7 easy ways to boost your confidence and feel like a sexy, manly man.

Nothing’s sexier than confidence. A good-looking person hiding in the corner will only accomplish a fraction of what an average person with confidence can accomplish. And that applies to so many aspects of life, from business to dating. You can’t fake confidence, but you can pump it up from the inside using the following tips:

  1. Do something that scares you. The first time I sang in the New York City subway, I was nervous, but afterward, I wasn’t afraid of anything. I was walking down the street singing, smiling and making conversation with people. Can you imagine how cocky you’d feel if you went skydiving? It doesn’t have to be that intense though. Try singing karaoke or playing at an open-mic, talking to a complete stranger, joining Toastmasters to practice public speaking, anything that gets you out of your comfort zone.
  2. Lift weights. Heavy weight lifting produces a surge in testosterone and growth hormone, both of which we could all use more of. To maximize the benefit, do compound exercises and use free weights so you can work more muscles per exercise and spend less time in the gym grunting. (I talked more about weight-training here).
  3. Stop looking at porn so much. I’m not a prude. I think looking at porn once in a while is probably fine, but chronically overstimulating yourself will result in abnormally low dopamine levels, leaving you depressed and anxious. Not sexy. Read more about it here.
  4. Stand up straight.  Good posture not only makes you look more confident, it makes you feel more confident, too. Instead of getting all stiff and awkward, just relax your shoulders and neck and picture a string attached to your breastbone pulling you upward. So, chest up and out, shoulders down and relaxed. And tilt your head up slightly, like you’re relaxing and taking in the air on a beautiful summer day.
  5. Smile. Sure, we smile when we’re happy, but did you know it actually works both ways? Smiling makes you happy, and happy people are more confident. And since smiles are contagious, people will smile back at you, which will make you feel even more happy and confident, and so on and so on in a positive feedback loop. I find that this works best when I smile from the inside. In other words, don’t just flash a smile, think it. Let it start from your eyes and then slowly wash over your face. Read more about the power of smilling here.
  6. Put on a nice shirt. If you look better, you’ll feel better about yourself. There is a difference, however, between a shirt that’s “nice” and a shirt that makes you look good, and it all comes down to fit. Fit matters more than price, fabric, color, or designer. Get a perfect fit by making sure of two things: 1) The shoulder seam aligns with your actual shoulder (this makes your shoulders look square and manly) and 2) Avoid excess fabric around the mid-section (this just makes you look fatter).
  7. Get a haircut.  There is probably no cheaper and quicker way to dramatically improve your appearance than with a good haircut. If you’ve been going to some lazy barber who’s been hacking at you with a clipper, take the time and money to find a real hair-stylist who can suggest an improvement.

Any other suggestions?

 

The truth about body odor and how to prevent it

Body odor is caused by bacteria that live on your skin and turn your sweat into rank-smelling acids. You can’t eliminate these bacteria (at least not without severe antibiotics and their attendant side-effects), but you can reach a state of rapprochement with the enemy by bathing daily and using a deodorant or antiperspirant. Some people use these terms interchangeably, so I want to make sure we distinguish them.

Deodorants do just that: de-odorize, mainly by attempting to kill the bacteria, most often via alcohol. Obviously, if you sweat a lot, eventually these anti-bacterial chemicals will be washed away and the bacteria will return, but if you’re not very active during the day (aside from when you exercise, obviously), deodorant may suffice.

Anti-perspirants are a sub-category of deodorants. They have the same germ-killing properties of deodorants, but they also block your body’s sweat glands. I don’t want to sound like one of those paranoid people that think everything is carcinogenic, but this just strikes me as a little bit extreme and unnatural, especially since it’s really the bacteria, not the sweat, that cause body odor. Beside, I’ve never found an anti-perspirant that could actually stop me from sweating. Nevertheless, if regular deodorants are not working for you, give anti-perspirant a try. The most effective one I’ve found is Mitchum (I like the unscented, sensitive-skin variety). It never stopped me from sweating, but it did an awesome job at keeping odor away.

