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20 Ideas to Stay Ahead of the Curve in a Rapidly Changing World

Idea threads


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Jan 30, 2017
I saved this email from Alexander Juan Antonio Cortes.

Alexander JA Cortes is a fitness trainer from Los Angeles, California who is currently residing in Florida. While his profession is a personal trainer, he often writes about self-improvement, mindset, and business.

While his blog is great, you should also check out his Twitter. This was where he built up his audience and online presence. He mastered the Twitter thread and Periscope as a communication tool.

This email has some very powerful insights, but it was only available through his email newsletter and does he hasn't reposted it on his blog. So I post it here, both for its great content and to bring attention to the author. This email isn't just Fastlane in nature, but also forward-thinking and optimistic.


Its no mystery that our biggest regrets as human beings are not what we've done. but what we wish we HAD done.

The romanticization to go back and change who we are now by who were then, its endless. Its easier to wish you had lived differently in the past than to make the effort at living different in the present.

As it is, one of the most common question(s) I get is

"If you could go back to X age what would you do different?

If you could go back to X age, what would be 1-2-3-4-5 lessons/things you'd tell yourself?"

"If you could go back to X age, what do you wish you could tell yourself?

Being honest, I hate these questions. I understand them, but what is being asked is what not what I'd do different, it is what someone else should do, what the questioner ought to do. Its not truly about what I would do, because I CANT.

And neither can you.

You cannot repeat the past. You can extract meaning from it, reframe it, reimagine it, arguably even change it to the degree of what your destiny in the now and distant future. But you cannot go back.

What I find most obtuse though in the question, is that we live our lives the best we can with what we KNOW at the time. And to go back and tell your younger self such lessons...its representative that you do not understand the nature of time.

Knowledge is experiential, time is experiential. There is nothing you could back to tell yourself for you neither understand it nor apply it effectively. And at the same time, as the future has changed, as your life has changed, who you have become is as much a reaction to the world you live in, as it is your actions within the world.

The world at 18 is not the same world at the age of 29.

The world when you graduated high school is not the world at 30, or 40, or 50.

As it is, I don't want to tell anyone the lessons that I "wish" I had known then, because there are not any.

Rather, If I was advising a younger person today on how they could create the best outcomes in their future, what would I tell them?

That requires having a sense of the future, and that takes greater sight than the remedying past.

You Live In the Diamond Age

The world has changed vastly for young people, for everyone, and there is no reliable narrative anymore that ensures a prosperous future.

-The college narrative has been busted
-The American Dream no longer exists
-Culture is fractured along hyper partisan lines
-The nature of work has changed due to technology
-The reliable 9-5 and retire narrative has been busted
-Attention has become an infinitely valuable commodity
-The corporate culture is soul crushing and everyone knows it
-digital systems of scalability have enabled massive monopolies
-The mono-career that ensures a life long livelihood is not reliable
-The adults and parents lost their homes in the great recession
-The grandparents and even older parents can no longer retire
-Digital reality that never existed prior has become the marketplace of the future
-Social marxism has created an outrage and victimhood culture, a perpetual race to the bottom
-Centralization of knowledge has resulted in academia becoming an ineffective, bloated layer cake
-Trust in institutions is at a major lower. The Media, the Government, Academia, they are corrupted to the core
-There is a crisis of conscious among everyone in regards to how did "we" get here, and where are "we" going
-There is a spiritual crisis among adults in seeing their narrative world fall apart, and a Future Crisis amongst the younger generations, as if the adults don't know what to do, what do you tell the children?

Its all very very unreliable. Young people do not lack information or tools, they lack MEANING, and direction, and purpose.

There is no reliable model of "do this, and your future will be fine". There is not.

We are a society undergoing a reexamination of what is important to us, what is important to YOU, as an individual? What are our values? Do we have shared values?

Family? Love? Relationships? Security?
Pathos Ethos Logos are all being rearranged.

We desire meaningful relationships in a world of shallow connection.
We desire clear directions in a very bright and sparkling but blinding world.
We desire that what seems so fundamentally wrong with so many things, victimhood culture, suppression of thinking, unreliability of truth, that there might be some outcome to all of it for the better.

Why the Diamond Age?

There is great wealth to be had, you have the means to create a beautiful life for yourself. But you will have to dig and scrape through much earth and stone and expend blood sweat and tears to create that.

The advances in technology, especially in regards to fabrication, 3D printing, biotech (the Dark Horse of technology that will radically change the world), decentralization of information and systems, the future will be materially abundant. Have no doubt to that fact.

But materialism isnt the issue. Meaning is the issue.

