Interviewer: Welcome to the last podcast today mind just is Graham Hell founder of tree hugger and of
Life Editor. Hi Graham.
Graham: Hi how are you doing?
Interviewer: Great. Thank you so much for taking the time out to talk to me. I have been a huge fan of
tree hugger for as long as I can remember since I've been doing green building and then life editor just
really sparked to me. So for the couple of people who might not know what tree hugger and life editor
are, can you just give me, you know thirty seconds on each.
Graham: Yeah absolutely. Actually it’s amazing there are a lot of people who don't know tree hugger
which is sort of great because it means there is opportunity for growth. And so tree hugger is basically a
large green design and environmental news site that was started in 2004. So before, not a lot of green,
cool green blogs and that sort of stuff at that point of time. And the basic idea was to try to make it a
little more contemporary, a little more cool, a little more design oriented, a little more positive. So it is
inspired by hope instead of inspired by fear and it went really well. We pushed very hard. We got a great
team of people and now we have got four million readers a month and its going great. And then life
editor is my most recent project and life editor is basically in a way I am trying to build a physical tree
hugger. I am just trying to show a new way of living and the premises’ that if you are smart about how
you apply design technology and little behavior change we can create smaller but really compelling,
fulfilling lives as a lot of people deliver from the means both environmentally and also financially and
that a simpler life is a happier life. And so that translates to us basically trying to become a real estate
developer over time or certainly partner with amazing people and put together just some really great
buildings that are small square foot per person. So there is lot of transforming furniture and
transforming realms and smart layouts and get laid on the with green materials and insulation and that
sort of stuff but just like really green, really smart financially, great places to live.
Interviewer: And so and this takes us so many things I talk about on the podcast and the blog which is
actually so many things about, love to taking about but since in limited time we are going to do we can.
And for those of you listening, I am posting in the show notes linked to a tour of Grahams life out of the
apartment which I have personally and its fascinating. It's about 400 square feet, right.
Graham: Yeah 420 square feet.
Interviewer: 420 square feet but it include a guest room for two and can have dinner for twelve. So you
have to just double check out the video. But it really speaks to what I want to get to first which is and
you get a xxx03:09 on this which is the less stuff and more happiness. So I mean I can sort of guess but
where, you know where did that concept really come for you and how did that develop?
Graham: It just sort of happened over time and I built and sold a web company with my cousins in sort
of mid 90s, 98. So I made some money and I lived a bigger life. I got a big 3600 square foot home and a
car and furniture and blah, blah, blah. Remember years later I was in New York dating xxx03:44 woman
and xxx03:46. We lived all over the world and I was trying tree hugger and just sort of realized that we
are living in the small places and I had two bags, you know office in possession and so we had just an
amazing experiences that be in Bangkok and Barcelona and Buenos Aires and xxx04:06 and New York
and India and sort of all over the map, working hard at that time but also having a really amazing
experiences with little staff and when I moved back to New York, we just rented a very tiny place. So it
has evolved over probably twenty years or so, I just realized that I think we really, life really and
happiness is about experiences and about connection and it's not really good stuff and yet we tend to
think it is about stuff we focus on and I mean this becomes so consumers over last 50, 60 years
something is really, really changed and I think we sure are barking up the wrong tree. It's not good for
us. Just complexifies our life and makes it less efficient and we have sort of less time and just constantly
sort of looking for stuff and so I just didn't feel right. So we were advocating just purely conscious that
you bring into life, xxx05:12 her down and we are not saying don’t have stuff or thing absolutely great
stuff just purely have great stuff for you really love not just OK stuff and lets have it and in doing so you
are going to save a bunch of money, you are going to save a bunch of space, you are going to save a
bunches time and this kind of a simpler happier life.