Another obvious approach would be to just try to reduce the amount of sweat in your arm pits. Here are some ways to sweat less:

  • Wear 100% cotton undershirts and underwear. Cotton breathes, keeping you cool so you sweat less, and it also absorbs sweat, so less of it is sitting there in your armpit irrigating the bacteria colonies. There’s really no need to wear polyester or polyester-blend shirts on top of your undershirts either — textile manufacturers are doing wonderful things with cotton these days.
  • Trim your arm pit hair — the less hair you have, the faster the sweat will evaporate. I don’t recommend shaving it off because it looks weird, and armpit stubble is really uncomfortable, but most men have way too much armpit hair and it’s becoming socially acceptable to trim it or remove it.
  • Try to improve your heat tolerance — After three years of living in boiler-heated New York buildings, I find any temperatures below 78 degrees a bit chilly. Yes, this makes me side with the girls in the office who are constantly complaining about how cold it is, but you must admit: it’s a lot easier to put on a sweater than to try to cool off in a hot room. When summer comes around, try to see how long how you can last without turning on the air conditioner. And don’t set the thermostat lower than 75 degrees if you can help it.
  • Relax and keep a positive attitude — Getting stressed out about how hot it is will only make you sweat more. Try to remain calm and realize that it’s really not that hot. Think of the troops in Iraq, where it’s regularly above 100 degrees. That’ll put things into perspective. Or think about how lucky you are that you’re not living in Alaska, next door to the Palins.

 

How to maximize your enjoyment of alcohol while minimizing the negative effects

When I was growing up, my experience of alcohol was seeing my older brothers get completely shit-faced. This made a real impression on me, and it took me a while to rid myself of the idea that the purpose of drinking was to get blindingly drunk and pass out. I’d go out to parties at college and be really confused when people would look down at me for being drunk. “Of course I’m drunk! Isn’t that why we came to this stupid party?” was my attitude.

It took me about ten years to realize that real men don’t guzzle down huge quantities of cheap hooch or beer. Real men drink real booze. Slowly, like gentlemen. “It’s for sippin’, not for chuggin’ “, as my cousin Paul says.

When you get black-out drunk, your friends may have a laugh with you about it the next day, but please realize that though it may feel like they’re laughing with you, they’re really laughing at you. And I don’t think I need to tell you that getting black-out drunk greatly increases the odds that you’ll do something you’ll regret the next day. You might even do something you don’t remember. What’s the point of having an experience you can’t remember?

To drink slowly, it helps to drink something you respect enough to sip slowly, either because you respect the quality and/or price of the booze you’re drinking, or because you respect its power to make you do stupid things that you or someone else will regret tomorrow. Don’t assume beer will keep you safe. Beer tends to taste like water, and you can end up drinking a lot of it before you realize how drunk it’s made you.

Another good reason to avoid beer is that it doesn’t taste as good as wine or whiskey. And do you really need the extra calories?

A few more rules:

  • Never drink on an empty stomach. Have some greasy protein, like a burger, before you start drinking. It will slow down the absorption of alcohol. You still need to drink slowly, but at least you won’t get drunk after two drinks and forget how to drink slowly.
  • Drink a glass of water for every drink you have. Hopefully, this will slow down your drinking, but if not, it should at least reduce the potential hangover.
  • Never drink alone. Drinking is a social activity. Take away the social aspect and you’re just a sad, lonely alcoholic. Not sexy.
  • Don’t drink every day. Chronic drinking is one of the fastest ways to destroy your waistline and your health. If you have problems in your life that are driving you to drink, figure out what they are, and fix them. Alcohol doesn’t actually make you feel better, it just numbs you temporarily and leaves you feeling worse the next day.
  • Don’t use alcohol to boost your confidence — Alcohol only lowers inhibition, it doesn’t make you interesting or charming. If you’re trying to talk to girls, having one drink might help you take the edge off, but anymore than that, and you’re not a sexy geek anymore, just a drunk guy like all the others. Your brain is one of your best assets. Keep it functional and your night will probably turn out better.
  • Know when it’s time to quit. A little bit of alcohol makes you feel good, but there is a point at which it starts to make you feel worse. I know it’s hard to realize when you’re at this point, and this is all the more reason to drink slowly. Don’t let it sneak up on you. When you start to feel tipsy, stop or slow down. If it’s late and all your friends are drunk, say goodnight. They’ll plead with you to stay (’cause misery loves company), but they won’t remember the next day that you left early. That way, you get the best of both worlds: a satisfying social life and a good night’s sleep.
  • Know when it’s time to quit. Alcohol is a powerful drug. If you can’t handle it, there’s no shame in that. If you’re gregarious and outgoing in social situations, no one will notice or care whether or not your glass has alcohol in it. It helps to have an amusing one-liner about why you don’t drink. One of the best I ever heard was: “Every time I start drinking I always seem to end up in handcuffs”. Or you can say what I say: “I don’t like the way it makes me feel”. If the people you’re with don’t respect this choice, chances are they’re not very nice people. They may be alcoholics, or just immature jerks with a penchant for peer-pressure. Find some more mature friends.