The new world gets decided by those who impress their will upon it. This the Age of the Artist, the Age of Archetypes, the Age of Heroes.

When the Institutions have gone bad and the social order has decayed, and the culture is eating itself alive, and everyone wants an out, who do you turn to?

You don't look to groups, you look to individuals. You look for the model of someone that has saved themselves, and ascended above the madness of crowds, and perhaps you can save yourself.

When work lack means and the future lacks clarity, and values lack impact and connection lacks depth, what do you look for?

You don't turn to science, because science gives no answers of that kind. You look to artists, because artists take reality and take something beautiful out of it, and if they can create beauty from it, then perhaps there really is meaning to be found in it, if you only look at it a bit differently.

When the direction the world seems uncertain, and the supposed virtues of progressivism have turned ugly, and you cannot rely on the authorities of the past for what is true, what do you look towards?

You look towards archetypes, the stories and characters that are are Eternal and everlasting, and the values that accompany them.

That's the Meta View, What Are the Practicals?

I would advise you view the future not by leading with the frame of trying to "know" what is to come, but rather by preparing and training the skills that enable you CREATE what comes, and adapt accordingly

There are some things that you NEED to be able to do/Be Aware Of

And Yes, I know this list is all over the place. These are not numbered in any kind of hierarchy, FYI

1. The ability to use technology-Every single field is incorporating technology, ALL of them. Name a profession, any profession, and you find myriad ways how technological access and digital reality have changed it, affected it. There is nothing that has not been touched. If you view this from the frame of "technology is changing X", you will be behind the curve.
Rather, view it as "how can X repurpose and utilize these technologies". Now you are innovating and not lagging. The worst thing you can do is resist. This does not mean you must master every trend that comes along, and be on every social media platform. What it means is that your digital instinct must always be current. You either use the tools, or they use you. This is something that the Boomer Generation largely does not understand (which is one of the reasons why the cultural divide is increasingly sharper between older and younger. Boomers had hard tech that they used, they are not aware nor proficient in the soft tech digital world of today and how narrative driven it is)

2. Systems and Goals-BE BOTH-These are not mutually exclusive. All systems exist for purpose, and if they seem to not exist for a purpose, its because the purpose hasn't been identified. All goals require a process/system to bring them into being, and a goal without process is a wish, and no more than that. Life is an Infinite game comprised of many short games. Life is a meta system made of many goals, all with their own processes. How you do one thing is how you do (and do not do) everything else.

3. Be Anonymous at Your Own Risk-Yes, people get doxxed and ruined for wrong think, but that era is going to reach its end. From now into the future, remaining anonymous will severely limit your influence and work, and if you desire any measure of independence and freedom, trying to be no-name will be inhibitory. If you work for someone else and serve a role that is firmly in physical world, and want no digital identity, you can do that. But understand that as digital reality and physical reality merge, the idea that you can protect yourself and your opinions and beliefs from oversight, it will become increasingly unrealistic. In the near future, Honesty is going to incentivized (honesty doesnt mean moral agreement), and attempts at hiding will lead to overall distrust. Trying to remain hidden, it will not serve. All the world is a stage, stand on it and say your name. Every industry is going to go through its own "unmasking" in due time.

4. Personal Brand > Resume-You could start a blog right now at 18, documenting your journey in learning literally ANYTHING, and you could update that blog once a month for 4 years, and at 22 you'd have a life story, a true-to-life account of your skills and how you learn, and any potential employer/person you applied to work for, they could look at that and gain more insight into who you are and what you have to offer than a resume ever could.

Hiring off resumes is 50/50, the data reveals them to be largely worthless, and unstructured interviews are even more worthless. A Personal Brand story provides the structure that employers and collaborators are looking for, and allows for far far better estimations of character and ability than a resume/open interview ever will.

5. Personal Brands are on the Rise-Storifying your life makes you into a model for others to learn from. Using stories to teach people about themselves and the subject at hand, THAT is the most powerful form of teaching there is. By externalizing what is internal, you create the pathway for someone else to internatlize it. Inside outside inside outside.

Stories are what motivate people to live, innovate, and act. View reality this way, present yourself this way, and you'll be master of your own universe.

6. Own your story-This goes along with not being anonymous. You must own your narrative, and never allow it to be subverted by others. I say this as someone that is moderately controversial and has seen many friends attacked by various media actors many times over. If you allow people to say what they want about you, and you run and hide, you lose the game.

On the personal level; do not EVER let anyone dictate who you are or misrepresent you. Apply this is to any level of life that you want, its universally applicable. People will talk, but only you are the one that Speaks on your life.

