At our age, what have we accomplished? You’d be amazed by the miles today’s guest has reached in his sixties. Scott Eriksson, the creator of NERDbody, shares how he meaningfully lived his life being an athlete and an IT. He proves that age is not an excuse to leave anything to chance and shows that one can still be efficient, productive and live in your zest life in your sixties. He shows how he stays active with little interruption in life and makes the best of it. Also, Scott navigates through the AI space and provides value on how it helps us be efficient and productive in work. Dive right into this episode with Scott Eriksson and be inspired to live your zest life.
No Catch! No Gimmicks! Get 3 Free Leads a Day for the Next 10 Days! That’s 30 Free Instant Live Leads. CLICK HERE! https://www.3leadsaday.com/?fpr=save
Watch the episode here
Listen to the podcast here
How to Live Your ZEST Life: With World Masters Champion Athlete, Nerd & Entrepreneur Scott Eriksson
This is going to be a privilege to interview Scott Eriksson in this episode. He is an amazing man. He’s had a multitude of careers, both in the athletic world, as well as in the IT world. I’m going to share some things about Scott. He was an Engineering student at the University of Michigan when he decided to walk on the track team halfway through his freshman year.
He ended up winning three Big 10 individual as well as team championships. He was elected co-captain in his senior year and still holds a school record many years later. He started working as an engineer and quickly got into software development. He qualified for two Olympic trials in the discus, was the US state runner-up in the indoor shot, and running qualified for several USA teams. He was elected co-captain by the other athletes for the indoor meet between the USA, England, and Russia in 1988 which took place in Birmingham, England.
In 1986, he started his consulting company with clients such as General Motors Transmission, Buick, Oldsmobile, Cadillac, and Teledyne. In 1992, he moved to Wyoming and was involved as a lead software developer and eventually became the executive vice president for a startup called Aspen Tree Software. This company used statistics to predict candidate success for companies like Marriott, Macy’s, Perrier, 7-Eleven, Motorola, as well as others.
His company grew from 3 people to 40 people in several years and was purchased by Saville & Holdsworth of London, England. During his stay in Wyoming, he lived in a log cabin at 8,200 feet at the base of the Snowy Range mountains. Inc Technology and Fast Company did articles on Scott for his unique approach to work and life such as being a mountain man software developer. Scott was remote before being remote was even a thing.
Scott also wrote an article on data-based development called Play Like A Fox and spoke at a number of professional conferences. After Aspen Tree, Scott moved to Dallas in 1999 to give his kids better educational opportunities. In Dallas, Scott started a new software development company where he acquired clients such as the Zig Ziglar Corporation, AOL, Time Warner, Nokia, Chuck E. Cheese, and Harley-Davidson. In the early 2000s, Scott wrote an application called Provident that manages relationships, sales, commissions, and marketing for businesses with a distributed sales model.
He still provides services around this application. Since then, he created an at-work fitness program called NERDbody, a random marine marathon. He completed a triathlon. At age 53, he became active in Masters Track and Field, winning roughly fifteen national championships since then and counting. He’s on his way to one as we speak.
Scott was diagnosed, unfortunately, with aggressive bladder cancer in June 2021 but continued training and competing, winning 4 World Championships and 6 US Championships, and setting 2 American age group records. He has also spoken at several cancer conferences to doctors and patients about exercising during treatment. Scott has three children who are all in fitness. The oldest Keenan is a Black Belt as well as a fitness writer.
Jamie, the middle child, is a software developer and plays Ultimate Frisbee, and the youngest works at sporting goods SOAR and is a certified gym rat. Scott is married to Olga and both are in their second marriage. Olga has four kids of her own and originally is from Ukraine. She is a software developer as well and also performs Latin dancing. Scott continues to train at age 62 years and has learned a number of things about fitness for older people and athletes that have allowed him to continue an active life.
Throughout his journey, Scott has continued to add and scratch off items on his bucket list. He has participated in a Canadian football camp, created a cartoon with two episodes, and shown on Dallas Public TV, and even has been a professional wrestler for several months in Michigan. Scott does not consider himself an adrenaline junkie at all but he does enjoy getting outside of his comfort zone and taking on new challenges.
In addition to Masters Track and Field, software development, and researching the latest AI, Scott coaches aspiring throwers of all ages, teaches foundational skills to technical professionals, promotes fitness at work, and plays the guitar. At times, he will inflict his self-professed lack of musical talent on others by putting a few of his songs like I Like To Throw and Quarantine out on social media.
In January 2024, Scott will start a new venture taking on the publishing responsibility for Masters Track and Field dues. This is a busy guy, needless to say. He gets stuff done. I don’t know how he does it all but he’s also a good friend of mine. I watch what he does and he is afterlife every single day. Scott, welcome to the show. How are you?
I’m doing great, John. Thank you. I got to say while I listened to that, I sure sounded like 25 pounds stuffed into a 5-pound bag, didn’t I?