Interviewer: Right. So sorry, so what is nice about the fact that you are sort of applying it not only the
physical space but one of the concepts xxx05:52 is about organization and it is about creating some kind
of artificially restrictive limits and then working it backwards from that to figure out how you can make
that work. So and I know and you know that you had your competition for life xxx06:07 for different
designers but I imagine right that had you been some of that sort of push and pull I have to have at least
this. But I don’t want to have more than this, right. And somewhere meeting in the middle.
Yeah and I think a lot of, you know ideally architecture is like personalized by your own parameters and
it really depends, you know on what you do. So you know if you are an artist that xxx06:32 sculptures I
need a bit of a different space then someone who is a writer. So yeah it definitely depends on yeah, it is
really driven by program and so this space is really what’s important to me entertaining is really
important. So being xxx06:50 twelve people over dinner was important. So we had to facilitate that.
Having a couple of guests over and xxx06:57 still man her is also important to me. You have to work at
home these sorts of things. So yeah. And it also really depend on the person and designer really
particularly architecture is so expensive. It’s all pretty much all tradeoffs.
Interviewer: Right of course. And you know it is funny when you see people either planning a house or
planning a company even, you know and there are things that they just think they are supposed to have.
But it doesn't specifically apply to them, you know and you see that with room layouts and it is actually
funny. So my wife and I built a house recently and we moved out to the country. And we don't have very
big bedrooms and it’s been pointed out actually those bit, that the bedrooms are a little small and our
opinion is like it’s the room we spend the least time in during the day. So why should, well right yeah,
exactly so why should that be the biggest room. You know he biggest room should be the one where we
can have entertaining and have people. So, but it seems like an odd concept to a lot of people. It’s like
oh you want to have, if you want to be like successful and look good you have this big, big rooms.
Graham:Well that’s the thing. A lot of is, you know you gotten really confused; a lot of it is about status.
And so it is about what the Jones’s think not what you think. And that's not a life people you really want
to lead. I don't think it leads to happiness.
Interviewer: Yes. Again I just want to relay what I like about this is that you are playing these kinds of
principles, the physical space and just thought the real examination xxx08:36 of what's needed to be
effective. So okay. So let me move on now to the other thing that the other thought that actually which
really, really spoke to me at a very key moment of my life and it’s about the weekday Vegetarian diet. So
tell me about it. Tell me what came up.
Graham: So that it came about essentially because I have been vegetarian for five years at one point and
I just wanted to, I just felt like so long I am not quite ready to eat hamburger again. Yeah that's part of it
and but I sort of, I need some like parameters around. Otherwise like I am eating less meat but how
much less meat, how do I. So this came from just thinking about that generally. You know what’s a
logical system. And you know xxx09:38 is very simple, it’s all in the name. Like nothing on the face during
the week and then eat whatever you want on the weekend.
Interviewer: Right and you push off from sort of an ecological point of view, right. I mean it’s not just
Graham: It’s not just about health. No it’s also, it’s also you know animal protein in general,
environmental as well. Yeah the thing is if all of us eat half as much meat it will be like xxx10:06
vegetarian. And really we didn't use to eat as much meat as, it used to be more of the garnish, a little
side dish and since has grown over the years and so it’s just not good for us on many levels. And the
problem it’s sort of like the, you know pursuit of progress not perfection. You know just lot of people
they are never actually going to be vegetarian. So you need to give them a solution that works for them
and just sort of being pragmatic about it. So telling people to use less meat maybe possible. But for
people that would never become a full vegetarian. So it’s just trying to be pragmatic but the lesson that,
you know this just one idea that many other ideas it really figuring out that really works for you and that
might be your what vegan, I was like vegan before six or like if you think about environmentally if that’s
the main thing, you just don't eat beef. Beef takes your eighty percent of the footprint. So it’s all about
just eat other meats that will make a big difference. So it’s just figure out what works for you but try to
have something with some parameters so you know that when you are succeeding and when you are
not. And that’s not too stressful. So you will actually do it.
