Life Advice From Stan Lee

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
When I was about 12 or 13, we had this yearbook, and everybody had to get a quote from a teacher. Next to my name, the teacher wrote, “The greatest are the humblest.” I don’t know why she picked me to write that for, but it always stuck with me.

What did you learn growing up during the Depression?
That it’s better to have money than not to have money. It was pretty tough. My father was unemployed most of the time, so as soon as I became a teenager, I had to get little jobs here and there: I was an usher at a theater and a delivery boy for a drugstore. I wrote advertising copy for a hospital. I never understood if my purpose was to make people sick, so they’d go to the hospital.

You’ve been working for eight decades and still run POW! Entertainment. What have you learned about work?
That I’m happiest when I’m working. If I’m not working, I feel like I’m wasting my time. Most people say, “I can’t wait to retire so I can play golf,” or go yachting or whatever they do. Playing golf, you get together with your friends for an afternoon, talking and having fun. But I do that in the office, and we’re accomplishing more than hitting a ball into a hole.

What’s the secret to collaboration?
You have to be selective about the people you deal with. I was lucky to work with a guy like Jack Kirby, because he had a way of making anything he illustrated look exciting. He couldn’t draw a dull panel. I’d come up with a concept for a script and give it to him, and he’d make it even better than I imagined. That’s the most important thing – to try to select somebody who you trust can improve on your ideas and make your work seem better.

What changed for comic books in the Sixties?
Oh, I hate to sound immodest, but with The Fantastic Four, I really started a new type of comic. I tried to give the characters their own personality and their own problems and way of talking and acting. That hadn’t been done in comics before, and the book did very well, so I tried to do the same thing with X-Men, Spider-Man, and so forth. I try to write them as though they were real human beings who just happen to have a superpower. Also, little by little, I got caught up in the social issues of the day.

What’s it like to see something that for years was pencil and ink now dominate pop culture?
Obviously it’s a great feeling. I wrote these stories a million years ago, and they have become so popular and successful. So I get a big kick out of it, but I’m a little annoyed that I’m not starring in any of these movies. But hey, that’s another story.

You’ve been married for 66 years. What’s the secret to a happy marriage?
I’m terrified of my wife! [Laughs.] No, I was very lucky: I married a woman I loved very much, and I still love her just as much. Just pick the right girl – which is hard to do.

How should a man handle growing older?
It’s just something you have to accept, because there isn’t a damn thing you can do to stop it. I guess I’ll keep working till I drop. You know how the cowboys die with their boots on? I guess I’m going to die at the keyboard of a computer.

What do you think your legacy will be?
Who knows? If people enjoyed the stories, and if my name is still on them, they’ll say, “Boy, that guy, Lee, wherever he is, he was a pretty good writer.”

Should You Lift Weights Fast or Slow?

Both mind and muscle adapt to a familiar training plan in about four weeks, which means you have to periodically mix up your workouts to beat boredom and break performance plateaus. The proven approach to do it: Lift fast on some days, and at a moderate-to-slow pace other days. This rep-timing technique, called time under tension, helps target different goals like boosting power, growing muscle, or building endurance, simply by tweaking exercise tempo.

There are four numbers that define the tempo of an exercise. The first number is the amount of time it takes to lower a weight (the “negative” or “eccentric” motion). The second number is the transition time between lowering and lifting. The third number is the lifting portion (the positive, or concentric motion). Finally, the fourth number is how long you pause at the end of the exercise.

If a program recommends you do a barbell chest press at a tempo of 30X0, it means that you’ll take three seconds to lower the barbell to your chest; 0 seconds of transition time between lowering and lifting the bar back up; the X denotes raising the weight as explosively as possible, and the 0 means you’ll have no pause at the top of the exercise — you’ll immediately go into your next rep.

Four different timing cues might sound like a lot to remember just to lower and raise a weight. But focusing on tempo is a sneaky way to control lifts and avoid achy joints that go hand-in-hand with sloppy technique. Try this training strategy for at least a month, and we guarantee you’ll benefit from newfound focus and intensity during workouts.

