Category Archives: Books

The Wisdom of Life by Arthur Schopenhauer

Summary
  1. Schopenhauer walks us through the art of ordering our lives to gain the maximum pleasure and fulfillment
Key Takeaways
  1. The wise of every age have said the same things and the fools have done the same
  2. The first and most essential factor in our happiness is our personality, what we are, for it is always with us and shapes everything around us and everything that happens to us.
  3. Man’s happiness can be summed up in three lots:
    1. What they are – their personality, what has been bestowed upon them by nature
      1. It is undeniable that lasting happiness and fulfillment comes from the first bucket, from their inner constitutions. External circumstances are worth relatively little because they are shaped by our experiences, thoughts, and ideas that shape the externalities and affect how we respond to them. It is what we are and not what we have that leads to lasting happiness
    2. What they have
      1. Excessive material wealth does little for happiness but we must be able to meet our needs or else we won’t have the luxury of time and space to focus on ourselves and what makes us really happy.
      2. Excessive wealth leads to so many unintended distractions that you can’t focus on what really matters to you.
      3. Focus on acquiring culture and gaining knowledge rather than material wealth
    3. The esteem others hold them in.
  4. Beauty
    1. The gift of beauty is not one which should be lightly thrown away it is an invitation to others to like us and should be used accordingly
  5. Health
    1. Health is the foundation of happiness
    2. Health accounts more for happiness than nearly any other factor.
    3. A sound mind in a sound body is the foundation for all happiness and without which it is very difficult if not impossible to be happy.
    4. For great health avoid every excess and exercise regularly – even the trees must be shaken by the wind in order to thrive.
    5. Therefore any action which deprives us of health is a poor decision as 9/10 of our happiness comes from health
  6. Boredom
    1. The greater one is in their wealth or knowledge, the less susceptible they are to boredom extravagance and other vices.
    2. The wise man aims for a life free from pain and annoyances and seeks one of leisure and quiet.  The less wise a man is, the more apt he is to become bored for when he has nothing to do, his intellect does not turn on and he loses interest in everything around him.
    3. With time, leisure, and intellect, truth becomes clear
  7. Being Self-Sufficient
    1. Happiness is to be self-sufficient which is why wise man needs a little outside stimulation and socialize less on average than the normal person
  8. One can learn best from the extreme examples for they give us a magnified looked at our own nature
  9. Man never feels the pain of not getting what he has never known to ask for
  10. What is worth doing is hard to do
  11. Rank and honor and pride are tied to what others think is useful and not truly what you want to do or what you think is useful or how you best spend your time.
What I got out of it
  1. Striving for leisure and lots of time to read and think are worthy goals; health is at the heart of happiness; it is one’s inner happiness which lasts and paints external circumstances

The Artist’s Journey: The Wake of the Hero’s Journey and the Lifelong Pursuit of Meaning by Steven Pressfield

Summary
  1. The artist’s journey begins with the hero’s journey, it is merely the beginning and it allows us to begin living authentically, to self-actualize. It is the gift you get from going through the often painful hero’s journey, it is what you do with your gift, how you help the world and those around you.
Key Takeaways
  1. The artist’s journey is personal, solitary, mental, an evolution, a constant, about self-discovery (as opposed to self-expression), yet universal
  2. The Hero’s Journey has 11 steps:
    1. The call to adventure
    2. Refusal of the call
    3. Meeting the mentor
    4. Crossing the threshold
    5. Tests
    6. Approaching the innermost cave
    7. Ordeal
    8. Reward/Bliss
    9. The road back
    10. Resurrection
    11. Master of two worlds
  3. Subject
    1. We are all born to find our “subject”, it finds us and not the other way around. It is our calling, what we are meant to do. It is terrifying to try to find which is my so many people put it off. Once we find it, we can’t turn away from it but it takes a risk to act on it
  4. Voice
    1. We have to find our voice, how we best express ourselves
  5. Point of View
    1. Once the artists develops their “point of view”, they can answer any question about any aspect regarding their work, they know what “movie” they’re making and what it takes to get there – they have the hologram in the head
  6. Medium of Expression
    1. The artist must determine the medium for the message.
  7. Style
    1. Every artist has a style that they must develop over time. Hemingway didn’t write with short, simple words because he didn’t know more complicated ones – it was because it was his style
    2. Your style must blend seamlessly with the medium
    3. Style is inseparable from voice, it evolves out of subject and point of view and blends seamlessly with medium of expression.
  8. Subject, voice, point of view, medium of expression, and style are all different ways of thinking of your gift, which is the same as asking the question, “who am I?” Finding the answer to these questions is not a rational journey, it cannot be rushed or planned, we are born with all of these but they are out of our normal consciousness and it takes time, suffering and persistence to find them. We must give up our control, our ego, to find them. Once you discover your gift, you become an artist. To the outside, nothing may seem to change but internally everything changes. Everything in your life which is “not artist” falls away. Externally, your life may look boring with no drama, binges, disrespecting your gift/voice/talent, the artist is now on a mission and her life has acquired a purpose. Your life is now about following their muse, about becoming who you really are, and this journey will take you through the rest of your life
  9. An artist is in touch with their time, they speak of and to their time
  10. In this journey, all enemies are mental and self-generated. But, on the flipside, same with all strengths
  11. All progression is made by increments and is done by accessing the unconscious, your muse. Everything you create as an artist comes beyond your conscious awareness. Artists do not know what they’re going to do before they do it, and often don’t know what they’re doing while they’re doing it. This “second” you is the real you and it is much smarter than the “you” you normally associate with
  12. The artist’s journey lasts the rest of your life
  13. Resistance (fear, distraction, temptation, etc.) is a mini refusal of the call. You can get over this by meeting with the mentor – it can be external but even better you become your own mentor, helping yourself get past the Resistance. The aim is to make ourselves Masters – not just of our crafts, but of ourselves
  14. Index of basic skills acquired during the Artist’s Journey
    1. Learns how to start
    2. Learns how to keep going
    3. Learns how to finish
    4. Learns how to hang on
    5. Learns how to let go
    6. Learns how to be alone – learns how to gain energy from her work alone, and need for third party validation attenuates
    7. Learns how to work with others – would rather produce something better with others than they otherwise could have alone than get credit
    8. Learns emotional distance – learns how to detach from the judgment, their emotional needs
    9. Learns how to handle rejection
    10. Learns how to handle praise
    11. Learns how to handle panic
    12. Learns how to give up
    13. Learns how to go beyond what you know
    14. Learns how to be brave – run towards what scares you
    15. Learns how to keep the pressure on
    16. Learns how to kill – either the Resistance wins or you do, which will it be?
    17. Learns how to help others and how to be helped
    18. Learns how to steal good ideas
    19. Learns how to how the marketplace works
    20. Learns how to gain perspective on their work
    21. Learns how to learn from history
    22. Learns how to learn from the masters who have come before them
    23. Learns how to be humble
    24. Learns how to self-validate
    25. Learns how to self-reinforce
    26. Learns how to self-evaluate
    27. Learns how to commit for a lifetime
    28. The amateur is one who does not have any of these skills – they are not mentally tough, they don’t have persistence
  15. A better name for the unconscious is the superconscious. You must develop the ability to go from the conscious to the superconscious and back again often and effectively. Most people are afraid of finding out what’s truly in us, of what we really have, of finding out who we are
  16. The artist believes in a different reality and shuttles back and forth between realities
  17. How the world works – The universe exists on at least two levels – the material world (physical world) and the ethereal (the higher realm, the soul, it cannot be seen or summoned but can be felt, it is the plane we are trying to access as artists). An artist’s skill lies in shuttling between the normal mind and the higher mind. They cease direct thinking and shift to a more intuitive, non-linear mindset, this is what makes the process addictive
  18. All art is about the recognition of beauty and the articulation of empathy and compassion for the other – the artist is a force for unity
  19. Mankind’s original sin, what got Adam and Eve cast out of Eden, is identifying with the ego
  20. Daimon = genius. It is us, yet it is separate
  21. The secret that every true artist knows is that the profound can be reached by focusing on the mundane. Sit down at the keyboard, stand before the easel, you have to show up
  22. The mysterious flow of creativity can be prompted, primed like a pump, by emotionally and physically creating a habit and a space where you want that energy to flow
  23. Who you are is what you produce, what you write/produce/paint…
  24. The artist’s journey is the hero’s journey of the human race
  25. How do you know when you’re ready? You decide. You act
What I got out of it
  1. The artist is one who can shift between the normal everyday world and the higher plane where inspiration hits, where the daimon resides, and being able to translate this higher plane into art

