Optimize Parenting

Locked 101 Classes

Mommahood 101

How to Celebrate Motherhood—The Most Creative Work of Your Life! (Special guest teacher: Alexandra!)

In this special class, my wife Alexandra joins us to share her Top 10 Big Ideas on how to celebrate the most creative time of your life. Discover how to mother from your essence, be a self-care queen, ignite your desire power and see your mothering as holy work + invisible art as you bring more fun and play and mindfulness into your heroine’s journey.

Locked 101 Classes

Fatherhood 101

How to Win Dad of the Year While Doing Your Life's Work

Did you know the word “parenting” comes from the Latin “to bring forth”? Yep. Begs the question, what do YOU want to help bring forth in your kids?! In this class, we explore 10 of my favorite Ideas on how I’m approaching fatherhood and going for dad of the year while doing my life’s work.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

The World According to Mister Rogers

Important Things to Remember

Did you know that Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister who was given the unique charge of working with children and families through television? Yep. Since watching the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, I’ve fallen in love with the man and his “relentless commitment to all that is best in people.” This is a quick-reading collection of some of Fred’s best wisdom gems gathered from various sources and organized by different themes. Big Ideas we explore include: Your eulogy (in three words!), an enraged Mister Rogers (= fierce love in action), a barrelful of songs (your barrel overflowing?), swimming with Fred (143!!), and making goodness attractive (remember our #1 job: ENCOURAGE others!!).

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Many Ways to Say I Love You

Wisdom for Parents and Children from Mister Rogers

This is our third Note on (Mister) Fred Rogers’ books. I read all three over the course of a week after falling in love with the man via the wonderful documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? This book, as per the sub-title, is all about “Wisdom for Parents and Children from Mister Rogers.” Like the other books we’ve featured, it’s a super quick-reading and equally inspiring collection of brief wisdom gems from our beloved neighbor. I loved it. And, I’ve been enjoying channeling Mister Rogers’ warmth and presence and wisdom in my role as a father to our two little E’s: Emerson (6 as I type this) and Eleanor (2!). Big Ideas we explore include how to deal with disappointment (big and small!), growing (kids AND parents), the complexity of being a parent, setting limits and the power of saying, "I'm sorry."

Locked PhilosophersNotes

You Are Special

Words of Wisdom for All Ages from a Beloved Neighbor

I got this book after watching the wonderful (!) documentary on Mister Rogers called Won’t You Be My Neighbor? It's a collection of wisdom gems from various sources-a quick-reading portal into Mister Rogers’ brain that has an amazingly calming, uplifting effect. (At least it did for me.) Simply reading his words seemed to elevate my consciousness and make me a kinder, more patient person. Big Ideas we explore include: Be the best at whatever you are, our #1 Job in life (hint: Encourage others!!), I Like You (just the way you are), being a living example, Mister Rogers' creativity (hello, torture!), perfect parents/kids? (nope!), and the gap (the essence of human creativity).

Locked PhilosophersNotes

The Path to Purpose

How Young People Find Their Calling in Life

This book is a scientific look at Purpose by one of the world’s leading developmental psychologists—a powerful look at how to cultivate purpose in our children (and, for that matter, ourselves) and why it’s so important. Big Ideas we explore include a definition of what it means to be purposeful (and a look at the alternatives), the #1 thing that gets in the way of discovering and creating purpose, 9 key things parents can do to help their kids with purpose, why entrepreneurial spirit is so important and a four-word mantra to reduce timidity and build courage and confidence.

Locked PhilosophersNotes


The New Psychology of Success

Carol Dweck, Ph.D is a Stanford Professor and one of the world’s leading authorities on the science of motivation. She tells us that our “mindset”—how we see the world—determines a *huge* part of our overall happiness and well-being and achievement. In this Note, we’ll explore the difference between a “fixed mindset” and a “growth mindset” and some Big Ideas on why we want to learn how to live from a growth mindset. And, of course, how to do it!

Locked PhilosophersNotes


Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development (Essays in Social Psychology)

Carol Dweck is one of the world’s leading researchers on the science of motivation. This book is a collection of brief essays on various aspects of “self-theories.” It’s essentially a bridge between her extensive academic research studies and her popular book Mindset. It’s amazing. Big Ideas we explore include the two frameworks (entity vs. incremental) and their two goals (performance vs. learning), attributional retraining (aka learning the best way to respond to failure!), and moving from contingent self-worth to wholehearted self-esteem.

