performance in all areas of your life will improve:

1. In the evening do things that are relaxing (such activities include reading a book and listening to slow music). Avoid things that are stimulating (such as exercise or watching a scary movie).

2. Have a pre-sleep routine. Routines train your mind it is time to go to sleep. Examples include taking a warm bath, reading a fictional book, or listening to relaxing music for a few minutes.

3. Have a fixed bedtime and wake-up time. Go to bed at a predetermined time and try to wake up at the same time every day. Keep in mind that you need at least 6 hours of sleep but the common suggested amount of sleep is 8 hours.

4. If possible, schedule all of your day’s activity. This means determining and following a scheduled meal time, workout time and other activities.

5. Avoid taking naps during the daytime especially after 3 PM. Naps sort of reset your energy level for the day, which can be beneficial but not if you have trouble sleeping. Doing so would mean you’ll have more energy and less of a sleepy feel come bedtime.

6. Put away gadgets or any electronics that would make you do something related to your work or remind you of your responsibilities or problems. Relax and remove your worries.

7. Avoid caffeine, nicotine and alcohol well before your bedtime. Typically, it is suggested to avoid this 4-6 hours before bedtime as these chemicals are all powerful.

8. Avoid sleeping pills or if inevitable, take them with caution. Consult your doctor before taking sleeping pills or if you need them at all. Once you establish dependency, it is a downward spiral.

9. Buy a comfortable bed and use comfortable bedding; Buy them personally so that you are comforable with the feel.

10. Eliminate noise and light. Make the bedroom quiet, cool and dark. This type of environment soothes the senses and relaxes the mind.

11. Use the sun as part of your biological clock. As soon as you wake up, try and face the sunlight for a few minutes. This can help with Seasonal Affective Disorder as well.

Your bedroom should only be used for sleep or intimate encounters. Working, watching television, and/or playing on your laptop can all hinder sleep. A radio is okay if the station is not talk radio. Reading non-fiction or listening to talk radio is not recommended because it keeps your brain stimulated.

Getting the best sleep possible is one of the best ways to optimize the next morning’s challenges and opportunities. Getting sleep is one of the most undervalued traits of the peak performer. Improve the quality of your sleep and you will be rewarded!

Using Kaizen as an Entrepreneur

This post is about using Kaizen principles as an entrepreneur. Kaizen is a Japanese concept meaning “continuous improvement” or “change for the better”. When applied to entrepreneurship it honors improving processes — and optimizing the entrepreneurial journey — more than focusing on static outcomes. The underlying philosophy is not the comparison of a beginning point and endpoint but the process of improvement and growth in the present. When applying Kaizen to an entrepreneurial system, you should involve every member of your business (across all levels). There are five elements to consider:

  • Teamwork
  • Discipline
  • Quality circles
  • Morale
  • Employee Input

In Kaizen, everyone within your endeavor is expected to share in the collective entrepreneurial experience… successes and shortfalls. This is not a one day event or celebration, rather an enduring process which aims to eliminate inefficiency and ambiguity. In addition, it also aims to create a harmonious working atmosphere where everyone is encouraged to participate in making the business better. Using Kaizen principles, organizational structures are flattened and everyone works with everyone else within the business. Furthermore, it is assumed perfection can never be truly achieved, there is always room for improvement. Therefore, this is not a problem based approach… it is a constant process. Everyone around you becomes a big-picture thinker.

Using this philosophy your employees begin to understand that their opinions are important and useful. They naturally become more empowered. The biggest takeaways from Kaizen is the importance of process, and that success is a journey that has no end… it is paved by being mindful of small consistent victories. Everything is built by taking small steps, by taking everything into consideration. Entrepreneurs using Kaizen principles take nothing for granted and constantly look to improve by taking small steps everyday and honoring the process of building a meaningful business. If you would like to learn more about Kaizen, I suggest reading Creating a Lean Culture: Tools to Sustain Lean Conversions, Second Edition by David Mann.

Making Fitness Fun

This week we are going to discuss making fitness fun. Too many of us drag ourselves to the gym to get in a quick workout because of some sort of self-imposed obligation. While the gym is great, why do we drive 20 minutes to sit on a treadmill for 30 minutes?

Fortunately more and more people are finding ways to exercise outside the gym, whether in a local or national park, the beach, a playground, or even their own backyard. For instance, simply jumping rope in your garage for 15 minutes is a great workout. It enhances and tones your legs, improves cardiovascular health, and does wonders for your vertical leap.