Below, you’ll find three tempo-based workouts that use similar movements performed at different speeds, depending on your goal. Choose one four-week program to try, or do them in succession (12 weeks total), starting with slow and progressing to fast. Do the total-body workouts three times per week, on non-consecutive days (like Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), and perform the moves like a circuit, that is, one after another without a break, then rest for 60 seconds. That’s one set. Do three total sets. For all workouts, choose a weight that you can handle with good technique and is challenging by the last rep. To avoid confusion, note that some moves start with the lifting part (think pull-ups). Just remember that the first number is always the lowering or eccentric portion of the exercise, and the third number is the lifting portion (concentric).

Slow-Tempo Workout for Muscle Balance and Endurance
Use slow, controlled tempos with deliberate pauses at critical points of the exercise to build stabilization and muscle endurance.
Lifting Pace: Slow (4210)
Reps: 16

What to do:
A. Single-leg squat
B. Overhead press
C. Pull-up
D. Suspended (use rings or TRX) chest press
E. Suspended (use rings or TRX) row

Medium-Tempo Workout for Muscle Strength
Take two seconds to lower the weight and pause for three seconds at the bottom. Next, lift for one second with no pause at the top. This technique “turns off” the stretch reflex in your muscles so you build starting strength. In other words, lifting from a dead stop prevents you from relying on the elastic energy created when you bounce the weight at the bottom of an exercise.
Lifting Pace: Moderate (2310)
Reps: 8

Do This:
A. Squat
B. Shoulder press
C. Pull-up
D. Chest press
E. Lat row 

Fast-Tempo Workout for Explosive Power
Build speed and strength using a quick lowering (negative) movement followed immediately by a rapid lift (positive), with no pause in between in order to turn on your muscle’s rebound effect (the stretch reflex).
Lifting Pace: Fast (30X0)
Reps: 3

Do This:
A. Squat jump (Use either a weighted barbell or empty bar. Low-back pain? Swap out the bar, which may increase compressive forces on the spine, for dumbbells.)
B. Romanian deadlift
C. Push press
D. Clapping push-up

Superior Emotional Intelligence Comes From This 1 Practice

If you truly want higher self awareness, do this practice and you’ll get it.

No matter which successful person I have the honor of learning from, they all mention the same thing–emotional intelligence.

Everyone knows that emotional intelligence is important. Thought leaders like Gary Vaynerchuk and Tim Ferris both acknowledge the importance of being self-aware, but few people tend to know what self-awareness is or how to improve it.

The conversation in entrepreneur culture needs to shift from talking with buzzwords like emotional intelligence to listening to experts who work with clients to improve their self-awareness each day.

Let me spend a quick second dispelling some myths and providing information.

Myth: We don’t know what self-awareness is.

Fact: Self-awareness is insight into one’s thoughts, feelings, and ways of relating to themselves, others, and the word.

Myth: We don’t know how to improve self-awareness.

Fact: There is one scientifically proven way to increase self-awareness–and it doesn’t involve merely using an app or reading self-help books.

Truth: Everyone can improve their self-awareness by engaging in long-term therapy or coaching with an expert.

As a licensed therapist and life coach, I work with motivated clients to improve their self-awareness and deepen their ability to be in tune with their moment-to-moment mental and physical experience.

I know for a fact that the clients I work with deepen their understanding of themselves in a way that boosts their emotional intelligence.


Because results speak for themselves.

Some clients learn to treat themselves more compassionately, to be more responsive and supportive of their emotional needs. Others challenge their negative self-criticism and tendency to ruminate on past events and start living more fully in the present moment.

Other clients start listening to their intuition and engaging in regular journaling, exercise, yoga, and mediation.

Some clients–the type who are unfamiliar with their own feelings–develop the ability to identify, acknowledge, and express their emotions in healthier ways.

And almost all clients improve the ways that they relate to others.

Because when you spend time focusing on yourself–your strengths, weaknesses, and areas of continued growth–and you combine that with accountability and a process that encourages vulnerability and trust, the result is a radical shift in mindset.

That shift in mentality–or insight–coincides with greater opportunity to take action. And taking new actions leads to new patterns and healthier relationships.

Let me give you a very simple example.

A man spends long hours each day working a difficult and demanding job. He makes great money, feels engaged and passionate about his work, but the stress is starting to add up.

As demands on his time increase, he finds less time to spend with his wife. He finds himself getting angry when she asks him to spend more quality time together. And then, after a major fight, he kicks his dog.