Locked PhilosophersNotes


The Power of Passion and Perseverance

Angela Duckworth is the world’s leading authority on the science of grit. In fact, she pioneered the field and, as Daniel Gilbert says on the cover: “Psychologists have spent decades searching for the secret of success, but Duckworth is the one who found it.” In this Note, we explore the two facets of grit (hint: passion + perseverance, why they’re important and how to cultivate them.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Parenting Champions

What Every Parent Should Know About the Mental Game

Lanny Bassham is one of my favorite teachers. He’s an Olympic Gold Medalist and World Champion rifle shooter. He won a silver medal after having what he calls a “mental meltdown” in the 1972 Olympics. Then he spent several hours a day for the next couple years talking to every gold medalist he could find about how they were THINKING while they were performing at such an elite level. In the next Olympics in 1976, Lanny won the gold and then began teaching his “Mental Management System®.” Since then, he’s coached Olympic teams from all around the world and has also worked with the Navy SEALs, Fortune 500 businesses, the PGA and its players and other elite performers in sports and business. He boiled decades of wisdom into his fantastic book With Winning in Mind. He and I connected for an interview and I’ve been personally practicing many of his ideas for years. Then recently sent me a copy of his latest book — this one. I read it the next day. It’s AWESOME. And, well, here we are. Of course, it’s packed with Big Ideas and, as always, I’m excited to share some of my favorites!

Locked PhilosophersNotes

Nonviolent Communication

A Language of Life

Nonviolent Communication has sold over 1,000,000 copies. Why? It works. There are four key components to NVC: Observations + Feelings + Needs + Requests. In this Note, we'll take a quick look at each of them along with some other Big Ideas to communicate more compassionately.

Locked PhilosophersNotes

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

A Practical Guide from the Country's Foremost Relationship Expert

Want to make your relationship work? Then you’d be wise to turn toward the world’s leading researcher on the science of what makes love work: John Gottman. This book has sold over 1 million copies and it’s easy to see why. Big Ideas we explore: How Gottman can predict divorce with 91% accuracy (in < 15 minutes), a quick look at the 7 principles, the power of cherishing your partner, turning toward (and not being a tech rat), how to solve the solvable problems and starting “I love you” with the “I.”

Locked PhilosophersNotes

A Complaint Free World

How to Stop Complaining and Start Enjoying the Life You Always Wanted

Will Bowen committed to going 21-days without complaining, criticizing or gossiping and challenged his congregation to do the same. 7 million purple bracelets later, Bowen created a little revolution and in this Note, we’ll check out some Big Ideas on how to quit getting your complaint on. And why you should care. Big Ideas range from shutting down the complaint factory to the fact that we’re all self-made—but only the successful will admit it.


Eat Move Sleep

How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes

Eat Move Sleep. The simple, powerful keys to optimal health and well-being. We talk about these fundamentals ALL the time and this is my new favorite book on health. Big Ideas we explore include 10,008 hours and 36 minutes (the magic # of elite performance), candy for cancer cells, the power of measuring whatever it is you want to improve, how to buy willpower at the store, and a vaccine for the common cold.

Locked +1s

#17 Bring Forth

How to Be a Wise Parent (for Yourself + Others)
As you might have noticed, it’s easy to stress ourselves out as we strive to step up to our heroic potential. So… We need to make sure
Locked +1s

#52 The Most Dangerous Thing You Can Do While “Multitasking”

Can You Guess What It Is? (Now Quit Doing It!)
We’ve established the fact that our brains don’t have parallel processors like a computer. As much as we’d like to think that we can
Locked +1s

#135 Repairing Relationships

A Key Practice for Optimizing the Love in Our Lives
In our last +1 we chatted about the difference between FALLING in love and STANDING in love. It’s easy to fall in love. It’s
Locked +1s

#158 Deep Love Time Blocks

When’s Your Next Time Block?
We’ve talked a ton about Deep Work and going Deep in general. But let’s get more specific and make sure we’re prioritizing not just
Locked +1s

#366 How to Child-Proof Cover Your Trigger Buttons

Annoyed? Ask: How Am I That?
In our last +1, we talked about shadows and attending your own lectures. Let’s continue the theme and talk about a great idea from The
Locked +1s

#428 Antifragile Affirmactions

How to Use Micro-Moments of Frustration to Grow
Today we’re going to have some fun mapping out how to use micro-moments of frustration to catalyze the next-best version of you,
Locked +1s

#481 Reclaiming Lost Hours

By Making Everything (!) Our Practice
Before we bid farewell to George Leonard, how about ONE more little idea from the Aikido (and life) master? This might be the most important
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#601 The Mystery of the Hairy Fingers

You’ll Laugh About It in 5 Years So Why Wait?
One of my challenges as I step up my athletic game is finding the time to train as I have some very tight time constraints on how much time
Locked +1s