Hitting the dance club for a night of dancing (not drinking!) is another great example; it’s good exercise and allows you to enjoy the company of friends while getting a full body workout. If you want to try something to really move your muscles, take a hip hop dancing class.

If you are looking for something more serene, try an outdoor tai chi, yoga, or qi gong class. These ancient movement regimens combine smooth body motion and meditation to help improve overall wellness.

If you don’t want to go far from home and you are a video game junkie, the Wii and Microsoft Kinect are offering some increasingly intriguing options to have some fun while elevating your heart rate. Do you have any good ideas not mentioned here? Please share them by leaving them in the comments section below.

Five Steps in Permission Marketing

This post is about the five steps of permission marketing found in the classic book aptly titled Permission Marketing : Turning Strangers Into Friends And Friends Into Customers by Seth Godin, and includes 10 things you can do to increase permission marketing in your own business. Enjoy!

Five steps in permission marketing:
1. The marketer offers the prospect an incentive to volunteer to opt-in to inbound messaging.
2. Using the attention offered by the consumer, the marketer offers a curriculum (over time) teaching the consumer about their products and/or services.
3. The incentive is reinforced to guarantee that the prospect maintains the permission given to the marketer.
4. The marketer offers more incentives to gain even more permission from the prospect as the relationship ages.
5. Over time the marketer leverages the permission to change consumer behavior and turn the new behavior into profits for the company.

10 things you can do to increase permission marketing in your own business:
1. Figure out the lifetime value of a customer (LTV)
2. Invent and build a variety of communication suites that you will use to turn strangers into friends

a. These “suites” should take place over time
b. They should offer the consumer a selfish reason to respond
c. The responses should alter the communication moving forward
d. The communication should have a “call to action” so that you can measure the success of a desired result

3. Change all advertising to contain at least some call to action
4. Measure the results of each suite, throw out the bottom 60% and replace them with new ones
5. Measure how many permissions you achieve through your efforts
6. Protect the permission base that is built, make sure you or someone else ensures that this permission is not abused
7. Work to automate your communication and move towards email (if you haven’t already)
8. Rebuild your website to turn it into a permission building machine
9. Regularly audit your permission base to see how well you are doing and how deep your permission goes
10. Leverage your permission by offering products and services and/or co-marketing with partners

PQQ Rich Foods

Several readers have inquired about PQQ in food and whether diet alone is sufficient to obtain enough pyrroloquinoline quinone to be biologically effective. The answer — relative to what is known about optimizing growth in rodent nutritional growth experimental models — is probably yes. However, some rather broad assumptions have to be made, because of the limited amount of data regarding the forms of PQQ in different foods.

Pyrroloquinoline quinone rich foods
Natto and green tea are high in PQQ

For perspective, Dr. Steinberg out of the University of California, Davis has presented data that suggests PQQ is needed at ~200-400 micrograms per kilogram of dry food. Given that most lactating mammals have the same vitamin and mineral requirements, when those amounts are expressed on a food energy or dry food weight basis, one might infer humans — who consume about 300 to 500 grams of dry food per day (about 2000 Kcal) — need up to 100-200 micrograms of PQQ per day.

In the section, Pyrroloquinoline quinone and CoQ10, we previously discussed that pyrroloquinoline quinone exists as salts or as complex derivatives of amino acids, imidazolopyrroloquinolines, and abbreviated IPQs. For PQQ consumed in the diet (even as a supplement), much of it is converted to IPQ (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Improves Growth and Reproductive Performance in Mice Fed Chemically Defined Diets). In human milk, the ratio of IPQ to PQQ was estimated to be about 8:1 (Characterization of Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Amino Acid Derivatives by Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry and Detection in Human Milk). In foods, it is reported that the ratio under assay conditions may be closer to 2:1 (Simple and Sensitive Method for Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) Analysis in Various Foods Using Liquid Chromatography/Electrospray-Ionization Tandem Mass Spectrometry). Regrettably, tissue preparation, acidity or alkalinity, and temperature can impact and alter PQQ and IPQ values. For example, under alkaline conditions (above pH8) almost all pyrroloquinoline quinone is converted to derivatives when PQQ is introduced into a complex mixture or environment.

