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Mind Hacking: The Power of Awareness in the Era of Digital Distraction with Sir John Hargrave

“Become aware of the mind is surprisingly difficult because we’re usually lost in mind, and we just believe the mind,” says Sir John Hargrave.

“What was my mind just thinking?”

Have you ever challenged yourself to remind yourself to be aware of what your mind was just thinking? It is a “mind game,” an awareness exercise, that Sir John Hargrave recommends as the first step to hack the mind.

In this interview, he further explains the 3 levels of mind hacking technique; he shares his methods of tracking the mental loops through journaling and his five why’s technique, which is also called root cause analysis.

Watch the full interview or listen to this podcast to find out the tactic to reprogram your mind and be the better version of yourself!


“There is no better moment to increase your level of present awareness than NOW” –Reiner Kraft


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Dr. Reiner Kraft 0:09

Hi, this is Reiner. I'm host of The Mindful Leader podcast. And today I have a special guest here, Sir John Hargrave. And I'm excited that John is actually here on the show because a few months ago, I discovered his book around mind hacking. And the whole approach resonated with me a lot, not just because of some of the technical, the way it's described, and the analogies to computers as I'm a hacker myself, so this was a lot of overlap in terms of when I look back at also from Ron's history and passion for technology and say, Oh, this is so cool. Let's see if John is actually able to join and share some of these insights. Since they're really relevant to what we're doing here. A little bit of background was drawn. I mean, he started actually, and this is also stuff we can talk about a little bit later. As a comedy writer, he is now a mind hacking expert. He's also CEO of a media company, and in addition, also a blockchain expert, and was also in CO authoring several books there. So it's quite impressive. And of course, the mix is quite an impressive mix. So yeah, it's great, then to have you here and welcome again.

Sir John Hargrave 1:37

Thank you, Reiner, I'm excited to talk with you.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 1:41

Very good. So then let's hop right into some of the topics. So maybe first, you can share just a little bit of the context around your story, how you got from writing, comedy, but actually becoming a mind taking expert. And I know there is also when reading your book, there's also a lot of details around how you got introduced to computers. This was similar to me back probably in the late 80s 90s at some point. So maybe in a nutshell, to walk us through the journey that you took to get where you are now.

Sir John Hargrave 2:26

Yeah, I feel like we're kindred spirits, right, or we have many of the same backgrounds and influences. But the premise behind what we call mind hacking is that your brain can be reprogrammed. And if you're willing to accept that premise, we show you how in my book, mind hacking, and we talk about hacking in the classic computer sense. As you said, Reiner, which is a hack, is kind of a clever tip or technique to solve a problem. So mind hacking is kind of a user manual for the mind. And my story starts out, as you said, as a comedy writer, I ran one of the first comedy sites on the web. And we were known for these big outrageous stunts and pranks, which were fueled by a lot of alcohol and drugs. And I got into trouble with the Secret Service, the Secret Service the United States showed up on my doorstep. And let me just say, when the Secret Service comes to your house, it's almost never a good thing. And that was a real wake up call for me. And I started out the book with telling the story of what led to that. But my wife said you got to get rid of the alcohol and, and the weed and you got to throw it out. She said you have to stop. But I said I had to throw it out completely. Part of it was wanting a little bit of a spoiled child. Well, if I got to stop, and I'm going to throw it out entirely just to show you. And part of it was I knew that it really was leading me down this very self destructive path in the name of comedy writing and stunts and pranks getting bigger and bigger and bigger. And I ended up throwing all of these, all of this booze and all these drugs out in one night and throwing them into a dumpster. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. And part of the challenge was, I had like these classic bottles of wine. I remember this beautiful bottle of Italian graha in like this hand blown glass. It was gorgeous. somebody's giving it to us. And it was just amazing. I'd throw all of this away and the only way I could do it was by tricking my mind. I had to basically say to myself, like you got to just focus on the muscle movement of throwing this out. You can't think about what you're doing right now. Because if you think about the idea of being sober for the rest of your life, you'll never be able to do it. And so that was kind of this first mind hack. And I came to see that if we could build these mind hacks, I was able, then I was able, first of all to achieve sobriety, which I'm happily sober now for about 15 years. But also, we're able to hack our minds to accomplish increasingly greater things in life in business, and our personal relationships and so forth. And so that was really the start of a very exciting new journey for me. And I've really been passionate about sharing these techniques and these hacks with, with audiences like yours.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 5:44