7. Storytellers will rule the world-We live in a post truth world. The strongest and most compelling and most persuasive narrative wins. Those can tell stories, they can sell/engineer/persuade anything they want to happen. Those that are stuck on standalone data and facts, thats dead. Its not good enough by itself, and the tyranny of trying to follow data and metrics has resulted in a Machi(nation) Society which has dehumanized people and led to technocratic rule. Storify your qualifiers, and qualifiers your quantities.

8. Live Speaking Ability-Video and augmented reality are the future. Get good at talking. You can throw oration, elocution, interpersonal communication, body language, all of that into this. People that can talk, converse, make eye contact, be on camera, speak and have their voice recorded, the world is yours. If you struggle to express yourself, you are at significant disadvantage.

9. Writing ability-Learning to write and being proficient at writing doesn't mean you need to have a professional writing career. Rather, writing is a scaleable skill, and it gives you an advantage in practically any professional domain, and gives you an edge regardless of "inhuman" your work might be.

10. Teaching ability-How much "how to" content is out there in the world? Essentially an infinite amount. People are always looking to learn how to do things. Teaching is rarely thought of as a "rich" profession, but with digital world, masterful teaching is now truly scalable for the first time in history. Someone like Jordan B Peterson did not become popular simply because of his content, but because of his delivery. The Man is a masterful teacher (among other things), and his rise is no accident.

Anything that can be learned has value. The cheap example to this is the often critiqued rise of "influencers" on Youtube and Instagram who sell beauty products and clothing. What is overlooked is the model they are providing; women want a model on how to be BEAUTIFUL. Glamor is Power. There is a reason makeup tutorials get millions of views, the same reason billions are spent on losing fat, overcoming insecurity, self help books, business books, and every other industry of psychology that repackages the same knowledge over and over. People are always in the process of becoming MORE than they are now, and there is no limit to that. Anything that has been learned must be taught, and no one wants to learn the wrong way.

What is obvious to one person is confounding to another. We are all mimetic beings, and we are constantly trying to learn from each other.

11. Learning how to learn-There are always a few people surprised that this can be improved on. Of course it can. Learning is a skill, like anything else, and it can be trained. Those willing to develop their learning capabilities, world is yours as I like to say. As learning ability and the science of learning overlaps heavily with AI, this is a field thats changing the world, although under the radar. Smart people always want to find ways to become smarter

That nootropics have become so popular as people seek ways to make sense of overwhelming stimulus and improve their focus, that is no accident.

The best book you could read to improve your own learning

-The Art of Learning, by Josh Waitzkin

12. Optimizing health-80% of the population of the Western world is unhealthy at this point. Overweight, undermuscled, skinny-fat, sub-optimal hormones, and absolutely F*cked neurochemistry.

Im not so optimistic that this is really going to improve in the midterm. Im not a pessimist, but I anticipate the future proceeding on a pareto distribution. There will be a healthy and wealthy 20%, and the rest of will be in some state of suboptimal health. It will be a few decades before this is fully reversed.

If you optimize your health now, you'll be at immense advantage in the short, mid, and long term. And also you wont be screwing over your future offspring by propagating subpar genetics.

13. Everything is intersectional-But not in the way of the progressivism all cultures are equal, or whatever other leftist lunacy has been espoused. Rather, as ideas intersect with each other, that is where opportunity exists. It is in the spaces in between things. Every world changing has its material requirements, and every trend has its reactions and problems it creates that require solutions.

14. Tribal/Cultural Stories Run the World-What comes after the storyteller? The people that believe in and live out and the stories.
Separate, but Capable
-As globalism and the mythos of the "universal society" fall apart due to the realization that differentiation creates culture, and attempts to equalize it end up dissolving it, and the realization that ethics/morals that arise from secular motivation will inevitably find themselves at odds with transcendental ones, and that the suppression of thinking creates wicked and vengeful thinking in kind, expect that the future will NOT be "unified"

This does not mean brutal war, but it will be conflict. Thankfully, innovations in tech and the fracturing along partisan lines is leading towards increased tribalism, and society is about 10 years away from people openly connecting in physical reality with like minded people and creating their own communities/cultures.

As everyone is going to have access to the same tech, all will be "equal" in the regards of potential capability. All will not be equal in regards to their prosperity, but such is hierarchy. I anticipate that many cities will turn into Mega-metropolitans, while others will differentiate by means of specializing in certain domains and industries, and still others will be "anti-metropolitan" and attempt to create small community feel, though at scale. It will be at least a decade before a "Green" engineered city arises that attempts to use Nature in accordance with community planning and creates a place that isn't a choking mess of cars, smog, and terrestrial rat race living.

Countries are still going to exist, although national character is going to strongly reassert itself. Some places will be much more egalitarian than others, and "neutral zone" countries will take form.