PQQ in Food *

PQQ in Food

* In addition to the values taken from published papers, some of the values are from conference reports or abstracts presented at meetings. As noted in the main body copy, there is a lot of variability. Kamazama et al. in their 1995 Biochemistry Journal paper report ~0.06 micrograms as the PQQ concentration in dried skim milk per 100 grams of milk solids. However, later in an abstract of a paper presented at the Biochemical Society Transactions in 2000 in England, they report detection and quantization of IPQ in human breast milk at 0.14 to 5.5 microgram/100 mL of fresh milk or 1.4 to 55 micrograms per 100 grams of milk solids. Given the variability, my estimates are inline with the data reported in Characterization of Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Amino Acid Derivatives by Electrospray Ionization Mass Spectrometry and Detection in Human Milk, i.e. ~140-180 micrograms (PQQ +IPQ) per 100 g of milk solids. Moreover, Fluckinger et al. reported that the PQQ concentration of milk is 15-150 micrograms/100 mL or 150 to 500 micrograms/100 grams of bovine milk solids. For the Fluckinger assays PQQ was separated and then measured using a 16-channel electrochemical detector, a highly precise and sensitive procedure. All other assay involved sophisticated separation and mass spectrometer for detection, also highly precise and sensitive. The information above is also derived from the work of Kumazawa et al. (Levels of pyrroloquinoline quinone in various foods). Some of the values are higher than corresponding values for foods analyzed by Noji et al. (Simple and Sensitive Method for Pyrroloquinoline Quinone (PQQ) Analysis in Various Foods Using Liquid Chromatography/Electrospray-Ionization Tandem Mass Spectrometry). Although the number of foods analyzed is small, an important finding is that PQQ has been observed in all tissues analyzed to date in both plants and animals.

In the above table, Column A indicates some of the currently available sources for pyrroloquinoline quinone (for which compositional values have been obtained). Column B are amounts taken mostly from the Kumazawa et al. paper, but are expressed as micrograms of PQQ per 100 grams of food (~1/4 lb) and not as nanograms per grams of food (as they were originally reported). Next, in column C, the amounts in column B are multiplied by 5-10 to obtain an estimate of micrograms of PQQ per 100 grams of dried foods or so-called food solids (e.g., given that most of the food items mentioned contain at least 75% water or more). Column D requires making some guesses. As noted, some researchers have reported that IPQ is 5 to 8 times greater than the amount of PQQ in tissues. While others have reported a low ratio of 2 to 3 for IPQ to PQQ. Thus, the apparent IPQ + PQQ values given in Column D range from the lowest to highest amounts obtained by multiplying arbitrarily the values in Column C by 2 or 8. Column E is even trickier. It represents the estimated amounts consumed per day for an “ideal” person consuming a maintenance diet of 2000 calories per day. Regarding the diet consumed, the values for the major food categories are based on the estimated amounts consumed per day (on a dry weight basis) derived from values given in the USDA publication, Profiling Food Consumption in America. The question is whether a typical selection of food can yield the minimum amount that corresponds to optimizing growth in animal models, i.e. about 100-200 microgram per day.

If you’re curious about pyrroloquinoline quinone intake please visit PQQ Dosage, What size pyrroloquinoline quinone pills should I take?.

Regarding various conclusions, the first is that much better data is needed. However, setting aside that concern and assuming the actual values for PQQ in foods may be at the median (middle) of the estimates provided, one can guess that a typical intake in humans is indeed about 0.3 mg or 300 micrograms of pyrroloquinoline quinone per day or more. That amount is very much is line with the amount of pyrroloquinoline quinone or PQQ + IPQ needed to stimulate growth in animals. It is also an amount that is found in human milk, which is always a good starting point in assessing a need related to growth or maintenance.

So what can we conclude? In the paper by Kumazawa et al. Levels of pyrroloquinoline quinone in various foods it is stated that probably the PQQ in animal tissues are derived at least in part from their diet and that the levels of pyrroloquinoline quinone in plant tissues are in the aggregate about 10 times those in animal tissues. In a review by Rucker et al. Potential physiological importance of pyrroloquinoline quinone, the same conclusion was reached, particularly given that stomach microflora does not make an abundance of PQQ . The data also beg the question do we need supplements and if so how much? Many of the PQQ products sold are in the 10-20 mg range. As indicated in the section — PQQ Dosage, What size pyrroloquinoline quinone pills should I take? — we discuss that the reasonable pyrroloquinoline quinone dosage, like many supplements, for an active adult is probably the result of an arbitrary decision.