Intuition: Its Powers and Perils by David Myers

Summary
  1. To plumb the disparate discoveries about intuition – the powers and the perils and how we can use it to better our lives. To bring awareness that our intuition could benefit from some correction, in realms from sports to business to spirituality, makes clear the need for disciplined training of the mind. Intuition works well in some realms, but it needs restraints and checks in others. The biggest truth about learning is that its purpose is to unlock the human mind and to develop it into an organ capable of thought – conceptual thought, analytical thought, sequential thought
Key Takeaways
  1. Intuition
    1. The capacity for direct knowledge, it is experiential, emotional, mediate by vibes from past experience, self-evident, for immediate insight without observation or reason, perception-like, rapid, effortless
      1. Compared to deliberate thinking which is slow, rational, critical, analytic, mediated by conscious appraisal, justified with logic and evidence, differentiated
    2. If intuition is immediate knowing, without reasoned analysis, then perceiving is intuition par excellence. Human intelligence is more than logic, more than ordering words, more than conscious cognition
    3. Intuition is nothing more, nothing less than recognition, simply analyses frozen into habit. Intuition sometimes compresses years of experience into instant insight. Hence the importance of filling the brain/body/soul with positive information, ideal situations, getting quick/accurate feedback and learning/iterating towards the ideal
  2. The Powers
    1. We know more than we know we know. The autonomic nervous system responds with measurable perspiration and sped up pulse when a loved one’s face is shown, the body displays recognition although we may not react. What the conscious mind cannot understand, the heart knows
    2. Everyday perception – instant parallel processing and integration of complex information streams
    3. Automatic processing – absent-mindedness but allows you to focus on the big stuff. So much of who what we do/perceive is never conscious. Civilization advances by extending the number of operations which we can perform without thinking about them
    4. Young children’s intuitive learning
    5. Brain can rationalize and create a story about anything. When the two minds are at odds, the left brain acts as the brain’s press agent, doing mental gymnastics to rationalize unexplained actions. If the right brain commands an action, the left brain will intuitively justify it. Humans have a quick facility for constructing meaning. Beneath the surface there is much intelligence, and above the surface there is much self-delusion
    6. We are much more influenced by barely perceptible background noise than we like to believe. Priming is the awakening of associations. Implanted ideas and images can automatically – unintentionally, effortlessly, and without awareness – prime how we interpret and recall events. Sometimes we intuitively feel what we do not know we know. The subliminal influence experiments further support the reality of unconscious information processing.
    7. Micro-thin slices often reveal much about people – everything evaluated as good or bad within a quarter of a second of seeing it. Intuitive first impressions can be telling, especially when feelings rather than reasons guide behavior. Gut-level feelings not only predict some behaviors better than analyzed feelings, but they can also better predict the judgments of experts. Sometimes it pays to listen to our hearts. Our automatic, implicit attitudes regarding someone or something often differ from our consciously controlled, explicit attitudes. Our likes and dislikes, our preferences and prejudices, are partly unconscious, partly conscious.
    8. Dual attitude system – often our gut guides our actions and then we rationalize them
    9. Emotional intelligence – the ability to perceive, express, understand, and manage emotions. Emotionally intelligent people are self-aware. They cope with life without letting their emotions get hijacked by dysfunctional depression, anxiety, or anger. In pursuit of long-term rewards, they can delay gratification rather than letting themselves be overtaken by impulses. Their empathy enables them to read others’ emotions and respond skillfully – knowing what to say to a grieving friend, when to encourage a colleague, how to manage conflicts. They are emotionally astute and thus often more successful in careers, marriages, and parenting than are those academically smarter but emotionally denser.
      1. Comprised of: emotion perception, emotion understanding, emotion regulation
    10. Bodies hold an enormous amount of wisdom – thanks to our neural shortcuts, our storehouse of emotional memories, and our conditioned likes and dislikes, our bodies accumulate and express our adaptive intuitions
    11. Social intuitions – mere exposure effect, spontaneous trait inference, moral intuition, contagious moods, unconscious mimicry smoothes social interaction, empathic accuracy, poor at detecting lies
    12. We have two minds – two ways of knowing, two kinds of memory, two levels of attitudes. One is above the surface, in our moment to moment awareness; the other is below, operating the autopilot that guides us through most of life. We see the work of those downstairs cognitive laborers in the social intuitions they slip into our awareness, and also in our developing expertise and creative inspirations. Through experience we gain practical intuition – subtle, complex, ineffable knowledge that aids our problem solving
      1. Nonconscious learning – what you know, but don’t know you know, affects you more than you know
      2. Learned expertise – experts’ knowledge is more organized than novices’
      3. Tacit knowledge – street smarts, practical intelligence, knows how (rather than knows that, explicit knowledge/expert)
      4. Physical genius
    1. 5 components of creativity – expertise, imaginative thinking skills, venturesome personality (can handle ambiguity, risk, persevere), intrinsic motivation, a creative environment (humans sharpen other humans)
      1. You have to really think about nothing but that problem – just concentrate on it. Then you stop. Afterwards there seems to be a kind of period of relaxation during which the subconscious appears to take over, and its during that time that some new insight comes
      2. You get your intuition back when you make space for it, when you stop the chattering of the rational mind
      3. It is by logic we prove but it is by intuition that we discover
    2. Heuristics – perceptual or mental cues that usually work well but occasionally trigger illusions or misperceptions
  3. The Perils
    1. Often we don’t know why we do what we do
    2. Misreading our own minds – Many of life’s big decisions require intuiting our future feelings. Often our intuition is on target but we often fail in predicting an emotion’s duration and intensity. The human treadmill – duration of feelings low as we adapt quickly. Nothing you focus on will make as big a difference as you think
    3. Mispredicting our own feelings / behavior / hindsight bias / self-serving bias / overconfidence- Humans are often bad at predicting our own future behavior – look to a person’s past for better accuracy. Beware illusory, blind spots, complacency. Humility/Realism. So, despite our impressive capacity for thinking without awareness, for social intuitions, and for intuitive expertise and creativity, our intuitions sometimes mislead us as to what we have experienced, how we have changed, what has influenced us, and what we will feel and do. There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self. Asking people to explain their past actions or to guess their future actions sometimes gives us wrong answers. By being mindful of the limits on our self-knowledge, we can restrain our gullibility and motivate ourselves to think critically, to check our own and others’ intuition against reality, and to replace illusion with understanding.
    4. Nothing is so difficult as not deceiving oneself – Ludwig Wittgenstein
    5. Memories are fallible – reconstruct them as we remove them from storage – current moods, views, emotions all paint the past
    6. At the center of our worlds, more pivotal for us than anything else, are we ourselves. Whatever we do, whatever we perceive, whatever we conceive, whomever we meet will be filtered through our self. When we think about something in relation to ourselves, we remember it better. Ergo, memories form around our primary interest: ourselves
    7. Illusory correlation – perceiving relationships where none exist (caused by desire to explain, even if no correlation)
    8. Belief perseverance – the more we examine our intuitions and beliefs and explain how they might be true, the more closed we become to challenging information. We never truly change our beliefs. However, the solution lies in explaining the opposite. Imagining and explaining why an opposite theory might be true – why a cautious rather than a risk-taking person might be a better firefighter – reduce or eliminates belief perseverance. To open people to a different idea, don’t just argue your point. Instead, get them to imagine why someone else might hold an opposite view. Indeed, mindful of our fallibility, perhaps we would all do well to recall Oliver Cromwell’s 1650 plea to the Church of Scotland: “I beseech ye in the bowels of Christ, consider that ye may be mistaken.”
  4. Sports Intuition
    1. Hot hands / streaks not as random as you think – expect them to happen
    2. Investment Intuition
    3. Loss aversion, endowment effect, sunk cost, anchoring, overconfidence (greatest for most unpredictable events), diversification, sustainability (surviving is the number one goal)
  5. Clinical Intuition
    1. Vulnerable to illusory correlations, hindsight biases, belief perseverance, self-confirming diagnoses
    2. Must monitor the predictive powers of your intuition. Beware the tendency to see associations you expect to see. Recognize the seductiveness of hindsight, which can lead you to feel overconfident (but sometimes also to judge yourself too harshly for not having foreseen and averted catastrophes). Recognize that theories, once formed, tend to persevere even if groundless. Guard against the tendency to ask questions that assume your ideas are correct; consider the ideas and test them, too. Better yet, harness the underappreciated power of statistical prediction. Actuarial science strengthens clinical judgment, or at least offers a second opinion. Actuarial science also helps protect practitioners from malpractice suits, which might otherwise allege that the clinician made aberrant decisions without attending to relevant research
    3. To sift true intuitions from false, sense from nonsense, requires a scientific attitude: being skeptical but not cynical, open but not gullible. By testing clinical intuition – discerning its wisdom and fallibility, and learning when to undergird it with actuarial science – a hard-headed process promises to pay kind-hearted dividends.
  6. Psychic Intuition
    1. A particular specified event or coincidence will is very unlikely; some astonishing unspecified events will occur is certain (which is why remarkable coincidences are noted in hindsight, not predicted in with foresight)
  7. Risk
    1. Perceived risk is not equal to actual risk. We exaggerate some and under play others – availability heuristic, lack of control, short-term effects
    2. Remedy – weigh the costs and benefits, communicate risk transparently, communicate risks as feelings
  8. Other
    1. The opposite of a great truth is also true
    2. How we perceive others reveals something of ourselves
    3. The secretary’s intuition on new hires is often on point
    4. Direct parental nurturing has surprisingly little effect on kids’ personalities and tastes
    5. Nature abhors a vacuum and human nature abhors chaos. Show us randomness and we will find order, pattern, clusters, and streaks. The tendency to impute order to ambiguous stimuli is simply built into the cognitive machinery we use to apprehend the world – illusory coherence, superstition, folly. Random sequences seldom look random, because they contain more streaks than people expect. We are descendants of skilled pattern-detectors. True to our legacy, we look for order, for meaningful patterns, even in random data.
    6. The irrepressibility of expressiveness is why, in seconds, we can typically gauge how outgoing someone is
    7. Interviews aren’t great predictors. Someone’s past track record is their best predictor. Structuring interviews with examples of past job relevant behaviors enhances its reliability and validity and, hence, its usefulness for prediction and decision making
    8. The underestimation of the power of the situation is one of the greatest lessons from social psychology (fundamental attribution error)
What I got out of it
  1. Fun book about how to build, harness, and take advantage of our intuition and when to be wary of it