No, it sounds great. So it definitely sounds like the birth, so to speak of the first mind tech actually arrived out of this idea, right, that you say, Oh, I have to get rid of this bottle here somehow, and the mind would suggest No, don't do it. Right. And so you had this inner struggle, and then you were able, with this trick, basically, to get it done. Was that then really, so that you decided, oh, this is kind of cool. I basically was able to get this one thing done now. Maybe there's more, right? And then the second part, usually, from my own experience, I know that there is usually also correlation. When awareness is rising, or is coming up with mindfulness exercises, mindfulness practice. Was this similar happening at the same time? Well, how did you do? How did it proceed? Basically, from there,

Sir John Hargrave 6:43

It was like a hidden wellspring of talent and potential was unlocked in the months following that decision, and that experience throwing out these bottles in the dumpster. It was excruciating Lee difficult, getting sober is really hard. And it's not fun. It's painful. But at the same time, there was a kind of a wellspring of energy that had been sort of tamped down or stopped, and you call it awareness, I think that's a good word that started to arise as a result of that. And as a result of having to work through the emotions and the feelings and all of the sort of, you know, mental and emotional growth that had been stunted during the years that I was drinking and smoking weed that now wasn't able to, to blossom into bloom. At the same time, I took up a meditation practice, which I think is the foundation of so much of what we're talking about. In the book, we call it Jedi Mind training. But I think some kind of meditation practice is key, so that we are able to achieve some awareness of what the mind is thinking. So that was a gradual process. But I would say in retrospect, it actually happened relatively quickly, after I, you know, finally made that decision to where to get sort of by a year later, my life was in a totally different place.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 8:24

And so then, it seems, then there was the combination of meditation. My guess is you probably try to meditate at that point already at a regular schedule every day. Right? Most likely. But then from one mind hacking trick, so to speak, or method, let's call it a method, right? To the end of the day, when the book comes out with several methods in there. What was the timeline between that? It was like three years, five years? 10 years, just so people get a sense on how long it takes to actually put something together? Is that comprehensive?

Sir John Hargrave 9:03

Yeah, I mean, I would say that I think the book came out maybe six to seven years after that. But I would say again, I had the foundations of this in place, probably a year by a year after becoming sober. But you know, here we are, 15 years later, and I'm still learning new hacks and trying out new techniques constantly. And that's the exciting thing about the mind is there's no limit to that we can continually find new ways of mastering our own mind and being more productive and efficient with it slowly.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 9:41

Now, maybe we can go a little bit into the techniques that you share in the book. So I'm curious but first one a definition what you said earlier, basically there is the definition of a heck mine tech and in my terminologies I often use term mind management, to remember also to different aspects of the mind that you can train and cultivate. And the underlying the fundament so to speak, I always refer to as present awareness or simply presence to basically fuel all those other activities on top. Now, mind taking, and especially here for this audience, I expect a lot of the people listening to this way of viewing it now on video have a technical background. So that means we can actually in similar to the book this is so appealing to me is that you pretty much use also the analogy of computers, software, operating systems and so on. And pretty much then take it to, you start to apply to the mind, right. So similar. This is also similarity when I was thinking about these things a few years ago, I also realized the similarity of software, software architecture and the mind itself, basically being this complex piece of software. Now, maybe what we can do is go in a few of these techniques. We can start what you already mentioned before with meditation, you actually refer to it as concentration training. Yeah. And I also was curious why you call it this, and maybe your experience around meditation, how to get started. And as already mentioned, it is like also very fundamental. I would say method that basically makes it makes your whole practice successful or remote.

