No Judgment: Why Mark Sisson doesn’t want you to do the dishes

No Judgment: Why Mark Sisson doesn’t want you to do the dishes

“Education is not filling a bucket, but lighting a fire.” ~William Butler Yeats

Last night I had the honor of meeting one of my long time heros Mark Sisson. I think of this man every time I eat, literally, and he’s responsible for lightning a fire for me, many of my friends and family, and many of you guys as well.

Since Mark is in town for Book Expo America (BEA), to promote a new cookbook (which I use several times a week – spaghetti squash omelet is heaven!) to go with his brilliant book Primal Blueprint, he decided to meet up with a few locals to chat about Primal health and answer some of our questions.

Thanks to the help of John Durant for organizing the event at Black Box crossfit gym and Mark drawing crowds from as far as Boston and Philadelphia, there were 175 or so people in attendance.

There were several things that really impressed me about Mark:

Walk the Walk

Looking back at pictures from a few years ago, Mark Sisson at age 56, had a six-pack and overall muscle tone. In person the man looks even more chiseled and healthy, and the same could be said about pictures of his wife and kids, who also follow the Primal lifestyle.

While this blog is mostly about my growth experiences, and what I’m trying to do next, or learn now, I’d hardly consider myself more expert in growth than the average person that focuses on this part of their lives.

In fact, during the past year of school, my time management might have been enough to succeed in school, but definitely fell short of allowing any life balance. On a scale of 1-10, my life balance has been a 3. School took precedence over health, most of my relationships, and writing on this site, as I gave 100% to just one area of my life.

With Mark you can really see that he is the epitome of health. I think this is really important. You know the stuff works.

Eloquent Articulation

I’m always impressed with great speakers. Mostly because it’s something I aspire to be better at — and realize how difficult it can be.

Mark Sisson’s talk was titled The Metabolic Paradigm Shift, based on a long time of information brewing in his mind as well as a more recent blog post. What I like is that his speech was captivating, interesting, and informative, without alienating his audience.

Since what Mark focused on is evidence-based science, it would have been easy for him to spew out so much jargon that the average person’s eyes glaze over as they fall into a coma. That’s not what Mark did though. His goal of making this healthy lifestyle as mainstream as possible shows, because he’s able to tell his story in a way that a person with a lower health-literacy can keep up, yet he’ll incorporate scientific terms as an aside to let others that have a higher health-literacy keep engaged as well (take note my medical and dental colleagues!)

It makes sense. Knowing about the SERC1 gene and it’s anti-aging effects, for most people, is less important than knowing the general concept that eating a grain based diet will make you fat. That grain based diets gives you insulin spikes that make you fat, so you have to run more on the treadmill, but then you deplete your glycogen storage and eat more grains to replenish them – but then have to run more – so on and so forth.

Judgement Free

A lot of experts out there are very judgmental:

  • If you don’t save money the way they want – you’re a loser.
  • If you’re not hitting the gym as hard as they say –  you’re a loser.
  • If you haven’t found your motivation to go through with something, yet – you’re a loser.
  • If you don’t observe religion as closely as them – you’re a loser.
  • If you don’t know as much about politics as them, you’re ignorant, and – you’re a loser.

I disagree with this approach. In many ways, and for most people, it’s counter-productive, and  it speaks so much to said experts insecurity.

During the Q&A session, with a big grin on his face, Mark responded to someone that if they eat grains he’ll still be their friend. To me that was very genuine, touching, and should really be an example for us to learn from and apply to our own relationships with people.

I’m probably one of the most judgmental people that I know. It’s my defense mechanism to avoid being around people that hurt me, disappoint me, or make me feel bad in some way or another. In many ways it works, it keeps me away from those people, but it does come at a price. Sometimes I get carried away, and so my heart is filled with negativity, and that’s really not who I am as a core person.

With Mark, you can tell that you’re in the judgment free zone. It makes you feel comfortable. That’s what a true leader should look like, and someone we can model ourselves after.

At the end Mark quoted The Breakup when Jennifer Aniston said, “I don’t want you to do the dishes, I want you to want to do the dishes.” It’s not about having expectations of someone, it’s not about dropping information on people and expecting them to catch it like a bucket. It is about walking the walk, being able to eloquently articulate your ideas, and without judgment, being able to light a fire in a person that will inspire them to get out there, think for themselves, and change their lives!


Dennis Charles recently pointed out that “All top performers have a teacher/coach or mentor. The notion of doing things on your own is seen as ludicrous from the perspective of a top performer.” I have to say that I strongly agree with this statement.

If you’re looking for a mentor on health and nutrition, evidence based research that strives to disprove conventional wisdom, as well as a community of great people, I recommend checking out

Also as a side note – my second year of dental school has come and gone – and now in just a couple of days I will start seeing patients at NYU Dental School. It’s not only an opportunity to practice dentistry, but to very thoroughly help people. That’s because NYU Dental School has us do a very comprehensive health check, has systems in place to refer patients to get further care, assist patients with smoking cessation (the #1 changeable cause of major diseases), as well as nutritional counseling for those patients that need it. I’m excited!

Posted by in Leadership, Personal Development | May 26, 2011 | Digg | | Stumble | Print | 6 comments

  • Biren

    Sounds like a great night. I wish I could have made it!

    • Alex Shalman

      Yea it was a lot of fun. Next time!

  • C_springer

    Tip: If somethings not working, try something else. 
    Love this post!

    • C_springer

      I’m bikehikebabe & have a gravatar tho’ it doesn’t show up here.

  • Marina Tsipenyuk

    Meeting Mark Sisson, and seeing his energy and passion was really inspiring. I love that he had so much insight and a judgement free character. Great article, Alex!

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