 

Drink like a man, not a teenager, and you’ll be more likely to enjoy yourself and have fond memories the next day.

 

Nick Cannon forced to start living like a Sexy Geek

Nick Cannon’s kidney problems have forced him to give up junk food and start taking better care of himself. I’m not sure if his poor eating habits caused his health problems, but I’m sure they contributed to his condition or at least aggravated it. Read more here.

I especially like this quote of his:

I always considered myself as someone who was in great shape, but I was doing too much (to my body) so my immune system got confused and just started attacking my kidneys… I look like I’m in shape, but I was putting the wrong stuff into my body, speeding all the time, not sleeping and eating properly – it’s all about taking time and really caring about yourself and how you fuel yourself.

I’m glad that he’s cleaned up his diet, but it’s clear that his attitudes to food still haven’t changed. He and I clearly have different definitions of “good oatmeal”:

Cannon’s since had to replace his beloved sugar-filled Lucky Charms cereal with oats as he “can’t have none of that stuff anymore”, but he moans, “(It’s) not even the good oatmeal. (It’s) real oats, like horse-feed stuff – but it’s cool. I’ve got to start to love it.”

Dude, what do you have against real oats? Maybe you’re just not making your oatmeal properly. Try this recipe from eat2succeed:

  • 1/2 cup (45 g) of rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup (157 g) of skimmed milk
  • 2/3 scoop (20 g) of chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1 cup (125 g) of frozen raspberries
  • A dash of cinnamon

    High protein chocolate raspberry oatmeal (photo by eat2succeed)

 

Personally, I would use whole milk because I think the fat is probably good for me and it’s more filling. And I would add some chia seeds for a nice crunch and some extra fiber and god knows how many vitamins and minerals (’cause chia apparently has all of them in abundance).

Remember, if you put garbage in your body, your body will look and feel like garbage. If you put healthy food in your body, your body will look and feel healthy.

Eat smart, live smart. That’s The Sexy Geek way.

Only boring people get bored

The other day I was complaining to my wife about how bored I was. I’ve been working from home for the last six months, first for Adobe and now for myself, and it can get kind of lonely. I also don’t have a car, which impedes my sense of mobility and autonomy. I’d gotten quite used to not having a car, because in New York, you don’t need one and can get around perfectly fine without one.

I had also gotten so wrapped in my work and in my music that I had forgotten how to let loose. It used to be that drinking and music were my only hobbies. Then I gave up drinking and started working on music almost full-time. Just like that, I had no leisure time. This single-minded focus on the things I considered important was, I admit, somewhat satisfying for a while. But everyone needs a break now and then.

After several months of this, I got so bored, I seriously considered drinking again. Not that alcohol itself actually appealed to me, it just seemed like drinkers always have somewhere to go and something to do. And alcohol is definitely a social lubricant, in that it reduces inhibition, and gives people something to bond over (drinking). But if you take away the alcohol, you quickly realize some interesting things: bars are boring, drunk people are annoying, and you have to turn off your brain with alcohol to make them seem interesting.

Finally, I realized “I live in Los Angeles, the second largest city in the country. If I’m bored here, it’s my own damn fault!”  I’m a smart guy, surely I can figure out a way to entertain myself. So, I made a resolution to go out every night for the next 30 days.

Can going out every night be a healthy, positive thing, and not a symptom of alcoholism or sex addiction? I would say yes. Here are just some of the many benefits I can foresee from this adventure:

  • Meeting new people — I am not naturally a sociable person, so it’s important for me to practice meeting strangers every day. And it would be nice to have a broader network of friends and acquaintances here in LA.
  • Experiencing new things — What better way is there to become a more interesting person?
  • Increased productivity — Since I know I’ll be busy in the evenings, I’ll be forced to get all my work done during the day. No more screwing around.
  • Networking — I’ll never meet anyone who can help my career if I’m sitting on my ass at home.
  • Finding new ways to entertain myself and to socialize without drinking — There’s a big world outside of the bar and I intend to discover it and claim it in the name of The Sexy Geek.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

How sparkling water can help you lose weight

I have an oral fixation. Throughout my life, I’ve had problems with drinking, smoking, and eating. Sometimes, I just get bored and I want to put something in my mouth (that sounds dirty, but it’s not. Not usually, anyway). For me, sparkling water, aka club soda, or seltzer water, or carbonated mineral water, is the perfect pacifier.

