Posts in Comfort Zone Challengers
Never Fear, Never Wait, Never Regret

I met Sam while sitting with a friend in a coffee shop in Venice. He was nonchalantly doing a handstand in the middle of the inner garden.

We applauded him and he approached us, asking if he could "do something to make us happy, to cleanse his soul"...

Apparently, he had been doing certain things he felt guilty for earlier that morning, and wanted to make up for it somehow. He had an infectious energy and attractive vibe.

We asked for tips with job searching as I was applying for various positions and afraid of rejection...

That's when he brought up a challenge he had just initiated: 30 days of rejection.

Ask something for 30 days, for which you expect people to say no to.

So the point is that after that month, thanks to the power of asking, he'll likely not care at all about people's opinions, and dare to ask for what he wants without fear. 

We brought him home that day and made some art - his painting "Fuck fear" is standing on my side table as I speak, as a gentle reminder.

Turns out. He used to be scared. He used to be shy and he used to be afraid to ask for what he wanted. 

But he's been in situations where he HAD to ask for a hand. Robbed, with $1.87 left on his account and no place to stay at. Or newly landed in unknown grounds with no friends and without speaking the language. But he always figured it out. 

He's also been experiencing the other extreme of the scale, hanging out with billionaire Emiratis in Dubai, flying in private jets, partying on yachts and staying at Burj Al Arab, and understood that all the money, power and fame in the world won't make up for a life truly lived and experienced to its fullest.

Sam took me on a skydiving adventure shortly after to prove to me that I could overcome anything...

Listen to his story and challenges on this third podcast episode.

Find your way in the episode:

0:00 Moving to the States with no plans, no English, no place to stay at and no friends

1:55 The Rejection Therapy

4:00 The 30-Day challenge

10:00 How the journey started

Never fear - never wait - never regret.
— Sam Polyvyanny
Life is a Game
Estimated reading time: 9'

Estimated reading time: 9'

If I had to choose a person in my entourage whose path has impressed me the most, I'd pick Hanine.

Hanine, the guy who, in less than two years...

- Participated in TEDx and other conferences in front of thousands people, but who used to shake in front of his sheet of paper at the board at Uni,

- Trains 3-5x a week and ran a marathon in 4 hours, when he did not understand the point of playing sports a year and a half ago,

- Can go out alone at night and head home with 10 new numbers saved in his phone and make girls fall under his spell with the right one-liners, while upon his first attempts, he was unable to string two words together to a stranger,

This is the guy for whom everything is possible, provided that you see life as a game, don't take things seriously and go full speed.

How did he start his transformation? I asked him directly when I came back to Lille, France, for the holidays.


"I did a lot of work on myself when I originally moved from Morocco to France, and I've been a personal-development enthusiast ever since I was 18. I was reading all the books and watching all the videos and documentaries I had at hand.

I wanted to improve my social skills, my EQ and gain self-confidence. I prepared myself before going out for example... The first hits gave me more confidence and it became easier and easier.

Maybe you can now picture me as an extravert or a ladies man, but it has not always been this way :)

The learning process was complex because every time I was working on my social skills, it did not work out in the long run: I was completely dependent on my mood swings. If I had the chance to wake up fresh and energetic, I would work on myself and push myself. On the other hand, if I felt lazy or tired, I would not get anything done.

My energy level was key.

One day, I read one of Tony Robbins books explaining how nutrition can impact your energy levels. It was new for me as I'd only associate healthy food with "weight loss" or "muscle gain", and never thought that it could impact my mental abilities.

At the time I was eating a lot of industrial food. I started each day with 4 or 5 chocolate buns and a soda. Then I'd swallow 5 or 6 coffee cups and vitamin C tablets throughout the day, to try and get those energy levels up... I was looking for supplements to be energetic, without realizing that I was fueling myself with the wrong gas from the start.

That's when I decided to give it a shot and stop eating sugar for a month. No need to take it to the extreme, just one month, to see how it would go.

On the 3rd week, I started to practice sports more intensely. On the 4th week, I started to meditate & stopped watching news.