You’ve done a lot. One of the many things I admire about you besides all the things that we talked about there is your attitude. You always have a great attitude about life despite what it throws at you. You had a curve ball thrown at you a few years ago and you have overcome that. You’re back and fitter and stronger than ever. Let’s start there and talk about that. Everything is going well. You’re remarried and had a beautiful wife and a new family.Always have a great attitude about life despite what it throws at you. Click To Tweet
Life is good. It’s funny. Going way back, I remember even in high school, things would happen. You fall into it and come out smelling like a rose. A number of years ago, I was inducted into the University of Michigan’s Track and Field Hall of Fame. The whole premise of my acceptance speech was, “Better lucky than good.” I was bored in my freshman year. I walked on. I ended up growing 4 inches and 60 pounds in college. Who knew that was going to happen but it set my life on a different course. Better lucky than good.
I went through some tough times in my first marriage, got divorced, and was working at my software business on a weekend. There was a code camp of software developer wannabes in the same facility at the time. That’s where I met my beautiful, very talented, and smart wife. Who knew? Better lucky than good. The same thing applies to going through bladder cancer treatment. I was diagnosed with aggressive bladder cancer.
I had some blood in my urine after a hard workout. I ignored it a little bit like the idiot that I am at times. A lot of guys are. When we see stuff like that, you go to Dr. Google and read something where it says, “If you had an intense workout.” We both always have intense workouts. “This should go away in 72 hours. If it does, don’t worry about it.” The thing went away right away. I didn’t worry about it but then it came back. Eventually, I got the treatment and all that stuff.
This is where better lucky than good got connected with UT Southwest Medical Center with their urology oncology department in Dallas right in our backyard. It’s one of the top facilities in the country. I got some advice about, “Continue to stay active and do the things that you like to do. That’ll help you get through the treatments.” I did. I ended up doing pretty well. Ironically, it opened up two doors for me. They call it Masters. I call it Old Farts. Bear with me if I switch up the title a little bit but I’m doing pretty well in the Old Farts Track and Field and going through the cancer treatment at the same time.
It was interesting enough to people where I’ve been given a platform to go and speak to people who are going through treatment, older, or live sedentary lives about how to stay active with very little interruption to their main life. It’s so important for us. The cancer treatment in a way, you don’t wish it upon yourself or anybody. I was telling my business partner at that time, “It was a chance to maybe live a little bit more heroically.” Have that swashbuckler adventure attitude of, “This is the situation. It doesn’t have me. I have it. Let’s continue.”
A friend of mine, Tom Ziglar, Zig Ziglar’s son, told me a while back, “All the great stories are comeback stories. The epic stories are redemption stories.” I was lucky to have some great support from the people around me. I never fell into depression or even worry. It immediately became like, “This is going to be an interesting comeback story,” and it was. Better lucky than good to have those people around, be blessed with that attitude for whatever reason, and then have such a great support group going through the treatment.All the great stories are comeback stories. All the epic stories are redemption stories. Click To Tweet
If I remember correctly, you even were invited up to Chicago to talk to some doctors about your training while you had cancer and you were going through all those ordeals. Let’s talk about that a little bit.
I spoke at the AUA Association with 20,000 urologists. I never thought I’d be in the company of 20,000 urologists at one time. That was never on my bucket list before but there I was, in a breakout group of patient perspectives. It’s interesting you hear some of these stories. It’s inspiring and certainly, people who have suffered and gone through stuff were a lot more trying and challenging than what I went through. I was lucky but it was a great opportunity to let the doctor see how easy it is to have some level of activity and exercise in our daily lives.
I took a bunch of the resistance bands with me, which is what our NERDbody Microburst Workout Programs are based on. I handed them out. Anytime I do a presentation like this, it always cracks me up because I love to see people out there doing some exercises and we make them fun. One is called up Chuck Norris, where you’re doing some kicks and punches. There are butterflies and bee stings where you’re boxing and all that.
I encourage people to talk trash when they’re doing this. It’s so hilarious because you see some of the most reserved-looking people. Some of them, at that time, let slip and start swearing a little bit because they’re boxing and get a little carried away. It was a lot of fun. It’s a lucky thing sometimes if we have the chance to do something where it creates a ripple.
I’ve had people come back and say, “Doing this exercise has helped me a lot.” A few years ago, I got an email from a lady in Alaska. This is one of these things that I never saw coming on my text messages before on my bucket list. She’s a little bit older. She said, “My husband and I love your program. We can exercise in the house. It’s important for us because we have a bear infestation in our neighborhood and it’s not safe to go walk outside.” I thought that was pretty crazy.
One of the philosophies you have, especially for older people working out, is you don’t have to kill it. You don’t have to go and be at the gym for three hours. Also, how they use the bands and many people with sedentary lifestyles or jobs where they’re tied to a desk, what do they do? Let’s talk about that a little bit.