#606 Parenting: 3 Tips

Lessons on How to Be a Great Dad
At the end of my recent talk I keep on talking about 😉, one of the CEOs came up and asked me how to apply the wisdom I shared to his
Locked +1s

#716 Leonidas + Little Leo

The (Johnson) Optimizing Game
Not too long ago, I introduced you to Leonidas—my Spartan sweatband. Yes, I realize it’s ridiculous that I wear this all day every day.
Locked +1s

#869 I Like You

Just the Way You Are
After watching that Mister Rogers documentary I keep talking about (this one), we got a bunch of his books. One of them is a recently
Locked +1s

#889 Are You Intexticated?

A Friendly Optimizing PSA
The other day Grandma and Grandpa visited to hang out with the E’s. We had a nice time. 😍 As we were walking to give them a tour of the
Locked +1s

#892 Stoic Shipwrecks

And Kids at the Park Biting You
In our last +1, we had fun reflecting on a new ritual Emerson and I are having fun with. It’s been super fun to reflect on ancient Stoic
Locked +1s

#921 Cool- (+Kid-)ifying Investing

Rather than Spending Every Dollar We Have
Not too long ago, we started giving Emerson $10 every week. It was Alexandra’s idea to start giving him some money that he could use as he
Locked +1s

#922 Compounding Cash (for Kids)

The Magic of Money Multiplying
In our last +1, we talked about how I’m attempting to make the idea of saving and investing money much cooler than constantly spending
Locked +1s

#1048 “I Found Something!”

The "I Love You” Game
As we’ve discussed many times, one of my absolute favorite things to do in life is curl up in bed next to Emerson and read together.
Locked +1s

#1057 Exploding Fist Bumps of Love

🤜💥🤛 → 🤟 💥 🤟
This morning I was wrapping up yet another AM1 Deep Work session when I heard the tap-tap-tap little knock on the office door. I smiled.
Locked +1s

#1080 How You React

Small Things vs. Dramatic Things
In our last couple +1s, we flipped through my notes from session number 150-something with my Yoda/spiritual Godfather Phil Stutz. On page
Locked +1s

#1081 How We All Spell Love

In our last +1, we wrapped up the tour of my notes from a recent chat with Phil. We added these three Phil-orisms to our collection:
Locked +1s

#1085 Relationship Bid Math

How's Yours?
In our last +1, we talked about being Efficient vs. Effective. Efficiency? It’s GREAT for managing our time and completing tasks. Not so
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#1086 Bid Math Part 2

Addition by Subtraction
In our last +1, we hung out with Jon Gottman and learned that successful marriages feature partners responding to one another’s bids. (Did
Locked +1s

#1087 Kid Bid Algorithms

Our Ticket to Mom or Dad of the Year Ceremonies
In our last couple +1s, we’ve been talking about Jon Gottman and his wisdom on how to make a marriage work. We’ve been focused on one
Locked +1s

#1140 How to Say “I Love You”

In Squeezy-eze
A little over seven and half years ago, Emerson was born at home. We had an amazing midwife (named Mary Jackson) for both Emerson and
Locked +1s

#1144 Balloon Breathing

For Kids (and Their Parents)
In our last +1, we practiced some virtue mastery via our new (and always-evolving) Virtuegong practice. How about a super-quick practice
Locked +1s

#1145 Hero Breathing

For Kids (and Their Parents)
In our last +1, we blew up some belly balloons with our kids. We breathed in through our noses, down into our bellies (can you make that
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#1178 Sugar Math

It Adds Up. Fast!
In our last +1, we did some detective work and discovered that sugar is often disguised with 61 different names. Note: The one name that the
Locked +1s

#1258 The Cleanup Game

How to Drop Into Flow (-> Bored to Awesome)
Big news at the Johnson house: We recently got a new robot vacuum cleaner. (Hah.) Given the 18,000+ reviews on the one we wound up getting,
Locked +1s

#1260 Your Stinkin’ Thinkin’

Chickens, Poop, and Neutral Thinking
In our last +1, we spent some more time with Trevor Moawad and explored some more wisdom from his great book, It Takes What It Takes. As you
Locked +1s

#1261 The Flat Tire

And the Ultimate Question: What Do You Want?
In our last couple +1s, we’ve been chatting about Trevor Moawad’s wisdom on what he calls “neutral thinking.” We started by hanging
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#1270 Spray Painting Leaves

Wise Gardening for Mind Body and Soul
In our last +1, we hung out with some scientists and doctors who decided to test whether or not FOOD prescriptions would be more