Video Update: Learning from Everyone

Hi everyone, here’s a video update live from PDX International Airport before a recent flight to Los Angeles. Highlights include more news about Escape from Cubicle Nation, what Yoga Journal and Outside magazine have in common, and my middle seat (grrrr) on Alaska Airlines.

In short, I believe I can learn from everyone. There are approximately 6,706,993,152 people out there with something to teach me. I read 25 magazines a month, 50 books a year, tons of blogs, and have innumerable personal interactions with people all over the world. With each of these resources and conversations I try to focus on what I can learn and how I can improve myself. I don’t worry too much on what I disagree with – if I really disagree, I can always tune out that source.

Feel free to share your own resources with our other readers. As I say in the video, every day I enjoy learning from the smart people who post here. You guys are awesome.


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  • Christine says:

    Hey Chris!

    I love your passion for learning. I’m the same way. I take in so much information through books and blogs and podcasts, always trying to learn and improve. I’m wondering if you have a way of assimilating or processing all that information so that the most important learnings really sink in and can be applied. This is the one thing I struggle with when it comes to learning – there’s so much out there and it can be overwhelming. I’m tempted to go on some sort of a stimulus diet just to focus on really applying one or two things.

    By the way – the Art & Money Guide is fantastic! I’m working my way through the interviews and looking forward to the email follow-ups.


  • Chris,

    So true. Despite one of my core values – every individual is worthy of my respect and consideration – by default, I’m quite cynical and reclusive. So I find myself constantly having to remind myself to be open to others. On occasions when my curiosity wins out over my hermitical tendencies, I always end up happy with the outcome.

    On another note, I didn’t know you were interested in Yoga. Have you run across Prasara Yoga? The founder lives very close to you, in Bellingham, WA. (


  • Laura Scott says:

    This is a great message and a great reminder. Thanks.

  • Hi Chris,

    It’s interesting that you bring up the world of academia and its tendency to be cynical and judgmental. Along the same line, you mentioned one-star reviews on Amazon and an otherwise negative outlook that many people tend to take in their day-to-day lives.

    Focused judgments aren’t a bad thing. Those one-star reviews on Amazon are more important to me than five-star reviews because I want to know if a product I’m willing to invest my hard-earned money in has value. Likewise, a negative review of your products – which I have yet to come across – would be an asset to me as a paying contributor to your lifestyle. And with academia in mind, it’s critical that I am aware of an author’s biases when approaching his subject material.

    I think there’s a place for both positivity and negativity. Focused on the right things, negativity can be an invaluable resource when it comes to making educated guesses about the outcome of an endeavor I wish to pursue, a product I wish to purchase, or a person I wish to befriend. Where negativity fails it when it comes from the standpoint of being a downer for the sake of being a contrarian, sarcastic individual, or bully.

    Keep up the great posts. I appreciate that you’re fighting the good fight, keeping us aware, and holding yourself to values that we all can admire and respect.

  • Chris says:

    Thanks guys, good points.


    So glad you like the guide!


    I’m a beginning yoga student – just started a couple of months ago to balance the running I do


    Yes, that makes sense, thanks. I’m more inclined to discount the rush to judgment I perceive in settings like academia. If the negativity was balanced with positive comments it would make more sense to me, but I rarely heard those when I was in grad school.

  • Personally, I love constructive criticism or analysis of a book. Yes, I like to have a learned takeaway, but it’s always nice to see a different perspective of those who give things a 2-3 star rating (Amazon etc).

    I’m currently reading The Back of the Napkin, have you read it? It’s a quick read, and I’m loving the focus on solving problems with pictures.

  • Hey Chris,

    I never thought I would be a “Yoga Man,” but Prasara is a whole other world. It has really enriched my physical culture and allowed me to deepen my performance in other athletic pursuits.

    Check out the YouTube clip below for a sample that you can follow along with. It’s from a workshop I gave last summer in Sydney, Australia. This flow is actually a really good fit for runners.


  • Margaret Smith says:

    My grandfather, who said many times that any day in which he didn’t learn something was wasted, also told me that he never learned much listening to or reading only those with whom he already agreed.
    And one of the best pieces of advice I ever read was, “when hearing/reading something with which you disagree, try to imagine in what kind of world it would be true”. If nothing else, that allows you to learn something about the worldview of the other person!