Sir John Hargrave 11:51

Yes. Well, I think that the technology analogy that we use, that we both use in this work is important because that is kind of the dominant framework of our culture today. So many of the ideas we're talking about have been around for millennia. But we're putting it into kind of a modern language, a modern mental construct. And so from a high level, what we're trying to do is first become aware of the mind. And that's surprisingly difficult. Because we're usually last in the mind, we're usually absorbed in the mind, we identify with the mind. And when the mind gives us these spots throughout the day, whether they're positive or negative, we just believe that. So the first idea is becoming aware that you're not your mind and kind of achieving a sense of higher level, we call it the super user view. So when you're in the network, you have the user login, and you have a super user login, which gives you additional powers or an admin login. And that's what we want to do is try to get to that admin level of the mind, the super user level. So that's step one is that awareness. Step two is debugging the mind. So again, like a software developer, a programmer will work through software code, and try to find bugs, or the problems with the code that aren't making the program work the way expected. We want to find those negative thought loops that are holding us back. So those are the loops that are leading to, you know, anxiety, depression, low self esteem, and so forth. And then step three is to reprogram those loops. So we want to literally hack the mind, and, and help us replace those negative thought loops with more positive loops to help us achieve health, wealth, happiness. So I think the first exercise I can recommend to you and it's not quite meditation, it's really just an awareness exercise. And you can do it today. It's a great starting point, which is, we call the mind games. The first mind game is called what was my mind just thinking? And as many times as possible, you just ask yourself, what was my mind just thinking. And it's really easy, you'll find it in about an hour. And then it gets really hard because you forget to do it. So if anyone listening to this wants to challenge themselves, you know, keep a running, write it down, if you can, or keep it on your phone of how many times today you were able to remind yourself to be aware of what your mind was just thinking. And that's a really good way of starting to build that step one, that awareness and then that can lead into deeper meditation and awareness exercises. From there.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 14:45

Now that method also reminds me of a method that I'm teaching, it's called conscious recovery. Also, it's basically very similar in a way that you observe the mind. You become aware of what we're thinking. And then of course, you can also categorize it in different flavors. Usually, I'm interested in negativity, right, that is, as you probably also noticed, there are so many, there can be a high percentage of negative thoughts, which then causes more stress, anxiety and all those types of things. I think the difficulty is what you also just said is the level of awareness. Usually, when people start with mind hacking or with what I refer to as mind management, level of awareness is just plumbing. It's just starting out, right? It's not that strong yet. And then you're keeping this awareness up requires energy, energy injury, right. And energy is usually limited. So it's similar to what you just said, right? You have this intention, it works for an hour. And then gradually, as the day goes by, it goes less and less and less and less energy. So it's hard to actually observe them. The mind.

Sir John Hargrave 16:16

And Reiner, you have this idea of KPIs or key performance indicators and kind of measuring these and keeping track over time, which I thought was similar to what we talked about, but I liked the way that you put it almost in more like technology business terms. So can you just unpack that a little bit?

Dr. Reiner Kraft 16:36

Yeah. So it's what you were referring to earlier? Right? Keeping track of things.I learned that from my own experience, knowing actually what's happening, and how do you actually make progress is one of the key things. While I was still working in technology organizations, such as back in the old days at Yahoo, later here in Berlin at solando. Then there is the business aspect of the product aspect, which is variable, what are the numbers? Right? How are we doing? And that goes back to key performance indicators, KPIs, right. And so, when I was looking at the summer, there is a similarity here that you want to know how the mind is doing. But how do you know how it's doing? Right? It starts with, for instance, what is your level of present awareness, right. And it took me some time also to figure this out. But in the end, I came up with this definition of level of present awareness, I call it LPA. This time of your awake, waking days, are you ready, let's say 16 hours, and how many minutes are mindful minutes, where you are fully connected to the present moment. And you take it as a percentage, right? It means let's say you're 1010 minutes fully, they're fully present. And then the day has six hours, roughly 1000 minutes. So you're ending up in 10, auto sales like roughly 1% 2%. And that is usually what I observe, when I, for instance, start working with leaders on helping them to cultivate their level of awareness. This is usually where many people start. And then there are more and more of these KPIs that can be derived based on this one, but I found this one is one of the most significant, it shows you basically where you are, right.

Sir John Hargrave 18:34

Level of present awareness LPA. I love that. And the great business writer Peter Drucker said that which gets measured gets managed. So in other words, if you want to manage it, you have to measure it, and then you have to score your progress over time. And that's what I liked about these techniques. Talking about is it lets you put a number two it and unless you track your progress, you know what I would love as a Fitbit device that lets you manage your mental thoughts and lets you measure things like your I don't know, maybe you'd swipe up if it's a positive thought you'd swipe down if it's a negative thoughts, something like that.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 19:09

Yeah, but but exactly. I mean, that would make it easy, because currently, most of these things are done manually. But yeah, writing things down, journaling, reflecting. And as you said before, right, exactly. Using a good old notebook by a method that you were saying, what was I thinking, right? You want to basically keep track of how many times you have actually done it, at least at the beginning. And see, am I doing it and over the time, once you once you realize it, it gets more and more at some point. There's no need to track it anymore. But I would say in the first few months in my experience, it's critical for success.

