Forefront Conference 2017 Recap + Notes.

A couple of weeks ago I attended Ramit Sethi’s Forefront Conference in Chicago.

Who is Ramit Sethi? He’s personal finance blogger/online business guru I’ve been following for quite some time:  since 2010 as a matter of fact. Check out

He’s my savvy older Indian American brother berating me to be a top performer.  And I love it.

This is a quick re-cap of Forefront 2017 + all my notes: It was fun!

Ramit opened up the conference with these 3 huge bullets:

  1. Stories we’re told
  2. Stories we believe
  3. Stories we Change.

Main message: You can rewrite your story and you should rewrite your story. Being Weird is Cool.

3 take aways to Re-write your story:

  1. What if you decide to challenge that notion you’re bad with girls, or a people pleaser or can’t say no. What if you made 5 new friends? or think of 5 new ideas? Or be business consultant/coach to others (need to work on this story for myself)  Is that permanent?
  2. Make yourself the hero of the story and have fun doing it.
  3. Focus on the present + future.

He talked about four ways to experience a football game:

  1. Read about it afterward in the paper
  2. Watch it on TV
  3. Watch it in person at the game.
  4. Be an actual player in the game.What’s keeping you on the couch and preventing you from joining the game (creating an online business)?

I love this growth mindset as it’s 100 percent in tune with my beliefs. You can be a top performer. It all depends on the stories you believe and change. He also went into problems he had growing his business – I was shocked to hear this – but loved his candour. He mentioned having more FUN vibe was what made his business great – wants to get that back.

He gave us some personal anecdotes that will stay in Forefront.

Gretchen Rubin Keynote:

Main message: there are 4 types of people in life (based on her new book Four Tendencies) 

  • Upholder -someone who likes things done in a certain way. Always has a organized google calendar etc. Doesn’t like spontaneous.
  • Questioner – they want customization to their needs.
  • Obliger – the rock of the world – get along with everyone. However, they’e people who meet outer expectations but fail to meet inner expectations.
  • Rebel – want to promote their authentic self, identity focused, love to perform.  Need to be given the information, but not told an agenda – cos they won’t follow the rules.

I found this all simplistic since I am all four.  BUT as she continued speaking and answering questions from the audience I started to think I was a rebel.

My friends (who’ve known me for a few years) at the conference mentioned I am an Obliger. Interesting. Will have to take the online quiz. However I hate quizzes – all these IQ tests, Myers Briggs all seem bullshit to me.

I do find this interesting in determining hidden patterns in people, not necessarily labelling people in 4 categories.  Understand how your clients respond to internal and external expectations, and how you can better serve them. 

I remember her mentioning off hand to audience member the book ” The Nature of Fame”.

Shawn Achor keynote:

His speech was the best. Think the hilarious personality of Ryan Reynolds mixed in with happy science facts/data. Yes, that subject actually exists : the science of happiness.

He knows how convey information that makes you want to listen and learn – perfect anecdote after drinking at the Museum of Science the night before.

Key message: You are most successful when you are happy.

We also think happiness is individual focused when in reality, everything is interconnected.

The same way people are extroverted with an extroverted crowd.

Personality changes in a room. Introverts become more introverts in a introvert room. 

Happiness is the joy you feel when you’re moving towards your potential.

Rational Optimism – shields from future problems. Starts w. realism, then your behaviour matters.

You can see problems and say it’s bad and can change it = rational optimist.

Escaping the cult of average:  Doesn’t address individual needs or how to cater above avg/below average reading for example.

Positive individual changes ripples to culture change.   Individual traits vs interconnected ones – people 2-3 degrees away can benefit from you.

Ritz Hotel agents greet you within 5 meters away from you. We’re socialized to reciprocate: even the stubborn ones.

He made us do this eye gazing experiment for 10 seconds. I smiled after 5 seconds.

To be successful, focus on these 3 things:

1) optimism
2) strong social connections
3) perceive stress as a challenge –

To be more happier, do these 5 things:

1) 3 Gratitudes (write 3 things you’re grateful in past 24hrs. Could be small like avocado is ripe)

2) The Doubler (write 1 positive change and describe 3 reasons why it’s positive – also – your brain can’t tell difference b/w visualization vs actual experience)

3) The Fun Fifteen (15 minutes of fun cardio)

4) Meditation  – energy increases (whatever not for me!)

5) Conscious Act of Kindness (take 1 minute to text/email someone you care about to praise them)

If you are happy:

  • your behaviour is contagious. People model after you, even if you don’t realize it.
  • more productive
  • better at your craft

31% people claim to be optimists, but don’t show it. Often Leaders model it, show it, but don’t ask others to do it. So Tell everyone.

Tear-Downs with Ramit: one-on-one with students (he calls us his students for you newbies)

  • Anyone can have a website, but Do you have a point of view?
  • Customer Service is never beneath you.
  • Ask the right people in your industry. Start from success. Reverse- Engineer.
  • Why would they want to partner with you?
  • Demonstrate value by showing you’ve taken action.
  • If you’re going to ask, ASK.
  • 1500 list, 500 active – 200 buy. Focus on present.
  • Book: 5 Love Languages
  • Blog post to google: PMARCA “Product Market Fit – Market always wins.

