Shaun Martin

Shaun Martin

(Recently, I posed the series of 11 questions to a local peer group that Tim Ferriss asked of contributors for his 2017 book Tribe of Mentors. It seems only fair to share my own answers.)

1. What is the book(s) you’ve given most as a gift, and why? OR What are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
When I was a reckless 24-year old in a college town, my stupid decisions finally caught up with me and I spent 20 days in jail for DWI. Once I got out, I knew I needed to change but had no idea how. Within a few weeks, I heard through exposure to Tim Ferriss, Ryan Holiday & Tucker Max about Stoicism and this personal journal called Meditations. I re-read it several times per year to “put me in my place” and provide perspective.

48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene
Robert Greene is a treasure. Almost any challenge that I encounter where I need a *strategic* plan over a tactical list of potential actions, I turn to 48 Laws of Power, 33 Strategies of War or Art of Seduction. His work states facts and provides supporting historical context void of opinion or moral judgment. 48 Laws of Power changes me for the better on a weekly basis.

Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
This lesser-known book by Ryan Holiday reminds me constantly to ignore what I might think I “deserve” or what the world “owes” me. In the grand scheme of history and the universe, I am beyond insignificant. What IS significant is how I think and behave in my one life. I’ve listened to _Ego_ on Audible at least 5 times and have given away my hard-cover copies on 3 separate occasions, only to replace them later.

2. What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in recent memory? Please include brand/model, where you got it etc.

It seems silly, but when my 2014 MacBook Pro power supply died, I purchased a handful of 3rd party replacements. Now I keep a power adapter in my backpack and one in each of the rooms I might find myself working from at home. It makes getting up and going much more seamless.

3. How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Do you have a “favorite failure” of yours?

Spending just 20 days in jail and 6 years without a car or drivers license has taught me a lot about how people react to others’ hardships, how to become more resourceful and prepared, and how much is seen by those who truly care. Once my license was reinstated and I bought my at-the-time dream car, my father expressed his admiration for how I accepted the suspension and didn’t try to circumvent it. He noticed. I knew in my soul that this was a deserved punishment and that the *only* option I had was to adhere to the suspension, but he didn’t take my behavior for granted.

4. If you could have a gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it — metaphorically speaking, getting a message out to millions or billions — what would it say and why? It could be a few words or a paragraph. (If helpful, it can be someone else’s quote: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?)

Perhaps not as brief and profound as I’d like, but:

“The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty that you can comfortably live with.”
— Tony Robbins —

I used to try to control EVERYTHING. It’s why I wanted to lead, progress, move up the ladder, because I thought I could exercise more control. After 3 or 4 years of growth, I now relish and draw energy from the knowledge that I directly control very little but am equipped with the skills and resources to address any challenge that pops up.

5. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? (Could be an investment of money, time, energy, etc.)

Spending 6 exhausting days in Boca Raton at Tony Robbins’ Date With Destiny event in 2016 quite literally re-wired my internal operating system, introduced me to dozens of amazing souls and completely altered my perception of reality.

6. What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?

I love professional wrestling. About 10 feet behind me right now is a glass display case showcasing 3 authentic replica WWE Championship belts.

7. In the last five years, what new belief, behavior, or habit has most improved your life?

Language is important, SO important. I may occasionally frustrate those in my life with how particular and specific I can get in choosing my words, but crisp & clear communication saves us all so much head- and heart-ache.

“You never listen.”
“I don’t feel like you listen to me.”
“I wish I felt more heard and appreciated.”

Think about someone you love trying to express the above sentiment. You would absolutely receive each of these sentences differently.

8. What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student about to enter the “real world”? What advice should they ignore?

You have to find and often create opportunity for personal & professional growth. Unless you have a world-class manager/mentor, those opportunities will not be just handed to you.

Advice to ignore:
Join a safe, stable company.
The corporate playing field has never been more level than it is today. Only 12% (60) of Fortune 500 companies survived from 1955 until 2017. Find an exciting opportunity that lets you try a lot of things that interest you, save enough so you can be “between jobs” when necessary (the position is awful, the company dissolves) and experiment. You can only create something amazing — like an amazing career — when you’re in the business of CREATING. You can’t plan or prepare the perfect anything, especially not the perfect professional life.

9. What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?

Someone in an executive position recently told me that they weren’t interested in spending the time to build relationships with people that they managed or that they worked with as peers, that “getting to know” people was a waste of time.
Practically EVERYONE can be classified as a Knowledge-Worker these days, so to dismiss the benefit of strong rapport and mutual professional respect is intentionally handicapping your chance to excel.

10. In the last five years, what have you become better at saying no to (distractions, invitations, etc.)? What new realizations and/or approaches helped? Any other tips?

Going bar-hopping just because “it’s the weekend!”

I’m single and have a number of single and divorced friends, so curiously I’m somehow viewed as the go-to for party time. Yet I lead a much more reserved, moderate lifestyle.
What I realized 3 or 4 years ago is that you don’t need to justify or excuse saying “no”. You don’t have to say “I can’t go out tonight because I want to finish binging House of Cards” or “But I REALLY want to make progress on my side project.”
You can simply say, “Can’t tonight, sorry. Already made plans.”

Honor your commitments to yourself and realize that you owe people a lot shorter explanation than you might think.

11. When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, or have lost your focus temporarily, what do you do? (If helpful: What questions do you ask yourself?)

Ideally, I meditate or lift weights. If I have to rely solely on my mental faculties, I typically play out the absolute worst-case apocalyptic scenario caused by the conditions I’m dwelling on, and I then ask myself, “Ok, well what are some ways you might address that situation?”


Shaun P Martin has been a software professional for over two decades. After discovering he could build websites and other things on his dad’s PC before he was a teenager, he was hooked. Throughout a career in software development, he has always been fascinated by systems-level thinking, and this now extends into his philosophy on the people ecosystems we call the modern “workplace”.

One obvious yet interesting discovery I made when becoming a mentor, team lead and eventually a manager was how complex and different the challenge was in solving “people” problems compared to solving software problems.

While it requires different timelines and different combinations of events to bring anyone’s true purpose into the spotlight, Shaun uncovered his sometime in late 2015. In his words:

The reason I was put on this earth is to build the next generation of outstanding leaders.

Rebase is one step in a multi-step journey Shaun has committed to in order to teach, learn, grow and share what will undoubtedly lead to the fulfillment of this mission.