Sparkling water helps you out by:

  • Silencing phantom hunger pangs — It’s two hours after a meal, you know you shouldn’t be hungry, but your stomach’s doing something funny that you just can’t ignore, and it’s impeding your ability to focus. Don’t reach for a snack, a sugary soda, a beer, or even a piece of fruit — have a glass of sparkling water instead. The bubbles will make you feel full. I suspect this is one of the reasons people drink soda. Well, now you can have your soda without turning into a fatty.
  • Ensuring adequate hydration — this may come as a surprise, but sparkling water contains large amounts of water.
  • Boosting your metabolism — if you consume it cold, your body has to burn energy heating it up. This effect is small, but significant. And don’t overlook the metabolic impact of getting up and walking to the bathroom.
  • Reducing your glycemic response — if you squeeze a lemon into it, according to Tim Ferris: “In my personal trials, three tablespoons of fresh-squeezed lemon juice just prior to eating appeared to lower blood sugar peaks by approximately 10%”. That’s a lot of lemon juice for a 10% effect, so consider the lemon juice optional, and rinse your mouth out with plain water after consuming it — you don’t want citric acid sitting in your mouth eating away at your pearly whites.

And finally, sparkling water is just more fun than regular water. As I always say: I like my water to sparkle — like my intellect.

Geeks are more creative when left alone — No duh

I’ve been saying this for years, and now a nice lady named Susan Cain has come along on written a whole book about it: “leave me alone so I can get my work done!”  From an op-ed by Ms. Cain in the New York Times:

the most spectacularly creative people in many fields are often introverted, according to studies by the psychologists Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and Gregory Feist. They’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas, but see themselves as independent and individualistic. They’re not joiners by nature.

I like the part about how “they’re extroverted enough to exchange and advance ideas”. A sexy geek knows how to socialize and is aware of the benefits of human contact — stimulation of creativity, being able to bounce ideas off of people, and of course, being able to meet people of a certain gender. But we’re comfortable with solitude, indeed, it’s crucial for us to do our best work.

Especially relevant for us programmers is this paragraph:

Privacy also makes us productive. In a fascinating study known as the Coding War Games, consultants Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister compared the work of more than 600 computer programmers at 92 companies. They found that people from the same companies performed at roughly the same level — but that there was an enormous performance gap between organizations. What distinguished programmers at the top-performing companies wasn’t greater experience or better pay. It was how much privacy, personal workspace and freedom from interruption they enjoyed.

Unfortunately, most managers refuse to grasp this incredibly obvious fact and continue to herd their best employees together like cattle. Sometimes they even have the nerve to call it a bull-pen. When they get a bunch of programmers into one massive cubicle, I call it a nerd-pen. I also call it an insult to my professionalism, a hindrance to my productivity, and a living hell (yeah, I know, #firstworldpains, but still).

If you can’t get your manager to see the light (or if you can, but they have no ability to change anything because the CEO wants everyone working in an “open-plan” office), here are some things you can do to get some productive alone time:

  • Come into work early or stay late. I’ve tried to come to work early, and it never works. I’m just not fully awake at that time of day to be productive. But the trouble with staying late is that a bunch of other people stay late, too. And they don’t seem to realize that the reason you’re at the office late is to work, not to hang out and chat.
  • Book a conference room for a few hours. Don’t invite any of your colleagues, or even tell them where you are. Lock the door in case they come looking for you.
  • Work from home, or an internet-connected cafe.

Any other ideas?

The most efficient way to exercise

Guys often ask me “What do you do for cardio?”. They’re always shocked when I answer “Nothing”. Once in a while I go for a run around the block, and I enjoy taking walks, but I don’t do it to burn fat. I do it because it makes me feel good and it gets my blood pumping. I don’t feel the need to regularly do “aerobic” exercise, aka “cardio”. Why? Because I burn plenty of calories when I’m lifting weights. This is due to the fact that I lift hard, I don’t take long breaks to flex in the mirror or chit-chat, and I don’t waste time on the treadmill like a bored hamster in a cage.

Why is weight-lifting the best form of exercise for men who want to look like men?

  • It burns more calories than aerobic exercise — The afterburn, or the increase in your metabolism from weight-training lasts considerably longer than the afterburn from aerobic exercise. Some studies have even seen metabolism boosted all the way into the next day, but this required an amount of exercise that I don’t recommend to beginners or amateurs, including myself. The catch is that you have to lift hard. Sitting on a machine and pushing out a few reps won’t burn calories or build muscle.
  • It gives us the results we actually want — girls want to lose weight and be skinny. Men want to sculpt their bodies into something better.
  • It boosts testosterone and growth hormone, giving you confidence and manliness.
  • It makes you stand up straighter and generally feel like more of a man – what do you think boosts your confidence more, lifting more weight than you’ve ever lifted before, or putting in 90 minutes on the treadmill at a slightly higher speed than last week?
  • It gives you strength that you can actually use in your everyday life — How often are you going to actually need to run several miles? In what post-apocalyptic universe will you not be able to just get into a car and get there in half the time? Lifting heavy objects, on the other hand, is something all men are expected to be able to do. My mom once got a frantic phone call from her lesbian friend Lynn. “I never thought I’d say this” she said, “but I need a man!”  Had she undergone a sudden change in sexual orientation? No, she just needed to install her air-conditioner and couldn’t lift it herself.