Conference Cons:

The Friday evening mixer was good minus the 3 loud hosts trying to make us social and friendly. They could’ve shut up after 20 mins. I was trying to give someone a business idea, only to be interrupted every 2 mins.

1st day of the First 50K workshop was just OKAY with Shawn Woods. He was high energy, which I appreciated. However, I didn’t care about motivation. He did mention to check out a youtube – David Kelly from IDEO.  The 2nd Day of the workshop was more meaty. Hosted by Sarah Jones on coaching/consulting. “Sell the skill, not the outcome.” “Don’t give x of calls for willy nilly”. Slide deck link :

Overall Conference Pros:

The Saturday night gala at Museum of Science was just amazing – one of the best evenings I’ve had in 2017. It created momentum in me. I was so motivated the next morning and still buzzing from it. I wrote 10 ideas down next morning.

Maze of Mirrors

Loved being around ambitious people from various industries all over the world.  Made me more energetic. A lot of us are working solo – so it was nice to connect with like-minded people. Like a cult 😉

The keynotes and workshops added gave me more substance and meat that last year’s Forefront in NYC. Last year was exciting don’t get me wrong, but this year it was like meeting old friends and digging deeper.

After Conference Activities – Socializing with these people was fun at hotel lobby, etc.  Karaoke, Starting the Dance party Friday night (me).


Some fellow Canadians

Hope you enjoyed these notes! Email me if you want to connect (nishant dot )



Cloud Gate + Bike = Cool Guy.

The best people move fast.

The best people move fast.

One productivity tactic I’ve been aiming to get better at is following up with people immediately after they contact me.

If they email me I answer it right away once I open it.

Short and imperfect is better than wasting time deliberating what to say.

Out of mind, out of sight.

Apparently this is also the the #1 productivity tip of Sheryl Sandberg, the un-official CEO of Facebook. You can google it.

I’ve also been doing this when people text me.

Now of course if I’m at the Arcade Fire concert or in a movie or driving in my car there will be a delay. Because that activity is the priority.

You gotta figure out what’s the priority for you. Maybe it’s based on the relationship.

Getting back to people has been one of my weak spots. Maybe no longer after this.

Let’s see how this evolves. The point is to make decisions faster.

Easter Weekend Shenanigans

Guess what I did over Easter Weekend? Cross country ski.  My first time since 2002. And it was  unreal. Why haven’t I taken advantage of this before?

I did it in Canmore, which is only 45 min drive from Calgary. Cost only 20 dollars to rent the skies/boots and you’re off! Okay also 20 dollars for the ski pass. But that is still quite the bargain compared to any Ski resort. Not to mention no lift lines.  Most importantly of all,  it was a lot of freaking FUN (once you get the hang of it).

It was a beautiful day with the sun shining on us. My good friend Justin won a silver medal at the Asian games for cross country ski racing a few years back. He has been bugging me and all us friends to try out this rather pedestrian looking sport for god knows how long.

Anyways, he finally persuaded us enough to do it. Some friends from Vancouver also joined us.

We got 1 hour lesson from him on the basics and boom we were off to the races. I won the relay.  The back of my arm muscles were aching the next day.

Coming down the hill paths was extremo fun. Not snowboarding or skiing downhill fast, but still super fast.  Some of us crashed and bailed. Landed on my ass few times, but once you tell yourself you won’t fall, you don’t fall.

Will consider again. The rocky mountains of Canmore were a spectacular setting. Need to go on more “holidays” within my locale.

A couple photo’s.


IMG_5264 (1)

Keep it loose,


Mental Health event in yyc


Last night I listened to 7 min talks on mental health by eight thinkers including Margaret Trudeau.  (She’s the Prime Minister’s mom!)

It was a well run event by Walrus Magazine. They were serving tenderloin appetizers on toothpicks afterwards at Theater Junction.  Delicious.  I had about 6.

Some golden nuggets from the talks:

  • Having a single friend you see during the week is as good for your health as making an extra $100,000 a year
  • Weak social connections is equivalent to smoking two packets of cigarettes a day for your health
  •  We should develop brain retirement plans (like RRSP) to prevent dementia. As you grow older, you have a diversified portfolio of stimulating activities.
  • By 2040 150 million worldwide will suffer from dementia.
  • Physical activity three times a week can reduce the risk of dementia by 35%
  • Cognitive bias in our health system and the adverse affects in indigenous people
  • Facts: 1 in 5 Canadians experience some form of mental illness and half a million people aren’t at work due to mental illness

All in all a fun and informative night out for 25 dollars.



must-watch docu : The Roosevelts

Since Thursday I’ve  been absolutely hooked on the Roosevelt documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns and Geoffrey Ward. It’s on Netflix.

It’s about one of the most interesting and perhaps most important family’s of the 19th and 20th century.