The HeartMath Solution: The Heartmath Institute’s Revolutionary Program for Engaging the Power of the Heart’s Intelligence by Doc Lew Childre, Howard Martin, Donna Beech

Summary
  1. Our heart has an intelligence which impacts our physical/mental/emotional health more than most people realize. This book will teach you how to harness the power of the heart to potentially help you make better decisions, better control your emotions, increase personal productivity, slow down aging, enhance creativity, and many more positive benefits
Key Takeaways
  1. Why the heart and the HeartMath Solution?
    1. Our theory is that the heart links us to a higher intelligence through an intuitive domain where spirit and humanness merge. We can develop the perceptual capacity as we learn to do with stages and philosophers have asked us to do for ages simply listen to and follow the wisdom of the heart. Heart intelligence is truly emotional intelligence and we’ve concluded that intelligence and intuition are heightened when we learn to listen more deeply to our own heart
    2. Too often the relationship of our thoughts and emotions and how they effect physical change is ignored
    3. Health is a delicate balance of rhythm, while disease (“dis-ease”) results from dis-rhythm
    4. The heart is at the core of our body and at the core of how we think and feel. The solution is derived from realizing that the heart is both a physical object, a rhythmic organ, and love itself
    5. By practicing the HeartMath solution, you’ll be able to clearly see when you’re in stress. Then you can use Freeze-Frame to determine your best course of action. But even once you have intuitive clarity on what to do, you may still experience residues of uncomfortable or perplexing feelings. When those residues clog the system, you need to apply Cut-Thru, shifting your emotional state so that you’re not only thinking better but also feeling better. Both intelligence and intuition are heightened when we learn to listen more deeply to our own hearts
    6. Activating heart intelligence + managing the mind + managing the emotions = energy efficiency, increased coherence, enhanced awareness, and greater productivity.
    7. A primary goal of the HeartMath Solution is to increase coherence, bringing us to a state of optimal efficiency. Stress creates incoherence in our system, so increasing coherence necessitates reducing stress.
    8. The goal of HeartMath is to help you learn to generate emotional and mental coherence deliberately – on demand – so that ultimately you spend more of your day at this optimal, regenerative level of energy efficiency
  2. 10 key techniques and tools that govern the HeartMath solution
    1. Acknowledge your heart intelligence and its importance for making choices big and small
    2. Reduce stress and live more often in a state of coherence
    3. Learn and apply Freeze Frame which creates a balance between the two branches of the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic and parasympathetic
    4. Accumulate energy assets and decreased energy deficits
    5. Activate core heart feelings such as love compassion courage patients sincerity forgiveness appreciation care and more
    6. Manage your emotions
    7. Care but don’t overcare – when we care too much, it turns into anxiety, worry, insecurity
    8. Learn and apply Cut-Thru – a method to help you stop experiencing emotions that create incoherence and energy deficits
    9. Do heart Lock-Ins – amplifies the power of your heart. Quieting the mind and sustaining a solid connection with the heart – locking into its power – adds buoyancy and regenerative energy to your entire system. it also makes it easier to stay in contact with your heart intelligence and its intuitive messages amidst your daily activities
    10. Actualize what you know – applying all these tools to your daily life
  3. Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
    1. Our emotional states are reflected best in our heart rhythms, as seen in HRV measurements. HRV is defined as a measurement of beat-to-beat changes in the heart rate. Loss of variability is actually a sign of disease and a strong predictor of future health problems. In essence, HRV is a measure of the flexibility of our heart and nervous system, and as such reflects our health and fitness. It also allows us to listen in on and interpret ongoing, two-way conversations between our heart and our brain and is an important measurement to how well we’re balancing our lives mentally and emotionally. Disharmony in our heart rhythms leads to inefficiency and increased stress on the heart and other organs, while harmonious rhythms are more efficient and less stressful to the body’s systems. Our heart rhythms affect the brain’s ability to process information, make decisions, and solve problems, and experience and express creativity.
    2. Head is great at pattern recognition but it can easily get locked into set patterns. Getting locked into this closed mindset can often hurt us and cut off our creativity. The intelligence of the heart, on the other hand, processes information in a less linear, more intuitive and direct way. The heart isn’t only open to new possibilities, it actively scans for them, ever seeking new, intuitive understanding. The head “knows” but the heart “understands”
    3. The head often leads us into rationalizing and conceptualizing an issue instead of actualizing what the heart already knows and has communicated. When we react to life from the head without joining forces with the heart, our single-mindedness often leads us into childish, inelegant behavior that we’re ashamed of. If, on the other hand, we get the head in sync with the heart, we have the power of their teamwork on our side and can make the changes we know we ought to make
    4. The lower heart refers to those feelings that are colored by the attachments and conditions placed on them by the mind. Conditional love is a good example. The higher heart is more allowing. It doesn’t hedge or barter. Authenticity is its own reward for the higher heart. But it takes emotional maturity to manifest the heart’s qualities with consistency
    5. When we learn to manage our emotions long enough to stop and shift our attention to the quieter message of the heart, we can gain a wider perspective on any situation, often saving ourselves from hurt, frustration, and pain
  4. Entrainment
    1. The heart is the strongest biological oscillator in the human system and therefore, the rest of the body’s systems are pulled into entrainment with the hearty’s rhythms. The heart communicates with the rest of the body in three ways: neurologically (nerve impulses), biochemically (hormones and neurotransmitters), and biophysically (pressure waves). However, there may be a fourth way – energetically (through electromagnetic field interactions). The heart’s EMF is the most powerful produced by the body, it not only permeates every cell in the body but also radiates outside of us; it can be measured up to 8-10 feet away with sensitive detectors called magnetometers. It not only affects our own brains and bodies but can also be registered by the people around us. When your body is in entrainment, its major systems work in harmony. Your biological systems operate at higher efficiency because of that harmony, and as a result you think and feel better
    2. When we get the head in sync with the heart, the power of both works for us and we can make changes that we know we ought to make
    3. Can develop their ability to maintain entrainment by sustaining sincere, heart-focused states such as appreciation and love
  5. Freeze-Frame
    1. A technique to increase and improve the communication between your heart and mind while reducing stress. It is invaluable for managing thoughts to prevent the needless depletion of energy. Because this technique increases mental clarity, it will help you make sound decisions, even in what would formerly have been highly stressful situations
    2. It is important to monitor our inner thoughts and feelings. Some of it adds energy, while others deplete it. Understanding energy assets and deficits provides a key to accessing your heart intelligence. Core heart feelings such as appreciation, non-judgment, and forgiveness increase energy assets and eliminate many deficits.
    3. We can look at life as a high-speed movie. We get so caught up in the momentum of the story that we forge that it’s made up of individual moments. From one minute to the next, we having an astonishing range of thoughts, emotions, and experiences. So, Freeze-Frame enhances your power to stop your reaction to the move of life at any moment. It allows you to get a clearer perspective on what’s happening in a single frame and allows you to edit the next frame from a point of balance and understanding. It can be done anytime, anywhere, whenever you want to stop stress in its tracks and get quick intuitive access. Setting daily alarms and reminders can be helpful
    4. You must learn to entrain your biological systems to your heart. This allows in access to new information and a shift in perfection. By shifting focus toward your heart and away from whatever problem you face, you divert energy from your perception of the problem. When you consciously act from a point of heart balance, you connect more naturally with what real self – not your reactive self – wants to think or do. Listening to your heart isn’t hard, but attuning to its inner signals is different for everyone and often takes a little practice
    5. Don’t underestimate the power of neutral. The ability to find neutral, and stay put there until your heart shows you clearly what to do, is a sign of balance and maturity. The neutral state is a conduit for objectivity in the moment
    6. The 5-step process creates a harmonious relationship between the head and the heart
      1. Recognize the stressful feeling and Freeze-Frame it. Take a time out
      2. Make a sincere effort to shift your focus away from the racing mind or disturbed emotions to the area around your heart. Pretend you’re breathing through your heart to help focus your energy in this area. Keep your focus there for ten seconds or more
      3. Recall a positive, fun feeling or time you’ve had in life and try to experience it
      4. Now, using your intuition, common sense, and sincerity, ask your heart, what would be a more efficient response to the situation, one that would minimize future stress?
      5. Listen to what your heart says in answer to your question. It’s an effective way to put your reactive mind and emotions in check and an in-house source of common sense solutions
    7. When to practice
      1. At transition points (from home to work or work to home) so that you are fully present in the moment
      2. Before conversations
      3. Any time communication is going off-track
      4. At the beginning of the day – set the tone for positive activity, calibrate your system for a coherent day, clear mental and emotional cobwebs
      5. At the end of the day, to feel positive completion of the day and ensure a good night’s sleep
  6. Coherence
    1. The state that makes the difference between a book light and a laser beam. Inner coherence is a benchmark of intelligence and a cornerstone of effective living.
    2. When a system is coherent, virtually no energy is wasted, because all its components are operating in harmony. When every system in your body is aligned, your personal power is at its peak. Learning to cultivate that rewarding state of coherence enhances our ability to adapt, to flex, and to innovate. It allows us to rapidly get back to a feeling of balance and poise after stressful events and to improve communication, health, and overall well-being. A balanced heart and agile mind create access to innate intelligence and an enhanced capacity for greater internal coherence – the optimal state of being
    3. An age of rising complexity, speed, distractions is taking away from our ability to be in coherence so, those who are able to, have a greater advantage than ever before. New research has found that what creates more stress for people than any other is having to shift concepts, intentions, and focus to too many different tasks, many times an hour.
    4. Lack of coherence affects our vision, listening ability, reaction time, mental clarity, feeling states, and sensitivity.
