How to Shut Up Your Inner Critic

"Quiet you!" - Me to the voice in my head.

Martin here!

The other night, I was digging through some boxes at my parent's house and found an old video camera with two tapes labeled "Martin's Movies #1 & #2".

Now, I've always known I was a little weird... or, at least that's what people keep telling me, but it wasn't until I sat down and watched these tapes that I realized just how weird'a kid I really was.


Yep...that's me crawling on the floor, pretending to be The Crocodile Hunter, while my little brother giggles uncontrollably from behind the camera...

Blast from the Past!

What I love about finding these tapes, beyond the nostalgia, is seeing how fully my friends and I embraced our "weird side".

Like the clip where my friend Matt and I lip-synced an entire Linkin Park album.

Or, the one where I painted my face green and had my friend Zax interviewed me as the lead singer of The Green Man Group, a former member of The Blue Man Group, who was kicked out of the band over creative differences. 

Yeah... it got weird. 

But, we didn't care! We were in 6th grade, it was summer, we were bored, and we wanted to create something new.

The time between idea and execution was fast too! 

We'd be laying there in sleeping bags, playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater, when an idea would pop into our heads. Immediately, we'd grab the camera, start filming, and let the chips fall where they may. 

"Fifteen years can give you such a crick in the neck!" - Genie? 

But, things changed as I grew up. Somewhere in that 15 year span, creativity became scary. I'd think of something silly and the little voice in my head would quickly identify it as a "bad" idea, and I'd go back to checking email, or something less ridiculous.

This little voice is called our "inner critic", and while it can, at times, save us from doing something we might regret, more often, it overreacts and draws on our self-doubt to undermine our confidence.

Our inner critic holds us back from pursuing the things in life that we want. 

Amy Pohler, from Parks & Recreation, wrote a book called Yes Please!, where she had to battle her inner critic every day of writing. I love her advice on how to get that little gremlin in your head to shut up, so I'll let her take it from here...

“How do we move forward when we are tired and afraid? What do we do when the voice in our head is yelling that WE ARE NEVER GONNA MAKE IT? … Well, the first thing we do is take our brain out and put it in a drawer. Stick it somewhere and let it tantrum until it wears itself out. … And then you just do it. You just dig in and write it. You use your body. You lean over the computer and stretch and pace. You write and then cook something and write some more. You put your hand on your heart and feel it beating and decide if what you wrote feels true. You do it because the doing of it is the thing. The doing is the thing. The talking and worrying and thinking is not the thing. That is what I know. Writing the book is about writing the book.”  - Amy Pohler

Weird on Purpose

Amy is dead-on with her breakdown of the inner critic.

The only way to truly build confidence in yourself and in your life is to take chances, sit down, and do the work. 

In my previous post about my fear of writing, I overcame my inner critic by writing and journaling everyday. Putting quantity over quality until I had enough material to pick-and-choose what I wanted to share. 

These old videos got me thinking. What other bucket-list items was I procrastinating because of my inner critic?

Turns out, it was making videos again.

INTRODUCING: The Raj & Martin Show!

For the past year, I've been shyly thinking that it would be a good idea for Idea Lemon to make videos. But, I never felt I was ready to start, because I didn't know how to use the software, wasn't sure what to make videos about, yada yada yada.

Then I realized, if little Martin could do it without fear in 6th grade, then there shouldn't be anything holding back this Martin from doing it today.

Just do it!

Amy and Nike are right. We just needed to do it. So, I surprised Raj with a calendar invite, titled "The Raj & Martin Show!" and blocked off 30 minutes for us to record our first episode.

In the past week, we've created three videos, with many more to come. Each one giving a 5-10 minute answer to a question from one of you, our loyal readers! 

Questions like, "Who inspires you?", or "What skills are needed to succeed in entrepreneurship, or marketing today?"

There was a bit of a learning curve with the first one, but the quality continues to improve, and like our podcast, a year from now, we will be able to look back and see how far we've come. Plus, we will also have a new skill to add to our arsenal of abilities. #winning

...and as you can see, by the title of episode 3 - I'm still finding ways to keep it weird ;)


What is your inner critic stopping you from doing in your life? (writing, making art, asking for that promotion?)

And what questions do you have for us, that we could answer in future episodes of The Raj & Martin Show!?

Let me know by replying to this email. I read every response.
"I can't believe you answer all your email personally. You deserve a high-five... Just know that you've officially become my virtual therapist." -J

Wow, how could I not read it all with awesome feedback like this?!

Less worrying. More doing! 
Keep It Awesome,

Why You Need "Me" Time (video)

In my last post I shared the two things that the country’s most successful and happiest people do best:



  • The most successful and happiest are GREAT at blocking off distractions
  • The most successful and happiest give themselves “me time”


We talked in that post about how detrimental distractions really are, and ways to remove them. Now let’s talk about giving yourself some “me” time.


Do you feel like you’re constantly in go-go-go mode? Finishing one thing, then having to run to the next? I remember I used to eat lunch at my desk while working because I felt so pressed for time. There were days where it felt like I almost couldn’t even take time to breathe.


