Tag Archives: Decision Making

How to Develop Your Thinking Ability by Kenneth Keyes


  1. Practical techniques to improve your ability to think clearly, creating accurate “verbal maps.” To be happy and successful, we must base our plans on maps that fit the territory. Only an adequate map will have the necessary predictability that will allow us to plan, to choose, to decide what is best for us to do. Clear thinking help you to predict the future. It enables you to make plans that will get you what you want out of life. We can think of all the knowledge and memories we have filed away in our heads as “mental maps.” Truth simply equals a verbal map that represents the territory. However, truth is an elusive sprite that is hard to keep penned up

Key Takeaways

  1. Steps / Tools for clearer thinking
    1. Think in terms of verbal maps – ineffective people attempt to project onto the territory the verbal maps they cook up in their heads. They are unable to open their minds and observe clearly what is before them. They think they know what things are like without checking. What they think they know blocks them from evaluating sanely
      1. Survey the territory for yourself – one look is worth 1,000 reports
        1. Scientific Method – This is what scientists tell us to do – surveying the territory provides predictability that characterize accurate verbal maps. This is the essence of the scientific method. When a scientist tries to find out which verbal map is the most adequate, he looks at the territory. He observes; he uses his sense; he opens his mind and his eyes
    2. Best way to understand/learn is to teach others
    3. Practice in small ways every day
    4. “So far as I know” – nobody knows everything, be open, humble
      1. Those who learn most, fastest are honest of their ignorance
    5. Up to a point – think in terms of degrees
      1. Think along a spectrum, avoid either/or, all/none, binary – “the narrower the mind, the broader the statement”
    6. “To me” – look who’s talking
      1. We see reality through a mirror that partially transmits and partially reflects. We see things that are outside of us, but we see them bathed in “reflections” from our own minds 
    7. The What Index – differences that make a difference
      1. Don’t think in groups, but in individuals
      2. Distance makes for seeing similarities: nearness helps us to see differences (Galilean Relativity)
    8. The When Index – keeping up to date
      1. When was the territory surveyed?
      2. Knowledge keeps no better than fish – Alfred North Whitehead
      3. Old age plants more wrinkles in the mind than in the face – Montaigne 
    9. The Where Index – when environment changes, expect other things to change to
  2. Other
    1. Men are apt to be much more influenced by words than by the actual facts of the surrounding reality – Pavlov
    2. All truly wise thoughts have been thought already thousands of times; but to make them truly ours, we must think them over again honestly, till they take root in our personal experience. – Goethe
    3. Little babies cannot fight as well as grownups. A new, baby idea coming into our head cannot compete with the old grown-up ones we have been embracing all our lives. We have to let the new ideas come in, grow, and mature. Frequently, it is necessary to try to understand new ideas for days, weeks, or even years. When we feel we have done our best to understand a new point of view, we should then unleash our old ideas and have a real battle royal…A closed mind is not a mind – it is a machine. It automatically spouts what is already in it

What I got out of it

  1. Really practical book that I’ll reference often as I’m making decisions 

Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work by Chip Heath, Dan Heath