    5. It’s a vicious cycle: stress destroys coherence, and incoherence causes stress. Chronic stress is one of the most prevalent and dangerous situations today and affects every part of our health and psyche. The brain doesn’t know between real threat and perceived threat so the physical and emotional reaction is the same. Indulging anger is harmful in more ways than one. So, if we can’t express it or repress it, what do we do? The answer is to recognize the anger but choose to respond to the situation differently.
    6. The solution to stress management lies in how we perceive the stressors in our lives. It’s not really the events that cause stress; it’s how we perceive those events. Improving the communication between the heart and brain helps one achieve coherence. By paying attention to our perceptions and reactions, we can eliminate the chronic stress that seeps through our bodies like a slow poison. Learning how to alter our standard stress reactions by perceiving life’s events from a place of intuition, balance, poise, and flexibility require a major shift – through a shift from head to heart
    7. Heart + Head = Coherence
      1. The brain is not the sole source of intelligence. We can realize that it’s a  remarkable partner to the heart, not its master
  7. Energy efficiency
    1. Mental and emotional diets determine our overall energy levels, health, and well-being to a far greater extent than most people realize. Every thought, feeling, no matter how big or small, impacts our inner energy reserves
    2. Life is an energy economy game. Each day ask yourself, “Are my energy expenditures (actions, reactions, thoughts, and feelings) productive or nonproductive? During the course of my day, have I accumulated more stress or more peace?
    3. Keeping an asset/deficit sheet for a few days will give you a clear picture of your energy account
    4. Consciously evoking core heart feelings nourishes our bodies at every level
    5. Learning to “just say no” to emotional reactions isn’t repression. Saying no means not engaging the frustration, anger, judgement, or blame. Without engagement, you won’t have anything to repress
    6. By using your heart as a compass, you can see more clearly which direction to go to stop self-defeating behavior. If you take just one mental or emotional habit that really bothers or drains you and apply heart intelligence to it, you’ll see a noticeable difference in your life
  8. Power Tools of the Heart
    1. Sincerity is the generator that brings core heart feelings such as appreciation and forgiveness into coherence and gives them power. By coming into coherence, we learn to take our emotions from a light bulb to a laser beam, applying them with focused intention and consistency. Sincerity is essential, it motivates our heart and aligns our true intentions.
    2. Power Tool 1: Appreciation
      1. Appreciation is a blend of thankfulness, admiration, approval, and gratitude
      2. It is magnetic and highly energizing, helping to bring you into coherence and entrainment
      3. Opening your heart is like putting a wide-angle lens on the camera of your perception. Suddenly, more of the world comes into view
    3. Power Tool 2: Non-judgment
      1. Judgments create stress and incoherence, and these limit the full range of our intelligence. Yet we’re socially conditioned to judge
      2. One of the most important things to note about the downside of judgment is that the person judging is the one who’s hurt the most
      3. Making a mistake and then judging yourself harshly is simply adding fuel to the fire
      4. The heart can give you the awareness needed to become more neutral, letting things unfold. That’s what non-judgment is all about. It allows you to be aware of your opinions but always be open to new thoughts, actions, ideas, people, etc.
      5. When you find yourself in strong judgment, use the Freeze-Frame technique to get neutral and find a more balanced, intuitive perspective
    4. Power Tool 3: Forgiveness
      1. You don’t forgive others for their sake, but for yours. Forgiveness is simply the most energy-efficient option you face, and the only one that will foster health and well-being
      2. The incoherence that results from holding on to resentments and unforgiving attitudes keeps you from being aligned with your true self and blocks you from your next level of quality life experience
      3. Forgiving yourself is often the hardest part but also the most important. Compromised forgiveness means that somehow the effort was incomplete. That lack of completion can mean the difference between a breakthrough into a completely new and different life experience and the same old patterns repeating themselves.
    5. Fulfillment is based on two elements: awareness and performance. Self-development comes from the increased awareness of where you are right now and learning what is needed in order to grow. And self-expression is how you perform, what you do about it
  9. Management of emotions
    1. Emotion = energy in motion. It’s the feeling sensation and physiological reaction that make a specific emotion positive or negative, and it’s our thoughts about it that give it meaning.
    2. Emotional energy works at a higher speed than the speed of thought because your feeling world operates at a higher level than your mind. We evaluate everything emotionally as we perceive it. We think about it afterwards
    3. Heart coherence helps balance our emotional state. It aligns head and heart to facilitate higher brain function, which appears to create a direct link to intuition or super-high-speed intelligence. Intuition bypasses mental analysis and gives us direct perception independent of any reasoning process. Intuition gives us clarity on how to direct and manage our feelings before we invest emotional energy into them
    4. Emotions in themselves aren’t really intelligent but have an organizing intelligence behind them. How we organize our thoughts and emotions and what we do with them reflect our intelligence. When we let our unmanaged thoughts dictate how we respond emotionally, we’re asking for trouble
    5. A benchmark of new emotional management lies in realizing that our past can no longer be blamed for our actions in the present
    6. Biochemistry affects our emotional responses, but our emotions affect our biochemistry in turn as well. Biochemicals are actually the physiological correlates of emotions
    7. Emotional intelligence implies the ability to self-regulate our moods, control our impulses, delay gratification, persist despite frustration, and motivate ourselves. When we’re equipped with these strengths, the twists and turns of life don’t get us down. We roll with them
    8. There are two major mind-sets that quickly compromise efforts at emotional management: justification and principle. These mind-sets trap your emotional energy in hurt, blame, fear, disappointment, betrayal, regret, remorse, and/or guilt, which create cumulative drain and deficits in your system. Any rationalization of deficit emotions traps our emotional energy in hurt, blame, fear, disappointment, betrayal, regret, remorse, or guilt
    9. Taking the significance out of issues and events is second nature to adults dealing with kids but we don’t tend to offer that same help to ourselves. The problem is that when we ignore one deficit emotion and refuse to take the significance out even after we’re aware of it, the emotional depletion builds, undermining our progress in other areas
    10. One of the main keys to emotional management is learning to quickly arrest a draining or deficit emotion and generate an attitude shift from a place of deep heart maturity. To reclaim the energy out of a deficit emotion, we have to take out the significance we’ve assigned to it. To take the significance out, we first make an effort to back off; then the heart can open up.
    11. Emotions liquefied become flow, and mind aligned with heart becomes intuition
  10. Care and Overcare
    1. Care is a powerful motivator. It inspires and gently reassures us. Care feels good – whether we’re giving it or receiving it. Care provides a conduit for your spirit’s expression in the midst of human existence. The more you truly care, the more you’ll come to know of yourself and others
    2. When we cross the line into overcare, our original caring is tainted by stress. It then becomes self-defeating, because it compromises our available energy to perform
    3. Perfectionism, over-attachment, projection of thoughts/mental images about the future, worry, anxiety, insecurity, expectations, comparisons are all manifestations of overcare
    4. Signals from the heart let you know when your care has become overcare, if you’re willing to listen. Every time you eliminate an overcare, the relief is tremendous, and you store away power that makes fighting overcare easier the next time
  11. Cut-Thru
    1. The purpose of Cut-Thru is to help people recognize and reprogram the subconscious emotional memory paths that, through long-term reinforcement, influence our perception, color our day-to-day thoughts and feelings, and condition our responses to future situations. Cut-Thru is for more deeply ingrained emotional issues than Freeze-Frame can help you resolve
    2. Cut-Thru facilitates emotional coherence and allows you to transform emotions you don’t want into new, regenerative feelings. And it does so without resorting to rationalization or repression
    3. Use Cut-Thru to shift out of emotions that are draining your energy, regain emotional balance, and eliminate long-standing emotional issues
    4. Managing emotions with Cut-Thru requires that you first recognize how you’re feeling. Breathing through the heart and solar plexus helps you anchor your emotions. Assuming objectivity leads to emotional maturity
    5. Cut-Thru helps you build your self-motivation, emotional capabilities, empathy, and you’ll begin to move through life at the most efficient speed possible – the speed of balance
    6. The 6 Steps of Cut-Thru
      1. Be aware of how you feel about the issue at hand
      2. Focus on the heart and solar plexus – breathe love and appreciation through this area for ten seconds or more to help anchor your attention there
      3. Assume objectivity about the feeling or issue – as if it were someone else’s problem
      4. Rest in neutral – in your rational, mature heart
      5. Soak and relax any disturbed or perplexing feelings in the compassion of the heart, dissolving the significance a little at a time. Take your time doing this step; there’s no time limit. Remember, it’s not the problem that causes energy drain as much as the significance you assign the problem
      6. After extracting as much significance as you can, from your deep heart sincerely ask for appropriate guidance or insight. If you don’t get an answer, find something to appreciate for a while. Appreciation of anything often facilitates intuitive clarity on issues you’ve been working on
  12. Heart Lock-In
    1. This technique helps you discover that you have your own internal source of regeneration. Quieting the mind and sustaining a solid connection with the heart – locking into its power – adds buoyancy and regenerative energy to your entire system. The more your core heart feelings come into play, the more you realize how much can be gained from a loving, open-hearted perspective. It helps with coherence, entrainment, improves immune functions, helping with mental, physical, and emotional health
  13. HeartMath in school and at home
    1. Heart Lock-In can be done with your children at the start of family time, quality time, or before dinner or bed
    2. Having kids do Freeze-Frame or Cut-Thru helps them calm emotions, better communicate, gain mental clarity, gain wider perspective and better understand what they’re feeling and why. Fostering emotional management from the heart may be one of the greatest gifts you can give children
    3. When emotions run high at school or during sports, performing these same techniques will have similar positive effects
What I got out of it
  1. Some really helpful tips and shows the power of coherence, HRV, entrainment, breathing properly, the power of neutrality. A physical, minimum effective dose to get many (not nearly all!) of the benefits associated with meditation.