As a final point, unlike many dietary factors and biofactors, PQQ and its derivatives are sustained in tissues and seem to play a fundamental role related to energy metabolism. In this regard, the need for PQQ might vary depending on your desired outcome.

Potential Benefits of Taking a PQQ Supplement and/or Increasing Pyrroloquinoline Quinone Intake

Searching for PQQ information?

If you are the type of person that concerns themselves with optimal nutrition, you probably have noticed that a few forward thinking nutritional companies have added some sort of PQQ supplement to their line of products. Pyrroloquinoline quinone is quickly gaining in popularity as a potent antioxidant, rivaling both resveratrol and quercetin as the most beneficial nutraceutical of the three.

PQQ capsules
PQQ capsules

The purported benefits of pyrroloquinoline quinone supplementation include:

  • An overall improvement in energy levels
  • Improved cognitive function and memory
  • Reduction in mitochondrial degradation
  • Cardiovascular improvement
  • Increased skin elasticity
  • Potential neuro-protectant
  • Enhanced nerve growth

There have been almost 200 scientific studies published on PQQ

So what do we know for sure so far about PQQ? We know pyrroloquinoline quinone is required in the human diet; without PQQ our biochemical functions would cease to operate properly. In the 2003 Nature article Nutritional biochemistry: A new redox-cofactor vitamin for mammals the researches Takaoki Kasahara and Tadafumi Katopropose proposed that PQQ should join niacin and riboflavin under the umbrella of B vitamins. However, it is now generally accepted that pyrroloquinoline quinone is not a vitamin.

The original claim by Kasahara and Katopropose was likely due to misinterpretation of the data in the Nutritional biochemistry: A new redox-cofactor vitamin for mammals article. It is now generally believed in the academic community that (rather than a vitamin) pyrroloquinoline quinone is better classified as one of a few bio-available compounds that can act as a cell signaling molecule.

Pyrroloquinoline quinone is prevalent in many foods associated with a healthy diet
, so people that eat well-rounded meals should get enough to sustain their biological need. It is a water-soluble compound making it difficult to achieve PQQ toxicity. In short, if you would like to take a PQQ supplement — absent of health problems — there should be little concern. Pyrroloquinoline quinone is now being heavily marketed to those concerned with “aging well”. That is despite the fact that to date no published research exists using any type of whole organisms that addresses whether or not methoxatin has an independent or direct influence on aging. All of the work linking pyrroloquinoline quinone to aging is inferential and is based on PQQ’s ability to optimize mitochondrial function.

If you have any questions about pyrroloquinoline quinone, please leave them in the comments section below and I (or my father) will try to answer them as quickly as possible.

Want to be an Entrepreneur? Stop Watching Lost! Says Vaynerchuk

Want to be an Entrepreneur? “Stop Watching F… ing Lost!” stated Gary Vaynerchuk, the author of the book Crush It! If you are a would-be entrepreneur working a normal day job, I encourage you to watch his YouTube video below…

Although I’m still pissed at Mr. Vaynerchuk for flaking on a promise to provide a seminar for everyone that purchased a book bundle he was promoting with author David Bach, I remain an avid fan of his work and buy in fully to his ideology that hard work and perseverance will pay off in the long run. He calls it “patience and passion”.

I know from experience that – absent a lot of luck – perseverance, tenacity, and reciprocity are needed ingredients in a winning recipe for giving your fledgling business the best odds of success. Vaynerchuk continues on late in the video (about getting your business started) by saying, “there is never a bad time, when you believe, when you work hard, and you know what you are doing… Work! That’s how you get it.”

There are always a few hours in the day to complete tasks. Passion and patience will get you to the finish line. If you would rather watch Lost (or any other television show for that matter) than work on your business, there is no shame in that. However, unwittingly (or maybe intentional) you may be identifying how unimportant your idea is, and as such, it might be time to rethink whether or not you are truly committed.

Getting a business off the ground is a challenge and like most challenges, starting and building a business halfheartedly will make the process extraneous at best, and more often than not a complete waste of time and resources. Entrepreneurs are notorious for going borderline maniac about a new idea. If we are left untamed, we press forward without a roadmap and tend to only focus on the activities that are exciting rather following through on all the activities that need to get done. As you begin to start a new business it is important that your goals are in line with your personality and desires. As such, it is necessary to inventory your motivations and talents and come to a decision whether it is worthwhile for you to push forward.