  • Javier Munoz says:

    It comes down to where you place your attention. There is an opportunity cost related to your attention since you can only place it in one place. If your attention is placed on what you reject, by definition you will never gain anything. To every perspective there is something that can be learned and if your eyes are tuned to find value, you will always learn from every experience – even bad ones. The tendency to reject or criticise is a cry from our ego to create distintion – a search for a unique identity with a “correct” and unique worldview – to make us stand out as different. Behind Chris’s message there is a profound act of love not only towards others in the form of respect for people’s quests and experiences, but towards oneself as we surrender and accept the infinite nature of our true essence devoid of any need to find distintion, but only unity.

    Sorry if I went overboard guys… it is one of those days! Great work as always.


  • Joshua says:

    I totally agree with you about how people are critical, especially in Academia. I think it has to do with the fact that its easy to appear smart when you can put someone else down. It’s more difficult to build someone up and add to their ideas constructively.

    I remember being in classes where students spent the whole class putting down amazing authors and thinkers. It took me years to un-learn that and to build on other people’s ideas. Thanks for bring that up!!

  • Keb says:

    Healthy attitudes sir!

  • I love this post! Soak up as much as you can EVERYDAY! That’s the mentality to have 🙂

  • Tara Joyce says:

    Thank you for the important reminder, Chris. Focus on what you can learn from every situation, no matter how difficult it may seem. Today was a perfect day for me to hear this message. Thank you for the gentle reminder and inspiration.

  • Diana says:

    In the spirit of Learning from Everyone I just wanted to say that Adam’s link to Prasara yoga has introduced me to form of yoga that might help my hip problems (gained from “sitting as a profession”). Thanks Adam. I have been to yoga classes before but couldn’t tolerate the long poses. This moving-changing sort of yoga looks more logical for me.

  • LoneWolf says:

    Hi Chris. I’d have to agree with Philip about negative comments. Obviously, you don’t want to attack someone’s point of view, but part of the value of social media is that dialog can happen and different points of view can be shared.

    You do need to “pick your battles” for want of a better phrase. There are times where you just need to keep out of it, but I think a healthy discussion is welcome at most web sites and by most authors out there.

  • Turil says:

    I agree that there is a need for negativity and healthy critique (having gone to art school, I learned to appreciate heartfelt analysis of my work), but that there does indeed seem to be a bit too much focus on it for everyone’s good. So this is a good reminder to look for more positive things in each situation, and only, maybe, focus on the negative when the floor has been opened up for comments, and to maybe concentrate criticism on clarifying what one would like to get out of the experience, and how what actually happened made that difficult. Because, really, what it all boils down to is that we all just want to grow, healthier, happier, more wise… right?

  • tammi says:

    i agree whole-heartedly with your outlook. i write a food and wine column, and i decided before i got started that i wouldn’t write a negative review on any wine; i think a person’s palate is probably a little bit like their fingerprints, different from one person to the next. my opinion is based on my palate, and what tastes appealing to me and who am i to say what i like is ‘right’. positive karma rules. we’d all do well to talk less and listen more!

    keep on doin’ what your doin’…

  • Lisa Sellman says:

    I loved watching this video. I find life fascinating and living an abundant life is like a magnet for good things that come my way. I hope you and everyone who watches your video and reads your writings continues to have an abundant life.

  • Sean says:

    Fantastic message! You hit it on the head. This is something I have been thinking about lately as well. We need to not think about how something is different from us and defining it by how is isn’t what we would do. Rather, we need to concentrate on how we are similar and how we can help each other become better.

    Your three daily goals are going on a post-it note next to my desk. That way I will remember to concentrate on what is important and how to focus and connect into achievement.

    Keep living and travelling!

  • Hi Chris,
    There’s a difference between being critical and being aware. Being critical is usually based on some judgment. It creates a separation and usually impacts the other person in a negative way.

    Being aware is taking in everything without resisting it or aligning with it. You know what’s going on. And sometimes you see how things could be changed in a constructive way. If you’re not judging, you can communicate that without creating more judgment. Judgment is what creates so much of the problems in the world.

    I love what you’re doing. Keep on writing and traveling. You’re a great inspiration.