If I'd describe my life before, I'd go to work, come home, watch a movie and order pizza. On the weekend, I'd get hammered and spend days recovering. If I was depressed during winter, the problem was not just the lack of light, it was also my physiological state. And if I could strengthen it with the proper food, rest and workout, I wouldn't be as impacted by external factors. All of a sudden, after I stopped sugar, I would come home and want to do more meaningful activities.

When I took sugar for the first time again (and I still do, exceptionally), I noticed the switch in my energy and it confirmed that it was the trigger. It gives me a brief peak of energy that then falls back and makes me even more tired during the digestive process.

Think about it.

If I prevent you from sleeping and eating for two days, and I make you watch a masterpiece, say your favorite movie. Are you going to enjoy watching it?

No. Because you aren't physiologically healthy. It's like swimming against the tide.

That's how my 365 days challenge started.

Every day, I'd wake up and think: "what can I do with this excess of energy?"

It wasn't a boost like after a coffee cup, it was a continuous and stable level of energy.

I started googling activities: dance classes, exhibitions, guitar lessons... & eventually gave myself the challenge of doing a new activity each day for a year, and started blogging about it.

People tend to think that the lack of time is the issue. It's not.

I used to waste 25 hours per week watching TV. "I don't have the time" literally means "I don't have the energy". That's the difference between those who have time for their career, friends and family and can be awake for 18 hours, and those who feel like zombies.

If you want to change your situation, see life as a game.

Somebody is likely to have had the same problems as you, so you can look it up. For example, at work: how can you sign more deals? How can you negotiate a raise? Change your perspective and see those obstacles that used to bring you down as fun challenges... That's how I tripled my salary in a year.

In my opinion, the fear of failure is also a fear of losing energy, and it goes back to the basics. You are worried of losing energy if you don't have an unlimited amount of it.

When I look back, I was the first one of my classmates to get an permanent working contract, paid twice the minimal salary, despite being an "immigrant", while others were simply looking for a fixed-term contract, remunerated the bare minimum. It happened because I knew that if I did not find anything, I'd have to leave the country, so I became more creative and staked it all. I accepted rejections and analyzed them to get better. In fact, winning 10% of the time is a huge statistic.

Friends I used to hang out with would say "look at X, he has a Master's degree and is a cashier, I'll never find a rewarding job either..." Those people did not even try and ended up like that too. I did not believe that I was better than anyone else, but I was thinking "they might be right, but I am the producer of my own life". If I got rejected at an interview or with a girl, I'd think "let's rework this and that". I never question myself for who I was and thought "they rejected be because I am Arabic". If you have a limited belief system, you'll limit yourself.

Self-knowledge is probably the best starting point if you want to make changes in your lifestyle.

I see myself as a train that stops at different stations. For instance, if the girl I am attracted to steps on the train, she is the right person for me and this is the right timing, is not, she simply is not and I let go of her, I am not an Uber, i’m not changing my destination, I keep driving until the next station.

The second most difficult part of personal development is acting out. People love to read tips and imagine how their life could be, but once they put their book down, nothing major happens and life goes on at the same pace. I personally have to display originality and creativity on a daily basis, hack my brain so to speak, to be able to take action.

When aiming for personal goals, we usually have plenty of intrinsic motivations, but not enough extrinsic ones that are stimulating (for instance, a boss that will fire you if you do not show up in the morning, competition with your colleagues). So one way to make the process fun  and random is to introduce hazard. At some point of my 365 days-challenge, I put a bunch of ideas in a box and would pick a "mission" to fulfill randomly in the morning. I literally felt like a kid on Christmas Eve!

Also, make sure to have fun. You'll spend more time "on the road", going from point A to B. As long as you have fun on the way, you can go very far, you won't stop at difficulties because you won't be only attached to results. This is what makes the difference between people who give up and those who keep it up.

