Subtitles section Play video Print subtitles 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. Mentor a kid who wants to get there. You have the ability to sing?