Living in NYC, I’ve gotten the chance to meet a fair number of health figures over the past two years: paleo, primal, barefoot, authors, academics, coaches. One person whom I hadn’t met was Mark Sisson. Mark Sisson, as I’m sure nearly all of you know, is the author of The Primal Blueprint and runs MarksDailyApple.com, the single best primal/paleo resource on the net.
A month and a half ago, Mark emailed me. Said he was going to be in NYC, would love to attend a meetup. I suggested he speak, and Mark agreed to give a 15-20 minute talk (max), but then just wanted to riff with people, hear what was on people’s minds. Less of a lecture and more of a casual meet-and-greet with mingling. Of course, the casual meet-and-greet turned into a 150+ person affair (our largest meetup event to date) and the 15 minute talk was followed by an hour of dialog and Q&A that showed no sign of stopping when we had to end it. Mark spoke about the metabolic paradigm shift: moving from a sugar-based metabolism to a fat-based metabolism, and the role of carbohydrates in a healthy diet.
A few impressions.
First, Sisson is terrific speaker, and quick on his feet. When you only read someone’s blog, you’re never sure how they’re going to come off in person. Mark was articulate, succinct, funny, and passionate. No winding answers or dodges or tangents. Clear and information-dense, just like his blog, giving the right amount of scientific detail (which is very hard to do). The type of talking that you could listen to all day long. If you get a chance to hear Mark speak, take it.
Second, Sisson has a temperament worth emulating. People always say, “Oh wow, Sisson looks really healthy. Great abs. I want to look like that when I’m X years old.” That’s all true, but it’s old hat by now. I’m sure Mark’s abs are great and all (I never saw them), but I like his temperament even more: firm, but gracious.
Let me give an example. He and I had dinner after the event, and we ordered primal (firm). The restaurant accidently messed up the order. Not a huge deal, Mark rolled with it (gracious). But then the waiter kindly and unexpectedly brought out a complimentary dessert. Mark had to be even more gracious and even more firm in turning it down. But turn it down he did, in an arms race of politeness. Really quite funny.
Firm, but gracious. Firmness is an immovable solid, masculine. Firmness is a foundational bedrock of belief that will not be budged by a silly situation. Firmness: we ordered primal, with a normal amount of specifications, and we didn’t order dessert. That is who we are. Graciousness, or grace, is a movable liquid, feminine. Grace means living with a flexible interface with the world, adapting effortlessly to people and circumstance. Graciousness: rolling with the messed up order, politely turning down dessert. That is who we are too. Firm, but gracious — you need to be both in your life. Forget sculpting your abs to emulate Sisson’s six-pack. Craft your temperament to emulate his.
Third, Sisson is a true entrepreneur. I hold entrepreneurs in high regard. I’m talking war hero-level status. Entrepreneurs are people who take real risks and put real money on the line in the face of uncertainty. Entrepreneurs like John Wood, at U.S. Wellness Meats, who was told he was crazy to only feed grass to cattle. Entrepreneurs like Joel Salatin, innovating with polyculture agriculture. And entrepreneurs like Mark Sisson, who for years maintained the “expensive hobby” of building the primal community. Mark disseminates information better than almost anyone in the health world, making healthier lifestyles more achievable to more people. The tricky thing about information these days is that it’s never been easier to expose false information. So in a sense, Mark has earned his credibility by uncovering the truth and speaking it. Okay, okay, perhaps that’s starting to sound a little fawning — but I did say war hero-level status, right? As someone who is in the process of starting my own business, facing all the challenges and uncertainty that comes with it, Mark gets my mad respect.
The 1% of you who haven’t heard of Marks Daily Apple need to make it a regular stop. You name a topic and odds are, Mark’s got a single post that gets you 80% of the way there.
Many thanks to CrossFit NYC – The Black Box for hosting the event. (And give Mark some love by liking or retweeting this.)