The key to developing muscles like Will Ferrell & Richard Bachman.



I’m currently tearing thru James Altucher’s book, Choose Yourself, in my Libro 52 Challenge – my weekly reading schedule. Altucher tells a story about an author. The author had managed to eek out a living writing books for 30 years.


This guy was a pro.

Day in, day out… he produced.

For 30 years.


An accident forced him to quit writing for several weeks.


When he returned to the keyboard, it all felt strange.

The process was slower.

The words just weren’t coming easily.


Despite 30 years of honing his craft, the few weeks off allowed atrophy to set it.


The author?

Stephen King (aka Richard Bachman).


Like the writing muscle, Altucher elaborates on the development of “the idea muscle.” Being creative and thoughtful isn’t an inherent attribute you’re simply born with – or without.


It’s a muscle.

It can be developed.

It can grow when it’s regularly exercised.

It can atrophy and ooze into a lump of hairy fat when ignored.


“The idea muscle must be exercised every day. Even if you’ve come up with ideas every day of your life, it will atrophy if you give it a two-week rest.”


One tool Altucher uses to build idea muscle are waiter’s pads.

You know, the pads waiters carry around to take your flapjack order.


On Tuesday I bought my own waiter’s pads. $15 at Office Depot near the AP ledgers and Call Register booklets. These waiter’s pads come in 10 packs so I put one on my desk, one in my car, one on my bedside table.


The approach is fairly simple.

Every day write down 10 ideas.

Any ten ideas on any subject.

That’s it.


Good or bad, doesn’t matter.

Which is good, because so far mine are terrible.


Witty bilingual bumper stickers…. ugh.

Children’s Spanish CD targeting urban yuppies with au pairs… meh.

External A/C unit support that isn’t bricks or 2×4’s… hmmm?


The point is to make your brain sweat.


After recording the idea (any idea), it’s oddly satisfying to yank that perforated slip off the pad.


Try it.


Another bad idea is to create a 90-day Spanish pocket guide. Well, not a guide really, because it would be blank.

I may add some brief one-liners to serve as a daily kick in the pants, but the book would essentially be 90 blank pages.

It would be a quarterly journal for learning one new Spanish word every day you’re on the job. Like the waiter’s pads, without the circles and squares for the table settings. It would be a tool for daily Spanish-speaking muscle-building.


OK. Maybe that’s a really bad idea.


The point is the same – your Spanish language muscles, whether you’re like Arnold Jackson or Arnold Schwarzenegger, need to be used daily.


Here are 9 quick ways to work your Spanish-speaking guns:

  • Set your homepage to CNN MX 
  • Set your iPhone to Spanish
  • Listen to 60 seconds of Spanish radio on your morning commute
  • Watch Will Ferrell’s Casa de mi Padre

Screen shot 2013-08-15 at 10.17.28 PM


Players Name PED



Someone asked me why I would read a book titled, Choose Yourself.

“If you’ve already chosen yourself, why read about how to choose yourself?” 

Good question.


Choosing yourself is a muscle too.

Like choosing to be happy or choosing to speak Spanish or choosing to talk smack about a bilingual 8-year old cartoon girl, it’s something that needs to be exercised everyday.



Bradley Hartmann is founder and El Presidente at Red Angle (, a training and consulting firm bridging the English-Spanish (and a bit of Polish…) language gap in the construction industry.    

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Categories: Construction Spanish

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2 replies


  1. Libro 34 + 35/52 :: Choose Yourself by James Altucher + The Halo Effect by Phil Rosenzwieg. « the red angle
  2. Libro 36/52 :: Inside The Box by Drew Boyd and Jacob Goldenberg. « the red angle

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