  1. Chip and Dan Heath do a great job discussing the common decision-making fallacies and how we can mitigate them

Key Takeaways

  1. The 4 Villains of Decision-Making
    1. Narrow framing – avoid a narrow framing by asking yourself broad questions, giving yourself as many options as possible so that you have a better understanding of what the options even are, mitigating your mental biases
    2. Confirmation Bias – the confirmation bias can’t be done away with but it can be mitigated. Widen your options, prepare to be wrong, reality-test your assumptions, and gain distance before you make a decision
    3. Short-term emotion – we get caught up in the moment and let our emotions rather than our rationality take over. Andy Grove’s “what would our successors do?” can help us gain perspective and clarity
    4. Overconfidence – we all think we’re above average and this leads us to make overly risky decisions. Having a devil;s advocate or at least honoring the importance of criticism is vital to stemming overconfidence
  2. The WRAP Process can help your decision-making, mitigating the 4 villains discussed above – process is far more important than analysis. If we can develop a good and consistent process, our decision-making can’t help but improve
    1. Widen your options
      1. Avoid a narrow frame
        1. People often only see what is in front of them (WYSIATI) and this can also be thought of as a spotlight effect – we only see that which we are currently focused on, missing what is not there. Sometimes the hardest part of decision-making is knowing that there is a decision to make
        2. Do your best taking an outside view to get the base rates of the situations from the past sometimes the reveille available and sometimes you should consult experts to get their opinions
      2. Multitrack
        1. Some of the best decisions come through multi-tracking – working with several different options and details in parallel, uncovering ideas that otherwise might have been out of your purview. Unless we have iterated a similar problem dozens of times, we probably are too inexperienced and doubling down on a single option is likely sub-optimal. With multi-tracking, you spread out your gambles early on, then doubling down on what appear to be the most promising option(s). 
      3. Find someone who’s solved your problem
        1. You can look for options both internally and externally.
        2. It is also helpful to look at your bright spots where things are going well and trying to deconstruct what allowed you to do those things well
    2. Reality-test your assumptions
      1. Consider the opposite
        1. Asking yourself and your team what would have to be true for this situation to be the right decision is an important question to ask. It gets you analyzing rather than dismissing and keeps your eyes open to other possibilities and options
        2. Using perspective hindsight and asking yourself what could’ve happened to lead us to this point seems to be easier for us to think about that simply being asked to predict the future
      2. Zoom out, zoom in
        1. The 10-10-10 framework can be useful when you have a big decision. Ask yourself how you will feel about that choice in 10 minutes, 10 months, and 10 years from now. This helps you gain perspective, limit short-term emotion, and focus on the truly important things.
        2. Another effective question is to ask yourself, “what you would tell your best friend in this situation?” It is amazing how much clarity the simple shift in perspective can give you
      3. Ooch
        1. Run small experiments to test your theories – rather than going all-in, first dipping your toe
        2. Great in areas where we are terrible at predicting the future but bad where we require commitment
    3. Attain distance before deciding
      1. Overcome short-term emotion
        1. Take some time, ask mentors for advice, create lists, anything to give you distance and perspective
      2. Honor your core priorities
        1. Know what your values are and try to make your decisions align with these values as often and as much as possible
    4. Prepare to be wrong
      1. Bookend the future
        1. The big difference between corporate executives and entrepreneurs is that the corporate want to try to predict and control the future whereas entrepreneurs go and actively test it. If you can influence it you don’t need to predict and control it.  Why guess when you can know?
        2. Using bookends for your decisions can be a helpful tool to gauge your confidence, estimate a lower and upper bound on your predictions, and see where the current situation falls. If it is too close to the lower boundary, reconsider that option
      2. Set a tripwire
        1. You must design tripwires into your day and decision-making so that you’re not constantly an auto pilot. These tripwires get you to stop, think, and realize that there are options that you may not be considering  
        2. Partitioning is a great example of a tripwire. For example, when cookies are individually wrapped, people eat far less than when they’re simply in a box. This individual wrapping gets people to be more thoughtful. This type of tripwire is mostly used and beneficial for self-control type situations
  3. Other
    1. FDR was worried about getting influenced data so he wanted to go directly to the source and get unbiased opinion. He often showed up unannounced at a project and did whatever he could to get raw data points. His wife also greatly helped him in these efforts
    2. It is often a good practice to have your senior executives spending time fielding customer service complaints. This helps them keep a pulse on the company in order to more innately and intimately understand the customer’s problems and concerns
    3. Using an FMEA mindset – what do you think about the probabilities and severity of each option? Choose the option which has the highest expected value 
    4. You should also think about a pre-parade – what happens if your decision is perfect? What would you need in order to keep up with demand

What I got out of it

  1. Some simple frameworks and reminders for how to improve your decision-making – at the core is avoiding overconfidence, broadening your options, not letting emotions take the best of you, and gaining distance in order to gain perspective.