Finally, prepare for the times you'll be less motivated. I call the doubtful side of me the "little Hanine", and the bolder version of me the "big Hanine"! For example, if I want to wake up early in the morning to work out, I'll prepare my outfit by the bed, socks included, as if I were to prepare items for a four years old. I'll also place my alarm downstairs (I live in a duplex), in case I lose my motivation when 6 AM strikes. Once awake, I'll put my clothes on without even thinking. If you start thinking, that's when you weaken and think: "it's fine, I can miss the gym one time, I'll go tomorrow". 

There's also people who are going to doubt you, or situations that will make you feel like giving up. One thing that boosts me is reading biographies of people I admire, and get inspired by the way they've handled challenges. A good example is Elon Musk, who had to figure out how to pay his employees, in millions of dollars, kept going when everybody thought that he was insane...

I keep on challenging myself every day and am working on an app* to help others do the same, because I truly believe that once you understand how the brain works and start seeing life as a game, anything is possible".

I love the idea of getting outside of our comfort zone to reach our goals. And when looking at Hanine's example, I've understood that it only takes a small step. Wether it is stopping sugar for a month, going to the opera for the first time or saying hello to a stranger, this creates new patterns in our brain that allow us to test new things and get excited rather than scared, and grow. I've actually tattooed a butterfly wing on my wrist that symbolizes just that - the butterfly effect.

Each small step you take may seem insignificant, but it brings you closer to your goals and to a better version of yourself, one wing flap at a time.

There's a quote saying "losers have an objective, winners have systems"... Here are some tips for getting outside of your Comfort Zone successfully:

- Audit your life and find ways to improve your energy levels

- Know yourself

- See life as a game

- Start easy and gradually increase the difficulty

- Act out by implementing various motivational techniques (extrinsic motivators, hazard, planning ahead for weak moments)

- Have fun on the way!


*N.B. an app that helps people get outside their comfort zones by sending them daily challenges.

Hanine's blog ->

Which challenge are you going to take today to get outside of your comfort zone?
Don't Allow for Situations to Get Screwed Over
Estimated reading time: 4'20

Estimated reading time: 4'20

I met Brian in a hostel in LA, on the day I signed my contract and knew that I'd be moving there. Naturally, I had to mingle and celebrate.

We quickly figured that we had a lot in common, among which: a thirst to travel, a need to challenge ourselves, a concern for ecology and a plant-based diet. 

But Brian had been through a lot and taken the "travelling" and "challenging" parts of his life to a whole new level.

He told me that his life took a turn after he had fully renovated a wealthy businessman's luxury house for over a year.

The man had promised him lots of things, but once the work was finished and the house sold for several hundreds of thousands of dollars, he ghosted. Stopped answering the phone, email, social media, to eventually threaten Brian with legal action for slander if he spoke out. Brian reluctantly turned silent in fear of mobster like tactics..

He then spent over a year on a legal case, working with the California labour commissioner, only to find out his case had disappeared and subsequently the statute of limitations had run out. He had reached the bottom. Desperate but realistic, he looked at the stars that night, and decided to stop fighting and move on.

He had lost everything, so he had to sell everything he owned but his van, in which he eventually ended up living in for over a year. He wasn't as exposed as those who live on the street, but he still had become homeless.

"For a long time, I was filled with anger and despair, he says.

But one day, someone walked past the van and said "Hey, you got a cool setup there!".

It got me thinking. I learned that there was a whole subculture of van dwellers and people modifying vehicles to live and travel in. That's when I started to see things in a new light.

I stopped seeing myself as homeless and started realising my freedom and thinking of the possibilities.

I managed to get a job and immediately tore my van to pieces and started building and retrofitting. It was a mess and required more work than anticipated, though.

I did have quite a lot of building, engineering and designing experience from doing construction and working on film and television shows along with being the son of a mechanic.

See how Brian pimped his ride on his Youtube channel  here

See how Brian pimped his ride on his Youtube channel here

I always stress that all this isn't the important part for getting things done though. It's getting out of feeling stuck in life, and thinking outside our usual patterns that matters.

As for what gave me the energy... I think I've always just had the ability to snap out of bad situations and regain motivation. Sometimes it takes a while but I'll eventually feel sick of myself and pull myself up!"

