Be present

RYAN SHEA co-created Blockstack, a new decentralized Internet where users control their data, and apps run without remote servers. With his co-founder Muneeb Ali, Blockstack has raised funding from top investors like Union Square Ventures and Naval Ravikant. Ryan majored in mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton with a minor in computer science. After graduation, Ryan started working on tech startups, was named to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list, went through Y Combinator, and authored several popular open source libraries in cryptography and blockchain technology.

What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? Or what are books that have greatly influenced your life?

Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
The Sovereign Individual by James Dale Davidson and Lord William


If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say and why?
“Be present.” It’s very hard for almost all of us, and sometimes we need a reminder. The act of being present versus being preoccupied with the past or the future can have a massive impact on our happiness.

When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do?

I lift hard, go for a run, get a massage, read a book, or watch a movie.
My workouts typically have three phases: First, I will do three or four sets of

either bench press, squats, or deadlifts. For each set, I aim for six to ten reps ranging from 70 to 85 percent of my one-rep max. Then, I’ll do three or four supersets of either (a) 15 to 20 reps of pull-ups and dips, (b) ten reps of bicep curls and tricep extensions, or (c) ten reps of shoulder presses, lateral raises, and front raises. Last, I’ll do my core workout, which includes either (a) four sets of one-minute planks alternated with four sets of sit-ups, leg raises, suitcases, and bicycles or (b) one set each of sit-ups, planks, side planks, and ball knee tucks followed by three sets of side bends.

What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made?
In 2016, I started doing New Month Resolutions [as opposed to New Year Resolutions]. Here’s some of what I did:

July: Daily reading
August: No TV or movies
September: No dairy
October: No gluten
November: Daily meditation
December: No news or social media feeds

As you can see, a few of the months were elimination months and a few were daily behavior months. The elimination months were interesting because I learned that I came away less dependent on the thing I eliminated. I now watch less TV and fewer movies, I eat less bread and gluten, and I still block the news and my social media feeds. The only thing I reinstated was dairy, choosing to continue to consume it.

The daily behavior months were interesting because they gave me an on-ramp to maintaining certain behaviors. I still meditate daily, and while I don’t read daily, I read at a frequency close to that.

So far, my favorite experiments have been no news or social media feeds, workouts every day, no TV or movies, reading every day, and waking up at 7:30 every morning.

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