A couple of things and I’m not going to go in a straight line here as I’m discussing things. If I jump over something, feel free to back in. I get all hyped up when I talk about this stuff. I’m going to give some background first. Back in the day, I was pretty athletic. I made some Olympic trials. I finally hung up my uniform when I was 31 and thought, “I’m going to focus solely on my engineering business.” By the time I’m 36, I’m getting a back operation. When I was 40, my youngest son was born. I remember stepping on the bathroom scale and seeing it go with some momentum past 300. I’m tall but 300 is still too much weight for me.
As a funny story, one time I was telling this to a group of people and I was describing it this way. I said, “I stepped on the bathroom scale and saw it fly past 300. I was relieved because when I was taking a shower and looked down, I’d see less of a certain part of my anatomy.” All these people get all shocked. I go, “I’m talking about my feet.” It was a wake-up call to me because, during that whole time leading up to that, I had a gym membership. I used it 4 or 5 times a week. I would go to the gym for an hour or so a day.
I read this quote from Professor Hamilton out of Houston, Texas, University of Houston, a while back. He said, “The 1 hour a day you spend in the gym does not immunize you for the other 23 hours of the day.” That’s what resonated with me because I’d go to the gym but the rest of the time, I’m sitting down at my desk, eating, going out with clients, and not watching my diet. I started doing some research and I tried to have different things.
How can I integrate fitness into my work? I’ll admit it. I’m a workaholic. I still spend 10 to 12 hours a day at my computer. I love the work so I needed to find a way to integrate fitness into my work style. It so happens that doing that also opened up things that are physiologically better for us, especially as we get older. Instead of going to that gym for 1.5 hours or 2 hours a day, I break it up and do short little exercises. Sometimes only 1 or 2 minutes throughout the day. That gets me up.
Ironically, it allows me to be better focused while I’m at work. I become more productive when I’m at work. When I’m done with work, I have more energy. We’ve all had those days where we don’t do anything. I call it brain dead and body lethargic because our brain has been doing a lot of stuff all day but our body has been laying and sitting there. No wonder when we get home, it’s so hard to drag ourselves to go and do something. It could be simple. It’s a flat resistance band. There are some interesting exercises you can do with the resistance band.
I have guys coming to me all the time. I had a guy come over to the house and he goes to the gym quite a bit. Within five minutes, he goes, “I got to stop.” He was doing movements he hasn’t done before, which brings me back to one of the theories. By having variety in these exercises that you do, you’re using that muscle confusion. You’re having to engage your mind and body, which is ultimately the best thing to do. As we get older, we don’t have the same recovery that we had when we were 23, 27, or even 30, especially if you’re going through something like cancer.
When I was diagnosed, I was speaking to a doctor out of a more holistic treatment center in Arizona. I didn’t go there as a patient but I was talking to him and he was giving me his advice and opinion on things. I asked him about working out and he said, “Don’t get into oxygen deprivation because that’s when your immune system gets lower. Cancer cells can grow and thrive in less oxygen but regular cells cannot.” I thought that was interesting.
I have two rules that I use when I do go to the gym or even when I exercise with my bands. 1) Quit while you still feel you should do more. I always leave the gym feeling like I should have done more. That keeps me enthusiastic to come back. I know I haven’t exhausted myself because when you exhaust yourself, it’s hard to come back the next day. You’re also lowering your immune system over that red line.
2) If I can’t speak or talk while I’m exercising, then I’ve entered into a state of oxygen deprivation. That’s my running. I won’t go do long distances but I’ll go out and do some short sprints and get some aerobic or heart cardio workout there. I’ll make sure I take enough rest in between my sprints. By doing these throughout the day, I do 4 or 5 1 to 2-minute exercises per day. I feel like I’m physically other than the cancer. It was some of the best shapes that I’ve been in 30 years.
Range of motion is better and all those kinds of things. We go and work out together. For an Old Fart, I feel like I can still move pretty decently. We both know this too. As we get older, we don’t necessarily lose our strength as much but if we don’t move, we certainly lose our mobility. That’s what’s important for us as we get older so we can avoid the fall, have good balance, and all those things. Not to mention feel better but feel more fit.
Let’s talk about one other aspect and we’ll get into some of the IT stuff here in a minute that I want to talk to Scott about also. He’s got such expertise in this, especially for those of us that are up there in years. If you’re over 40, these are all things that are going to keep you going for a long time and have that longevity that you want. Let’s talk about something else, Scott. You went over to Norway. Was it Norway or Finland?
I’m thinking of the winter.
Did you win 1 world championship or 2 world championships there?
2 in 2 events. I won the shot put and the discus.
You had an interesting experience. You had a chance to join some of us people. Believe it or not, Scott, some of my audience think I’m crazy because I’ve become such a big fan of Wim Hof and the cold myself. Talk about your experience because I remember you sent me some pictures from there.
Let me say this. You are crazy but you aren’t necessarily crazy alone. You’re not the only one who’s crazy, I guess. We went up to the state in the town called Gdańsk. It’s on the Baltic Sea. This was at the very end of March 2023. It was snowing and you see the water coming in and all this stuff. We stayed at the Marriott right there on the beach. I told my wife, “I’m going to go swimming in the ocean tomorrow.” She goes, “It’s not an ocean. It’s the sea.” I said, “I’m going to go swimming in the sea tomorrow.” She goes, “You can’t do that. You’re crazy.” As we’re in the elevator, I look over and see in a little pad thing of paper the notice for all the activities.