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths

  1. Studying algorithms and how they might be implemented to help us better solve every day problems. Thinking about human cognition and behavior through this computer science lens helps shed light on how we think, why we make the mistakes we make, why and how we have such incredible computational powers, and what rationality really means. We can learn how to make the best decisions given the limited knowledge, time and other resources we have and how to do it with imperfect insights all while dealing with yourself and other messy people. Many problems are intractable but these algorithms will at least give you a jumping off point to begin.
Key Takeaways
  1. Master key algorithm for getting stuff done
    1. Earliest due date and shortest processing time is the master key to determining what to work on and in what order. Work on what has the highest value when importance is divided by completion time. Something must be twice as important if it takes twice as long.
    2. If all you want to do is get through tasks and reduce your to do list, do those things you can accomplish quickest first.  There are many algorithms to follow, it all depends on what your goal is and what you want to maximize.
  2. The Optimal Stopping Problem
    1. These cases you should have two phases: a looking phase where you commit for a certain period of time (usually 1/3 of the total amount of time you’re willing to look) and then a leap phase where you take anything that’s better than what you’ve seen during the look phase
    2. If there is some objective criteria you could set, you can then create a threshold and anyone or anything above the threshold should be accepted
    3. Our time horizon or the intervals of which were looking at strongly determine how much we explore and try new things and how much we exploit – going back to well known favorites. Since the interval determines the strategy we can also determine the strategy from the interval. An overload of sure things such as sequels is a good signal of short-termism.
    4. Optimism is the best solution for regret and we should give people, things, and experiences the benefit of the doubt because we don’t know their upper bound – how good they can be – because we don’t have enough information yet. You should be willing to explore when there’s not enough information to make a reasonable conclusion. However, in real life people tend to over-explore and not know when to lean towards the optimal solution. Win – stay, lose – shift
    5. Older people tend to have fewer social connections but that’s because they have refined over decades the type of people they want to spend time with and that naturally seems to decrease over time. This ties together our explore / exploit phenomenon because younger people who have a longer time frame are more on the explore phase and older people with a more finite time frame are in the exploit phase. As you get older and switch from seeking pleasure from exploitation versus exploring, your quality of life will necessarily improve as you are going back to well-known favorites more often
  3. A | B Testing
    1. Tinkering on an extreme scale is done today by some of the world’s largest companies to see what little tweaks between two options can cause. This iteration is done over millions of times per day so that the product/service/experience is ever improving, at least maximizing what is being measured and sought after. You can use this iteration mindset to make small changes and adjustments to your routine, habits, behaviors, thoughts, and see how it impacts you and others over time
  4. Sorting
    1. Fundamental lesson learned about sorting is that scale hurts.
    2. Simply by breaking tasks or projects down into more manageable units can sorting be reduced by multiples.
    3. However, the first question should be whether it needs to be sorted at all. Efficient sorting which is unnecessary is extremely inefficient and sometimes mess and disorder is the optimal solution
  5. Cache
    1. Keeping around pieces of information that you refer to often or anticipate needing shortly at hand so you can quickly retrieve it
    2. Keep things you use often in close physical proximity so that you can get them quickly
    3. It has been found in many different domains that events that have recently happened are more likely to happen in time and the longer it goes without happening the less likely it is to happen again (Lindy Effect)
  6. Over-Fitting
    1. Over fitting is when we try to use too much data too many factors into making our decisions and they not only make things more complex but actually lead to worse predictions and decisions. If there is high uncertainty and unlimited data, paint with a broad stroke and make it simple. Going into the nitty-gritty only hurts you
    2. It’s better to be approximately right then precisely wrong
  7. Other
    1. Procrastination is often associated with laziness but it can simply be that people lose sight of the important things and are racing through their tasks. They have the right strategy for getting things done but it is the wrong metric – favoring the easy over the meaningful
    2. Be aware of context switching costs. Flow and deep work sometimes takes an hour just to warm up and get into the flow and interrupting people or getting interrupted can ruin hours worth of work or more.
    3. There is a constant tension and trade off between throughput and responsiveness. If you’re too responsive you got nothing done and if you’re throughput is all you’re maximizing you’ll never respond to anyone.
    4. Thrashing is the point when your interrupted so often and have so much to do that you get no actual work done and at this point you can step back and reevaluate and often just do whatever you can get done and not worry about the optimal way to do it.
    5. Batching tasks and having set times to do things such as only looking at emails first thing in the morning and at night is a good way to keep from being interrupted too often
    6. You can become better at predicting by knowing if you’re dealing with power laws or normal distributions and the better information you have of course the better guess you can make. That’s why we are quite good at predicting how much longer a person can live for we know the general lifespan of people
    7. Our predictions tell us a lot about who we are because they’re based on our experiences.
    8. If you can’t explain things simply you don’t understand it well enough
    9. If you can’t solve a problem, relax the constraints and try to solve an easier version of the same problem to see if it gives you any clues or jumping off points for how to solve the real problem
    10. Exponential back off is a technique you can use when things fail or you don’t know how to proceed. For example, if people cancel their plans with you last minute wait a week to reschedule. If they cancel again, wait two weeks. Then four, etc…
    11. The first and only rule of hierarchy is that the hierarchy must be preserved
    12. The innovators dream is not a eureka moment but rather a situation that makes you say, “huh, that’s funny.”
    13. Seek games in which honesty is the ultimate policy and then just be yourself – Vickers Auction – where the winning bid pays only the second highest bid price
    14. Sometimes even the optimal strategy will yield bad outcomes which is why you must focus on process over outcome
    15. Sometimes good enough is simply good enough
What I got out of it
  1. Some good techniques and thought processes for how to make better decisions

