Walking America, Summiting Everest & Writing Hit Music | Mike Posner on Rich Roll Podcast

Check out Rich Roll Podcast Episode Page & Show Notes

Key Takeaways

  • Walking across the US was Mike Posner’s 5-year long dream
    • Everyone thought that he was crazy to walk across America 
    • He was struggling to keep up with the celebrity persona (going on the road, doing public appearances, etc.)
  • The truth about trying to do anything hard; you can’t foresee every obstacle, you can’t know for sure until you try
    • After 1797 miles, Mike got attacked by a poisonous rattlesnake
    • Reason and excuse are the same things; will you live according to your excuses or your commitments?
  • White people warned him about Navajo; “bad things tend to happen,” they said
    • When he finally got to Navajo, he found only love and support
    • Diné (Navajo people) prayed for him and gave him gifts (arrowheads and eagle feathers)
  • What started as a hippie-dippy experience became an exercise in extreme discipline
    • Getting up at 4 AM every morning and starting to walk by 5 AM
    • Every day the alarm went off, Mike didn’t want to get up. He never wanted to get up
  • After Everest, there is no next, he doesn’t want to do anything more dangerous than that
    • The key is to use the leverage of the experience to be more present in your daily life, to have more gratitude
  • Our thinking mind is good at keeping us alive and helping us do menial tasks, but it’s not our friend with a lot of important things
    • We need to make a distinction between our higher consciousness and the looping negative thought patterns of the thinking brain
  • With the absence of stimuli and planning, Mike’s life became a lot simpler
    • It gave him a chance to clear everything from the past and be in the present
    • When we quiet our minds, we can find that peace anywhere

Key Books Mentioned

Intro

  • Mike Posner (T: @MikePosner) is a Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, and record producer (Justin Beiber, Maroon 5, Tom Morello, Avicii, and many others)
  • Mike joins the Rich Roll Podcast to discuss how long it takes to recover from a rattlesnake bite, why he nicknamed his thinking brain “Charlie”, and why you shouldn’t be an adventure junkie
  • Check out Mike’s website
  • Check out Mike’s IG (@mikeposner) for sprouting recipes
    • Mike loves sprouting (germinated seeds, grains, lentils, etc., you grow at home)
    • He is eating upwards of four ounces of sprouts a day to help prevent Alzheimer’s
  • Host – Rich Roll (@richroll)

The Meaning Behind the Walk Across America

  • “Not all crazy ideas are great, but all great ideas are crazy”Elliott Bisnow
    • Walking across the US was Mike’s 5-year long dream
    • Everyone thought that he was crazy to walk across America 
    • He was struggling to keep up with the celebrity persona (going on the road, doing public appearances, etc.)
  • There is a strategy behind Walk Across America: 
    • It’s usually best to start east to west because of where the mountain ranges line up 
    • If you want to finish before winter, start walking in early spring
    • Every spring, Mike made excuses: there was always an album to finish, a tour to do, or a wedding to attend
    • Depression started to kick in because he was slowly giving up on his dream
  • Before taking his first steps in Asbury Park, New Jersey on March 1, 2019., Mike already had a reason to quit
    • He walked into a table and broke his pinky toe (he had a stress reaction on his second metatarsal)
    • The doctors said he needs to let it heal if he wants to do the walk
    • He was scared; he told everyone he was going to walk across America, and it’s 2,800 miles
    • Mike was going into the unknown, having no idea if he was even capable of doing it
    • The truth about trying to do anything hard; you can’t foresee every obstacle, and you can’t know for sure until you try
  • It was also a different and unique way to promote his music 
    • Sharing music in a different format (walking from town to town with fans, ending the day with a mini-concert)
    • He envisioned it like a moving carnival across America
    • However, reality turned out to be quite different

Deciding to Walk & Getting Bitten by a Rattlesnake

  • With anxiety and uncertainty building up inside his body, he was standing in the ocean near Asbury Park, New Jersey, and took his first step
    • He was walking 24 miles daily
    • After 1,797 miles, loads of gorgeous scenery (orange sunrises and shooting stars in Kansas, double rainbows in Ohio), and minor inconveniences (heatwaves in Missouri, and plantar fasciitis), he gets attacked by a poisonous rattlesnake
  • While waiting for the ambulance, he started to lose consciousness
    • Mike Posner: “Am I going to die?” 
    • 911 dispatcher: “I don’t know, sir.”
    • Riding in the back of an ambulance, he decided to stop worrying and accepted the uncertainty of the situation
  • The recovery lasted for 8 days (5 days in hospital, 3 in the ICU)
    • “The hardest part of the snake bite was getting better from the snake bite.” Mike Posner
    • The rehabilitation lasted for 3 weeks, and in those 3 weeks he had all the reason to not finish the remaining 1000 miles and complete the walk
    • “99 times out of 100 my reasons are just excuses wearing fancy clothes.” Mike Posner
    • Reason and excuse are the same things; will you live according to your excuses or your commitments?