15. The Village Model will take Precedence over the Corporate Model-Meaning what? Corporations are multilevel and are tall pyramids, but this creates stagnation, and poor leadership at the top can absolutely ruin the whole structure top to bottom. The concept of "flattened hierarchies" has gained momentum, but this is nothing new. Its a village model, in which the major decisions are made by a few people, but the macro systems and decisions are left to the qualified people within those areas. Its a Chieftain with a tribe, not a King in a High Castle.

Or reimagined visually, its a very flattened pyramid, versus a tall one.
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Jan 30, 2017
16. Were all going to have lots of free time to be increasingly Religious-With the incorporation of AI and matter fabrication tech, (3D printing), material abundance will be unlike anything we've ever imagined.

With material needs met, what comes next?

Meaning. And Religion is the only thing that can fill that. Religion IS that, codified and expanded. And by Religion, I mean Christianity, Islam, Buhddhism, Hinduism, etc. Progressive ideologies are virulent and effective short term, but absolute death sentences long term.

The world religions are not going away, they are going tor resurge and evolve. Religion may have taken a hit the last 500 years, but thats also coming to an end. In a world where anything and everything is physically available, the spirit and the soul are what become the next frontier. The material and empirical and rational will be subsumed by the spiritual, metaphysical, and transcendental.

17. Multigenerational families are going to reassert themselves-The model for most of human history was living amongst relatives and extended family, and then friends, and that made a village. The model in the 20th century broke that down into the "nuclear" family, and then the single parent household (which is not a good thing on any level). Community living and multigenerational households are going to return the next 20 years for many reasons

-people have become increasingly lonely and isolated
-economic changes have left millennials and many gen Xers at a loss in terms of prosperity
-many many people are moving back in with parents, and as those do move out largely need roommates
-getting married is looking more appealing simply for increased economic prosperity

This goes with the trend of communities shifting from digital to physical. Expect A LOT of real estate and development opportunities in this area.

18. You will need to be able to do it All-I am loathe to use the term "jack of all trades". I've never cared for the idea of being good at multiple things but masterful at nothing.

The most successful among us will be Multi-Masters. Specialization and Generalization combined. The Duality of one or the other is misleading, be all of it.

Those who are technically briliant, performative, creative, can teach, can learn, can collaborate, can lead, can intuit, that is who is going to "win". The few will lead the many, and those at the forefront of creating the curve are going to be remarkable people.

19. The future will always change, and not how you think-One of the most critically fallacious ideas is the sentiment of looking at the world as it is RIGHT NOW, and then deciding "this is the future", and that this is the way things will always be.

If the future is simply a SAME version of the present, but worse, then NOTHING changed. The espousal of believing in change as a constant and then fixating the future as a linear continuation of the present is bullshit.

It's absolutely nonsensical, and emblematic of how error prone the human mind is in its ego-reasoning. We assume reality is linear because thats how WE think moment to moment. Most futurist predictions are damnably stupid, as there is no innovation of thinking or understanding of 1st,2nd,3rd,4th order consequence and squaring.

Yes/No directional changes are preceded by thousands of prior decisions. The future is A priori, not a posteriori. You want to be linear because thats comforting as thats how our minds think and few people ever break out of that.

Science fiction has historically done a far better job of predicting the future than economists, pundits, politicians, etc, as science philosophers/fiction writers deal with imagination and intuition and possibility. The future is recursive and cascading and dynamically evolving. Making it linear and static is the damned opposite of how history and time work.

20. There are no "Set Paths"-If you have not picked up on this by now, the probability that anyone is going to make a living based off a static mono-career is very very very low.

I expect artisan crafts that are handmade to become extreme luxury items in the next 10 years. Even though fabrication technology will be able to produce the same products in faster time, the appeal of having something done by a human being, that will essentially priceless.

AI is going to replace causality tasks and causality jobs. Causality meaning anything that is "Do A, get B" work. Its already happening in the legal field. As law is highly logical/linear, AI legal brains are steadily replacing much of the 'busywork" that was previously done by human beings.

Those professions that require a human touch, those are not going away. The more digitized the world gets, the more of a premium it will be to interact with another human being.

On a personal/professional level, you'd best view your career/profession as one that will be in a continual state of adaptation. Your work will change, the environment its done in will change, and/or both.

Evolve Consciously.

Summary non-summary,

Don't be left behind people, you cannot afford to be inert in your thinking.

Talk again soon,

And if there is anything I can do for you, let me know



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Jan 30, 2017
Alexander as hit another one out of the park. This one is really relevant to doing business:


There is a cliched idiom in business "Show me the money!!".