One says winter swim. You and I talked before about the ice stuff and all that so that’s all I need to hear. I went marching over to the front desk and go, “Tell me about the winter swim.” They go, “Every morning at 9:30, meet our lifeguard down here and he’ll either take you into the sea or you’ll go up onto the pool on the roof.” I said, “I’m doing it.” I always wanted to do that stuff. I grew up in Michigan. There were times we swim in a heated pool and then roll in the snow. I figured this would be like that. I’ll jump in Dallas in wintertime and the pool doesn’t get that cold but I’ll go jump in the pool in the winter outside.
I come down there at 9:30 and he goes, “We can’t go in the sea because the water is too rough but we’re going to go into the pool on the roof.” I asked him, “How cold is the water?” He said, “About 2 degrees Celsius,” which is about 35 or 36. I go, “How cold is it in the sea?” He goes, “Same thing. About 2 or 3 Celsius.” I said, “Okay.” The first thing is he gives you some things for your feet like little diver socks almost and then you go to the hot sauna. There are 5 of us in this group, 2 women, 3 guys, and then the lifeguard. We take the elevator up to the roof and climb down the ladder into that water. It was like somebody dropped 1,000 pounds on my chest.
Luckily, I remembered what they said, “Make sure to breathe.” The Wim Hof stuff is all about breathing. I make sure I was breathing and all that. The goal was you would get into the pool for 3 to 5 minutes, then you’d get out, jump around, get your blood moving again, and then get back in the pool for another 2 minutes or 1 minute, get out, and then go to the sauna. First of all, we all get into the pool and the lifeguard said something to me that cracked me up. He goes, “Make sure you move around because you don’t want the water to get too warm next to your body.” I’m thinking, “God forbid, it gets up to 38 degrees Fahrenheit.” We jump around. 2 of the women got out of the pool first and 1 woman couldn’t stand up so she needed some medical assistance.
We all got out and started jumping around. One of the guys said, “I’m not doing this anymore.” It’s me and the one guy, the sole survivors. We get into the pool and his teeth start chattering right away. He gets out and leaves so I found myself the last guy in the pool. I don’t know why but I felt some sense of victory with that in a weird way. My wife was in the park the whole time. She had the thing closed like this and it’s snowing past. She’s doing some videos and all that stuff. It was a great feeling. I don’t know how many people in your audience grew up in the North. I grew up in a small lake. We’d go out and play hockey in the wintertime and then come in and put our feet by the fire. You get the pins and needles.
Remember the blood is rushing back. This was interesting because the second time you got in the pool after jumping around, you had the same pins and needles effect but on the inside of your body. That was like, “That’s new.” It was great and I would do it again. Until I go into the sea itself, I don’t feel like I’m part of the Polar Bear Club yet. I want to be but it was much nicer to climb into a pool in a controlled submersion where I can only imagine trying to walk out into the sea with 5 and 6-foot waves. They touch you on that sensitive part of your side underneath your arm. I’d have been screaming so loud but it was a lot of fun. You’re an avid cold water guy and I love it as well. Maybe not quite as crazy as you but that was a bucket list thing that I would do again.
We could have a show about cold water therapy. Some of our other guests and I talk about it. It’s something that works. Scott and I are partners in something too and we both have a tremendous amount of inflammation because we beat our bodies up for so long. Let’s talk about your wrestling career.
It’s short love that it was. Back in the day, we were both roughly the same age. The big-time wrestling like Hulk Hulkamania and all that stuff was a big deal. Also, George “The Animal” Steele. I met him back in Michigan who was an iron ship. George “The Animal” Steele, ironically, was a Math teacher. In the ring, he was the crazy guy who’d wear the leash and chew on the turnbuckle. By day, he was a Math teacher and well-respected by his students. I had some friends that I went to college with the Steiner Brothers, Rob and Scott Steiner. They both became very successful in big-time wrestling. I remember when we graduated college, they told me, “You should go do this with us.”
I said, “No. I’m going to go. I got a job at McDonnell Douglas,” now it’s Boeing. “I’m going to build jets.” I had 33 UAW employees reporting to me. We put on the ailerons, electronics, and all that. I was adding to the great GMP of this fantastic country working a lot overtime. I was making $70,000 a year. That was great money back then in ‘84 or ‘85. What something always struck me is I could make ten times as much by jumping around in the square ring in my underwear with some other big goofball. It seemed strange to me. I always saw the humor in it. I never took it too seriously but it was a bucket list thing.
I moved back to Michigan to train. Once track and field was over after the first Olympic trial, I said, “I’m going to go and try this.” There was a small group in Michigan that was starting up that would go around and do big-time wrestling matches. Bobo Brazil was part of that group. He was way old by then. I was by far not bragging or anything but I was the athlete that was in the best shape. I had all these illusions of grandeur and the names that I wanted.