Traversing the Navajo Nation

  • White people warned him about Navajo; “bad things tend to happen,” they said
    • When he finally got to Navajo, he found only love and support
    • Diné (Navajo people) prayed for him and gave him gifts (arrowheads and eagle feathers)
    • He’s a white guy walking on their land; they had all the reason for doubt and hostility, but there was none
    • There was just love, for no particular reason

There Are No Finish Lines

  • What started as a hippie-dippy experience became an exercise in extreme discipline
    • Getting up at 4 AM every morning and starting to walk by 5 AM
    • Every day the alarm went off, Mike didn’t want to get up. He never wanted to get up
  • “I don’t know people that are happy all the time, but I know people that show up all the time”Mike Posner
    • They show up for the commitment; their word means something 
    • Mike realized he wanted to be one of those people
  • 6 months after his first steps in Asbury Park, Mike completed the walk and dived into the Pacific ocean
    • He felt accomplished but even more important, he felt the world of possibility
    • It was the first day of the rest of his life
  • “There are no finish lines, it’s just another step on your path.” Rich Roll
    • There is nothing wrong with celebrating your successes but the important thing is to keep moving
  • The next day, Mike got up at 4 AM and went boxing

Preparation for Mount Everest

  • Two weeks after the walk, and with no prior knowledge of climbing, Mike started training with Colin O’Brady
  • Kedrowski became his coach and guide, and they trained for a year and a half (they climbed 72 mountains)
    • “Train for climbing mountains by climbing mountains.”Jon Kedrowski
    • Crystal Peak was the first mountain Mike and Jon climbed together 
    • It was also Mike’s first lesson – the water bottle does not go on the outside of the backpack because it will turn into ice
    • Instead, put it inside the backpack, against your back so it stays liquid
  • Training with Wim Hof
    • Two main pillars of the Wim Hof method: Cold immersion and breathwork
    • Making sure he got cold once or twice every day before Everest to change the body’s metric of what cold was
    • He’s studying to become an instructor, he loves practicing the Wim Hof method and wants to share the knowledge

There Is No Next

  • Traveling to a place at an altitude higher than 8,000 feet can make you sick
    • High altitude: 8,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level
    • Mike felt horrible; he couldn’t sleep, he was exhausted and dehydrated
    • Acclimation helps, but it doesn’t make it feel good
  • After reaching the summit, Mike was humble and grateful
    • A lot of people were involved in the process and he couldn’t have done it without them
    • “It was perfect, it was unreal, it was everything.” – Mike Posner
    • He didn’t turn into an adventure junkie and has no need for repeating the experience
    • There was no feeling of “infinite possibility” like he had after the walk across America
  • After Everest, there is no next, he doesn’t want to do anything more dangerous than that
    • The walk was the momentum to do Everest, but the Everest was momentum to be “here” (to be present)
    • The key is to use the leverage of the experience to be more present in your daily life, to have more gratitude
    • Do not try to repeat the experience just to feel something similar again (escaping reality)

The Story About Charlie

  • Who is Charlie? Mike nicknamed the voice in his head
    • Charlie makes a lot of doomsday scenarios and is amazingly repetitive
  • One day while meditating, Mike noticed Charlie becoming quiet
    • Mike prepared a snack (bread and avocado) and took a bite
    • It was a firework of flavors, the best meal he had in his life, and the main ingredient was a “quiet mind
  • When the mind is quiet, what is left?
    • “It’s like taking the condom off life.”Mike Posner
    • All the senses become heightened because they are usually enveloped with nonsense inside of our head
  • Our thinking mind is good at keeping us alive and helping us do doing menial tasks
    • But it’s not our friend with a lot of important things
    • We need to make a distinction between our higher consciousness (the experience of being truly present in life) and the looping negative thought patterns of the thinking brain
    • In truth, we are that higher consciousness, we over-identify with the thinking brain
    • Charlie is a voice that we can choose to listen to or dismiss
    • It’s easy to be a monk when you are in a monastery (or in a retreat), removed from the real world 
    • The real challenge is taking the experience into the real world, and practicing that in your everyday life (when immersed in stimuli and challenges, etc.)

Making Sense of It All (From Everest to Studio)

  • With the absence of stimuli and planning, Mike’s life became a lot simpler
    • While walking across America, he had a lot of time to think about his relationships
    • He would call his friends and tell them about “that time” he got upset over something they did to talk it out
    • It gave him a chance to clear everything from the past and be in the present
  • How do you transfer that mindset back into the busy everyday life (without risking your life on Everest)?
    • When we quiet our minds, we can find that peace anywhere
    • Not every moment will have the same strength and effectiveness
    • Every day, Mike is trying to be present
    • Some days are just harder than others, but he can feel more than he did before
  • Once you work on these things, your perspective changes
    • The more human you are, the more of a musician you are
  • Redemption song by Bob Marley is his favorite song
    • He knows all the chords and lyrics, and he can hit all the notes, but why hasn’t he written a song that good?
    • The answer is not found in the studio (practicing guitar, voice lessons, etc), it’s something deeper than that
  • “You gotta have a deep reservoir of life experience to get to a place where you have something to say, worthy of a song like that.”Rich Roll

What’s Next For Mike Posner?

  • Sarcastic answer:
    • There is no next for Mike Posner, there is only here and now
    • If we can’t be happy now, we can never be happy
  • Non-sarcastic answer:
    • Doing public speaking
    • Making music with other people
    • Taking a break from the adventure stuff
    • Being in shape and exercising
  • He doesn’t want to risk his life anytime soon
    • Mike believes that the state of peace he experienced via dangerous endeavors can be accessed in other ways
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Notes By Dario

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