Acres of Diamonds by Russell Conwell

Summary
  1. Change is never “out there”, it can start where you are, right where you are
Key Takeaways
  1. Most of us look for success anywhere and everywhere except right where we stand, and yet that’s where success can be found. It makes not so much difference where you are as who you are.
  2. To make money honestly is to preach the gospel. 98 out of 100 of the richest Americans are rich because they are honest. That is why they care on great enterprises and find plenty of people to work with them. It is because they are honest men
  3. Money is power and you ought to be reasonably ambitious to have it. You ought because you can do more good with it than you could without it.
  4. Love is the grandest thing on God’s earth, but fortunate the lover who has plenty of money.
  5. A man can judge very well what he is worth by what he receives
  6. The difficulty was that I had not learned then that the foundation of godliness and the foundation principle of success in business are both the same precisely. Treat others as you would be treated, do this kindness and you shall receive rewards yourself which it will be your duty to take
  7. The man who has gone through life dividing always with his fellow men, making and demanding his own rights and his own profits, and giving it to every other man his rights and profits, lives every day, and not only that, but it is the royal road to great wealth
  8. The moment a young man or woman gets more money than he or she has grown to by practical experience, that moment he has gotten a curse. Don’t regard an inheritance as a help. There is no class of people to be pitied so much as the inexperienced sons and daughters of the rich of our generation. I pity the rich man’s son. He can never know the best things in life. One of the best things in our life is when a young man has earned his own living, and when he becomes engaged to some lovely young woman, and makes up his mind to have a home of his own. Then with that love comes also that divine inspiration toward better things, and he begins to save his money. He begins to leave off his bad habits and put money in the bank.
  9. The discipline of a poor boy is worth more than a university education to any man. Just ask Vanderbilt’s son who took a $3/week job after he learned his father earned his fortune all by himself and wouldn’t take any of his father’s money
  10. Known demand. That one thing is the secret of success. You must first know the demand. You must first know what people need, and then invest yourself where you are most needed. When you know what people need you have gotten more knowledge of a fortune than any amount of capital can give you
  11. True greatness is often unrecognized
  12. Lincoln’s rule was this: whatsoever he had to do at all, he put his whole mind into it and held it and held it all there until that was all done. That makes men great almost anywhere
  13. Greatness consists not in the holding of some future office, but really consists in doing great deeds with little means and the accomplishment of vast purposes from the private ranks of life. To be great at all, one must be great here, now.
What I got out of it
  1. Every minute of every day allows us an opportunity to change, to take advantage of an opportunity. Known demand is a key rule in business

