Medium Top Authors Interviews: 10 Questions with Alan Trapulionis

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Photo by Sean Lim on Unsplash
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Do you have a morning routine?

I am not a morning person, so I try to take it slow. A cup of coffee, some oatmeal and two episodes of The Office usually form an energizing enough breakfast for me to get out of bed and do something useful.

What is the number one habit/routine you attribute the most to your success?

I would say elimination. It’s not really a habit as much as it is a style of living. “You can have anything you want, but not everything you want” would be the motto. In reality, it’s far less sexy and it means ruthlessly eliminating things.

What is the number one productivity item you can’t live without?

Earphones, for sure. I’ve evolved to control my moods and energy levels based on how far I go through my daily playlist. It also helps me track time internally. I think Michael Lewis, author of Moneyball, said something similar in an interview with Tim Ferriss. He always listens to the same playlist. He’s not really listening to the songs, but uses them as a background to focus and track time. Not sure how it all works down there but I don’t imagine a day without earphones — at least, a productive one.

The one book you recommend for self- improvement and/or productivity?

I’m not a fan of “tactics”, so I read a lot of Jung and Adler. Figure out who you are, get an idea of what you want in life, and motivation will come as a by-product. Not a pleasant path though.

You write a lot about entrepreneurship. Is there one big lesson you’ve learned from the research you put together to write?

Again, I probably have to go back to elimination. Most entrepreneurs I write about recall periods of time when they did nothing else but work, 24/7. James Park of Fitbit used to wake up, go to the third bedroom, write code, watch an episode of Seinfield, sleep, then repeat — for years. Many of them are aggressive readers. Divyank Turakhia said he’s read for 800 hours every year, for the past 20 years (he’s 35).

How important is time off for you, and what do you do when you take time off?

I’m not a big believer in work/life balance, to be honest. If I was, I would’ve gotten a job. I like being engaged in projects 100%. It gives me a sense of purpose. I’m 25, I have no real commitments, and I feel like now is the time to explore the extremes.

What advice do you have for people who struggle to actually start working on the projects they have?

If you’re inclined to procrastinate in some area of your life, it’s probably a symptom of a larger issue. At least in my case, whenever I feel like procrastinating, I usually realize that I don’t really want to do that thing or there’s some other thing that I’d rather be doing. Once you’re honest with what you really want, you take up fewer activities that you don’t want and then you’re not procrastinating with the ones that are left.

On marketing. You don’t appear to have a website or a newsletter. Do you have a business model?

Right now I’m only writing for Medium. I like the competitive nature of it, and it’s much more rewarding than writing for clients. Every day feels like a challenge. I’m trying not to dilute my attention on other things that could make sense (online courses, newsletter, etc.) and just try my best to succeed on this platform.

Investing in yourself is key to success. What is one of the most recent ways you’ve invested in yourself?

A great way to invest in yourself is to explore areas of life that you’d never even think of exploring. In my experience, best insights and lessons occur when you interact with worlds outside of yours — like reading a random book you’d never normally read or trying martial arts if you’ve never tried it before. Most of my life lessons came from people who were very different from me — in age, gender, profession, character, period lived. I think value occurs when you work on weaknesses, not when you keep improving on your strengths.

If you could have a coffee and talk about anything with a personality (dead or alive) you admire, who would it be and why?

Carl Jung. Unlike the modern pop psychology (which aims to please the audience rather than explore human nature) Jung went deep, and he tried to explore things that are extremely difficult to explore — like the human psyche. He wasn’t afraid of the darker sides of human nature. I have no idea what we would talk about, but I’m sure I would leave the room a slightly changed man.

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