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  • Tom: Hey everybody.

  • Welcome to another episode of Impact Theory.

  • You are here my friends because you believe, like I do, that human potential is nearly

  • limitless but you know that having potential is not the same as actually doing something

  • with it.

  • Our goal with this show and company is to introduce you to the people and ideas that

  • are going to help you actually execute on your dreams.

  • Today's guest is one of the most successful and unconventional entrepreneurs I have ever

  • met.

  • With $700 and a beat up laptop he launched what has become arguably the largest and most

  • successful meditation and wellness media companies on the planet.

  • Born and raised in Kuala Lumpur he's lived in Malaysia, Michigan, New York, the Bay Area,

  • and at the time of this recording he's house shopping in Estonia, not kidding.

  • He and his family also uproot themselves for an entire month every year to spend time in

  • a new and exciting location to ensure maximum exposure to new ideas.

  • This very unique perspective, the diversity that it brings, is what has allowed him to

  • question everything and crawl out from under the horde of bullshit rules, what he calls

  • "brules", that he believes are holding us all back.

  • In the process he's had a ridiculous string of successes that sees him now leading a global

  • empire of 200 employees from 40 countries.

  • Along the way he's founded Omvana, the highest grossing health and fitness app on iTunes

  • in over 30 countries; Dormio, which was recently the second most downloaded health and fitness

  • app in the US; Dealmates.com; and most importantly his flagship company Mindvalley.

  • He's also a hyperactive philanthropist who's on the Innovation Board of the X PRIZE, was

  • named to the Transformation Leadership Council, and through his project renaissance he's aiming

  • to make his home of Kuala Lumpur one of the top 20 cities in the world to launch a startup.

  • Please help me in welcoming the CEO and founder of the radical new Mindvalley Academy, a revolutionary

  • educational platform with over 1.5 million students and subscribers, the creator of A-Fest,

  • and the best selling author of The Code of the Extraordinary Mind, Vishen Lakhiani.

  • Vishen: So honored to be on this show.

  • Can I just give a shout out to my family?

  • Tom: Please.

  • Vishen: Christina, Hayden, Eve hi.

  • Hayden, check out that t-shirt.

  • Do you recognize that symbol?

  • My son is a big Jedi fan.

  • Tom: He's the reason that I'm wearing it.

  • Vishen: Nice.

  • Got that Hayden?

  • Tom: You had said in an interview, actually it was a talk that you gave, you said, "We

  • have to question all these brules.

  • One of them is religion so my kids get to pick their own religion," and you said that

  • you kind of hoped that he'd choose Jedi and I was right there with you man.

  • Vishen: You were? Tom: Yeah.

  • I love that notion.

  • Tell us what are the brules?

  • What's the culturescape?

  • Give us some of that which is pretty important.

  • Vishen: Well I coined a word which I call the "culturescape."

  • The culturescape is that tangled web of shared subjective realities that all of us are immersed

  • in.

  • All of us are influenced by the culturescape of our local group.

  • I grew up as a kid in Kuala Lumpur and growing up there my family was Hindu so I was influenced

  • by the shared subjective reality of Hinduism, the idea of reincarnation.

  • I believed growing up that eating beef was somehow bad, I might go to Hell.

  • Well, Hindus don't believe in Hell but I might not achieve oneness with the universe or I

  • might be looked upon badly by God because I chose to eat beef.

  • That was my shared subjective reality.

  • As I grew up I went to a British school and then I came to America, I went to the University

  • of Michigan, and as I got exposed to these different elements of the culturescape, because

  • of this diversity I was part of, I start realizing that not all shared subjective reality is

  • true.

  • I realized that my belief that eating beef is bad was just that, it's a belief.

  • It's neither true nor false.

  • What I write about in my book is how to study the culturescape, the shared subjective realities

  • we are living in, and identify what rules help you and what rules are really brules,

  • or bullshit rules.

  • Brules that hold you back from truly living your most extraordinary life.

  • Let me give you an example of a bullshit rule.

  • Growing up in an Indian family there's a lot of pressure to be successful.

  • If you have Indian friends they'll probably say this as well, especially Indians who are

  • immigrants like me who live outside India, that your family pushes you to be a lawyer,

  • a doctor, or an engineer and if you're not any of that you're a family embarrassment.

