peakbyandersericssonHow many pushups can you do in a row?

10, 20? Could you do 100?

And you’d have to be a freak if you could do 500 in a row, right?

Well, no.

You’d just be human.

In 1980 Minoru Yoshida of Japan did 10,057 pushups nonstop.

In 1993 Charles Servizio of the good old USA did 46,001 pushups in 21 hours and 21 minutes.

In 2016 David Escojido of the USA did 2,298 pushup in 1 hour.

You might think that these folks must be oddities. They must be gifted. They must have some weird thing in their DNA allowing them to do these things.

But you’d be wrong.

None of these people were born that way. In fact, what researchers are finding is that most of the folks that we think are prodigies—folks like Mozart, Tiger Woods, chess masters who can play 20 games at once without even looking at a board—the biggest thing that separates them from the rest of us isn’t DNA.

Anders Ericsson, a researcher at Florida State University, has spent the last 30 years studying what gives experts their edge. And he reveals in Peak: The New Science of Expertise that he and other researchers have found that while there are some physical traits like height and size that definitely make a difference in some physical activities (notice how all the top gymnasts are short), what really sets people apart is how much of a certain type of practice they’ve done.

Not just practice, but a certain type of practice.

Practicing “hard” doesn’t do much for you. Putting in a lot of hours doesn’t do much either. Instead, you need to practice in a way that has been shown to lead people to actually improve their performance. You still have to put in a lot of time practicing—there is no shortcut—but only the type of practice he explains in the book seems to lead to the increase of performance.

Is he saying that anyone can do anything?

No. When I first looked into his research, one of my big issues was that it seemed he was claiming anyone could do anything with 10,000 hours of practice.
But he’s not saying that.

Is he saying genetics has no influence?

It can, but what he’s found is that it doesn’t have the role we normally think of when we think of top performance. And, most importantly, we place artificial limits on ourselves by thinking people are born to this or that activity.

There is far too much to post here. What you need to know is that what he shares in this book is fascinating, compelling, and surprising. I’ve been training people for over thirty years. And I found myself enlightened. If you’re at all interested in education, or getting better at some activity (from parenting to golf), or helping your kids get better, you’ll want to read this book. Highly recommended.

New presentation materials

Super Author Kristan Higgins

Super Author Kristan Higgins

The RWA conference was a blast. It was a wonderful time to hook up with writing friends, to make new ones, and to listen to insights and advice from folks who are selling tons of books.

Brenda Novak, whose latest book hit #48 on the USA Today list,  gave a great presentation on generating emotion in the reader.

RaeAnne Thayne, whose book is currently the #5 best selling book in the USA this week, shared lots of helpful tips on ways to make this your most productive year ever.

Kristan Higgins, whose latest book hit #20 on the USA Today list, gave a presentation on the role and delights of secondary characters and how to use them. She also gave a humorous and insightful keynote speech about one of the most satisfying reasons to tell stories–to help others.

Lynn Kurland’s presentation on world building was short, but sometimes short is more powerful. I came away remembering that one key to great world building is remembering that nobody will care much about the world if they don’t care for the characters!

There were others presenting, but I wasn’t able to attend. I’m sure they were equally good. I had a great time.

I promised those that attended my presentations that I would post the PDFs here. Enjoy!

Make Them Beg for More — Triggers and Delay

The Story Setup

Learn from some amazing authors this October 7th and 8th in Layton, Utah

brendanovakThe Utah chapter of the Romance Writers Association is holding a writing conference on October 7th and 8th at the Davis Conference Center in Layton, Utah where FIVE New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors will sharing key insights into writing stories. I’m talking about:

  • Brenda Novak
  • Kristan Higgins
  • Dean Wesley Smith
  • Raeanne Thayne
  • Lynn Kurland

If you write stories and want an opportunity to learn from some major pros, then you will want to be at this event.

If you’re not a romance writer, you might be tempted to think that the topics won’t apply to you. Don’t be fooled. Story is story. And these storytellers are pleasing huge numbers of readers.

I will be there. I have two presentations. But I can tell you that when I’m not sharing what I’ve prepared, I’m going to be in the sessions listening to these superstars.

I hope to see you there.

Taggart’s and a Secret

taggartsgrillMost of the time when you go to hole-in-the-wall restaurant, it’s a hole-in-the-wall.

But sometimes you strike gold.

And my youngest daughter and I struck big-time gold last week two miles east of Morgan, Utah, in the canyon between Morgan and Henefer off of exit 108. I’ve driven that stretch many times and never knew anything was off that exit. Literally, if you blink, you’ll think nothing is there.

But if you do, you will miss out on Taggart’s Grill.

It’s nestled in some trees up against the northern slope. The first thing that strikes you when you get out of the car is the delicious aroma. Then you notice the peacocks running about. And then you enter the diner and see a display case of tantalizing, large desserts such as cheesecake, carrot cake, and huge pink-frosted cookies.

The diner itself has a wonderful airy feeling with a high ceiling and lots of windows that offer views of the grove and garden surrounding the diner. There are seats outside in an area with a small waterfall. But we sat inside with the walls of log-cabin wood and the stained glass panels hanging in the windows.

They serve a variety of dishes from sandwiches and soups to pizza, burgers, and fancy plates of salmon or tenderloin. And while the views and setting is awesome, the food is where they really shine.

The beef stew was thick and amazing. The battered fries perfect. The sandwiches were wrapped in thick and soft flat bread that was delicious. And speaking of bread, they asked if I wanted a roll with the stew. I said yes. They didn’t bring out a roll–they brought out a small loaf of what appeared to be freshly baked bread. We of course had to try one of the desserts and opted for the
carrot cake. It was lovely with a hint of almond in the cream cheese frosting.

The portions were huge and so we took enough home for another meal for three.

We’re going back.

I want to try one of their burgers, the halibut, and the BLT.

If you like great food at a great price and are anywhere near Morgan, don’t blink at exit 108. Just pull off and enjoy an awesome meal.


Parents of Rich Middle School students, what if I told you that researchers have uncovered a secret activity that teens enjoy that has the side benefit of actually raising their grades in all of their classes.

But that’s not all. This one secret thing will help them get better jobs years in the future.

It will help them make more money.

And they won’t even know that it’s doing this for them. They won’t care. Because they won’t be doing it for the grades or money. They’ll be doing it for the enjoyment it brings. They’ll be doing it just because they like to do it.

One little surprising thing.

And it’s backed up by lots and lots of research.

Do you want to know what this activity is?

Do you want to open up opportunities for your child?

If you do, come to the meeting Mrs. Brown is having at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, October 12 at the Rich Middle School.

We will reveal all there.