A Few Lessons From Sherlock Holmes by Peter Bevelin

  1. Bevelin takes quotes and examples from Sherlock Holmes as examples of several tools and techniques to improve thinking and decision making
Key Takeaways
  1. Observation and inference
    1. See things for what they are and report them truthfully
    2. Beware of first impressions – appearances can be deceiving
    3. More is missed by not looking than not knowing
    4. It is not the amount of information that counts by the relevant one
    5. Sometimes it helps to shift perspective
    6. The value of experience is not in seeing much but seeing wisely
    7. “By doing it many times over till it is done perfectly – for it is worth doing.”
    8. Checklist routines for critical factors to help
    9. Look as diligently for what is missing for what is there
  2. Deduction
    1. Reasoning backwards, working back from observations/effects to causes
    2. Use the simplest means first
  3. Analogies
    1. You cannot judge the relevance of an isolated fact. Experience has taught me, and must have taught you, that the most trivial, commonplace and seemingly irrelevant facts have a way of suddenly assuming a crucial importance by connecting, explaining or filling in the detail of later discoveries
    2. That process…starts upon the supposition that when you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. It may well be that several explanations remain, in which case one tries test after test until one or other of them has a convincing amount of support
  4. Test your theory
    1. If it disagrees with the facts, it is wrong
    2. There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact
  5. Patience
    1. Distance gives perspective – sometimes we need to remove ourselves from the problem and get a fresh perspective
  6. Put self in other’s shoes
    1. If we could see the world the way others see it, we easier understand why they do what they do
    2. Don’t make the world fit your tools and use the right tool for the job
  7. Criticize self
    1. Have you tried to find evidence against what you believe? Why might we be wrong? What have we overlooked? What (new) information or evidence is needed to make us change our mind?
    2. When we meet a fact which contradicts a prevailing theory, we must accept the fact and abandon the theory, even when the theory is supported by great names and generally accepted
  8. Learn from mistakes
    1. Update your beliefs in light of new information
    2. For one’s own training it is better to make an incorrect diagnosis than none at all – if you call yourself to account afterwards
  9. Know your limits
    1. Don’t think about how to get things done, instead ask whether they’re worth doing in the first place
    2. A lot of misery comes from what we allow ourselves to get dragged into
What I got out of it
  1. Really good, short read on some key characteristics necessary for deep thinking and better decision making

The Logic of Failure: Recognizing and Avoiding Error in Complex Situations by Dietrich Doerner

  1. Logic of failure – certain tendencies in our patterns of thought that, while appropriate to an older, simpler world, prove disastrous for the complex and interdependent world we live in now
Key Takeaways
  1. 4 habits of mind and characteristics of thought that account for the frequency of our failures
    • The slowness of our thinking (streamlining thinking process causes us to omit key variables)
    • Our wish to feel confident and competent in our problem solving abilities (lack of ability to critically reflect on our decisions)
    • Our inability to absorb quickly and retain large amounts of information (humans don’t gather enough information to form new models efficiently)
    • Our tendency to focus on immediately pressing problems (ignore problems our solutions will create, lack of second (12th) order thinking)
  2. Humans ignore causal links and consequences, focusing on short term solutions that implicate the long term effects
  3. Frequent hypothesis testing and critical questioning vital
  4. People tend to regulate the situation and not the decision process
  5. Efficient problem solving revolves around complexity (interconnectedness of different variables), dynamics (autonomously moving) and intransparence (never fully aware of all information, engage in problem with information available to them)
  6. Defining goals is first step in problem solving and then gather appropriate level of information
  7. Convert unclear goals by ranking goals by urgency, viability and probability of success
  8. Must distinguish between delegating and dumping responsibility
  9. Must rank and delegate when we have more than one goal but when we solve one we may create another
  10. Must go beyond just causal relationships but to abstract relationships as well, we must know the hierarchy as well and think in analogies – exploring the unknown via the known
  11. Reductive hypothesis – analyze the final “piece” of a problem and reverse these effects in order to find the true cause of the problem or situation
  12. Strategy is a system of makeshifts, changing as circumstances change
  13. “Good” participants in the game have made considerably less decisions early on and asked many more questions than “bad” participants 
  14. Humans terrible at understanding the power of compounding. Don’t be fooled by the term “deceleration” – this is still growth and can compound massively over time!
  15. Laymen and professionals both face distortionary forces in decision and assumption making
  16. Don’t overgeneralize on local experiences. Rather, use sequential hypothesis to continuously ask questions, test and adapt
  17. Must first define goals, then build a model/strategy and then begin filling this model with information until we are comfortable to form a final conclusion
  18. Planning – condition element, action element and result element
  19. Can’t be too unqualified, must take circumstances and exceptions into account (don’t use “always”, “never”, etc.)
  20. We have to study the consequences of our measures in order to find opportunities to correct our incorrect behavioral tendencies and assumptions about reality
  21. Humans are inclined to maintain the illusion of competence by failing to reflect on their decision and problem solving approaches
  22. Often redirect our thinking from actual goals to the goal of preserving a sense of our competence
  23. We cannot teach common sense but we can put ourselves in positions where a clear sense is required, which will help us to develop a common sense for future encounters of a similar kind
What I got out of it
  1. Great book which looks at the fallibilities of our thinking and decision making process and how to improve it