First, I’d pitch them to these guys, “How about this? I’ll be Leaf Eric Stud Viking Extraordinaire.” Back then, I had long blonde hair. “I’ll have the glacier girls, women in silver bikinis in my corners. Leaf Eric Stud and the glacier girls.” They’re going, “Be quiet. We don’t have glacier girls.” I said, “How about this? Scotty Eroticson, The Love Wrestler?” They almost threw me out for that. If I wouldn’t have been so big, they would’ve. I said, “How about Myron Books?”
Eventually, I have a brother Byron Books. “Myron and Byron Books, The Books Brothers, and we’ll be nerds who get transformed by the little static ball thing at the science museum that’ll transform us into wrestlers.” I thought that was a great pitcher. “No. That’s too nerdy.” All these characters and things like them became very popular later with other people. They said, “You’re going to be Scott Armstrong and wear your USA gear.” I was the good guy. Every week, I would wrestle with probably one of the biggest, literally and figuratively, contradictions that I ever met. He wrestled by the name of the Road Captain. His name was Don. He weighed 408 pounds. He was in a bike club in Detroit.
He worked on bikes all day. He was a born-again Christian and a Black Belt in karate. He had a big beard and the beasties little eyes I’ve ever seen in my life. Don did not shower enough. I would say, “Don, I’ll get you the soap.” When you’re a wrestler, one of the things is your head is stuck between some guy’s thighs and you have to kick out of it. I’m going to have a hard time sleeping. I have PTSD from reliving this story. It was one of the things I wanted to try and have a lot of fun with. It made for some good stories and fun times. I didn’t want to pursue it further than that. It’s a rough life. Those guys are on the road all the time. I had other goals but it was a funny story.
You’ve had such a full life athletically but also this full life in the IT world. You’ve been out as long as you have so it’s this transformation from where the internet was when we graduated college in the early ‘80s to where it is now. Let’s talk about that a little bit. I want to talk about specifically AI because it’s something that you’ve got expertise in, you’ve been working with, playing with, and doing some different projects. Our audience could gain some knowledge. Most of them are self-employed people.
Most of them are network marketing. Some are in other things, part-time networkers, and have other business ventures that they own and such. Let’s talk about AI. You said this and I’ve quoted you. I hope it was you I was quoting because that’s what I’m telling people that I’m quoting you. It might be somebody else that said it. “The internet for us is what we used but our kids grew up on but AI is what our grandkids and great-grandkids will use at a level where everything that we were familiar with will be. Those were the old days.”
That wasn’t me but I heard you say it. We’ve quoted it to other people and said, “My buddy John says this.”
Let’s put it this way. Somebody smart and also Scandinavian said it.
He’s riding his coattails, which is fine. My first computer class was with a thing called Card Punch. If anybody knows what card punches are, they’re aging themselves. You had one line of code per card. You had to take all your cards up into a mainframe and they ran them through the -system and all that. That was my first and second year in college. By the time I graduated college, they had the Mac PC. They went through a pretty fast rate of change. I remember thinking, “This is changing so fast. It’s never going to change as fast as this anymore.” Was I wrong?
In my view, there are two types of older people. Happy older people and crabby older people. That’s a gross oversimplification. What’s the commonality in both of those groups? In my opinion, it’s the change. People resist change. It’s common whether you want to or not. People who are angry and overwhelmed are resisting change. People who are happy are embracing change. I give you credit for this quote but I’m pretty sure it is yours.
When we were eating dinner, you said, “It’s about staying interested and being interested.” That’s such a key thing, whether that’s athletics, exercising, or technology, especially technology because change is coming so fast. If we don’t stay interested in being interested, we’ll get run over and it’s okay. You don’t have to try to stay on top of everything but there are some things that come through in our lifetime or once a generation, let’s say, that are game-changers.
The internet was a game-changer. Smartphones were a game-changer but not to the degree that AI is going to be a game-changer. I did a presentation and talked about the disruptive impact AI will have on our lives. What happens is people read the stories and hear the fantastic over-the-edge things. They almost get scared because that stuff seems so far out there. There’s a lot of high significant impact that it can have on our lives that isn’t like sci-fi. In the presentation I did, I broke it down into three levels of AI. Level one is becoming more efficient and effective in what we do.
Two, in our organizations or groups, how can we leverage it for processes to make our organization more effective? In business, how can we use it to enhance the products and services that we deliver to the market? I did this to the board. I’m on the board of the group I work for, IDOC, LLC. We support eye doctors but when I was presenting this to the board, I was saying, “Forget about 2 and 3. Those will overwhelm you. Let’s focus on level one. How can we use this to become more efficient ourselves?”