  • Indian kids grow up to be lawyers, doctors, engineers or family failures.

  • In my case I loved art.

  • I wanted to study art.

  • I loved performing art, I loved getting on stage and acting, I loved photography, but

  • when I went to school I viewed the idea of me being an artist as disappointing my family,

  • as the opposite of success, so I signed up for computer engineering classes.

  • I studied hard, went through all of these boring as hell classes that I had no interest

  • in at the University of Michigan so that five years later I can get a job at Microsoft.

  • Now boom, I was it.

  • I was working for Bill Gates.

  • I was at Microsoft.

  • My family saved up over 100 grand for this college education and now I was a software

  • guy at Microsoft.

  • Eleven weeks into Microsoft I realized I was miserable and I quit cold turkey.

  • I basically got myself fired.

  • I had no motivation for work.

  • When I was supposed to be in the office, and I confess and I'm so apologetic to my boss,

  • I would just hole myself up and play Age of Empires because I was so bored with programing.

  • My boss caught me and he fired me and I wanted that to happen.

  • I realized that for five years I was pursuing something that I had no interest in because

  • the rules of the culturescape, of being a good Indian kid, said, "Be a software programmer,"

  • so I quit.

  • I quit, I went and joined a non-profit and that's really when my life began.

  • I dabbled in different things from traveling around the world to meditation to art.

  • It was through following these passions and it was through ignoring the bullshit rules

  • of the culturescape, identifying what really drove me, what made me passionate, that I

  • was able to build the life I have today.

  • That's really why I'm so adamant about teaching people through my work, through my books,

  • to question everything.

  • To question your religion, to question your societal rules, to question the idea of a

  • college degree.

  • I have a method for that which we can talk about later, it's called the Three Most Important

  • Questions.

  • That's how I feel all of us should be living life, by questioning everything.

  • I don't mean being skeptical of everything, there's a difference.

  • I mean healthy skepticism.

  • Ultimately questioning the rules of the culturescape so we can stay true to our own inner identity.

  • Tom: That's really interesting.

  • Full disclosure to anybody watching, Vishen and I know each other, we're both on the board

  • of the X PRIZE.

  • I didn't know that you had a performance bug in you.

  • I think anybody watching will get that you're very at ease talking, you're great on stage,

  • your presentations are amazing, and they have a lot of fucking views dude.

  • How do you let that stuff drive you?

  • Do the Three Most Important Questions do they address that?

  • Like tapping into ... Vishen: Well let's talk about that.

  • I think the idea of goal setting in the western world is rubbish because here's what happens:

  • when you ask people to set goals, even if you teach them methodologies like S-M-A-R-T,

  • SMART goal setting, you are basically encouraging people to set goals based on that same culturescape

  • with its restricting rules.

  • People, especially in the United States, set goals along the lines of this: we need to

  • get good grades so I can graduate high school, so I can get into a good college, need to

  • study hard to get a good GPA so maybe I can go to graduate school, so maybe I can do well

  • in my LSAT, that becomes the next goal, get into law school, the next goal, graduate from

  • law school, get into a partnership, become a lawyer.

  • That's how teenagers often think about their life.

  • This series of ticks that they have to go through but here's what happens.

  • Let's actually look at that.

  • Let's look at lawyers.

  • 50% of lawyers in America are clinically depressed.

  • It's not just the US, I think Australia did a similar study.

  • Why are kids going into these professions where they end up in a job that they thought

  • was a good goal at one point only to find themselves absolutely miserable?

  • I say that with some confidence because I, at a certain point, was working in a legal

  • industry, I was selling technology to law firms.

  • I would speak to lawyers on the phone and diagnose what was going on in their law firms

  • and it was shocking how many of them actually hated their jobs and wanted to quit.

  • Why is it that teenagers go into these roles?

  • Now it's not just lawyers.

  • We set our goals to have two cars, and a house of a certain size, to be in a marriage.

  • It's because these goals aren't coming from inside us, they're coming from the culturescape.

  • The culturescape is basically a safety net mechanism.

  • For the longest time in human history we had to watch out for each other.

  • There were wars, there were disease.

  • Go back a thousand years there were wild animals that might kill you.