Sir John Hargrave 19:52

It's funny, the great American founder Benjamin Franklin wrote in his autobiography about a technique that he used just using a little notebook like this, where he had a number of virtues that he wanted to cultivate in himself. And he made a little grid. And every day, at the end of the day, he would go back and rate how well he did on living. Each of those virtues, I think he actually had one per week that he focused on. And he said, I was always greatly dismayed to see at the beginning, you know, how poor my overall ratings were, in this language we're talking about today. But he said, I had the satisfaction of seeing those KPIs gradually improve, seeing those gradually improve. So I think measuring progress on these, whether it's mindfulness, or whether it's thoughts per minute, any of these these metrics we're sharing with you, and keeping track over time, whether that's in a good old fashioned, moleskine notebook, or whether that's on a smartphone app, or something like that is, is really helpful for starting to cultivate these, these habits.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 21:05

Yeah, absolutely. In the beginning, and then later on, once you get more settled, it's less and less important, but nevertheless, it's helpful. But tell me a little bit about journaling? For instance, journaling, there's different techniques. And all this is, it can be very powerful. How do you, for instance, yourself, use journaling? For basically, for instance, optimizing resource planning. Just give me a few ideas on journaling?

Sir John Hargrave 21:38

Well, we talked about, basically positive thought loops, and you may know these as affirmations. But what we're trying to do is get to the positive outcomes that you want in your life. I've had very good results with this technique of writing down that positive thought loop 15 times a day, in just a notebook like this. And in the book, we go through a number of exercises that you can use to figure out if you want to have what you want to give? Who do you want to be? What do you want to do, and so forth, to ask those questions to help you articulate what it is you actually want these positive thought loops that you want to take the place of the negative thought loops. So we can most of us just kind of take for granted, whatever our mind serves up. And if we have any, you know, longer term plans or goals, they tend to be kind of vague and amorphous. So when we go through life, that way, we're really just kind of rolling with whatever life throws at us. So if we want to be proactive in helping move our life into a more positive direction, we have to be crystal clear, and razor sharp about what those positive thought loops, what those goals those dreams are. So the series of questions helps us figure that out. And then using techniques like writing it down 15 times a day, writing down that positive thought loop, there's a lot of neuroscience that shows that the act of physically writing something down, helps kind of carve those grooves into the brain to make that more of a lived reality. In other words, to make it something more that we identify with. And also you're just spending more time with it, you're thinking about it in a conscious focused way every day. And you can easily fit this in when you might be otherwise, just browsing Twitter, or something like that. You make this a regular practice that doesn't take much time at all, but has had really great results. For me, and for all the people who've run this mind hacking program.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 23:52

Yes. Now, you mentioned positive thoughts here also loops, the terminology loops comes from computer programming and yeah, I mean, it's Indian loops, loops, that the more loops you can integrate, the more stuff you can get done all loops. But then at the end, there is what I observe. Usually, it's people who have to struggle more with the negativity and all the limiting type of thoughts, false beliefs that are buried in the subconscious, right? Is there a method that you can basically discover these loops in a systematic way and possibly also write them down?

Sir John Hargrave 24:32

Yeah, there's a number of those hacks in the book. One of them is called the five whys technique. And this comes from actually Toyota Motor Company that started this business process of asking why five times and in business, it's sometimes called root cause analysis. And so in the auto manufacturing example, you know, you would have suddenly a safety belt recall, you know, are you noticing quality problems on a number of the cars coming off the line? Well, to look at the surface cause of that to say, well, we don't have the right people in charge of seatbelts. Or there's a problem with one part of the line often just glossing over the problem. And often the cause is much deeper, for example, you know, the sales targets might have been overly ambitious. So the production lines were running it at greater capacity than they could handle and that caused, you know, mistakes to happen. So you continue asking why five times five levels deep. And there's nothing magic about the number five, the idea is just to keep asking why until you get to the root cause. But when we have these negative thoughts, when we have anxiety, or when we have problems, you know, relationship problems, job problems, that we know we have a part in, we can start asking why. And again, continue looking at ourselves fearlessly at continually asking why until we can get to the root of the problem within ourselves. So the goal is not to blame it on other people, other people may have a part in it. But the goal is to get to the root cause of that negative feeling or that negative outcome within ourselves. And that is often just like a computer programmer, you know, debugging a piece of software, until they get to the root of that cause. And often it's not obvious. And often there's some trial and error and reprogramming and trying to figure it out, we can finally get to that root cause and then find that negative thought loop and replace it with something more positive.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 26:43

And unfortunately, from my own experience, there's many of these negative side loops, like an ongoing process. I mean, I would be interested actually, in the number of these negative thought loops that are typically buried in the mind. Curious if there's any study on this, but it feels like it's a large number, basically, and it never stops, right?