The Decision Book by Mikael Krogerus and Roman Tschappeler

  1. Provides a brief summary of 50 decision models, or mental frameworks, on how to best attack a particular problem or situation. Focuses on better understanding ourselves, others, making the right choices with the information you have, creating effective teams and more.
Key Takeaways
  1. This book is a treasure for those who are looking for new mental models and how to apply them to many difficult/varied scenarios
What I got out of it
  1. Incredible reference for difficult decisions, how to improve yourself, how to improve others, how to create effective teams and more. Website

Damn Right! Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger by Janet Lowe

  1. Lowe details Charlie’s life through his early career as a lawyer, later partnership with Buffett to form Berkshire Hathaway, his family, his hobbies and outlook on life
Key Takeaways
  1. Warren, Charlie are very similar and make an amazing team. They are both from Omaha but didn’t meet until 1959
  2. Very eclectic reader – hundreds of biographies
  3. Wanted wealth because it grants independence
  4. Loves complex ideas and detailed analysis
  5. Credits his success to self-education, mental discipline, deeply understanding big ideas
  6. Always act as honorably as possible
  7. Star Island is his secluded family getaway
  8. Family was very smart, hard working and loving. Father taught him power of Tao – love of doing small things excellently
  9. Poker helps with business decisions – when to fold early and when to back heavily
  10. Somewhat arrogant but his opinions are not set in stone
  11. Divorced “Nancy 1” and soon after remarried to “Nancy 2”
  12. Tended to do a task himself or totally delegate it (usually delegated)
  13. Saw advantage of high quality businesses (easy decisions) early on and helped Buffett see the benefit of paying a fair price for high quality businesses
  14. Made first real money in real estate in California
  15. Able to look at facts and come up with new, insightful conclusions
  16. Great at analyzing businesses quickly and saying no if it falls outside his circle of competence
  17. Can zero in on what is truly important
  18. Must think correctly AND independently
  19. To become truly wealthy, need ownership in a business
  20. Simply easier to be ethical, rational and honest. Hard work and honesty gets you almost anything
  21. If Charlie trusts someone, he trusts them completely
  22. Blue Chip float lead to purchases in See’s Candy, Precision Steel
  23. Typically make one major decision every 3 years. Extreme patience with extreme decisiveness
  24. Must only deal with quality people
  25. Want to be in sectors that tend towards natural monopolies
  26. Bought Buffalo Evening News in 1977. At the time was nearly 25% of BRK net worth
  27. Foresaw savings and loan debacle and moved Wesco away from thrift
    1. “Our experience in shifting from savings and loan operation to ownership of Freddie Mac shares tends to confirm a long-held notion that being prepared, on a few occasions in a lifetime, to act promptly in scale, in doing simply and logical things, will often dramatically improve the financial results of that lifetime…A few major opportunities clearly recognizable as such, will usually come to one who continuously searches and waits, with a curious mind, loving diagnosis involving multiple variables. And then all that is required is a willingness to bet heavily when the odds are extremely favorable, using resources available as a result of prudence and patience in the past.”
  28. Remember the obvious rather than grasping the esoteric
    1. “Most geniuses—especially those who lead others—prosper not by deconstructing intricate complexities but by exploiting unrecognized simplicities.” — Andy Benoit
  29. “Our rule is pure opportunism”
  30. Look for integrity, intelligence, experience and dedication. Look to create the best business environment anywhere through evaluations without extensive meetings, capital access, focused compensation, and freedom to do one’s best
  31. Don’t confuse simplicity with ease
    1. “People underrate the importance of a few simple big ideas. And I think to the extent Berkshire Hathaway is a didactic enterprise teaching the right systems of thought, the chief lesson is that a few big ideas really work. I think these filters of ours have worked pretty well because they are so simple.”
  32. In the mid ’90s, BRK transitioned to owning more companies outright and became the buyer of first resort
  33. Munger admires Costco so much he violated his rule and joined their Board
  34. Avoid the mistake of not buying great, undervalued businesses when the stock has appreciated
  35. Tell the truth, tell it fully, tell it fast
  36. Giving time, talent, risking reputation as important as contributing money
  37. Many people specialize too early. Must deeply learn subjects you can’t live well without (psychology, math, physics, engineering)
  38. Paranoid self pity, the “victim mindset” is the most destructive frame of mind
    1. Every time you think about someone or something ruining your life, it’s in fact just you
  39. A few really big ideas carry most of the weight
  40. “To those whom much is given, much is expected. Always live below your financial means so that you will have money to invest. Invest in such a way so as to avoid the possibility of falling into a negative position – primarily, by limiting the amount of debt you use…If you want to get smart, the question you have to keep asking is “why, why, why?” And you have to relate the answers to a structure of deep theory. You’ve got to know the main theories. And it’s mildly laborious, but it’s also a lot of fun…From physics, Munger has learned to solve a problem by seeking the simplest, most direct answer. The easiest way invariably is the best way. From mathematics Munger learned to turn problems upside down or to look at them backward – invert, always invert.”
  41. If he taught finance, would look at about 100 companies who have thrived or failed
  42. Take a simple, basic idea and take it very seriously
  43. Truth is hard to assimilate in any mind when opposed by interest
  44. 5 best practices for thinking, problem solving, decision making
    1. Simplify by answering the big “no brainer” questions first
    2. Gain numerical fluency
    3. Invert problems
    4. Must use elementary and multidisciplinary thinking
    5. Lollapalooza effects come only from a combination of a large number of factors
  45. Pilot training should be implemented into different fields
    1. Formal education wide enough to cover practically everything useful
    2. Wide base of knowledge raised to practical fluency
    3. Ability to think forwards and backwards (concentrate on what you want to avoid as much as what you want to happen)
    4. What is most important gets the most attention
    5. Checklist routines are always used
    6. Forced into a special knowledge maintenance routine
What I got out of it
  1. Interesting read on Charlie Munger’s life, career, though process. Multidisciplinary thinking, inverting problems, always act honestly key topics, take a simple, basic idea and take it very seriously