It’s a paralyzing feeling.


But here’s the thing--I’m gonna be real with you here and say that it’s pretty likely that the most successful people have more responsibilities than you. You flat out don’t build a near 7-figure business, like Daniel DiPiazza, or have one of the most popular podcasts, like Srinivas Rao, by sitting on your ass.


So what the hell do these people do differently?


I explain it in this short video.


What do you want to make part of your everyday routine? Leave a comment below.


Take care and be awesome today,



How "Turning Off" Creates Success

It’s been two weeks since we returned from our epic 46-day road trip. That’s 14 straight days of waking up in the same time zone, something I never thought I would appreciate.

If you snoozed for the last 2 months, my cofounder Martin and I traveled the country for our Discover Your inner Awesome podcast and had conversations with some of the brightest and best entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurial-minded people.

People like:

and many more.

We gleaned a ton of wisdom from these folks, but do you want to know the two things I noticed the country’s most successful and happiest people do better than anyone else?

  1. The most successful people are GREAT at blocking off distractions

  2. The most successful people give themselves “me” time


Let’s dig deeper into this.


Blocking Off Distractions

How often do you find yourself ready to work on something (it could be at your job or a side passion project) only to have an email come in and screw it all up.

Very reasonably, you think, “Okay this will only take a minute to read and respond to.”

You read the email, and responding actually takes about 10-15 minutes. And in that time, another email comes in, so instinctively you decide to read that as well because who can stand to have unread emails in their inbox?? 


Before you know it, it’s an hour later and you haven’t even started on the actual work you wanted to accomplish.

The most successful people aren’t a slave to notifications. They actually--gasp!--close out their email when they want to get something done. They block off time later to look at their email.

And this isn’t just email. This applies to texts and other phone notifications too. One day in LA I was riding in DiPiazza’s car and he asked me to look up something on his phone. I noticed he had 87 unread text messages. 


            Actual Screenshot from Daniel DiPiazza's phone I asked him to send me today

            Actual Screenshot from Daniel DiPiazza's phone I asked him to send me today

He said he’s gotten to the point where texting gives him anxiety, so he just ignores most of it altogether.

Courtney Slade, Photographer and Adventurer with Under30Experiences, has removed all notifications from her phone, except for phone calls (cuz you know, emergencies and shit). You know what that means? SHE tells her phone when SHE’S ready, not the other way around.


How can you put this into practice immediately?


Yes, it’s totally fair to say, “But so much of my job is in email, I can’t not email!”, or “I work in sales! I need email to prospect!”, or “My coworkers need me! how can I not respond??”

So here’s what you do:

Start small.

I'm no saying ignore 100+ messages. I'm saying close out your email and put your phone on Do Not Disturb for 30 minutes. See how much more efficient you are. Scale up accordingly. If you’re in sales and need to send outbound cold emails, turn off receiving inbound emails while you’re prospecting. As for your coworkers? They will find out very quickly that the things they think are urgent aren’t actually urgent, and they do have more ability to figure out a problem on their own than they gave themselves credit.

At the marketing agency where I used to work, I can’t tell you the number of times someone emailed me asking for something purely because they didn’t want to look it up themselves. Sound familiar?

But you know what happened when I had email closed out because I was prospecting? I’d go back into my email an hour or two later and see one email with a request, then 20 minutes later an email from that same person saying, “nevermind we figured it out!”

As a rule of thumb: If it’s truly urgent, people will call your phone.

This year for me is a practice in gaining more focus, and I started by loosening the chains from email. Rather than start my day by logging into gmail and being reactive to others’ wants and needs, on most days I don’t look at email until two or three hours into my morning. I combined that with placing my phone on Do Not Disturb for the same amount of time. And since coming back from the road trip, I’ve pulled a Courtney Slade and all notifications on my phone are turned off. Contrast this to the days when I would roll over in bed and look at email on my phone first thing. The worst.

Now I'm probably 5-10x more productive.

And when the Idea Lemon tribe gets emails from me (hint hint--SUBSCRIBE!) and I ask them to reply, I do read and reply to every single response, but I block off time to do so. I don’t stop what I’m doing the second after they hit “Send”.

That started with closing out email for 30 minutes and building my way up. Now, I’ve detached enough that when I do see an email come in, I don’t feel compelled to take action on it RIGHT NOW!

That, in turn, sets the expectation with the people trying to reach you that you don’t spend your day in your inbox or on your phone. You’ll start to notice a steady decrease in the number of supposedly urgent requests, and an increase in people magically figuring things out on their own, and hell you’ll even have some meaningful phone conversations again.

By the way, this applies to social media and all those other apps too. Have you ever heard someone say the best day of their life included crushing through their News Feed?

Want to be happier and more successful? Want to dominate your job? Cut out the distractions. You’ll actually get shit done.


Leave a comment below with the one thing that distracts you the most.

Take care and be awesome today,