After rebuilding the van, Brian decided to take off on a road trip alone through California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Washington and Oregon states, and came back as a changed man.

His relationship with people:

"Now that I am back, I think I value genuine connections between people more than ever. Even to the point of longing for it most of the time. Chit chats and small talk seem more pointless than ever. Honesty between two people is such a beautiful thing but unfortunately so rare.

Maybe that's why I prefer nature. It never seizes to amaze and inspire me. The feeling of being connected to everything and acknowledging a whole universe in a leaf or a raindrop is a humbling an awe-inspiring experience".

His relationship with money:

"Although I'd prefer to be largely independent of money, I realize its importance within the parameters of modern society. I know how hard it can be to make a buck so I don't waste it. Having said that I think our modern obsession with consumerism serves only to make us less happy in the long run. Not to mention it destroys our planet!".

His project:

"Following the incredible reception of my short film #VanLife – From Homeless To Adventurer, I may do some more adventurous and philosophical videos. For now I am moving back to Europe for a while to spend some much overdue quality time with my family. I may throw on my backpack and travel through India, Asia and Africa. That will mostly be shoestring budget backpacking without a vehicle".

Are you homeless, or do you know someone who is and want to give a chance to the van life?

"When you're down and out every single thing you do has a consequence. So, you have to be as wise and persistent as you can until you get back on your feet.

Don't waste anything and put on a happy face.

I realize this may not be genuine but unfortunately you're very dependent on others when you're homeless.

Lastly don't allow for situations where you can get screwed over!

In regards to trying the #VanLife? Go for it. Try it out before you buy or without all the bells and whistles to see if it's for you. Remember nothing's perfect, everything has drawbacks. And van life isn't free, it's just a lot cheaper than paying rent in most cases.

I personally think that taking this chance has empowered me to take bigger risks. Not be so afraid of the consequences. I suppose I've become more of what I really want to be. I don't like wasting time anymore. I realize life is short and we may only have one go at this..."

Don't Believe it Until you Experience it


I met Rafael de Jesus as I was visiting one of the seven wonders, the ruins of Chichen Itza in Yucatan, Mexico.

He had lived his whole life right by the ruins.

As a child, he used to climb up to the top of the temple, feel its energy, and picture himself as the king.

He had witnessed quiet fields and chewing cows being slowly replaced with loud and colourful tourists, and had become one of the most passionate guides and archeologists you'd ever meet.

He had spent his life researching the Mayan and Aztec's empires: a large part of their cultures was dedicated to religious and spiritual beliefs.


He told me that while Mayans would connect with Gods through prayers, Aztecs would use religion to manipulate people into become either slaves or sacrifice offers.

Indeed at the time, game winners were honoured to die, as they would skip the 13 steps to heaven and head there directly.

The kings ulterior motives at the time being to get the work done, and drastically solve overpopulation.

Few people, if any, were aware that religion was used as a mean to control them.

We could easily draw a parallel in today's use of religion in politics to manipulate masses... As per the metaphoric quote from the Matrix movie, "people are not ready to disconnect".

That's anyways how Rafael has always thought of Spirituality and religions: stories coming from the imagination of leaders.

So one day, as he was in charge or restoring a temple, he decided to trespass instructions and enter the unopened temple, without waiting for a Shaman to give its blessing... What could happen anyways?

Little did he expect that he would be completely change his mind about the existence of spirits.

So he & his colleagues went inside the ruin that had never been opened before, without a Shaman's permission. 

They ALL felt a strong evil energy, the sensation that they should not be there, that they were surrounded by an unexplainable force, and that something bad would happen if they sticked around.

"You don't believe it until you experience it.

Now, Mayan and Aztecs rituals make better sense. I truly believe all the stories I tell tourists.

Actually, now with the expansion of technology, information spreads more easily than ever and we hear a lot of other unexplainable stories, ghosts or UFOs for example. Even if there is not scientific proof, I think that there are paranormal activities out there".

Anybody else has had a similar experience?