In our work together–so long as the client is committed to the process–the client will deepen his ability to notice his stress levels. He will have insight into what his body is communicating to him, and therefore have opportunities to either take more breaks or add more adaptive coping strategies.

He will recognize the impact that his overworking is having on his relationship. He will gradually discover why he feels the need to work so much.

He will learn the reasons behind why he reacts so strongly to his wife’s feedback. And he will understand why he kicked the dog.

All of this self-awareness and understanding, combined with the relationship we create in which he feels like he can openly share and express these feelings, enables him to make different life choices.

At the end of our work, this same client who called me feeling irritable, overwhelmed, and stressed is leaving with higher self-awareness and the ability to do something with that insight–make better choices.

So when the entrepreneur and leadership space discusses self-awareness and emotional intelligence as if they either don’t know what those things are or aren’t sure how to improve them–they’re either uninformed or defensive.

My guess is the latter.

I think that the entire mentality associated with entrepreneurship and leadership is self-involved–focused more on the glory of success than the enjoying the road to it. I think many individuals are uncomfortable with the idea of seeking additional emotional support.

The hyper-masculine “do it yourself” mentality of entrepreneurship results in fear of being perceived as weak for talking about one’s feelings. Business itself tends to revolve around emotional suppression, so I’m not at all surprised that people claim that they aren’t sure how to improve emotional intelligence.

Of course you don’t know–you’re afraid to engage in the very process that improves self-awareness!

And that fear should tell you something.

Your aversion to my advocacy of therapy and coaching should send a loud and clear message to yourself that you have things you need to address.

I hope that you have the courage to listen to your feelings. Because I think that everyone deserves an opportunity to live a happier and more fulfilling life. And I think that improving yourself awareness is the fastest way to do that.

Stop refusing to justify taking one hour out of your week to devote to your growth. It’s one hour out of 168.

And I promise that one hour–over time–will make a bigger difference than any single book, application, or motivational talk.

Are Hair-Loss Drugs Safe?

Go see your doctor about a receding hairline, and there’s a good chance you’ll walk away with a prescription for finasteride — better known by its brand name, Propecia. The FDA-approved pill, which came out in 1997, thickens hair in 65 percent of those who take it. More than 26 new generic versions, priced at less than a dollar a pill (versus $3 for Propecia), have made the drug even more attractive. While the packaging warns of a 1 to 2 percent chance of temporary sexual side effects, millions of men consider it a risk worth taking. But emerging research and a slew of lawsuits suggest that finasteride may be more dangerous than previously believed, with side effects — inability to orgasm, painful erections, chronic depression, insomnia, brain fog, and suicidal thoughts — that can last long after patients stop taking the pill.

“My yardstick for treating any patient is, what would I do if this were my own son?” says Dr. Nelson Novick, a clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. “Ten years ago I would have answered differently, but now I would not feel comfortable recommending Propecia to a young, sexually active man.”

Most dermatologists still prescribe finasteride, explaining that they rarely hear of persistent symptoms from patients. There could be a reason for that, researchers say. Men may have no idea that cognitive side effects would have anything to do with taking a hair-loss pill, particularly if those problems continue after they stop taking the drug. And many would be embarrassed to bring up sexual problems to a dermatologist or researcher, particularly a female. “Sexual impairment induced by antidepressant drugs was underestimated for decades for just this reason,” wrote Thomas Moore, a researcher with the Institute for Safe Medication Practices, in an editorial in the June issue of JAMA Dermatology. Moore said side-effect estimates for those drugs have since jumped from between 1 and 3 percent to between 30 and 60 percent.

RELATED: 10 Myths And Facts About Hair Loss

Since 2011, 1,245 lawsuits have been filed against Propecia’s manufacturer, Merck, alleging that the company failed to warn users of a constellation of sexual and cognitive side effects — which patients and physicians call Post-Finasteride Syndrome (PFS) because, they say, symptoms often persist after discontinuing the drug. This spring, the National Institutes of Health added PFS to its rare-diseases database. And in March, a California woman filed the first wrongful death suit against Merck. Her husband, a 40-year-old IT executive and father of two with no history of mental illness, killed himself in March 2013. His family blames finasteride.

In a statement, Merck said the company “stands behind the demonstrated safety and efficacy profile of Propecia.” In recent years, it also added depression and persistent sexual problems to its list of possible side effects, deep in the fine print. It intends to defend itself vigorously when the first cases go to court, likely in 2016. The company will undoubtedly argue that millions use Propecia without harm — sales hit $264 million in 2014 — and that serious problems are rare.