Diaminds by Mihnea Moldoveanu and Roger Martin


  1. “How do successful thinkers think? And how is it that their ways of thinking make it more likely that they will succeed than fail in the cauldron of business and life…? In this book we set out to isolate a few of the key mechanisms in the minds of successful thinkers – mechanisms that seem to account for enormous differences in individual outcomes. We attempt to describe those mechanisms precisely enough that readers will see how they themselves can absorb and develop them.”
Key Takeaways
  1. Ask not “what” you / others think but rather “how” do they think
  2. Can’t directly observe thinking so have to look at what people say and do and then ask “how do you think and how does that lead to your actions, success?”
    1. How people speak and how they act a direct window into their thought process
  3. Successful thinking integrates several radically different models while preserving the thinker’s ability to act decisively. Able to quickly and effectively abstract the best qualities of radically different ways of seeing and representing; in doing so, that person develops ‘a better lens’ on the bewildering phenomenon we call the ‘world’
  4. Diamind = dialectical mind = a mind that beholds at least two often contradictory ways of seeing the world, gives each its full due, and instead of fearing and fleeing the resulting tension, lives it, embraces it, and comes up with a better way – one that does violence to neither but improves on both
  5. Like most behavior, thinking is tainable and habitual
    1. Mental habits are procedures that have been engineered for specific purposes; they are unconscious and natural. Understanding this is one key to mental habit detection, creation and procreation
  6. Making things explicit is a great learning tool
  7. Behavior does not have to be conscious to be intelligent – most diaminds don’t know how they think
  8. Thinking can be thought of as communication between present and future you
    1. External interactions, way we communicate with others influences internal communication (thinking)
      1. Can observe mental habits by people’s external patterns of communication
      2. Changing conversation patters is the lever for changing thought patterns. Changing self-talk changes mental habits
  9. Ask “what does my mind (not “I”) want to do with the world?” Give distance between self and mind is important
  10. Suppressing thoughts doesn’t work as you have to first think of what you are trying to suppress in order to suppress it
  11. Behavior becomes more intelligent, more adaptive, in proportion to the inclusiveness of the predictive model you have built from the situation at hand
    1. Integration requires an integrator – a powerful, versatile model of the situation that can explain, contain and comfortably accomodate the various impulses you feel. It also requires a will to weather the discomfort of this larger model in order to bring about the integration question. The integrator’s skill set can be traced back to a set of habitual ways of being, of habits of mind
  12. Small but frequent things (dense things) like thoughts and interactions will quickly compound with small changes
  13. Beware human’s inborn tendency to prefer simple explanations
  14. Brain as software – imagine you can program people’s actions through the inputs you feed it. What input (smile, smirk, praise, etc.) do you have to feed in order to elicit a desired response
  15. People suck at doubting but is what Taleb specializes in. Diamind realizes this and cultivates doubting skills as there are unknowns everywhere
  16. Truth does not equal certainty. Problems arise when one needs to be certain of a truth
  17. Diaminds live out their beliefs, act on and take responsibility for their predictions. Actually have skin in the game
  18. 3 central dogmas of today’s age – people are rational, cause and effect have a linear relationship and things fall into a normal (Gaussian) distribution
  19. Mind is like a fishnet and world an ocean – have to believe something in order to see it (what you catch)
  20. Inner diversity is key – many mental models, see same problem in many different ways
  21. Explanation much weaker than prediction
  22. Incorporating pre-set stopping rules (sell at 20% loss, etc.) key to dealing with unknowns and Black Swans
  23. True inner openness comes from a dogged pursuit of inner diversity (comfortable with unknowns, having many mental models)
  24. Must figure out distribution of events and estimate the parameters of these distributions
  25. Key to define as precisely as possible what a ‘non-white’ swan looks like
  26. Willingness to work and be open minded is vital
  27. Replace all explanations and justifications with predictions and commitmens – highly testable, known time fspan
    1. Prediction journal very, very helpful in keeping track of correct versus incorrect predictions. Review. Repeat. Review again
  28. Nothing is true independent of its context