The Early Days of WL Gore and Associates by Bob Gore

Summary
  1. Bob Gore, son of founder Bill Gore, recounts the early days at WL Gore and what has made the company sustainable and successful
Key Takeaways
  1. Bill Gore was very enthusiastic and did not have a lot of patience for bureaucracy. He was an entrepreneur from a young age and loved to improvise, move quickly and always emphasized product development. He always was experimenting and he got the family involved by trying out new products or materials with them. He was always looking for the practical potential in new materials.
  2. Always believed in the idea of “value pricing” – price products for what they are worth, not what they cost to manufacture
  3. From DuPont he learned and enjoyed the task force approach and the fact that a group of people can come together without titles without a formal hierarchical position.
    1. People just just get the job done as well as working harder and more enthusiastically then when they were in their usual 9-to-5 jobs. This eventually led to the lattice business structure as opposed to the typical pyramid structure. He became wary of corporate structures and believed that standard accounting tended to make bad business decisions
  4. Another chemist at DuPont had a machine shop and Bill was jealous of that. He was not able to just go ahead and make what he needed to make and use it but had to fill in a request for shop work and would be processed according to its place in the queue. That kind of obstacle destroys momentum and destroys enthusiasm which is why Bill set up a shop in his own basement so that he could experiment and follow his passion
  5. My advice to the man who contemplated an individual enterprise is to carefully consider if he has a dream of compelling importance and to follow his dream
  6. Mother served as moral support and encouragement. Never complaining and keeping everyone happy
  7. The emphasis was always on building our own machinery rather than purchasing it
  8. The large order that forced us into a new facility finally came in the summer of 1960. It was for an application that was totally unforeseen and was never to be duplicated
  9. Our staff is unusual in that each member knows he is closely identified with the success of the enterprise. It is the realization of this that is unusual. This realization has been brought about by a carefully considered program Carried out by the officers, managers, and supervisors. Important in this program is the profit sharing policy established by the Board of Directors. In this plan a sum is appropriated by the Board from profits and distributed amongst all employers in proportion to their gross pay for the period. Neither the period nor the sum is specified in the plan, but the principle of rewards in proportion to contribution has been established. Profit sharing by employees amounted to about 5% of gross pay over the past fiscal year. Our pay scales are minimum and all employees look to profit sharing as an important source of future income. Your management believes that the success of our business rests inescapably on the competence, diligence and loyalty of our people. This is the resource that sets both the limitations and potentials of the enterprise.
  10. Hosted open houses to show visitors their new buildings and products
  11. Action was prized. Gores attitude is to encourage any idea that could be tried relatively quickly and inexpensively which did not have a downside
  12. There was considerable informality and this lead to enhanced communication. We tried hard to fit the organization around an individuals capabilities and needs rather than remake the individual to a predetermined slot in a predetermined organizational concept.
  13. 5-year service anniversary pins have been handed out since the early days
  14. Every associate learned to exercise extreme control over intellectual property and pricing. Manufacturing operations were off limits to visitors and pricing was a very serious area where Bill exercised personal control insofar as he was able. He developed a value pricing model where he would price products for what they were worth in the marketplace not what they cost to manufacture
  15. An early vision of Bill’s was that the enterprise would last far beyond his life. He set up a trust which he transferred a significant portion of his shares so that there would be no ruinous estate taxes upon his and his wife’s death
  16. Established a big office in Flagstaff, AZ, far away from customers, source of raw materials and eastern support. However, it was along the Route 66 and a railroad went through it, making LA just an overnight trip away. They didn’t like LA because of the environment – too much traffic, high taxes, and people continually switched jobs. They sensed there was no permanence and little loyalty of the workforce to a company or a community
  17. There was fear of unionization at one point but after a head of a union took a tour through the plant, he determined that they would not have any trouble with unionization. It was the cleanliness, the good order, the pictures of people’s kids on the machines – the whole atmosphere showed the community and loyalty fostered at Gore. Culture is not all written in words, nor is it all spoken in words, but it is also expressed by our facilities, by a walk through the plant.
  18. Troubles with counterparties often stem from a lack of alignment, enthusiasm, and trust
  19. The biggest benefit of thinking in leaps and not incrementally is that it’ll throw off tons of other ideas that you otherwise never would have had
  20. In the immediate aftermath of our founding back in 1958 our sales organization has been established as a collection of independent third-party sales companies who represented us, each with an exclusive sales territory. The use of independent sales companies have been a financial necessity in the early start up days. This was away for Gore to be sure it’s flow of cash was in balance at all times since we paid the independent sales representatives only one there was income from the sales they had made. To keep their cash flow and balance the sales representative Natalie took the opposite point of view. They only wanted to concentrate on producing near term sales to earn near term commissions. They were reluctant to finance long-term, time consuming, and risky sales development efforts in hopes of earning sales commissions I would pay off only far in the future. Unfortunately, many of our products requires long term efforts and this had to be us and so over a period of years, we replaced independent sales representative companies with full time Gore people
  21. Gore dreamed of an enterprise with great opportunity for all who would join in it, a virile organization that would foster self-fulfillment and which would multiply the capabilities of the individuals comprising it beyond their mere sum
  22. Bill Gore was more interested in the organizational and philosophical portions of the company and his son, Bob, was more product oriented
What I got out of it
  1. Passion, hard work, genuine interest, caring, and a win-win mindset has helped make Gore a durable and successful company
More links and info on Gore:

Human Universals by Donald Brown

The book and concepts were rich enough that I did a bit more of an in-depth write up…

On Human Universals

Link to further reading and universals

Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams by Matthew Walker

Summary
  1. An incredible in depth look at sleep, the research behind it, and its vast array of benefits – mentally, emotionally, physically
Key Takeaways
  1. 12 Healthy sleep habits tips
    1. Keep a consistent sleep schedule – setting an alarm an hour before bedtime to know when to start winding down is often helpful
      1. A consistent bed time and wake time is really important. You would think that if you normally sleep 8 hours and cut off 2 hours in the morning, that you’re losing 25%, right? Nope – because of sleep cycles and their timing, you could be losing around 60-90% of vital REM sleep
    2. Get 30 minutes of exercise per day but not 2-3 hours before bed
    3. Avoid big dinners and drinking too many liquids before sleep
    4. Avoid alcohol before sleep
    5. Avoid caffeine and nicotine
    6. Avoid medicines which delay or disrupt your sleep
    7. Relax for at least 30 minutes without too many lights or stimulation for at least a half hour before bed
    8. Take a hot bath before bed as this helps your core body temperature drop letting you fall sleep faster and get deeper sleep
    9. Don’t take naps after 3 PM
      1. A long night sleep with a 30 to 60 minute nap in the afternoon seems to be the ideal scenario that our ancestors formed and that we should try to follow if possible
    10. Have a dark, cold (between 65 and 68°F) and technology free bedroom
    11. Get enough sunlight at the right times – try to get at least half an hour out of direct sunlight a day and emphasize it in the morning and try to avoid it as much as possible in the evenings with sunglasses and by staying inside
    12. Don’t lie in bed awake – if you’re having trouble falling asleep or feel anxious get out of bed and do something relaxing but don’t just lie there
  2. 2/3 of adults don’t get enough sleep and this has horrible physical, mental and emotional health detriments.  It is one of the four core human drives along with needing to eat, drink, and reproduce and it is found across the entire animal kingdom. Although this would lead us to believe it is extremely important, sleep has been neglected for a long time and most people put it off and take the point of view that they’ll sleep when they’re dead and this will only get them there that much quicker
  3. There appears to be no major organ or physical or emotional function which does not benefit from deep sleep and which does not get harmed by lack of sleep. It helps with memory, learning, making rational decisions, being emotionally stable, helping us maintain weight, boosting our immune system, consolidating memories, giving the brain a “virtual reality” space to play out ideas and memories and put them into long-term storage. Sleep helps consolidate memories and put them into long-term storage but by also thinking about which memories you want to save before you go to bed you could increase their clarity even further
  4. Melatonin is the night time hormone which gets released to tell the body to start preparing for sleep. Sleep pressure is caused by adenosine and it is the second portion of why we get sleepy but caffeine and other stimulants block it which is why they help us feel more awake
  5. The suprachiasmatic nucleus controls the circadian rhythms of our bodies which in turn controls hormones, appetite, when we want to sleep, body temperature and much more
  6. It is a genetic predisposition and not a choice whether we are morning or late night people
  7. 3 easy questions to determine if you’re sleep deprived: Do you wake up without an alarm? Could you fall asleep by 11am? Could you function at a high level without caffeine?
  8. Caffeine has a longer half life than most people realize: a cup at lunch could still be affecting you by bedtime so that you don’t get as deep of a sleep as you otherwise would
  9. Sleep is Mother Nature’s best attempt at contra-death
  10. There is no replacement for proper sleep – not caffeine, not willpower, not brief naps, nothing
  11. Sleep is a unifying feature of the animal kingdom found across all birds and mammals although the time and specifics change quite dramatically
  12. The author argues that REM sleep is one of the most important things that has shaped us evolutionarily and helps us with our complex socio-cultural and emotional signals that we have to deal with as being part of a complex society.  And, equally as important, REM sleep seems to help with creativity and these two factors help to humans get on top of the world hierarchy extremely quickly
  13. Sleep not only helps consolidate memories but also helps incorporate skills such as music, sports, movement, and other things. Pianists often find that after practicing for a day that they can wake up the next morning play the new tune perfectly
  14. 10 consecutive days of seven hours of sleep impairs you as much as going a full day without sleep
  15. The brain cannot accurately assess how sleep deprived it is when it is sleep deprived
  16. REM sleep and dreaming are necessary for emotional healing to take place after difficult or traumatic events
  17. When lacking sleep, we revert to a more primordial reactive state where we don’t consider the broad picture, the true context, or the people we are dealing with and it is partially responsible for when you just “snap”
  18. Lack of dreaming distorts your ability to recognize faces and facial patterns confusing friendly gestures for menacing ones and making you more jumpy and aggressive
  19. Dreaming helps you problem solve and become more creative and some people have tried to control this aspect through lucid dreaming to help them in their work, lives, or business (and sometimes successfully so!).
  20. It is sleep and dreaming which helps you connect disparately connected facts, it is the difference between knowledge and wisdom
  21. Snooze buttons are terrible for our health as they jolt us out of sleep not once like an alarm does but several different times
  22. Teenagers’ circadian rhythm‘s are shifted later in the day and there has been great success with schools who experimented with later start times. Teenagers starting at 8 AM would be similar to most adults having to get up and get ready at around 3 AM. There are many pragmatic reasons why this is difficult to do but the it has shown that by shifting start times later there is a 70% reduction in teen traffic mortality rates.
  23. Another side-effect of lacking sleep may be ADHD. Young kids who are sleep deprived show many similar symptoms which are associated with ADHD and may be part of the reason why this diagnosis has become so much more common in modern times. Many students aren’t actually hyper active but merely lacking sleep
  24. For businesses he recommends setting up some sort of incentive system to get people to sleep more. He recommends using a sleep credit system where total hours of sleep and sleep continuity are measured in the rewards are either financial or extra time off and vacations
What I got out of it
  1. Incredible data backing up and reinforcing how important sleep is. The 12 sleep tips alone made this worthwhile