Not rare enough, says Steven Rossello, a 32-year-old who filed the first suit against Merck, in 2011. “There’s a lot of talk about sexual side effects, but the worst effects are the mental ones,” Rossello says. Despite stopping the drug in 2010, he says he suffered a finasteride-induced long-term depression that cost him his fiancée and job as an agent with the Department of Homeland Security.

Recent research suggests that finasteride can impact levels of neuro-protective, mood-regulating steroids in the brain, explains Dr. Michael Irwig, an associate professor of medicine at George Washington University whose research has linked its use to depression and suicidal tendencies. According to a review published in Pharmacotherapy: The Journal of Human Pharmacology and Drug Therapy in July, the FDA has received more than three dozen reports of suicidal tendencies among Propecia users. Most resulted in hospitalization, death, or disability.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know to Treat Erectile Dysfunction

“Patients and physicians have been falsely reassured,” says Steven Belknap, an assistant professor of dermatology at Northwestern University. In a meta-analysis published in JAMA Dermatology in April, he reviewed the 34 clinical trials performed on finasteride and found that “none adequately assessed safety,” and all underreported potential adverse effects. “It is stunning,” says Belknap. “Here we are 18 years after the initial approval, and if someone were to ask me if this drug is safe, I would have to say, ‘I don’t know.’ ” Merck, in its statement, said it “conducted well-designed clinical trials.”

Why do so many doctors still prescribe the drug? The research on its cognitive side effects is relatively new, and the number of patients reporting problems low, dermatologists say. “I don’t hesitate to prescribe it to appropriate patients, but I do spend more time now counseling them about the risks,” says Boulder, Colorado, dermatologist Jeanie Leddon.

Knowing the drug’s origins might prompt some to shy away from it. Finasteride has its roots in the 1970s, when scientists discovered a rare group of men in the Dominican Republic who were born with ambiguous genitalia and often mistakenly raised as girls. These men possessed other unique traits: They never lost their hair or had prostate problems. This was because they failed to produce an enzyme that converts testosterone to dihydrotestosterone, or DHT. DHT is critical for fetal development of male genitals, but in adults it impairs hair growth. Enter Merck, which unveiled a compound — finasteride — that slashes DHT levels 70 percent. As Belknap puts it, the drug works by mimicking the sex-steroid profile of pseudohermaphrodites. Some former male users equate this to “chemical castration.” To this day, health officials warn women not to even touch finasteride pills, because doing so could cause genital malformations in an unborn boy.

In 1992, drug companies rolled out a finasteride tablet to treat an enlarged prostate. It’s still prescribed by urologists who contend that, in this case, avoiding serious health problems outweighs the risk. Propecia, however, is a different story. “This is cosmetic,” stresses Belknap. “This is not a lifesaving drug.” And one that may come with a steep price.

About Artificial Intelligence

We now understand how very complex and even apparently intelligent phenomena, such as genetic coding, the immune system, and low-level visual processing, can be accomplished without a trace of consciousness.

But this seems to uncover an enormous puzzle of just what, if anything, consciousness is for. Can a conscious entity do anything for itself that an unconscious (but cleverly wired up) simulation of that entity couldn’t do for itself?

~ Dan Dennett

Is Sex Really Exercise?

You don’t need a scientist to tell you that sex can be a full-tilt, sweat-drenched workout. But how many calories does a good romp really burn? In a recent study, researchers at the University of Québec at Montréal measured energy expended during sex versus running, and found that we get our hearts pumping and muscles cranking enough during sex for it to be considered moderate exercise.

The researchers recruited 21 healthy, active, heterosexual couples in their early 20s to jog on treadmills at about 65 percent of their maximum heart rates for 30 minutes. While running, they wore lightweight armband monitors that measure energy expenditure in calories and exercise intensity in METs, or metabolic equivalent of task.

Next, the couples were asked to have sex once a week for a month while wearing the same armbands to track their calories and intensity during sexual activity. The duration of the sex varied, but the average session across all couples for the month was about 25 minutes.