  • shanna says:

    Hell Chris!
    Great post, as always. regarding criticism and negativity (as mentioned above in the comments), I believe there is a great distinction between reasoned, thoughtful criticism and negativity. Criticism, to be critical, allows us to view the world in a healthy way–critical thinking skills and all that–but criticism has gotten a bad rap because generally it’s used to say something disparaging about someone or something. Not beneficial for the criticizer or the criticizee 🙂

    In any event, I am learning every day, too. Even from criticism 🙂

    Glad you are sticking with yoga,

  • Michael Davis says:

    Love your attitude to life. You are a great communicator with a great future! Learning about this world that we inhabit is the reason we are all here. I am from a previous generation to you but I have helped create a different world for the many to share. If you come to London, please contact.

  • Marian Cook says:

    Chris – on board with you completely. I find it incredibly helpful to work with my learning style rather than work against it. Harvard’s Howard Gardner discerned 8 learning styles (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, etc.) and there are many self assessments on the web you can take to figure out how it is best and easiest for you to learn. Why fight yourself?

    It would be interesting to start a conversation with everyone re: how they continue to learn. For example…

    A thoroughly fascinating topic is future trends. It is multidisciplinary – frequently covering how a trend manifests and impacts many different but interconnected things – like technology impacting society, etc. Something tells me you would really enjoy that. Pick up a book or 2 on it, and see how different authors extrapolate the same trend forward.

    Competitive intelligence is a particular passion of mine. “Well stolen is half done!” – proverb… that can be easily done just by checking their press releases section of their website, or using google alerts, etc. Always very valuable to know what others are doing.

    Google alerts is a great way to track any targeted topic you want to learn about, of course.

    Anyway, I embrace your attitude as well. It is completely in line with the desire to travel. Keeps you humble – and in a state of childlike wonder – when you realize just how much there is to learn.

    A few favorite quotes:

    The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.
    ~ Eden Phillpotts (1862-1960) ~ British novelist, poet, and dramatist

    I have always imagined that paradise will be a kind of library. -Jorge Luis Borges (1899 – 1986) – an Argentine writer, poet

    Every time an old man dies it is as if a library has burnt down -Chiek Oumar Ba- (Mandinka West Africa)

    Bon Voyage!

  • Patrenia says:

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the reminder in the video. We CAN learn from EVERYONE. Over the years, I have learned to watch and listen more than I speak. We can see the positive in those we want to be influenced by. We can also learn from the negative of others (by avoiding their pitfalls).

  • Etsuko says:

    Hi Chris,
    It seems like you are coming down to LAX quite often. You should come to San Diego someday, I’m like 10 min away from the airport!

    I loved your message. A while ago I complained how the people in my office are all bitter and cynical because they have been there so long, but I then realized that I have that attitude like “I don’t have anything to learn from them”! I adjusted my perspective, and started thinking about how I can make the situation work for me. A year later, now I have found my passion, I am taking the steps to to move forward. I am grateful for everyone who helped me move forward, whether they realize they did or not!

  • tamara says:


    A middle seat, that is very urksome- I hope you survived. Hey, I just got a thing in the mail about “Afar” magazine- it all about unconventional travel (I think) so if you’re not already reading it, maybe it would you’d enjoy it. I love “Ode” and “Yoga”.

    I live in LA, so I hope you have a nice trip and the natives are polite and educational.

  • Cindy says:

    Thank you sweetheart, you’re keeping the dream alive!

    A very generous and inspiring person, I am glad I discovered your work through Illuminated Mind.

    Safe travels today and best wishes for L.A.’s abundance.

  • Thanks Chris, great spirit! I hope you don’t mind me saying thanks to Etsuko who is just above my comment. She has a powerful message there too 🙂
    Yep, we can learn from anyone, anywhere.

  • Turil says:

    Rich, you say “Judgment is what creates so much of the problems in the world.”

    That’s a judgment, isn’t it? 🙂

  • Sandra says:

    Hi Chris,

    This video got me really curious about how you filter through your huge list of learning sources. Because even someone as hungry for knowledge as you must find that sometimes, there is just so much stuff out there, it’s hard to keep up.

    Do you have any techniques to find the really good stuff, or do you just keep an open mind and try a little bit of everything?

    How do you deal with information overload?

    Do you ever get jaded and need to take a break away from learning? If so, how do you recharge your batteries?

    Please excuse me if I’ve been too nosy!