Sir John Hargrave 27:09

We're all running very buggy software. Probably true of all of our software all over the world, in every company, right? And probably true of our minds as well. I don't know when you get rid of them when you achieve perfection, I suppose.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 27:25

Yeah. Well, I mean, if you think about it, in the old days, there was this release of Microsoft Windows, right. And this was a big deal. But at the end of the day, it was very buggy, and other software like Office, Microsoft Office, right. So picking on Microsoft now. But the reason it is a big, complex piece of software, it was so buggy, and then what you would see. Over time, because of the continuous development and debugging, you would see the software is getting better and better, at some points actually usable. And so I'm seeing the similarity with the mind. We're leaders or people in general, listening to this podcast, we never actually worked on mind hacking, or did one mind management, I would compare, I would see the similarity here to this new release of let's say, Microsoft Office, which is so buggy, right, and all this stuff is in there. And then over time, however, if you start actually systematic, systematic debugging, as you suggested, I could see that it's you make very quick progress that something you observed is now.

Sir John Hargrave 28:36

That's a great analogy, Reiner. And to continue that analogy, you know, a game changer for Microsoft and for software in general with the Internet, and, you know, automatic updates and releases. So before this, you had to remember you had to install a patch, or something which came on a CD. And so you were limited, very, very cumbersome and difficult. Many people would never get that fixed. But then when the internet came along, they just did it automatically. Or usually, in my case, when I have a big deadline, and I'm about five minutes away, Windows decides it's going to update for the next 20 minutes. But that idea of kind of continual updates is how it is similar to when we start creating a habit out of debugging these thought loops. What is it in me, what's the root cause? What's the root idea that I need to debug within my own mind and continually do that as part of a process? That's very similar to this idea of kind of automatically pushing out updates. We don't have to wait, you know, every six months for a big release. We can be doing this on the fly continually. That's powerful.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 29:48

Absolutely. And I think the when we tie this together now, right, this this idea of automated updates, it could be as you suggested, what we have to do is figure out auto automated way, like a routine, where we say every day we spend, I don't know, 10 minutes on debugging it or more. But I don't know in the calendar and make it a habit over one or two months that this is the habit. This is where the updates are happening. And then in terms of the updates itself, it looks like there is a combination of methods to five. Why use a dress? That seems like a good fit for looking at faulty patterns. I have another one method that I'm teaching, which also goes into discovering some of these. Yeah, false beliefs limit thoughts. It also is inquiry based, right. But it's just examples of what can be done. And then the other one, you mentioned before the affirmations, this is now the upgrade. When you say okay, one gets rid of the negative stuff. But now let's actually install some upgrades here. And this can happen through these affirmations, right. Tying those three together, it seems like this is a really cool thing. And maybe from your experience, man, how long does it take? If someone would actually do this, spend 10 minutes a day doing it for a few weeks, months? How fast would you think you'll see results?

Sir John Hargrave 31:20

Well, in the book, we actually have a 21 day program and the 21 day program basically walks you through all of these exercises. So you can get that in the book. But the book is also available for free. So it's mind hacking. It's mind hacky dot n g, so mind hacky packing. And if you go there, you'll see that the 21 day download program can actually be emailed to you. And you can get basically these guided exercises that walk you through that. And we've had 1000s of people join that and just give us so much great feedback that it has significantly changed the way they think in 21 days, of course, you have to continue it. But it started those habits in place. And I want to come back to the importance of meditation within all this you asked me about earlier. So this specific meditation technique to me is not as important as actually meditating, making the time to do that on a regular basis. Because just as it was the foundation for me and building my sobriety, I think it's the foundation for all of these exercises that we're talking about. It's difficult to be aware of that negative thought loop, if you're not practicing that, that daily, you know, 10 minutes or so, of just trying to stay silent with the mind in trying to calm and focus the mind. But if you can do that, that's the foundation that makes all of these other things possible. Because again, it drives that awareness, that awareness of the mind that I'm not the mind, I'm something beyond the mind. And I'm able to look down on this mind, almost like the mind is on a stage and I'm viewing it from a balcony, I'm able to look down on this, this thing, and I'm able to consciously reprogram it, or I'm able to basically decide what I want it to think, going forward. And I don't have to believe my mind, I don't have to believe everything that comes out of that daily practice of meditation. Only one technique, that's the technique to use some amount of meditation each day.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 33:34