Interviewer: Yeah. And I think that makes a lot of sense. This is funny. So this is the fat burning man
podcast which is Able Jameson. He is like pretty much xxx11:41. But he says I am 83% vegan. But which
is interesting actually and I want to just sort of point that out too. So Palio is all the rage now with
people. It’s a big thing but if you really think about it, in Palio at times we have to assume that you
couldn't have meat three times a day every day. I mean unless you are the most amazing hunter that
has ever existed on the face of the planet. So something like we did assurance to me actually sounds a
lot more natural. It was like, you know if you were able to kind of catch that big game that one time a
week which quite honestly if you think about too, it takes an enormous amount of energy to hunt and
track and kill and prepare meat as opposed to forging. So I actually almost think that we xxx12:29 a
more realistic model of a Paleolithic diet that would be then paleo but. Got it right.
Graham: One thing I think sort of interesting too is I have never really followed up is that actually some
landscapes that are really hard to farm. But animals can actually get value from those landscapes. So you
know really rocky, hilly thing if you have a bunch of goats or something right, they are going to be able
to get quote unquote value out of that land where we couldn't as a vegetarian get any. And so you know
on a pure efficiency basis it probably makes some sense. We have some meat in our diet to just take
advantage of those situations.
Interviewer: Yeah absolutely. So what I wanted, you know tell you about too which I thought was really
fascinating at the time because like when I heard your xxx13:22, it really spoke to me. I thought that it
made a lot of sense because I, in my journey xxx13:27 I went vegan for about a month and knew that
wasn't for me. And I was full on vegetarian for about six months which was fine. But I, and I didn’t
missed meat but I started to re-enter with fish after that. Really had a lot of fish in my diet after that. So
the week xxx13:42 spoke to me and it wasn't that I actually needed to follow a diet but it does really
give you a good guideline. I am big on medical studies, right. So there was, I studied on in Japan and I
loved this thing. So it was done in 2010, same year that you gave xxx13:57 and they took two groups of
people with xxx14:00 and one group, it was a three year study and one group just left to their own
devices to eat what they want and the other group was told to eat a semi-vegetarian diet which meant
up to one serving of meat or fish per week.
Graham: Per Week.
Interviewer: Per week, so a half of, you know half serving of fish or half serving of meat or full serving
whatever you want to call. But they were not monitored over that three years. They were just checked
in with regularly. So after the three years was up, the group that had eaten, continued to eat normally
had 80% of them went backed into flavors of xxx14:35 and the group that was told to eat a semi-
vegetarian diet only had eight percent who went back into xxx14:42 and 92% of them were still
symptom free having been told to go on a semi-vegetarian diet. So the truth is we don’t know if they did
or how much compliance there was, it’s really kind of amazing. So that’s a really cool kind of way to look
at xxx15:03. So really versus in terms of entire information and just it sounds like better health. You
know and part of the argument there also which you didn't explicitly say when you came up with all this
is that, there is a opportunity cost. You know there is so much room in our stomach to eat food. So if
you are eating enormous amount of meat, then you don't have as much room to get the kale or spinach
or the greens or the other nutrients you really do need.
Graham: Yeah absolutely. You can see that yeah. Or salad because you are doing the other thing yeah
Interviewer: -So what is next for is life editor you remain focused now.
Graham: Yeah absolutely 100%.
Interviewer: - And Okay, so now the apartment that I saw is in SOHO in Manhattan which is a cool
move by xxx15:58 one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the world and doing it the way you did.
But what's next, what’s the next plan for it?
Graham: So really we are trying to go from not being a developer to being a developer and so, yeah you
don't have to become a developer ourselves. You can just partner with a great developer we don’t really
care. The main idea though is that we want piece of the backend and then we want to be involved really
from the outset. So we want to have idea scenarios, we work with partners. So concept of building and
help raise the money and design interiors, work with an architecture, get it fully built out and then help
market the site, the building via our site and newsletter and speaking and media and that sort of stuff.
So that's a, we just want to have, idea is much control as possible over the project so that we can do
something really cool stuff.
