#134 Chris Sparks, Author of Experiment Without Limits: My Favorite Books, Tools, Habits and More | 20 Minute Playbook

In Episode #134, we deconstruct Chris Sparks's peak performance playbook—from his favorite book to the tiny habit that's had the biggest impact on his life. Chris Sparks is the author of Experiment Without Limits. We cover applying game theory to life, maintaining systems, and the self-signaling effect.
Last updated
September 16, 2022
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Chris Sparks is a retired professional poker player, recently ranked in the top 20 online cash game players in the world.
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About Chris Sparks

Website | Twitter | Experiment Without Limits: Personal Experiments for Peak Performance and Productivity

“I think it really all comes down to trusting the process that accomplishing anything just takes a lot of time and iterative effort.” – Chris Sparks

Chris began his career as a high stakes poker player and became one of the Top 20 Online Poker Players in the world. To achieve that, he studied elite performers across disciplines and started optimizing every area of his life. Which led Chris to found Forcing Function and begin working with the world’s best founders, investors, executives, poker players, and even artists, to optimize their own performance and move more quickly toward their goals.

For more, explore the transcript of this episode.

If you're ready to become an elite performer, consider applying for Chris Sparks's group coaching program, Team Performance Training. In Team Performance Training, Chris will teach you how to optimize your productivity, increase your personal leverage, and show up as your best self every day. There are fifteen spots available in Cohort 4 with applications open until the 27th of September.

Learn more at teamperformancetraining.com.


In this episode, we deconstruct Chris Sparks’s peak performance playbook—from his favorite book to the tiny habit that's had the biggest impact on his life. In it we cover:

  • (00:00:00) – Introduction
  • (00:03:15) – Applying game theory to life
  • (00:05:52) – Focusing on your thought process rather than the result
  • (00:10:12) – Deciding the game you want to play
  • (00:15:05) – Maintaining systems and avoiding habit debt
  • (00:19:39) – Optimizing for your top value
  • (00:31:05) – The self-signaling effect
  • (00:33:43) – Looking for superpowers in others
  • (00:45:56) – Trust the process and stay in the game

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, Google Podcasts, Amazon Music, Castbox, Pocket Casts, Player FM, Podcast Addict, iHeartRadio, or on your favorite podcast platform. You can watch the interview on YouTube here.

An Idea Worth Trying

Chris always carries a notebook with him to jot down ideas and things he wants to remember; even if he doesn’t do anything with those notes later, he’s forming the habit of getting information out of his head so that he can think clearly. He opts for paper rather than digital only because digital devices can pop up distractions as you’re note-taking.

Our Favorite Quotes

Here are a few ideas we'll be thinking about weeks and months from now:

  • “I find one of the meta skills of life is looking for other people's superpowers. So this just mindset that every person that you meet has a hidden superpower and wow, wouldn't that be amazing if you could uncover it and they could teach you some of those aspects of your superpower?”
  • “Every decision we make is a values trade off, where you're having to decide that one value is more important than another value. And we say, hey, all of these things are really important, but at the end of the day that's what you're doing is saying, hey, I value this more.”
  • “Rather than worrying about the things that you aren't good at, how do you go deep around the things that you are really good at? What are the things that for you are pretty pedestrian that to others look like you're running up a wall? How can you do more of those activities?”
  • “Anytime you post something on social media, anytime that you go through any sort of application process to university, there are game mechanics embedded in everything that we do. And if you can understand the underlying structure, the intrinsic thread that ties all of these games together, you can be much more likely to achieve your goals and win in those games, whatever that means to you.”

Books Mentioned

The following books came up in this conversation with Chris Sparks:

Selected Links

We covered a lot of ground in this interview. Here are links to the stories, articles, and ideas discussed:

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