The meaning is somewhat context dependent, but obvious; show me the profit, show me the money for the deal, show me the cash, show me that assets, show me something REAL.

Show me proof, is what you are asking/demanding.

Within fitness, there is a similar heuristic; "Show me the results"

The meaning is the same; if someone is claiming something, show PROOF. If you call yourself an expert in hypertrophy, be muscular. If you're a strength coach, be strong. If you appear to know so much about nutrition/being lean, be lean. If you're a movement specialist, be flexible, fluid in your movement, and be very well rounded (this doesn't mean backflips, but within reason Im expecting you to display obvious athleticism)

Your body/health is your Proof. Be what you say you Are.

Someone mentioned recently on twitter I must have been reading Nassim Taleb's writing, because I writing about applied knowledge versus theorist.

I love Taleb, but I had an experiential mindset far before I ever knew who he was. My area of expertise is the BODY. There is no such thing as intangible results in health. You cannot lie with statistics, you cannot fabricate outcomes.

You're either strong, or you're not.
Your either lean, or you're not.
You either lost fat, or you didn't.
You got bigger stronger faster, or you stayed the same.

This is why I've always had utter disdain for personal trainers who are not fit themselves, and for personal trainers who argue about whether a trainer needs to be physically fit looking (some of you reading this might scoff, but believe me, this a real argument in the fitness industry).

Occasionally you DO have personal trainers who are quite skilled at getting people fit/strong/losing fat, etc, but they are not in great shape themselves. But such situations are outliers.

My field taught me that the only proof that matters in life is Proof of Work and Proof of Outcome. Your thinking is only as good as the effects it produces

There is a heuristic I often suggest to people, "You will rise to the level of your instructor".

Relative to training, I am telling you to invest in the smartest, most muscular, most jacked and tan and most fit personal trainer you can possibly find. This does not mean hire a pro-bodybuilder necessarily, but find a person who would most want to emulate and be like, and aim high in this.

Relative to any other field in which you want to be trained, find the most qualified person possible to train you.

Obviously one can argue against "Champion players don't necessarily make great coaches!". And they'd be right.

But great coaches STILL have high level experience, even if they weren't the best. And relative to professional endeavors, the person to lead you to a higher level is likely the person that has been there before themselves, or at least led others there as well.

Transferring Over to "Business"

-You can imagine that because of my background and my natural inclination for physicality, I have immense disdain for theory, fluff, and general overwrought "word salad" explanations.

Transferring into the realm of business, my heuristic for results readily applies

-Are you making money? Yes or No
-Was it profitable? yes or no
-Did it work? Yes or No?
-Was it successful? Yes or No
-Is there growth? Yes or No
-Are there subscribers? Yes or No
-Do you have customers? Yes or No
-Do you have current process in place to handle XYZ? Yes or No

I've worked for multiple gyms and companies, and I learned over time that most "business" problems are simply problems of human psychology. People major in the minor, they focus on metrics that have little meaning, they over analyze data and don't commit to decisions, they attach their egos to protocols that don't turn a profit, they say "things must be done this way" but that way isn't working.

Relative to going into business for myself, and I am asked about more and more lately how I did it, I can contribute my success so far to my Practitioner mentality.

My practitioner mentality has served me very well in the 2 years I've been in business for myself, and I can attribute much of my growth and success to the principles that I operate by

-Storytelling-Are people connecting with the stories? Yes or No?
-Marketing-Is your brand growing in audience, reach, impressions, views, subscribers? Yes or no?
-Branding-Are people identifying with your?
-Selling-Are people buying what Im selling?
-Content Consistency-Am I writing every day?
-Audience Growth-Do I have people signing up for my newsletter?
-Audience Engagement-Are people opening my emails?
-Relationship Building-Am I getting feedback
-Speaking-are people tuning in to watch me speak?

How do I improve at these things? I do them, and if they get results, and the results grow, then I trust that I am doing is working.

On A Long Enough Timeline, Something Either Works, or It Does Not

And any argumentation against this is delusion. We all want things, and everyone has lots of ideas, but none of it is worth a damn if its effects upon reality and the world you live in are ZERO.

The modern environment gives people paralysis by analysis and fear of missing out, and subsequently we all have too much data and everyone is too scared to commit to a decision.

And when they do, and what they choose doesn't work, they either quit, or they continue on with their failed, non results producing ego investment.

Don't be either of these people. Make decisions that produce effects, ala effective decisions, and if something is not working, discontinue.

So if you are in a place of ambiguity

Make the decision that is likely to have greatest effect.

Or keep entertaining your own bullshit.

Choose one,

And talk again soon,


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