Interviewer: And are there, I mean are there principles that you have come up with, things that you
sort of apply across the board or is it really kind of a custom look every time.
Graham: I mean we, you know we have aesthetic meanings but it has nothing to do with aesthetic for
the most part I would say. Yeah we are, you know it's a combination of smart layout and xxx17:25 sort
of things you put in.
Interviewer: - Sort of the interior stuff makes a lot of sense as far as the resource xxx17:33 you used
and the appliances or lack of appliances as people would see in the video that we will post. So did you
know where the next one might be?
Graham: So we have got, we won a competition with Jonathan Rose and Datner and Bren Hymer and
other bunch of people to do a thing, building out near a dam in Broklin and yeah. So we are doing much
xxx18:00 there and that will be built out, I don't know the schedule but I guess over the next couple of
years probably. And there, how big are they. I think they are sort of 300 square footish and we are doing
xxx18:15 Sao Paolo next week. We are doing a project with a developer call Vidcon down there. And
there are 170 square feet and like 50 units.
Graham: So yeah really small, nice balcony and things that definitely helps. But yeah that's exciting and
then we are doing some more xxx18:39 from Zapos for downtown project out in Vegas doing bring
together 4 units to sort of test small space living in Vegas and if that xxx18:52 close to xxx18:53,
hopefully work with some, work with local architect there to come up with a much larger building.
Interviewer: Well, OK.
Graham: Then a whole bunch of things under discussion. But yeah so you know, we are mostly doing
design work at this point and then we are set to do our own development sort of a small level and then
sort of learning from there.
Interviewer: That's great. Okay well so we are up on time basically though. The last question I would like
to ask everybody in the podcast is what are the top three personal productivity tips that you live by, the
three things that make you more effective every day and it could be anything from any walk of life.
Graham: One day I would like to be doing, I mean the one I grapple with the most, the biggest one is just
learning to say no. And I got to say it is the hardest one and it is something that, if you with people that
are listening end up at 43 and I think if you are a social person and you live in a bunch of different places
around the world, you send up knowing people. And you may really want to help and have some success
and make people have a request for you and it becomes, it is physics. At certain point you can actually
do it and I find it very challenging. So the one that I like to most work on but it is also the hardest is
actually just being OK with saying no and saying no. Because the, if you don’t say no, you have no room
for your stuff and xxx20:37 representing it. So you know that's why the biggest one. In productivity
depends whether you are a manager or founder type, big one for me is, it is delegation. Learned a long
time ago that just like control, people might not do it exactly how you would like them to do it. But if
you help them with the principles and give them feedbacks so that they can get better overtime, you
know you get xxx21:11 and people are happier doing because they have more sort of skin in the game
and more effect on things. And so I would say not silly but delegation, you can see a lot of people who
are real control freaks and they don't let it go of anything. So it’s not, in terms of your business success is
not good. You got a lot of people. You got to dug in. A lot of people make mistakes and xxx21:38 with
them not doing exactly how you would like it done, but getting it done. Third productivity tips. I know .
Graham: Make sure you exercise regularly. You have a clear mind.
Interviewer: Do you exercise regularly.
Graham: Generally I can tell difference when I know.
Interviewer: Well I think that is great and I am definitely all for exercise and delegation I think. Those are
excellent ones. So thank you. Ok Graham, where can people find out everything about you? You are on
Graham: I might say, I mean google like google docs in terms of like a virtual sort of thing that’s going to
bit of a no brainer in my mind. The idea of like which document, which latest version that sort of stuff at
this point of time xxx22:37. Where can you find me? Lifeeditor.com and we have a great newsletter; I
encourage you to sign up for. And my twitter @ghill and if you like Instagram and you like a lot of
pictures of faces my Mr. Grahamhill on Instagram.
Interviewer: OK, great. Well Graham thanks again for your time and everyone will be able to check out
these links in the show notes and see all the cool stuff that Graham has designed and hopefully we will
be able to see his stuff soon. Thanks again.
Graham: Nice talking to you, thank you.