By now, you’re probably thinking, “Ok, I’m sold. How do I start?”. A complete course in weight-training is beyond the scope of this blog post, but I can give you some basic principles to guide you as you learn:

  1. Good form (i.e. proper technique) — This means lifting and lowering the weight in a way that provides a maximum benefit to your muscles. When you look at it this way, why would anyone want to cheat and use poor form? You’re not competing against anyone but yourself, so when you cheat, you’re only cheating yourself. And you’re putting yourself at risk for an injury. Examples of cheating including swinging your body and using momentum to move the weight faster or using less than your full range of motion.
  2. Maximum effort = maximum results — when you’re starting out, you can get a lot of benefits just from putting in a little bit of effort. And it’s important not to use all your strength to do something you don’t know how to do. But in the long-term, if you want to get results, you’ve got to push yourself really really hard.
  3. Plan your work and work your plan — If you walk into the gym and wander around trying different exercises, you’ll waste your own precious time and you won’t get the same results as you will if you make a plan and stick to it. The time to research new exercises is when you’re at home. The only experimenting you should be doing while at the gym is finding out how much weight you can lift on a particular exercise.
  4. Work as many muscles per exercise as you can — When you use free-weights instead of machines, you exercise additional muscles to stabilize your body, promoting faster growth and burning more calories. Doing exercises that work the entire body, like the squat and the deadlift, are also ideal. And two arms is always better than one. Maximum effort = maximum benefit.
  5. Get plenty of rest — weight-lifting tears up your muscles. It’s while you’re resting that they grow back stronger.
  6. Warm-up —  Always start by warming up. You don’t want to exercise cold muscles. Jog down to the gym if it’s less than 1.5 miles away, or step on the treadmill for five minutes to get your blood-pumping. Another great way to warm up is to jump rope. I like it because it requires more coordination than running on the treadmill, which, let’s face it, is a pretty brainless activity.

If you lift hard 2-3 times a week and eat right, you’ll burn enough calories and boost your overall metabolism to ensure steady fat loss, while building muscle. This is the way to get ripped, buff, shredded, cut, whatever you want to call it. It’s how to look better naked.

And it’s a lot easier than spending hours on the treadmill.

 

 

How to be more interesting in 10 simple steps

This article is great: http://www.forbes.com/sites/jessicahagy/2011/11/30/how-to-be-interesting/

But they forgot the most important way: become more interested in other people.

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you” — Dale Carnegie, How to Win Friends and Influence People

Taking a genuine interest in others is the fastest way to become more interesting for two reasons:

1) People like people who like them. As the Roman poet Publilius Syrius said “We are interested in others when they are interested in us”.

2) The things you learn from listening to people will make you more interesting. Never turn off your intellectual curiosity. Think of yourself as an anthropologist studying a different culture, which you very often are. Even if the person is a complete bore, you’ll learn something about how the mind of a complete bore works. Wouldn’t you like to know more about how the mind of a complete bore works? I would.

Stay curious and stay sexy.

From the article:

 

Hormone produced by exercise keeps you healthy

A fascinating new study has discovered that a hormone produced by the muscles in response to exercise can turn your white fat cells into brown fat cells. In case you didn’t know, brown fat cells are “good fat” cells — they burn calories, unlike white fat cells that just sit there making you look gross.

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/exercise-hormone-helps-keep-us-healthy/?src=recg

Bizarrely, at the end of the article, the author says that the hormone affects your metabolism, but that it can’t make you lose weight? Huh? If you increase your metabolism while consuming the same amount of calories, you’re going to lose weight. That’s just common sense.

Granted, if you eat more after you exercise because you’ve worked up an appetite, or you think you’ve earned it (you probably haven’t), you’re not going to lose any weight. That’s why smart people eat right AND exercise. And they exercise efficiently, getting the maximum metabolic boost in a minimum amount of time.  I’ll talk more about the most efficient way to exercise at a later date, but for now the short answer is: weight-training.