MIT did a study. It was an MIT study so they love this stuff. They said, “On average, people who are using ChatGPT, Bard, or AI in general, become 37% more efficient.” I took a photo of a developer and expanded the height or the width by 37% and it went off to my slide. I was doing the presentation and trying to make a point. An extra 37% efficiency is huge. Depending on your industry and how you use it, it can even be more than that.On average, people using AI, in general, become 37% more efficient. Click To Tweet
The CEO had asked me, “Scott, how much is it affecting you?” I said, “Dave, I want you to refer to me as Scott 1.6. That might be a little bit much but between 40% and 50%, absolutely.” The way I describe it is to become more efficient ourselves. It’s like having an intern. If you had an intern to help you with the things that you do on a daily basis, you’re not going to take that work and accept it as 100% accurate right out of the gate. If your intern said, “John, here’s a letter I wrote. Send it to all your customers,” you’d be crazy if you did that.
You would proofread it, make some edits, and all that stuff but that intern did a lot of legwork for you or better yet, you could go to that intern and say, “Research this topic for me and bring back some ideas. I scratched out a speech that I want to give. Clean it up for me.” In writing, we have idea creation. We do the brain dump there. We have the messy middle and then the fine-tuning at the very end. Typically, if you’re like me, I’m great at doing 1 or 2 of those things but somewhere, I hit the wall trying to do all three on something I’m writing.
That’s where I can lean on my AI co-pilot or intern to do that part for me. I’m getting so much more done. I heard this quote and saw this written somewhere. It said, “The successful professionals of tomorrow will be generalists who have learned how to delegate to AI in those areas.” My productivity has gone off the charts, even when people at work are laughing about it. This is what happens as we get older. We’ve been in the industry for a long time. We recognize what we should get all excited about and what also seems like a fad or a trend.The successful professionals tomorrow will be generalists who have learned how to delegate to AI in those areas. Click To Tweet
The one thing I will say about AI is it is still a little bit of the Wild Wild West. Buyer, beware. Take everything you get from AI with a grain of salt. It’s based on a model. I heard this quote as well. “It’s knowledgeable but it’s not necessarily smart. It has access to a lot of data but a lot of data out there isn’t the right answer for you either.” I always look at it like it can do a lot of your legwork but don’t take the answer verbatim that it gives you. You always need to exercise your domain experience or have somebody else you can bounce stuff off of. We’re at a very unique time in history in terms of how productive we could be.
Refresh my memory and tell the audience. You used it with three different scenarios within your track and field experience. I don’t recall exactly what they were. I read it but I’m not recalling it so share that. You used it with 3 different scenarios within 1 subject.
This was the post maybe you’re thinking about. I said, “I had my first argument with AI.” I don’t know if I should be amused or concerned because I put in, “Here’s my workout program.” I do short workouts so I might do a 5-minute chest workout or a 2-minute leg workout. I might go run some sprints and call that a workout. I gave it my list of workouts and said, “Create a 28-day workout program for me where I’m not going to do the same body part more than once a day. I want four complete rest days throughout this time.” I had some other things in there.
It came back and said, “Here’s your 28-day workout with 4 rest days,” but it had six rest days. It told me it had four. I said, “There’s six. Can you make it with four?” It put 5 and told me it had 4. I said, “Make this one a rest day.” It did it and then I said, “Add sixteen sprint workouts.” It added 14 but it told me it gave me 16. I was going back and forth with it and finally said, “You should take more rest.” I thought isn’t that fascinating in the sense that it came back and this is where we have to take everything with a grain of salt and review it. Somewhere, it had its rule set about how often it thought I should work out. Even though I was asking it to give me more, it was holding back. It was only when I pinpointed it specifically.
The final thing that I said was, “Put a sprint workout on this day.” That’s when it came back and told me I needed more rest. It was still a useful exercise. It’ll take me a long time to lay out the workout that it gave me, even though I was arguing with it. I felt like I was talking to one of my teenage boys years ago or something. It still was very useful but it was also a thing you’re going to say, “Don’t accept everything verbatim.” I’ve used it for diet plans. I used it because we have a competition, the nationals. I was curious. I said, “What if I’m an older athlete? What’s a good warmup plan for competition?’”
Normally, I always figured you should get up at least three hours before. “Here are the things you do.” It had a different plan than I’ve been doing. I’m going to go and do a little more research on that but I thought that was interesting. Another thing that was fascinating highlights one of the limitations/opportunities. Urolithin A is a supplement based on pomegranates. There are some studies out. My son is a fitness writer and he did an article on it. He does some ghostwriting for Ben Greenfield. He was telling me about it.
I looked it up on ChatGPT and said, “Tell me about this for older male athletes.” It said, “We don’t have enough data for this. Our data model only goes through September 2021.” I got an extension that allows it to also go out and search the internet. When I turned that extension on, I said, “Give me some information on this for older male athletes.” It went out and retrieved five different articles. It took some of the older information and then stuff from these articles.
It gave me some responses like, “Here’s what we’re finding for Urolithin A for older male athletes.” It even cited the references of where it came from. Those articles could be garbage for all we know but what a great way to do some research and then have the citations there. It also gave me, “Here’s what we took out of this article.” It’s an overview and then it condensed stuff for me. It’s a huge time saver and very interesting as well.