I Love Capitalism: An American Story by Ken Langone

Summary
  1. This is Ken Langone’s love song to capitalism. Everyone can and should dream big – it works for anybody. “You want my whole philosophy in a nutshell? I want everybody to do well. The world is a lot more fun if we’re all rich instead of just some of us.”
Key Takeaways
  1. Background
      1. A parents’ main job: unconditional love, live the values you want to teach, stress hard work and education
      2. Ken came from humble beginnings but was taught the value of hard work from a young age and is proof of the American dream
      3. Always ravenous about learning – libraries on Saturdays when others were partying
      4. Out of army in 1963 which later saw a huge market crash. Counterintuitive at the time but he saw this as his opportunity to get his feet in the door at Wall St.
    1. Business lessons
    1. Loving what you do is one of the greatest joys in life. I learned early how essential it was to love the work I was doing. Sometimes I look back and wonder, how did all this happen? Then the answer comes. Shit, I know how it happened: I was at a place where I was having the time of my life! I still remember what Hudson Whitenight said to me 60 years ago: “If you really love your work as much as I think you’re going to, you’re going to be a big success. So, I’m saying to a kid, I learned that ex post facto; you should learn it in front!
    2. Great salesmen
      1. “How do you know I can be a great salesman?” I asked. “I can tell,” he said. “You listen. You’re sensitive to the person you’re talking to. You’ll know when to go in for the kill and when to back off. That’s something most salesmen don’t do – can’t do. They want to just charge, charge, charge in, and they wind up pissing everybody off.”
      2. My research background from the Equitable, plus the fact that I was teaching at NYU, put me a few cuts ahead of the typical salesman, because I could talk quite knowledgeably about what I was selling
    3. You have only one boss – the customer. You treat them right and you have nothing to worry about.
    4. Start with the negatives, the downside. Build trust, show honesty and that you’ve truly done the hard work
    5. “Think I can help you guys. But, first, tell me what your definition of ‘help’ is.” – have to agree on definitions and what you’re working towards or else you could be talking in circles
    6. Some guys who get to be wealthy like to brag about being self-made men. I can’t imagine they’re not leaving somebody out of that equation. The thing I can’t say and never will say is that I’m self-made. To make that claim would be to commit a grave sin against all the many, many people who helped me get to where I am; you could fill Yankee Stadium with them, and then some. That’s how I got rich. Not by myself: I’m just one guy. I like to think I have a skill for assembling outstanding people, but the fact is also that I’m a collage of many people’s efforts.
    7. Knowing what’s important is half the game. Told he only had 30 minutes with Perot when trying to convince him to use his firm for EDS’ IPO but Perot talked for 29 of those minutes so Ken said he should just leave and talk to him some other time. Perot told him to stay and wanted to get Ken’s honest opinion on what other banks were offering. Ken was honest and told him what Perot needed to know, not what he wanted to know, and they ended up talking for 13 hours and built a relationship, leading to Langone’s firms first IPO
    8. Always under promise and over deliver
    9. Customers much more likely to buy if they feel they have choices
    10. In your business, when people don’t want something you mark it down. In my business, we mark it up (difference between retail and banking)
    11. Always take on the difficult, not the impossible
    12. Never underestimate the power of a great product
    13. What a tech company needs to do during the precious period when it has product exclusivity is spend a lot of money to obsolete itself. That’s what IBM used to be the best at, but it lost its way through sheer arrogance.
    14. Nardelli (former GE exec who they hired to become the CEO of The Home Depot), was vengeful, closed minded, short-sighted, totally numbers based, not win/win, always felt like he was getting ripped off, him vs. the world, and all this pitted him against Ken and the rest of The Home Depot board.
    15. Frank Blake (chairman and CEO of Home Depot) not only has a superb intellect; he’s the best listener I’ve ever met, hands down. If he’s talking with a group of people and someone says something interesting, Frank will stop speaking immediately and give the floor to that person. He has the greatest quantity of humility I’ve ever seen in a man. I don’t need to tell you how rare that is in a CEO. When we first negotiated his salary, he had 3 stipulations: 1) he didn’t want his compensation to be such that it would be on the front page of the Wall Street Journal; 2) he didn’t want it to be an embarrassment to Home Depot sales associates – the kind of thing customers might bring up in a critical way; 3) he wanted 90% of his pay to be in stock. “When the shareholders win, I win” he said. Talk about having skin in the game.
  1. Negotiating and a Win-Win Mindset
  1. Early in his career, Langone approached his boss about changing incentives. “Mr. Brown, I want to do something, and I’d like you to agree to it. I want to allocate a certain percentage of those commissions to the R&D department for the analysts who helped bring in this business. Mr. Brown, these guys downstairs are great; I don’t think you understand the quality of talent you’ve got down there. They’re a lot better than alright. Maybe it’s how we use them that’s not all right. But I can tell you right now, I can take these guys anyplace and do a lot of business. Rather than giving them a bonus from my end, I have another idea. Let’s you and I pick a total dollar amount off the top of whatever I bring in from Standard-Jersey, or any other company going forward, for analyst bonuses. Now, you’re going to only have to pay 70% of it because I’m going to pay 30%. I’ll tell you which analysts are higher on the approval list at Standard-New Jersey, and you can decide how much you want to allocate to each analyst. It’s completely fair. He didn’t like that so I said, “I’m going to take a portion of Unit 15’s 30% and give it to them directly. It’ll cost you nothing.” Why would you do that? he asked. “Because, Mr. Brown, when I pick up the phone and call the research department, I want those guys to jump through the phone. I want these guys to keep doing as great a job as they’ve been doing, and I want them to be excited about it…
  2. Capitalism is brutal, but it’s rarely a zero-sum game. Both sides of any transaction should get something out of the deal. Valeant, the pharmaceutical company, had a whole roster of important medications, but when it got caught charging obscene prices for them, its stock went down 90%. The market spoke, and Valeant had to listen. I can’t think of one deal I’ve ever done where I couldn’t have gotten more out of it than I did. As I’ve made clear, I like making money. I’m not some Buddhist monk who wants to eat beans the rest of his life. But it’s amazing what you can accomplish when you look beyond sheer profit to getting buy in by other people. I’d rather own 10% of a billion-dollar company than 100% of a $100m company. The numbers are exactly the same but by owning a piece of the billion dollar company, I get the benefit of everybody else pulling with me, and that’s a huge benefit
  3. One of the most important lessons in my life is this; leave more on the table for the other guy than he thinks he should get. And one of the most important rules in capitalism is incentive. I didn’t get rich by accident. I’ve always been very conscious of terms and conditions and trading, and I bargain back and forth. But I never wanted to reach a point on a deal where the other guy feels he was had. I’d rather have him feel he got me than I got him. I can live with that. If the other guy does better than I do, there’s a good chance he’ll want to come back to me and make a number of deals. On the other hand, he has to be straight with me
  4. The human element
  1. Ignore the human element in any situation at your own peril
  2. Everybody talks about the bottom line, but as I’ve seen time and again, you ignore the human element of business at your peril. Most of the seven deadly sins can and do come into play, and chemistry between people – good chemistry or bad – always has an effect, sometimes a huge effect: in boardrooms, in executive offices, in sales meetings. I’ve had quite a few chemistry lessons over the years.
  3. The only problem was that Home Depot’s great strength was (and still is) its culture, and our culture isn’t about statistics. In our culture, you don’t measure the intangible value of a sales associate saying to a customer, “Can I help you?” or, “You don’t really need that. Come over here and look at this. It doesn’t cost as much, but you’ll be fine with it.” A customer was told to buy an 89 cent screw rather than replacing his whole sink for $200. A couple months later, the guy’s wife wants a new kitchen, and she wants to go to some foo-foo kitchen showroom place. The husband says, “Oh no, I want to go see my friends at the Home Depot.” They spent $100,000 on the job. There’s nothing like these people in our stores. They’re special. Now, how do you get special people? Well, you start by treating them special. You let them know they matter. You let them know you appreciate their opinion. You let them know if they think there’s a better way of doing things than the way they’re doing them, they have an obligation to tell us, and we have an obligation to listen. You also let them know that anybody can build a big store space and put all kinds of inventory in it; the glue that holds Home Depot together are these values. We don’t just say them. We believe them, and we practice them consistently
  4. Management teams that rack up great numbers but ignore the human equation will eventually have a problem on their hands. In business, good numbers can be like sunlight: blindingly bright.
  5. Arrogance is the enemy. For many years, Bernie Marcus and I never, ever went into a Home Depot store – never once – unless we were pushing carts in from the parking lot. I sued to pray I would see a piece of trash on the floor so I could pick it up. Why? Those are entry-level tasks for the kid who works in that store. When he sees the top guys doing them, he can say to himself, “If it’s not too small for them, it’s not too small for me.” The minute you take away all the artificial barriers between you and your people, you’re on your way to phenomenal success. But it takes a bit of humility. To this day, if I walk into a Home Depot and see a customer who looks lost and confused, I walk up to him and say, “I have something to do with this company; can I help you?” if he has a question that’s beyond me, I’ll go grab a kid and say, “can you help this customer?”
  6. We’ve never paid anyone minimum wage at Home Depot. We had a simple belief: minimum wage, minimum talent. We always wanted to have good kids who wanted careers and not feel they had to compromise their pay. We paid them two or three bucks an hour more than minimum. We reviewed them every six months. And from the beginning we were growing like a weed, so we created enormous upside mobility.
  7. If there’s anything I would take a bow for throughout this whole process, it would be this: never giving up, and thinking creatively, instead of just reactively, when the chips were down. It’s a style I recommend highly. You get to enjoy lemonade instead of the lemons God gives you, and chicken salad instead of the much less tasty alternative
  8. As I began my tenure at Home Depot, my first role was just to lift morale. It was a big lift. I decided to do some of the same things we did at Home Depot: hold town meetings, walk the halls, talk to the staff. Put my arm around people’s shoulders, tell them how much we appreciated them and what we were going to do for them – and deliver. In other words, don’t promise pie in the sky unless you’ve got the recipe to make it
  9. No grand plans
  1. You noticed I originally named my little-startup Invemed because I was so fascinated by the health-care field, and how here I was, in 1976, up to my ass in the home-improvement business. And happy to be there. Contradictory? Sure! Life is full of left turns, and I’ve taken quite a few of them, following my nose, which has very often pointed me in the right direction. The truth is I can’t help myself: I am a deal junkie. If the phone rings, I’m like the proverbial fire-house dog – off to the races. Who knows who might be calling? More often than not, it’s someone who has a very interesting business proposition. Doesn’t matter what kind of business it is.
  2. Life Lessons
  1. It wasn’t just wealth itself that put me in that position; a lot of it was sheer stubborn curiosity. Whenever I served on a corporate board, I was notorious for asking more questions than any other director on that board. I didn’t give a shit if my question showed how stupid I was. A lot of people are scared to ask questions because they don’t want people to know how dumb they are. I’ve never had that problem. A lot of people are also afraid of falling down and hurting themselves along the way. Capitalism works, but you’ve got to make the effort, and you’ve got to be able to take the lumps. You have to have the kind of stamina that, when you get knocked down, allows you to pick yourself up and brush yourself off and move on just as if you’d never been knocked down. When I almost went broke in 1970, when I fell almost overnight from the highest mountain to the lowest valley, when I’d go home every day at 4:00pm and weed the garden and cry, I managed to go on afterward
  2. Don’t be in awe of anyone – public and private personas differ greatly
  3. Nothing more important than the name I leave my kids
  4. The big picture depends on a lot of smaller pictures.
  5. Never count the money while the game is still going
  6. Too many people measure success the wrong way. Money should be at the bottom of the list, not the top. I woke up soon enough to realize that if the only way you can define my life is by the size of my bank account, then I’ve failed. Fifteen or twenty years ago, a guy asked me how much I was worth and I answered without thinking, “my net worth is what good I do with what I have.”
  7. What distinguishes the winners from the losers is the ability to turn adversity around: resilience and creativity.
  8. The beautiful thing is that as much as we give, it keeps coming back: we’ve made back all the money we’ve given away, and more. What Elaine and I can’t make more of for ourselves is time. We spend it, but we can’t get it back
What I got out of it
  1. A really fun read with some great stories and lessons. Main ones: in any deal, always leave more on the table; think longer-term and build relationships; add more value than you take away; do the hard work and prepare; be candid, truthful, honest, yourself