On average, the men burned 9.2 calories per minute while jogging (or about 230 calories for a 25-minute jog) and had a mean intensity of 8.5 METs, compared to 4.2 calories per minute (105 calories per session) and 6 METs during sex. Women burned a little less, logging 7.1 calories per minute and 8.1 METs on the treadmill, and 3.1 calories per minute and 5.6 METs during sex.

Unsurprisingly, jogging for a half-hour taxed everyone’s bodies more than having sex – but the researchers were impressed at how much energy these people exerted during sex. According to study author Antony Karelis, the participants burned enough calories and reached high enough intensities for sex to be considered “moderate intensity” exercise, the equivalent of walking briskly. While it’s not on the level of doing wind sprints or 30-lap pool sessions, sex can be a legit form of exercise, says Karelis.

Sex is good for you, but it isn’t always exercise: Karelis points out that sometimes sex isn’t hot and heavy and doesn’t always last long, so you can’t count every quickie as a moderate workout. “Sex should not replace regular exercise,” Karelis says. “Rather, sex and exercise should both be incorporated into your routine on a regular basis. Studies show that each improves health, so the combination of the two leads to a greater quality of life.”

What She’s Actually Thinking About During Sex

The most prevalent thought for both men and women during sex is a fairly obvious one: “How am I doing?” But this question leads to very different thought processes for the sexes. “While you’re worrying about how long you’ll be able to last, she’s worrying that things are taking too long on her end,” says Emily Morse, a sex and relationship expert and host of the top downloaded podcast Sex with Emily. You can thank the orgasm gap: While the average man reaches climax in about five to seven minutes, a woman, on average, requires at least 20 minutes of direct stimulation. But there’s more to it than that. Here, taken from the experts, are some of the more prevalent thoughts you could expect her to be having.

“Am I taking too long?”

Many women worry that they’re taking too long to reach orgasm and/or that their partner will orgasm before they do. “Women sometimes take longer to get aroused and therefore take longer to orgasm, particularly if they aren’t receiving enough persistent, direct clitoral stimulation — otherwise known as the orgasm gap. Promescent, an OTC spray, is one way men can extend their latency time and prolong intercourse, particularly if they have a partner who generally takes longer to reach orgasm than they do (which is most men),” says Ian Kerner a psychotherapist and sexuality counselor.

Jack, her more handsome co-worker.

Women fantasize more than men do during sex, and many don’t fantasize about the act they’re engaging in or the person they’re having sex with. “This isn’t because they’re bored or disinterested — rather, it helps to quiet the parts of the brain that are associated with anxiety and outside stressors. It’s been shown that women, unlike men, need to turn off parts of their brain in order for the rest of their body to turn on, and fantasizing — even if it’s not about you — is a great way to do that,” says Dr. Kerner.

Flaws with her own body. 

Women in general suffer from an epidemic of body-image dissatisfaction. Too many women feel as though their bodies are flawed. During sex, rather than focusing on what they are feeling, they worry about what our partner thinks of our body: Does s/he see this wiggle here, this stretch mark there, the way my boobs flop over there? “We try to hide our body (only having sex in the dark, keeping clothes on during sex, only getting undressed under the covers), sometimes we avoid having sex in positions that could be unflattering, etc. All of this compromises a woman’s pleasure because when our heads are filled with worries and anxieties, we aren’t present in the current moment. When we are busy worrying about how to position the sheets in a way that will flatter our belly or hide our thighs, we aren’t attuned to the pleasurable physical sensations of our partner’s touch, and this can interfere with our ability to derive satisfaction from the sexual experience,” says Alexis Conason, Psy.D., Licensed Psychologist (

Your scorecard.

“During intercourse women often think about their man’s performance, what he’s doing that feels good and what doesn’t,” says Dr. Fran Walfish, Beverly Hills child, parenting, and relationship psychotherapist, author, The Self-Aware Parent, and co-star of Sex Box on WE tv. Frequently, women (and men) fantasize about other people and various behaviors that titillate and excite their fire. “Although I am a proponent of open, honest, direct communication, I strongly urge people not to tell their partners their personal bedroom fantasies during intercourse. All it does is fuel jealousy, rivalry, competition, and low self-esteem in your partner, creating a wedge between you and your beloved.”

When it’s going to end. 

“This is especially true when they weren’t really into it in the first place, but agreed to engage, hoping that they would get in the mood,” says Rhonda Milrad, a relationship therapist, and founder and CEO of Relationup.