  • Alan Furth says:

    Nowadays my perspective on these issues is similar to yours. My shift in outlook started pretty much at the time I began practicing Tai Chi and studying a bit of Taoism about 2 years ago. I think your interest in Yoga will reinforce that part of your worldview — in a way, Nirvana consists of overcoming a judgmental mindset.

    This is one of my favorite quotes from ancient Chinese Taoist master Sent-ts’an:

    “If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between ‘for’ and ‘against’ is the mind’s worst disease.”

  • Curiosity is one of the most important elements to enjoying life. I truly believe the people that are most curious at their jobs are the happiest and most successful. They want to go deeper and take their accomplishment to the next level.

    I like that you believe you can learn from everyone. That means you will give everyone the attention they deserve.

  • Excellent view! I had the same realization this week. I had become very critical and stopped looking at each experience as something to learn from. Now when I get frustrated I break out a journal and start taking notes of what I can learn from the bad experience.

  • Chuck Kuhn says:

    Thanks for the wake up call, been there, done that (I hate those words) I’m about to wear some of your shoes. Leaving USA to travel for as long as my shoes & feet can make it. I’ve traveled mostly in Asia the last 5 yrs for 2-3 weeks. Now I want to go with no time frame on returning. I’m set money wise, but lost my traveling partner, writer (I’m the photographer) so seeing the world with 2 eyes this time. Passion is alive to move, you are lucky to be able to explore the world. Again thanks..I’m 64

  • Chris says:

    Chris, I have really enjoyed reading your blog and watching your videos, especially this one. We share the same philosophy on learning. I only wish I had more time to read.

    I spent 2-years traveling to 15 countries back in my 20’s which has greatly shaped my world view today. My traveling days are limited to the island area now with my two young children.

    If you are ever in the Victoria BC area, I (we), would be most honoured and appreciative if you could come and speak at our Social Media Club.

  • I long ago adopted the notion that every moment is a potential learning experience, especially when things don’t go right. In those moments, as I feel frustration building, I try to bring forward the question, “why is this happening, and what is the purpose?”

    More often that not I see something significant or meet someone extraordinary, and might have missed the opportunity had I remained lost in my own self pity.

  • Fadzilah says:

    Well said, Chris……..I’m with you! Everyone we meet, regardless of age, race, culture, religious beliefs, status, etc., every experiene we go through in life, everything and everybody around us that we see, touch, feel, hear, observe, read, etc…… teaching us something and from some we can even learn great lessons.
    Thanks Chris. Keep travelling and keep up your good work!

  • Hi Chris,

    I can relate to your view that everyone has something to teach you.

    At university I majored in economics and in my final year (1993!) took the following electives:

    Marxian economics
    Labour economics
    Economics of gender
    (and threw in macro economics for balance)

    My class mates were shocked that I had a communist or socialist viewpoint. In fact, I was and am firmly in the (responsible) capitalist camp. But I understood capitalism (I thought) and wanted to learn about the “other side” – about the aspects of economics I knew nothing about.

    It was a good decision and absolutely fascinating in a way that studying “standard” economics could never be. Plus the decidedly socialist professor was a gem!

    As an aside I think socialism and Marxian economics can teach capitalists a lot. Most first world western economies have a socialist bent these days (pure capitalism is hard to defend when all nations are dominated by labourers and its one-person-one-vote).

    I highly recommend people look over the fence as often as possible. Its far more fascinating that the side you already know.


  • kate says:

    Thank you for this post! When I first learned to read, my dad taught me that we can learn from everyone and every book, and that idea has stuck with me ever since.

    Now, I work in academia, and part of my job is to teach critical thinking to students. I do teach critique and evaluation (students need to learn not to believe everything willy-nilly), but I try to couple it with thinking about solutions as well. I think it’s when we get stuck in critique mode without moving forward to solutions (or without really trying to understand multiple perspectives) that we lose our creativity.

    Thanks again. It’s so nutritious to hear your thoughts on this.

  • Sebastien Plisson says:

    I ‘discovered’ that one does not need to be the one that get the argument, hold the truth. It is OK to disagree and let go. We can always learn !

  • Mary Miller-McNutt says:

    Thanks for having this. It’s interesting reading all the comments. I am open to different ideas and opinions. I think traveling to other countries is a good way to educate yourself also. It broadens one’s outlook on many things.
    Keep up the good work.
    Best regards,

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