Two questions, Scott. For somebody who’s self-employed, most of our audience is self-employed or at least part-time self-employed, how can they utilize it? You’re an electrical engineer. If they’re a network marketing distributor, let’s say, and they’re selling XYZ, be it a supplement, skincare, or service, how do you see them utilizing it to help them?
Here are a couple of examples. Let’s say I want to write a social media post. I could say, “Describe this product as if you’re a marketing consultant speaking to high school kids. Describe this as a marketing consultant to stay-at-home moms or entrepreneurs.” I’ve done this for some stuff where I do teach foundational skills to technical people so I’m putting together a manual for that. For each topic, let’s say I take goal setting. I went in there and said, “In the voice of a bestselling suspense spy novelist, describe how this fictitious character used goal setting to save his business and rescue the free world from certain catastrophe.” It went through and created a very entertaining, nonsensical but humorous story.
The key is you could put things in a different voice. You could say, “The CEO sent me a speech that he’s going to give and he said, ‘I went to ChatGPT and asked for this speech.’” I replied and go, “It makes me want to storm the castle walls. Did you say to write this in the voice of Vince Lombardi?” He’s old enough to know who Vince Lombardi was. The point is, you can use it for that tone. Make sure you use SEO-friendly keywords. Another option where I use it a lot of times is as I’m writing stuff, I’ll get stuck on a word.
I had a presentation I was doing and I was trying to describe different methods for using something or benefits. All I could come up with were high-level ways. What do high-level ways mean? That’s toxic. Somebody doesn’t even know that sound. I don’t even know English. I said, “Here’s what I’m using. Can you give me some other words to use?” It gave me ten different phrases. One of them was fantastic. In the case where have writer’s block, which I can’t find the right word, it was a great tool.
People are in sales, responding to emails, coming up with social media content, or coming up with a cover letter or a pitch for a product. You have the whole thing of a 30-second pitch. You want to talk about what’s the over-benefit, the dynamic difference, or the reason to believe. That stuff sounds great but sometimes, when you have to put the words in order and the pen to paper, it can be challenging. This is where the AI can help you. You can use it for the different levels.
One of the things that I’ve noticed throughout my career, and I’m sure you have as well, is it’s a lot easier for a lot of people to critique than it is to create. Sometimes you have a blank whiteboard and it’s tough to get going. If somebody gives you something, you can say, “I don’t like that. This could be here.” Whatever your personality or mood is, you can say, as I often do, “Create something for me,” and then I tweak it or if I’m inspired, I can puke it out on paper and say, “It makes sense of what I spilled on paper,” and then they’ll do that.
I did this for a lady who wants to start a marketing business. Her idea is to help people with presentations. I said, “What other opportunities exist for a startup company that wants to help people with presentations? What other things of value could they deliver to their customer?” It talked about pre-marketing. If somebody is going to do a presentation, use that event to market your business.
Beforehand, follow up retention. Coaching in terms of how to do the right presentations, recordings, and media, the whole live social media. The live event and then the post. It came up with ten different items that she could offer as part of that with the nucleus being that she’s going to help people come up with presentation, content, and material. Here are all the other services she could offer around that. It’s fascinating.
Here’s my final question, Scott, and then we’ll come back and let you wrap up a couple of ideas. You are a super busy guy. You’re still a world-class athlete in your 60s. You’re normally the top stop in the shot put and discus at any event even at the world level. You are very busy in the IT world and you’re part of all the cutting-edge things that are happening in this world. Also, you’re a husband and a father. How do you plan your day when you get it all done? You’re one of the busiest people that I know. How do you do it all?
My middle daughter is like me. She’s a software developer, plays professional Ultimate Frisbee, does modeling, is 6 feet tall, is a great kid, and is nice. Every once in a while, when she was younger, she would get overwhelmed. I told her, “Jamie, you have to understand that you like to over-commit. You like to do things and keep busy. When you get overwhelmed, you have to understand that you put yourself in that position. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. You have to learn ways to get out of it.” This stuff has been around for a long time. Make the list and check things off. If you check the first thing off, you feel a lot better about it.
As you get older, you realize, “I’m going to give myself the list.” I do this mentally with the developers that I manage. We start each day with what we call a daily lineup. We plan our day like, “Here are the things I’m going to work on today.” I’m always going to have 1 or 2 of those things that I’m not going to probably get to that day. They carry over to the next day. I don’t worry about it.
When I was younger, I might get more uptight about it. “I have to get all these things done.” You don’t have to get anything done. You want to do your best throughout the day. One of the things that’s become apparent to me is we spend so much time working. We’re idiots if we don’t find a way to have fun while we’re doing it. It should be a lot of fun.
I’ve heard from people before, especially when I was younger, “Scott, you laugh too much at work.” I’d say, “I’m getting a lot of stuff done. I should have fun with it.” I went to a leadership thing and you have people who you work with that rate you. One of the top characteristics that people thought I had is that I made working fun. I wasn’t doing that for everybody else, to be honest with you. Selfishly, I want to make sure I have fun. A big part of having fun, working, and doing a lot is admitting you’re choosing to do that.