  29. Replace as many statements of fact as you can with statements that highlight the dependence of the facts on the underlying theories and mechanisms that must be valid in order for the statement of fact to make sense
  30. Inverse thinking
    1. Look upon the present as if it were the past. Then look back and by eliminating all the paths you could not have taken, figure out how you must have travelled from the presnt to the future
  31. Diaminds have audacity – the ability to make the abductive leap that takes one to imagine a desired state of the world that is implausible or even inconceivable right now, to take seriously the notion that this implausible state of the world is real and then work to bring about the conditions that will supply the best explanation as to how it came about. Talk about the future as if it were the past
  32. The perception a fact is valid (a bluff) is often as powerful as the truth
  33. Writing promotes deep thinking; lists obscure it
    1. Effective self-talk is like storytelling, it is a narrative
  34. Diaminds able to successfully navigate complex world through good mental habits – think/see/do
  35. Recording yourself having a conversation can be helpful as speaking is a window to how you think
  36. “Mentalese” – language specific to thinking and problem solving
    1. Types of problems – simple vs. hard (initial and desired conditions clearly defined and there is a definite process as to how to achieve it; hard problems may be clear but you can’t see your way to the solution before actually solving the problem)
    2. Tame vs. Wicked – tame have been proven over time to be solvable in some way, wicked problems are problems whose initial and desired conditions are subject to change as a function of the very process by which you’re trying to solve them
    3. Solutions – local vs. general (specific (heuristics) vs. adaptable (algorithm)
      1. General being better as it is more widely applicable
  37. A problem is the difference between your current state and the ideal state
  38. Believing something always a matter of choice and diaminds are very choosy
  39. Diaminds awesome at flipping between simple and hard problems, determining if tame or wicked
  40. Turn goals into objectives to make real (time bounded, controllable and measurable)
  41. Diaminds think about thinking while thinking; and then act
  42. Deal with – Defer – Delete is a useful framework for problem solving
  43. Must take into account problem, own thinking other’s thinking / intelligence / background
  44. Diversity trumps ability – large group’s average guess often better than the expert’s
  45. Generality does not guaranteee truth
  46. Not all statements are meaningful
  47. Can never tell if a regularity is a law (black swan)
  48. Useful problem solving framework on page 212
What I got out of it
  1. Incredible read. I thought it did an amazing job of highlighting good thinking habits and reinforcing the fact that they can be trained and learned; speaking a window into how somebody thinks

Knowledge and Decisions by Thomas Sowell

  1. Sowell argues that knowledge is man’s most severe restraint but knowing the power of incentives, who the decision maker is, and a couple other key elements helps making decisions at least a little easier
Key Takeaways
  1. Humans’ most severe restraint is knowledge but still must make important decisions
  2. Examine and judge companies, people, etc. based on process / results over lofty goals
  3. Realize the importance of incentives, constraints, feedback mechanisms
  4. Sowell examines evolution of decision-making processes and how it spreads between different areas
  5. No person or group is likely to have sufficient knowledge to make a perfect decisions the first time around
  6. There is an independent reality through which each individual perceives only imperfectly, but which can be understood more fully with feedback that can validate or invalidate what was initially believed
  7. Ideas are everywhere but knowledge is rare
  8. Civilization an enormous device for economizing on knowledge. As people live closer together, ideas and their adoption spread much quicker
  9. Need to consider not only how much we know but how well we know it
  10. How decisively we act depends on how certain we are of the consequences
  11. Must understand who the primary decision maker is, with what incentives they are working with as well as constraints, feedback mechanisms
  12. Must understand the decision-making process and its costs
  13. Most basic of all decisions is who shall decide
  14. Most basic inherent restraints are time and wisdom
  15. Every item / decision has both a time price and a monetary price – this is its real cost
  16. Incentives not only affect decisions but the type of people drawn to certain decision making roles
What I got out of it
  1. A little disappointed but definitely has some good nuggets. Judge people / companies on process / results over their lofty, stated goals; power of incentives, constraints and feedback mechanisms; understanding who the decision maker is is very important; real cost include time price and money price