  • You had to follow certain rules of the culturescape to stay safe.

  • Among these were get a good education so you're not stuck in a factory job, so that you can

  • have a blue collar job.

  • It was get married, so if you're a woman you have a man to provide for you.

  • It was have five kids because if you go back 50 years ago infant mortality was so much

  • higher, you had five kids two were going to probably pass away.

  • The problem is people continue with these same rules in today's world when everything

  • has changed.

  • The thing is I don't believe in goal setting because when you teach traditional goal setting

  • people are locked into the rules of the culturescape.

  • Here's what I suggest.

  • I suggest we ask ourselves three questions, and I call these the Three Most Important

  • Questions.

  • The first question is this: it's what experiences do I want to have?

  • I'll tell you why that's important.

  • You see there's two types of goals, there are means goals and there are end goals.

  • People tend to chase means goals not realizing these are very different from end goals.

  • A means goal is do well in my LSAT, graduate from college, get that particular job, save

  • up for retirement, but if you ask these people why do you want that there's always a so.

  • "Well I want to qualify for college so I can do this."

  • Tom: Right.

  • Vishen: "I want to become a lawyer so I can do this."

  • Well the "so" leads you to the end goal.

  • Now what are end goals?

  • End goals are these things that really lead to the beauty of being human.

  • It's waking up next to someone you madly love, it's holding your first child in your arms,

  • it's having a puppy, it's seeing your business open for the first time, it's getting that

  • first customer, it's completing your first book, it's creating a work of art and having

  • people admire it and fall in love with it.

  • These are end goals.

  • What I advocate is, and the Three Most Important Questions, is forget the means goals.

  • Means goals are goals designed by the culturescape.

  • Instead go straight to the end goals.

  • The first question you ask yourself to identify your end goals is what experiences do I want

  • to have in life?

  • This is where you start writing down your experiences.

  • When I do this exercise I ask people to take out a piece of paper, draw three columns ... If

  • you're watching do that right now.

  • Take out a piece of paper, three columns, top of the first column you're going to write

  • down experiences.

  • Ask yourself what experiences do I want to have?

  • Who do I want to wake up with?

  • What type of house do I want to live in?

  • What countries do I want to visit?

  • Where do I want to travel to?

  • What adventures do I want to have?

  • Whether it's climbing Mount Kinabalu, or hiking the Andes.

  • What type of family life do I want?

  • What dog do I want?

  • The beautiful thing about experiences is often they don't require that much money.

  • It's crazy, we associate money with happiness but often the most beautiful experiences in

  • life require no money.

  • Almost any human being today can fall in love, can make a baby.

  • These are some of the most profound experiences I've had.

  • The first thing is you make a list of your experiences.

  • The second thing is you ask yourself this question: for me to be the man or woman who

  • has all of these experiences how do I have to grow?

  • Here we come to the second list.

  • I believe we are souls having a human experience here on planet earth but these souls are not

  • just here to explore all of these wonderful things about being human, I believe as souls,

  • as human beings, we crave growth.

  • Human beings are growth driven machines.

  • You make that second list and that second list is how do I want to grow?

  • How can I learn to be a better father?

  • A better spouse, a better lover?

  • What languages do you want to learn?

  • Do you want to learn a musical instrument?

  • Do you want to learn to write?

  • Do you want to learn to play a particular sport?

  • Or learn a particular skill?

  • What many people don't realize about the world is that growth is a goal in itself.

  • It's one of the key things that drive us forward as human beings but very few people write

  • down growth as goals.

  • It's because the education system which tries to teach us to grow through forced learning

  • makes many people dread learning.

  • Growth becomes that second list.

  • Now you have two lists, your experiences and your growth.

  • Now you ask yourself the third question and the third question is this: to be that man

  • or woman, how has all of these experiences, to be that man or woman who has grown in such

  • a way, how can I give back to the world?

  • There's a very important reason for that question.

  • The Dalai Lama said, "If you want to be happy, make other people happy."

  • I believe that when you do these three most important questions that third category is

  • what truly leads to fulfillment.

  • It's when you can take your growth, you can take your experiences, and contribute to fellow

  • souls, contribute to the human race.

  • You've learned entrepreneurship?

  • Great.

  • Mentor someone.