How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence by Michael Pollan

Summary
  1. Michael Pollan’s deep dive into consciousness altering substances
Key Takeaways
  1. One way to study a complex system is to disturb it and see what happens. This is what psychedelics allows scientists to do with the brain. A great benefit of psychedelics is that it sheds light on how the normal brain works and helps you better understand regular consciousness and that it really is only one of many forms of consciousness
  2. Set and setting are both incredibly important but even if you get those totally correct it is still very possible to have a bad trip and have what some say is the most challenging of event of their lives
  3. Psychedelics have shown have many positive impacts with people who have some serious illnesses or depression. It helps you distance yourself from your ego and gain a new perspective on life and many people who have taken it said it was one of the most impactful and important experiences that they’ve had in their lives
  4. There are many parallels between religion and the following that LSD has gotten since Hoffman discovered it in Switzerland in the 60s but the only difference is that the acolytes can directly take part in the religious experience through taking the drug whereas in other religions they have to merely be satisfied with stories as history told from authority figures
  5. Many of these experiences with drugs have something William James called the noetic quality or sense and that is the feeling that you have been let in on a secret of the universe that everyone has access to but just hasn’t realized yet and this deep quality is something dreams and other drugs usually don’t provide
  6. After these experiences, many people lose their ego and sense of self and believe that consciousness is a property of the universe and doesn’t rise out of our consciousness or minds
  7. Many believe that psychedelics laid the foundation for religion
  8. The core learning of most people’s trips, as banal as it may seem, is the supreme importance of love and of letting go of fears and expectations
  9. It was assumed that psychedelics increase blood flow to the brain and in fact it restricts it in specific areas such as the default mode network and this allows your brain to disassociate and make connections that it doesn’t do normally
  10. Uncertainty causes fear in humans and therefore the brain has developed protective pattern matching / recognizing skills. From this comes the stories we tell ourselves, whether right or wrong, to try to help us deal with the world around us. However, this takes a toll and when we become too rigid – when there is not enough entropy in the brain – it leads to linear and boxed in thinking, close-mindedness, addiction, depression, and other harmful states
  11. The veracity or truth of these experiences can of course be questioned but this may not be the appropriate measure. Perhaps the fruits of the experience, how it positively impacts people’s lives, may be the most important. It has helped people with depression, getting over their fears, worries and anxieties and helping them more fully connect with others, focus on things truly important to them, lessen the power of their ego over them, and more. Don’t fret about the details of life but focus on relationships, walks, connectedness, giving joy to others; etc.
  12. Loss of self seems to be linked to a gain in meaning
What I got out of it
  1. Some great background information on consciousness altering substances, their benefits, their dangers, the research behind them, and more