Here are some questions you should ask yourself first before getting started: Are you comfortable with taking risks and making tough decisions? This question is important because these are two “must have” attributes of an entrepreneur. Also, what is your definition of success? Your nostalgia might be short lived if you are only driven by profitability, since most businesses take awhile to get off the ground. Will you be supported by your family? If your husband or wife does not like someone who takes risks you are off to a bad start.

If you decide to press forward, building out an idea you truly believe in – an idea so engaging you think about it minutes after you wake up until it is time to go to sleep – is an extraordinary, rewarding journey regardless of the outcome. If you are ready, and in it for the right reasons, you won’t be too worried about missing Lost or any other sacrificed leisure activity for that matter.

With that said, if you want to be an entrepreneur, don’t forget to kiss the spouse and pet the dog, they are your biggest fans and you need them on your side to make this work!

Name a Business

Many entrepreneurs name a business before giving this step much thought. However, naming your business is an important process that should not be made in haste. Your name is often the catalyst in which your business idea will begin to take shape. Your name will influence your branding, your logo, and your position in the marketplace.

A name that’s not well thought-out can be a disaster:

Wrong way to name a business

See more wrong ways to name a business at FAIL Blog.

A great name will get you off to a good start. There are some straightforward things to consider when choosing a business name. First, keep it simple. Don’t come up with a complicated name that is useless in helping someone identify what you do. Make it easy to spell and easy to remember. If a person can’t remember your name or find you on the Web you have probably lost the sale to the company they can remember and/or locate.

Get some creditable feedback from people you trust but don’t invite too many cooks into the kitchen either. The more people you get involved the harder it’s going to be for you to narrow your focus. Your name should be creative, without being whimsical. If you are a creative type, get one or two practical people to help you decide. If you are the practical type, do the opposite.

Create a name that is expandable but don’t exaggerate too much either. For example, don’t go with Global Widgets when you have two employees on payroll and only ship locally. However, do not use a name that includes your city of operation either — unless your plan is to never expand past your city limits or the location adds value to your brand (for instance Planet Hollywood is okay because it portrays the Hollywood experience you can expect at a Planet Hollywood restaurant).

Don’t parody a famous brand name unless you like getting sued. We were going to call one of the companies I helped found the International House of Design and borrow off the IHOP logo to design our branding. It would have been a big mistake (luckily we were smart enough to realize we were being a little too “whimsical”)!

An old trick is to start your company’s name with the letter ‘A’ to be the first in the phone book. Although this is not as important anymore, preferably you still want a letter in the first half of the alphabet for online directories and company lists in convention handouts, etc. It is always better to be on the top of a list, or in the beginning of booklet (before your customer’s attention wanes).

Lastly, before you cement your name make sure it is available on the Internet. Even if you do not plan to operate on the Web, these days you need a website. Try a reputable domain registrar to see if your business name is available. If your name is not available domain registrars often have naming engines that can help you brainstorm a new name. It’s not that hard to name a business, but it is not that hard to screw it up either. Follow the above advice, do your research, choose wisely, and you will be off to a good start.

Entrepreneurial Ideas

Entrepreneurial ideas are a dime a dozen… good commercial ideas however are a scarce commodity. Whenever you hear someone say, “I’m an idea guy, I’m always thinking of new ideas,” run the other way! They have just confessed, albeit usually unknowingly, that they’ve yet to learn how to focus. I know because I use to be an “idea guy”. It served me wonderfully as the co-founder of a successful marketing agency selling my ideas to clients (because ideas were the product)… when I started a restaurant endeavor this trait served me poorly. In the case of the restaurant start-up, it was burdensome to successfully manage the balance between creation and execution.

There is a term that McKinsey consultants use when getting rid of ideas: “kill your babies” (discussed in a good book called The McKinsey Mind). If you have a good idea but it cannot be monetized – kill it! There is no reason (as an entrepreneur) to waste your time on an idea that will never make you money. During the early stages, your idea can be far from perfect. However, if you can’t write a short paragraph on how it will motivate someone else to take money out of their pocket and put it into yours it’s probably not worth pursuing.

I love wellness and fitness and want to help people perform better. As a result I’ve start a nutritional supplement company that enhances people’s ability to achieve various goals. Functional nutriceuticals is a simple and proven idea that will generate revenue through innovative products that are designed to help people accelerate their aspirations, improve performance, and improve well-being.

If you’re struggling to come up with your own idea(s), I’ve found that great entrepreneurial ideas can be garnered/inspired from checking out the various articles and resources found at Entrepreneur magazine.