In the end it boils down to what you're saying was down to awareness, cultivating awareness, which you can do with meditation with mindfulness exercises. So to build this capability, this abstraction layer so that you see yourself you become really the observer of all there is, it can be your salts, it can be sensations in the body, it can be external events, whatever it is, right? But becoming, becoming this observer, and this is a big step. Surely meditation helps. One thing, however, I also noticed is that the awareness or in general awareness, is very sensitive to anything that happens around you, right? So that's why they can be a little fly on the wall or they can be whatever, whatever happens inside or outside of you. And awareness likes to basically jump to whatever it is, and this is the difficulty with it at the end of the day. distractions, right. And I think nowadays, and I've seen that for myself in the past 10 years, there's such a change. When you look back just 20 years ago, it was hardly the case that they were text messages or like social media, what was social media at that point? So all those streams of what I call distractions, right, it was nothing was really there. And then more and more was creeping in the can email read, it was the big one. And then later came the phones, smartphones, iPhones, whatever, and not then all those other social media channels nowadays. So it's constantly stuff going on that awareness basically recognizes these things. And then the mind jumps on any of those, right? And that's where the mind gets busy. And when the mind gets busy, it's exactly the opposite. There is no silence, there is no observing, you basically sucked into all of those things, right? Any tips on your side, I know that you also were investigating this problem in terms of strategies on eliminating those things.

Sir John Hargrave 35:57

Yes, I have a good friend, and we'll be driving down the street and just having a conversation, suddenly, he'll squirrel. But just stop what we're saying, go squirrel, or Hawk, you know, he'll just his mind will lock into something that has nothing to do with what we're talking about. And we all do this today, we all are surrounded by all these devices and all these notifications and all these software updates. And, you know, we have taken it for granted. And we've started to accept that this is the way things should be. So this is a very countercultural idea. Today, I feel that we should resist that. And we should purposefully go on a kind of low media diet or low notification diet, we should turn off our notifications, we should or set them to silent or vibrate. We should you know ruthlessly unsubscribe from all the emails, we should declutter our digital lives. So that's a chapter in the book that is all about decluttering. And this is widely supported by all the research on multitasking, that we're not built for multitasking, we're very poor, multitasking, that we think we're really good. But we're not, then all the research shows, when you lose that flow, when you lose that focus, especially D focus where you are trying to do really deep meaningful work. It takes 15 to 20 minutes to get back into that state of deep flow. That's why computer programmers, you know, the good ones, you'll see them usually with headphones on. They don't want to be disturbed because they're like eight levels deep in the code. And they know as soon as you come ask them what they want to eat for lunch, they're going to have to get all the way back down into that. So take a lesson from our great developers and try to declutter and try to make your life streamlined around being able to get those deep periods of focus without the digital distractions.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 38:02

Yeah, yeah. So it's the combination, then right, to on one side, you want to systematically decrease that this distraction can even happen. Right. And then with mindfulness techniques with meditation, we're actually working on building building the muscle of the mind and

Sir John Hargrave 38:20

You want to increase your awareness

Dr. Reiner Kraft 38:22

Increase right? All together. Now, you can already see that the beauty of this mind hacking, or what I referred to as mind management, is a very personal, individual, unique process and practice that you can develop and cultivate. What's the role of a new opinion on creativity?

Sir John Hargrave 38:47

Well, I think throughout the book, we're trying to use peer reviewed research studies, to show the science behind this and to show how this awareness these these disciplines, these these exercises, like, like meditation, like mindfulness, they increase creativity, because they decrease the things that limit creativity, which would be things like anxiety, or the kind of self censorship that we all have that that idea is stupid, and I'm not even going to pursue that. So we're able to quiet those things, our own mind distractions, in order to increase the things that we want. And those are those positive qualities like, like, like awareness and, like, you know, peace, calmness, happiness, but also creativity. I believe there are true business benefits that come from doing this. I mean, I'm an entrepreneur and as an investor at heart and these techniques have helped me immeasurably in silencing, not only my own mental censorship or my own self doubts or fears that might hold me back from making those big bold moves, but also from the world. It's that constant stream of, of Twitter negativity that comes in, or just the noise, the noise that's out there, about, you know, what, what everybody should be thinking, what we should be investing in, what we should be creating or doing. And having the space to, to listen to myself and my own inner vision on what should be done. That's a game changer.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 40:37

Yeah. Tell me a little bit. I mean, I always remember these discussions I had back when I was still working in organizations with senior management. I will always see these discussions around mind management, mindfulness, whatever, show me the numbers, right? And there has been a lot of studies done in the past year. So the data is very clear, it shows all those impacts on increased productivity, less stress, less negative negativity. But at the end of the day, power of presence, it seems to be, is the fundamental thing. And when you know from your own observation, as you said, you're an entrepreneur. What do you think then is, how does it impact your day to day business decision?