The other thing sounds cliché. If it sounds a little corny, my apologies upfront. Gratitude. Getting up and feeling better lucky than good. I try to have the habit as soon as my feet touch the floor in the morning and say thank you out loud three times. I have a motto that when I wake up, I get up. The worst thing for me is laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and trying to fall back asleep. I can get up and be productive for an hour. I might then get tired and sleep for four more hours. I had tried to have those mottos.
With the gratitude piece, people will tell me, “You get a lot done.” I go, “How lucky am I for that?” They go, “You’re a hard worker. It’s not luck.” I said, “How lucky am I that I’m a hard worker?” They go, “You make yourself do it. You have all this energy.” I go, “How lucky am I to have this energy to make myself do it?” No matter what, we continue. I always spin it to the point of I’m lucky to be in that frame of mind to want to do more and be enthusiastic about life.
Also, the curiosity when I was going through all the treatments and all that stuff. As you can imagine with bladder cancer, they call a lot of the procedures non-invasive. To any guy, it’s pretty invasive, the way they give you things that they give you. I become intimate with more strangers than I ever thought I would be in my whole lifetime in the last couple of years.
Having a curiosity about it, it’s so fascinating what the human body can do, how we treat it, and how it can heal itself. You know this from your background. It’s the right supplements, vitamins, minerals, and things that we eat and consume. Not that I don’t want to end on this note but one of the things that does suck is that adage about you can’t out-exercise a bad diet. That is true and even more true as we get older.
On my other computer here, I’ve got a little sticky note, “You can never train a bad diet.”
Along those lines, it gets back to the over-committing and embracing that we choose. I’ve often thought it’s tough to go through life in a state of sacrifice and denying yourself things. I’m lucky. I got to the point where I convinced myself that I love salad. I don’t like dressing. I love fruits and seafood. I like the things that I’m going to eat. I don’t go to the grocery store, deny myself, and say, “I’m not going to have that donut,” where I feel like I’m sacrificing. I go there and think, “I’d love this salad.” With exercise as well, “I love to exercise. I love the way I feel.” We’ve all had this before. It’s so tough sometimes to go and exercise. When you’re done, you’re thinking, “Why was that so tough because I feel so great now?”
One of the things I talked about to the doctors and patients is that we got to get off this thing of feeling like we have to sacrifice to be healthy and fit. We got to lighten up and have some fun. I always coach people to pat yourself on the back for the process. Don’t sit there and start a fitness program saying, “I’m going to get to this goal.” Start the fitness program by saying, “I’m going to exercise this many times a week.” If you miss one, big deal. Start up the next time. Applaud yourself and pat yourself on the back for the process. You’ll get the result through that.We should get off this feeling of sacrificing to be healthy and fit. We must lighten up and have some fun. Click To Tweet
You’ve got some track things and business things coming up. What’s next on the Scott Eriksson agenda?
The big thing is nationals. I’m a little bit nervous because for my 62nd birthday, my wife, the Latin performance dancer, gave me a birthday present of her and me taking Tango Bachata lessons. I called it Tang Chowder. I don’t even know what the hell we’re doing. I have seven left feet. Maybe with some time and effort, I might get down to four but that may be the limit for me. Other than that, the AI stuff is exciting. I hope I’m going to wrap up the Microburst Workout Program and make that available online.
If people go to MicroburstWorkout.com, I have fifteen videos up there or video things you can do with a resistance band. The password is “Life is the gym” in its proper case. Also, the NERDbody, we’re getting ready to do another revision of that. NERDbody is where we send text messages throughout the day with little reminders of, “Time to get up. Do your 1 to 2-minute exercise.” There’s a little motivational quote and a 30-second video. We even have Swedish fitness models in the video. After they sign up, it says, “Sorry, I’m Swedish.”
You should shock them. I’m half so maybe I’ll have to come and beat one too.
With all seriousness, I’ll feature people on videos so we’re going to do that. I always tell my wife that I want to make couples NERDbody videos and it goes, “NERDbody After Hours.” You and I can’t do those together, John. Sorry.
I don’t think that would work. Scott, this has been a privilege and a lot of fun. I’ll give you the last word. Anything else you want to share with our audience?
It’s corny and stuff but I feel so lucky to be where I am in life with the people who I’m surrounded with and friends like you. As we get older, it becomes more important to us to want to try to have an impact and help other people. Thank you for this to whoever is reading. If somebody wants to exercise, go to NERDbody, and sign up for the two-week trial, it never ends. It’s a passion. It’s not a money-making venture but we love to have people sign up, get the videos, and do the exercises. It’s an opportunity to help people. That feels good at this age.
Scott, thank you so much for your insights on AI and athleticism. I’m getting older because it’s not easy as we know but you’re doing it gracefully so continue to succeed.
Don’t you laugh when people go, “Age is just a number?” “Yeah, it’s just a number but it’s a number of years I’ve been alive. What the hell?” Good stuff. I appreciate it, John. Thank you very much.