Screw the Zoo by Sam McRoberts: Book Summary

Most of us don’t know what to do in life.

We work a job we hate. Hang out with same people doing the same things. Live paycheck to paycheck.

In other words:

We’re trapped in a Groundhog Day.

We know that something needs to be changed, but don’t know what or how. Good news is I’ve got the answer for you:

This book (Screw The Zoo).

Here are the most important takeaways…

Lesson 1: Remove Time Killers

“You have to let it all go…fear, doubt and disbelief. Free your mind.”

Free your mind.

If you have the same inputs, do the same routines, live the same day over and over, guess what? Your mind will remain locked.

Time will fly and before you know it, you’re 6ft under filled with misery and regret.

If you want to progress, you need to remove time killers. This comes in 4 forms:

  1. Blaming. Whether it’s your fault or someone else’s, PLEASE don’t point the finger. It’s counterproductive. Look for a solution and move on.
  2. Excuses. It’s either a HELL YEAH! or no. That’s it. We don’t want to hear why you can’t do something.
  3. Procrastination. Procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried. To kill procrastination, apply these methods:
    • Create a day schedule. Every night, write what you’re going to do the next day. This will give you structure.
    • Work outside your home. Our homes is used for relaxing, not working. So work elsewhere (ex: cafe, library, etc.).
    • Remove phone when working. You’ll feel the urge to check your phone, so I recommend not bringing it with you to work.
    • Start small. Use the Pomodoro Technique (25 minutes work, 5 minutes break). Slowly increase work time every other week.
  4. Self-doubt. Low self-confidence, fear, and judgement holds us back from trying new things. Here’s how to go from fearful to fearless:
    • Low self-confidence. Workout and dress nice. This will make you feel and look good.
    • Fear. Tackle one new fear every month. Identify fear β†’ Create a plan β†’ Execute.
    • Judgement. The two points above should help. But if you’re still worrying about other peoples thoughts, then you need more social interactions. Volunteer, go to events, attend church, etc.

Follow these rules and you’ll be 100x more productive. But productivity isn’t useful if you give up after your first try.

You need to believe…

Lesson 2: You’re The One

“He’s beginning to believe.”

Imagine if Neo stopped believing after his first failed attempt. Would he have become The One?

Most of us are afraid of failing (thanks to the public school systems). And rightfully so: it’s usually followed with harsh criticism and negative opinions.

But the fact is this:

You NEED to FAIL in order to succeed.

Learn from your failures and keep trying.

Got it? Good.

Now, remove negative people from your life. Whether it’s family or long-time friends, remove anyone who doesn’t support you. Who don’t make you feel good. Who criticize and complain. 

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to question who you are.

Lesson 3: Don’t Be A Sheep

“You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. Many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

The same is true in real life.

From birth, your core belief is imprinted on you. Everything about you – your thoughts, belief, behavior – is dictated by your environment (usually parents).

The problem with that is you’re confined to one perspective. As a result, you may not tolerate new ideas and beliefs.

Instead, we want to be open minded and tolerant. To do that, you need to do two things. First, let go of CRAP:

  • Culture. Society is more often than not wrong. Instead, follow your gut (which I’ll cover below).
  • Religion. Since religion isn’t adaptable and has a lot of restrictions, try forming your own belief. Personally, I follow the Rule of Reciprocity (whatever you do will be returned back to you in spades).
  • Ancestral (family). Don’t conform to family traditions. Always question.
  • Personal habits. Habits that you’ve been doing for a long time. (Ex: clothing, diet, religion, etc.)

And second, read non-fiction books. This will expose you to new ideas/concepts which will heavily influence the way you think. I highly recommend prescription reading (reading books that solves a problem).

For example:

  • Procrastinate a lot? Read A Mind For Numbers.
  • Want to work less hours? Read 4 Hour Work Week.
  • Suffer from depression? Read The Depression Cure  or Play It Away.

You get the idea. Pick a book that solves a problem. Take notes (hand-write) and apply what you’ve learned.

Speaking of learning, have you learned to control your mind?

Lesson 4: Becoming Sherlock Holmes

“Your mind makes it real.”

Within a few seconds, Sherlock Holmes knows every move of your game.

How is that possible?

Because he uses inductive reasoning (draws conclusions based on specific observations). He’s also present and hackproof. Here’s how you can do the same:

  1. Get off your phone. It’s not only distracting you from the present, but also wasting your mental energy. Personally, my phone is always on Do Not Disturb and I check it only twice a day at specific times.
  2. The Awareness Trials. To improve your awareness, follow these steps:
    1. Go somewhere new
    2. Spend 5-10 minutes observing EVERYTHING around you: who is there, what are they wearing, use your 5 senses, etc.
    3. Write down what you observed from memory
    4. Re-examine environment and compare it to what you wrote. What did you miss?
    5. Rinse and repeat
  3. Hackproof your mind. There are biases used against you (by others and yourself) every day. Become aware of these biases by reading Influence: Science and Practice.
  4. Memory Palace. Remembering peoples names will go a long way in building your network. If you have trouble with this, then use the Memory Palace technique.

