Monday Morning Mojo From The Mojo Master: Richard Robinson

Scott Kronick

Some 20+ years ago I met a guy in Beijing, China who would have differential influence on my life.  His name is Richard Robinson, a Boston native who relocated to Beijing to pursue his entrepreneurial dreams.  Over the course of Richie’s time in Beijing, he introduced “Chopshticks”, a platform he created to invite famous global comics to entertain the Beijing community.  He created, advised and invested in a number of start-ups in China.  He teaches at a few universities and infects everyone he meets with positivity. He is selfless with his time and advice, and I wanted him to be among the first people I interviewed for the Monday Morning Mojo because he embodies what “Mojo” is all about.  I asked Richie to answer a few questions to share with all of you, and his answers follow.  Thank you all for reading this and you will be a better person if you do just a few of these things Richie suggests.

SK: First Richie, where do you get all of your energy from? 

RR: My spirit animal is a Golden Retriever 😉.  Jerry Seinfeld once said: ”I love energy. I love it. And I pursue it, and I want more of it. Physical and mental energy, to me, are the greatest riches of human life.

I recently took a terrific personality test by Ray Dalio www.principlesyou.com, which I highly recommend, not only for your readers, but for all their colleagues to compare, contrast and better understand each other.   My results are below.

I’m hard-wired to be an energizer as I’m an extroverted extrovert who was raised by extroverted parents. I’m with Jerry above in I want to optimize for energy in all aspects of my life. Take my nature and nurture it even more.

Now that I’m on the wrong side of 50, I’m a big fan of becoming a perpetual student of optimizing for energy. I’ve found www.TheEnergyProject.com useful as it focuses on managing energy rather than managing time. Also a big fan of @Naval Ravikant who advocates to approach work as if “It’s more like a lion hunting and less like a marathoner running. You sprint and then you rest. You reassess and then you try again. You end up building a marathon of sprints.” https://nav.al/work-hard

SK:  What was the best advice you ever received? 

RR: Most powerful one for me is the concept of ‘Amor Fati’ which is Latin for ‘Love Fate’.  I first came across this idea when I became more interested in Stoicism which can best be described as a philosophical playbook for living life.

The way I internalize and leverage Stoicism is that almost nothing is within one’s control.  People, situations, the markets, pandemics, desired outcomes, and more.  Some of those things are certainly under one’s influence and some are completely out of one’s control.

The two things that “are” within one’s control: effort and attitude.  That is to say, one’s actions and reactions.  That’s it.  Nothing else. At face value that seems overwhelming, even depressing, but it’s actually incredibly liberating.  Give our best efforts and focus on output and the outcomes will take care of themselves. Output we control. Outcomes we ultimately don’t. Something bad happens?  We can choose both how we respond and how we then take action.

So, on top of that layer the idea of Amor Fati.  Something unwanted occurs, like my divorce a decade ago or another startup I’m involved with failing. Then, the idea of Amor Fati is not to just simply be blasé about it and let it go (which many of us cannot do), nor is it to rationalize ourselves in liking it (which even fewer can do), but to actually LOVE it.

Stay with me here, because I know I’ve lost a bunch of you.  Life tosses some horrible shit at us and that’s bad enough.  No need to make it worse, and no need to be a victim.  Rather, lean into it and love what’s been thrown our way and be in full control our reaction and our action.  https://dailystoic.com/amor-fati-love-of-fate/

SK: Who do you most admire and why? 

RR:  I’ve increasingly become a big fan of Ray Dalio, the founder of the hedge fund Bridgewater Associates.  Ray is in the phase of his life where he’s actively passing on what he’s learned, and I feel he has much to share and is doing it in an extraordinary way with supporting media and apps around his book Principles.

As you, I have a labor of love where I teach Entrepreneurship at Peking University’s Guanghua International MBA Program, and it’s required for all students to watch this super well done 30-minute animated video summarizing Ray’s book.

SK: If you could give any advice to your 20-year-old self, what would it be? 

RR: I would give two pieces of advice.  The first would be something that I’m almost sure that I would not heed, even though my younger self would certainly benefit from: Meditate.

For nearly seven years I’ve been practicing Transcendental Meditation (www.tm.org) and I truly wish I’d started earlier. The clarity, focus, mood regulation, neuroplasticity and health benefits are all well-researched and proven.  Great thing is that you don’t have to believe in it for it to work, just get your butt down on the cushion, seat, wherever, upon waking up, and do this for 20 minutes in the morning, and ideally another 20 minutes in the afternoon.  There’s a reason it’s been around as long, or even longer, than civilization.

When I was in quarantine last year I wrote about my experience with both Vipassana (10-day silent meditation retreat – beautiful and brutal – breautiful, if you will) and TM. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/sweet-quarantine-lockdown-china-diaries-day-10-rich-robinson/

The second piece of advice would be to Think Bigger.  I’d always aspired to be an entrepreneur and have been working with startups coming on nearly 30 years.  I wish I knew that going all in and going big was absolutely what I should have been pursuing from the get-go.

I’d tell me when I wore a younger man’s clothes: Aim high. Think bigger. It’s mostly going to fail.  It’s going to suck a lot along the way.  Entrepreneurs work intensely and get pushed to their limits whether the opportunity is big or small, so simply aim higher.

SK: What are you reading now?  Podcasts you listen to?  Television shows you watch?  Products/brands you swear by?    

RR: Books: For reading, I rotate three books simultaneously: one on my phone in Moon+ Reader, one other audio book also on my phone and one on my Kindle which is bed and/or bathroom side.  Goal is to grab 45 minutes per day across all three which puts me on pace to read one book a week. That kind of snacking works super well, especially since I started using the app Freedom https://freedom.to/ to block social media. Far better to read 50 books a year than to doomscroll and/or lose time getting sucked into that social media / news vortex.

I just finished the Hays translation of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations which is fantastic and a must read for a student of Stoicism.  As emperor of Rome nearly 2,000 years ago, he was the most powerful man in the world. Frequently and diligently journaling and chronicling his struggles, which were never meant for publication, but which give such amazing insights on his trials, tribulations and triumphs against himself and others.  His struggles are all our struggles.

Podcast: I’m also a big fan of what is happening in the blockchain and gaming, NFT space.  It seems frothy from the outside and certainly it is in some aspects.  But when we moved from on disk to online, 10X value was unlocked and the internet revolution happened. We are now in Web 3.0 where we move from online to on-chain (on the blockchain) and yet another 10X will be unlocked.  It’s a revolution and this is the seminal year marking the changes, especially with what is happening with gaming and online community.  I suggest to listen any podcasts where you can hear Yat Siu @ysiu the founder of Animoca talk (full disclosure, I’m an advisor to the company) and from Balaji Srinivasan @balajis.  Search their Twitter feeds for some of their talks.

Software: I’m loving www.krisp.ai which I happily pay $5/mo for since it’s hands down the best software to cancel noise for video calls which we are all doing way too much.  https://ref.krisp.ai/u/u1f8fcf470 here’s a shameless referral link 😉.

SK:  I am so grateful to Richie for doing this interview and sharing.  You can follow him at http://www.linkedin.com/in/richardrobinson/  or @RichardRoinson.

Have a great week everyone.  Onwards and upwards.

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