The film discusses the rise of the first US President of the 1900’s – Theodore Roosevelt. It masterfully blends talking about his family and then the younger generation, such as his niece – Elanor Roosevelt, who later marries her fifth blood related cousin Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Now a lot of the footage is black and white, lots of great photographs, but what really captures you is the narration. Not dry at all. The hardship, the obstacles and the huge personality of Theodore Roosevelt especially caught my attention. What a hero. The guy was a non-stop doer.

I’ve probably learned more about US and world history watching this documentary (released in 2014)  than any university or school course.

Anyways, must watch in between you’re binge sessions of Fuller House and Narcos.

Music I’ve been listening to

I’m one of those people that can hear a tune in the background and within 20 seconds name the tune/ band and provide you with a mini bio. It’s quite the high demand skill set I’ve developed.

I’ve been playing these hits non stop past 2 weeks. Mostly 2016 music with some pop classics from the past.

  1. In the Moment by The DMA’s.
  2. In fact – the entire album by the DMA’s (Hills End released about 3 weeks ago) by this Sydney band is very good. It sounds like vintage 90’s Brit pop – The Smiths, Stone Roses, Oasis all rolled into one. The singer sounds a bit like the guy from the View. Melodic tunes, great riffs with modern production.
  3. Do It, Try It – M83
  4. Doing it To Death – The Kills
  5.  Genghis Khan – Miike Snow
  6. Trap Queen – Fetty Wap
  7.  Girl You Know It’s True – Mili Vanelli. (Came across Julian Casablancas cover of this.)
  8.  My Number – Foals
  9. What Went Down by the Foals. *The entire new album by the Foals
  10. Tame Impala Remix of Waves by Miguel.
  11. Everything You’ve Come to Expect – Last Shadow Puppets
  12. Bad Habits – Last Shadow Puppets
  13.  This is How it Feels – Richard Ashcroft
  14. Suedehead – Morrisey
  15. Cake by the Ocean – DNCE
  16.  Best for last – The Knocks
  17. A night in Tunisia – Art Blakley
  18. Can’t Get Enough of Myself – Santigold
  19.  Fuck Me Pumps – Amy Winehouse (Amy doc on netflix is a must watch)
  20.  Lonely Press Play – Damon Albarn
  21. Somebody Else – the 1975
  22. Dude Like Him – Willie J Healey
  23. My Baby Just Cares for Me – Nina Simone (watched her doc on Netflix)
  24. Can’t Keep Checking My Phone – Unknown Mortal Orchestra.

Books I’ve been reading in 2016

Reading is important, everyone knows that. But do we make time to read like we do with sleeping and eating? Unfortunately not many of us do not. You rather binge watch House of Cards Season 4.  I haven’t even seen a single episode yet!

Here’s all the books I’ve read in 2016.

  • Mate by Tucker Max  and Geoffrey Miller– Tucker Max wrote outrageous books about getting with girls in the 00’s. He teams up with dating scientist (yes such thing exists) to add some credibility to this subject. Oddly not a lot of books on this subject. Aziz Ansari’s Modern Romance is more about the online dating world.  This book is quite conversational and well researched.  In a sense I feel it’s less about meeting girls and its more a marketing book. Wear leather boots on first dates guys!  Lots of actionable tips that have worked for me.
  • Tartar Steppe by Dino Buzzati  – This is an Italian book from 1930’s translated into English.  It’s a tale of young solider in northern mountainous Italy assigned to military post overlooking nothing. He wonders what he’s doing with his life. Time is passing, yet he feels obligated to stay on so he can be Captain one day. Waiting for a war that may never happen. It’s a haunting read.
  • How Adam Smith Can Change Your Life by Russ Roberts.  – Adam Smith is the father of economics. He’s famous for his book “The Wealth of Nations “.  Yet people don’t realize he wrote another book before this one called Theory of Moral Sentiments.  This is a modern take on that. Adam Smith had a deep understanding of human nature.  He discusses why we shouldn’t be addicted to our modern gadgets. He also has deep thoughts on the pursuit of fame, of money, and the value of an “indifferent spectator” guiding your actions.
  • Why I Write by George Orwell –Written back in 1940. It’s a collection of essays on why he writes.  The third essay he discusses socialism, fascism and capitalism. Important subject in those days when the threat of Hitler and Nazi’s taking over England was possible. It’s funny many people still don’t know the difference between socialism  and communism!   The final essay talks about how political language is jumbled up English to persuade you murder is acceptable. You can finish it one day.
  • Creatocracy by Elizabeth Wurtzel  – This was OK.  It’s central thesis is the United States had this intellectual property clause written in the constitution that led to much of the innovations/wealth we see today in Silicon Valley and Hollywood. She’s has a weak but interesting argument that fear of poverty is needed for creativity. She thinks every great musician only comes from the States.  Axel Rose wasn’t the last real rock’n’roll star. That would be the Gallagher brothers from England. She has a amazing insight about how rival ideas affect our consumption of them.