Sir John Hargrave 41:34

I spend a lot of my time in meetings, talking with clients, talking with entrepreneurs, talking with potential investments, and so forth, and being able to be present, especially on zoom, is like a superpower. Because most people are not able to do that, you know, we're all distracted, people are answering email. And so I will do that occasionally. No doubt. But when I need to be present, I am able to be present. And that unlocks new opportunities. First of all, because it's so unusual, people aren't used to somebody really being there, on zoom. But second, I'm actually able to listen, and I'm able to pay attention and hear opportunities that others Miss because they're, they're really again, trying to multitask, which we don't do well. They're listening with one ear, and so they miss maybe the most important parts of any given conversation. So I think it's a superpower. And fortunately, it's one that we can build, we can learn, we can cultivate.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 42:44

Yes. So unfortunately, I think the difficulty I see, while working with many leaders in technology is getting started. Right. So I mean, people now listening to this podcast, they say, Oh, yeah, kind of cool. Improving awareness sounds good. But then usually there is this inspiration then there at this moment, but then things they often go back to the usual. So it feels to me getting started actually taking some first steps, is possibly the most difficult hurdle to overcome. Would you agree on this?

Sir John Hargrave 43:23

Always. Always. Yeah, the beginning of any new habit is difficult to take that first step. Yes.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 43:30

And then any tips? I mean, since you talked about this 20 day program, how could, in your experience, what was helpful for people to get excited to actually take this first step of day one?

Sir John Hargrave 43:43

Well, that was a really important part of the book, was to make sure that people had an action plan that they could use, because we are, you know, especially those of us in technical fields, you know, we want a roadmap, we want to project plan. So again, this 21 day plan, there's a couple ways you can get it. It's available in the book, which is available on Amazon, mind hacking, you can get the audio book on Audible, which has the 21 day guided meditation. So at the end of that, you can actually work through those meditations, there's 21 of those over the next 21 days. And also, you can get them for free on the website at www. Mind hacking. That's mind hacking dot n g.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 44:31

Yeah, no, definitely, we'll add these links in the shownotes, for sure. And then maybe a trick could be if you're now listening to this in the car, or wherever you're listening to it. to outsmart Your mind is to basically go to these links, you'll see them in the show notes. And then maybe one step is Yeah, and get this audible book, for instance, where I get the version to lead by just doing it. And then maybe I don't know, such as a reminder for tomorrow to get started, right? Because if you can do this first step, that is major, I think is a major accomplishment right?

Sir John Hargrave 45:13

That's right. And if you sign up for the free mailing list on the website, we'll also email them to you as I said, so that's a good reminder as well. Like me, your email is your main source of activity throughout the day.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 45:26

Another question I have is on awareness, increased awareness. One of the benefits I observed is it helps you to have more clarity on your purpose. emission values life, right? Unfortunately, without this level of present awareness, you may come up with, you may end up in jobs that you may make a lot of money, but it's not something purposeful, right? There's just basically something, you're doing something which you're not meant to do, right. And so finding or discovering gradually your purpose and mission in life is a fundamental piece, especially for leaders because they shape the organization, right? If you want to define what is the purpose of this organization, then ideally, this comes from a deeper state of presence, right? Maybe any, any guidance, quick guidance on how leaders could tap into this?

Sir John Hargrave 46:31

Well, we have a deep inner wisdom, Reiner, and I think that much of our challenge as leaders is learning to hear that wisdom. And then he did the wisdom. So in other words, learning to discern what what that inner wisdom, that inner voice, that inner certainty that inner expert is trying to convey, it's trying to say, and then sec, having the courage to act on that. So those are two enormous growth areas for any leader regardless of how far down this this path you have come. And hearing that inner voice, is it difficult in today's world, because there's so much information coming at us, you know, not just inside the organization, but just the, you know, firehose of data that's coming to us from the internet and social media. So learning to ignore much of that, or parse out those few little nuggets of information that are genuinely useful. come from from that inner wisdom, and in my own experience, as an investor, and especially in this this new world of blockchain investing. It's very new and young and fast moving and it changes every several months. And there is an awful lot of noise in opinion about this space. But what we're trying to do is build on a solid foundation, that is going to last for the long term. And to do that requires this kind of inner certainty or listening to this inner voice for myself personally, which is not to say that we ignore what's coming in from outside, that's very useful, but much of it can be ignored. And then we need to find those those little nuggets that that can help us build that sense of of purpose and inner resolve that are going to help us become better leaders or entrepreneurs or investors, whatever it is we do.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 48:41