Follow these 4 tips and you’ll achieve a Sherlockian mind. But sharpening the mind is only 50% of the equation. You need to look the part..

Lesson 5: Dressing the Role

“Things are not always as they seem; the first appearance deceives many.”

Our brains are wired to make snappy judgements based on first appearance.

The worst part is after we make that rushed decision, we’ll look for any evidence to support that.

Good news is we can use this to our advantage. If you want to impress people and command respect, then you need to work on these 5 points:

  1. Backstory. People will always ask who you are, what you do for a living, etc. This is where you paint yourself as a super hero and tell them your well-crafted backstory. To come up with your Origins story, study others and apply it to your own (ex: Gary Vaynerchuk).
  2. Clothing. The most well dressed person usually gets the highest respect (thanks to the Halo effect). Create a list of people you admire in fashion and copy them.
  3. Speaking. Most people hog conversations. This is bad for building relationships. Instead, talk less (10%) and listen more (90%). And actually listen by encouraging them to talk about themselves.
    • Pro tip: Want to improve your dialogue skills? Read Improve Your Social Skills
    • Pro tip #2: Recap what that person said (to show you’ve been listening).
    • Pro tip #3: If you want to be more eloquent in your speech, read and write more.
  4. Body language. Head up, shoulders rolled back, and chest up. (Working out will help with this). Also, when conversing, remain still.
    • Pro tip: Hold eye contact for most of the conversation. Never look down (always up) because that conveys disinterest.
    • Pro tip #2: When you greet someone, use the genuine smile (involves the whole face)
  5. Networking. The more people you know, the higher chance of success. That said, apply what you’ve learned from How to Win Friends & Influence People.
    • Pro tip: Be selective with who you befriend. “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
    • Pro tip #2: Most people don’t like to initiate (either conversations, invitations, etc.). You have to take the first step.

Now that you talk and look like a true gentleman, what do you want from this life?

Lesson 6: Defining Your True Desires

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.”

How do we become happy? By doing things that actually make us happy. To do that, you need to brainstorm.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Go through this model and highlight each need as Red (I don’t have this), Yellow (I have some of this), and Green (I have all of this). This will make you aware of your needs. Here’s an example:

  1. PEGS. Possessions (things you want), Experiences (things you want to do), Goals (things you want to accomplish), Skills (things you want to learn/improve). 
    • Create four columns and write down everything you want. Then, rate each want on a scale of 1-5 (1 being you don’t care, 5 being an absolute necessity). Remove everything that’s rated below 4. Beside each want, answer these two questions: “Why do I want this?” and “Would having this actually improve my life?”.
      • Pro tip: Minimize shopping and reading ads. This will make you want things you don’t need.
    • Now that you have your true desires, focus on accomplishing one at a time. Create a plan β†’ Execute.

  1. Gratitude. Whenever something good happens, acknowledge it and express your gratitude. Praise people and give them compliments.
    • Pro tip: If you want to take gratitude to the next level, read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
    • Pro tip #2: Social media is the perfect recipe for depression and ungratefulness. Delete it or minimize usage.

This framework will help narrow your focus in life. To ensure it stays intact, your foundation needs to be solid…

Lesson 7: The 5 Core Pillars

There are 5 core pillars that I believe are essential to a healthy and happier life. Work on these daily and you’ll thank me later, starting with…

  1. Physical activity. Workout and/or do cardio every single day. I highly recommend weight lifting since you’ll lose weight and build muscle at the same time.
  2. Diet. Cook meals at home. It’s cheaper and healthier. If you’re used to eating out, start small by cooking breakfast at home. Slowly replace all eating out meals over the next few weeks.
  3. Sleep. Sleep 7-10 hours a night to reap hella benefits. Trouble sleeping at night? Apply these sleep hygiene tips:
    • Leave your phone outside your bedroom. You’ll have a strong urge to check your phone if it’s near you, so it’s better if left outside.
    • Sleep at the same time EVERY DAY (weekends too).
    • Use bedroom ONLY for sleeping. You brain is an association machine. If you work, watch movies or chill on your bed, then your brain associates it with that activity. Let’s use it only for sleeping.
    • Have a bedtime routine. (Ex: 9:00pm – 9:30pm read, 9:30pm – 9:45pm shower, 9:45pm – 9:50pm brush teeth, then sleep)
    • Shower (hot or cold water is fine) before going to bed. This will help cool off your body.
    • Blackout your room. Remove/block all lights. (Ex: use blackout curtains, remove lighted devices like your clock, etc.)
    • Avoid eating food at least 2 hours before bed. Your digestive system needs to rest.
  4. Mental growth. Just like your body, your mind is a muscle that needs to be exercised. I recommend reading (non-fiction), writing, learning a new language, etc. This will help keep you sharp.
  5. Relax. Do something you enjoy every day. Take a trip every 3-6 months. And use your phone less, please. Your phone is a poison that is constantly stressing you out. Just check it 1-2x per day – that’s it.

I highly recommend reinforcing one pillar at a time for consistency.

Start with doing physical activity every day. Since it’s a keystone habit, it’ll make all of your other pillars easy to fix.