Yeah. Now? If so, I think this is maybe in just an outlook in terms of it seems this importance of cultivating presence is a really critical foundation for everything in life. Yeah. And unfortunately, not everyone is doing it. Some are doing it. And I feel more and more are doing it. This is just a subjective observation. But as business and technology leaders, let's say basically keep ignoring this trend. Do you? Do you foresee any consequences for them on a personal or in from a from a business perspective? Let's say they keep ignoring it for the next five years, 10 years? Do you think there will be ramifications?

Sir John Hargrave 49:30

You know, I keep calling it a superpower. And I really feel that way. I feel that developing these techniques using these these these hacks, developing the awareness, practicing meditation. These are skills that will give you a huge competitive advantage. One of my heroes is a fellow named Ray Dalio, who runs this company called Bridgewater associates, they're the largest, most successful hedge fund in the United States. And he's a big practitioner of meditation. And he talks about it openly as being one of his his sources of, of inspiration, and also, you know, competitive strengths. Because he says, it helps me clear my mind, again, of all of these, you know, all of these thoughts about investing and all this noise that's coming in from the market on any given day. So so I feel that there's a growing number of leaders Jack Dorsey from Twitter is, you know, famously into mindful mindfulness. A growing number of these leaders are aware of that. And you can see this in the enormous success that they've achieved over the long term of practicing these habits. It's made a huge and measurable difference.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 50:55

Yeah, I mean, that's also my observation. So let's, let's hope people get excited about the topic and maybe start with the 21 day challenge or get the audible book. And certainly there are more resources, we put them out there. As we're wrapping up, maybe the last question would be around yourself around your mind hacking practice? Could you maybe offer just a few items that you do every day, maybe as part of the morning routine, or something that people get a sense of what can be done? And this is actually manageable and doable?

Sir John Hargrave 51:36

Yeah, thank you for that question. I've experimented a lot of techniques over the years, but my current routine is get up first thing in the morning, drink a big glass of water, I do a few little stretches maybe five minutes, and I sit down for my meditation, the meditation to me is, first and foremost, I do not allow that schedule to deviate in any way. Because then I know I'm going to get the most important thing of the day done for us, that just sets me off on the right path. Couple days out of the week, I'll then exercise after that. I do at some point in the day, it's kind of variable, but I'll do the affirmation, thought loop exercise in my moleskine notebook. And then I do another 20 minutes in the evening, most evenings, so I'll do 220 minutes in the morning and then 20 minutes at night. Additionally, I have a series of longer term positive thought loops that I've put into a, you know, an Evernote type program. And I will review those once a week. I do that on Sunday night. So that's the longer term goals that I'm trying to achieve with my business, with life and so forth. And that takes me probably 20 minutes, I'll say it through, just reread all of those things, and I'm constantly tweaking those and adjusting them. But what I found over 10, or 15 years of doing this is I've made remarkable progress at meeting those long term goals, which when I wrote them, originally seemed impossible. But it just shows you the power of doing these over the long term: hacking our minds really hacks our lives makes a positive difference.

Dr. Reiner Kraft 53:33

Now, this is great. And I think for everyone who has listened to this episode, I encourage everyone to rewind, go back. There's a lot of insights here ideas, you just heard john talking about the routine, and all those things you can do. And you see that there is the creativity part on how you practice all into your daily life, because everyone is different has different schedules, different priorities. And it's this creativity, basically this process of optimizing this over time as you learn new methods, some work better than others, and figuring out how to install and continuously upgrade your software. And I think this is where we're ending basically let's upgrade our software. So I think if everyone is doing it, I think this has huge impact on this planet.

Sir John Hargrave 54:09

I feel upgraded by our interview today, Reiner. Thank you

Dr. Reiner Kraft 54:13

Now thanks. Thanks, John also for being here and sharing your insight.

Sir John Hargrave 54:19

My pleasure.


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