Coherence by Alan Watkins

  1. Knowledge about human relationships, biology, brain, adult development, behavior, human system, emotional intelligence, medicine, evolution, physics, signal processing, sports psychology all help improve management and performance by better understanding what influences performance. Enlightened Leadership – all behaviors, decisions, thoughts are integrated (coherence)
Key Takeaways
  1. Best way to understand results is to understand behavior and the internal and external influences on behavior
    1. Physiology – Emotion – Feeling – Thinking – Behavior – Results
    2. Feeling wins over thinking every time; physiology trumps emotion
  2. Learning how to change quality of signals in our system can help deliver brilliance every day (Enlightened Leadership)
  3. Best results come when you are positive and motivated
  4. Coherence = Flow = Stable Variability (robust)
  5. Physiological coherence leads to emotional coherence leads to cognitive coherence leads to behavioral coherence
  6. Coherent leaders – integrity, vast interpersonal flexibility (understand what makes people tick) and behavioral flexibility
  7. Individual people must keep evolving if organization is to improve
  8. 3 Stages of evolution – emergence, differentiation, integration
    1. Differentiation – you must be clear and specific in your plans, goals, etc.
  9. Must be a burning platform for change – question everything you do (eliminate if find only do it because it was done yesterday)
  10. 2 key stages in human development – waking up (lose dualism of power and control) and growing up (maturity)
  11. 6 dimensions of EQ – self-awareness, resilience, attention (internal motivation), social intuition (empathy), sensitivity to context, outlook (optimism/pessimism)
  12. Energy management over time management!
  13. Heart rate variability (HRV) very important (flexibility, antifragility) – more is better; emotional self-management, exercise (yoga) omega 3, breathing skills all help improve it
  14. The heart is the most powerful signal generator in the body and can even affect others (entrainment)
    1. Use to create physiological coherence which gives more energy
  15. Mind does not dominate body, there is a constant dialogue between the two; they become one (integrative medicine)
  16. HRV determines ability to respond to challenges
  17. Must schedule periods of recuperation (pair with The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working)
  18. Energy bank – the idea of keeping track of energy “deposits and withdrawals” (things which give or take energy away from you)
  19. Chaotic breathing leads to loss of energy
  20. Be dynamically responsive instead of reactive (breath = stability = entrainment)
  21. 12 aspects of breath – rhythmicity (steady in and out); smoothness; focus on heart; speed of breaths; pattern (ratio of in/out); volume; depth; entrainment; resistance; mechanics; flow patterns (air around body); special techniques (vipassana, buteyko)
  22. Mismanaged emotion often a root cause of ill health (3 E’s – emotion, eat, exercise)
  23. Level of personal control related to health
  24. Not event but how you react / deal with it that matters
  25. Emotion is integration of all physiological signals; feeling is the awareness and recognition that signal comes from the body (observation of emotion)
  26. Only 2 inborn fears – falling and loud noises
  27. Conditioning system inaccurate because designed for survival, not sophistication
  28. Huge number of our decisions are based on emotion, not reason. Emotional awareness therefore greatly improves decision-making
  29. Challenge for men is lack of emotional awareness, for women it may be lack of control of emotions
  30. Emotional mastery leads to clearer thinking, better ability to learn
    1. Must induce an appropriate emotional state to best learn (calm, positive and motivated)
  31. All decisions essentially made by feelings and then justified by logic
  32. Thin slicing – ability to detect patterns based on narrow slices of experience
    1. Intuition can’t be trusted without emotional coherence
  33. Good leaders use emotion because that’s what motivates people
  34. Best leaders best at dealing with change
  35. Heart’s electromagnetic field radiates up to 50 feet away! – leader’s presence truly can be felt in a large room
    1. Negative state of mind casts chaotic energy whereas positivity casts clean and organized energy
  36. Enjoyment and quality of life comes from experiences, not things
  37. Happiness is a habit
  38. Only genuinely sustainable motivation is intrinsic
  39. The self, consciousness, and emotion evolved together and tied to each other
  40. Intelligence is simply awareness
    1. Only 2 opposing emotional states – love and fear
    2. Most people’s emotional lexicon / palette very limited (becoming better versed and more nuanced in how you define each feeling allows you to become more self-aware
    3. Must be aware but also be able to label individual emotions (access and then action)
  41. Emotional MASTERY
    1. Sit comfortably and BREATHE (focus on heart)
    2. Simply notice what emotion exists in your body
    3. Label what you think best captures it
    4. Explore the features of the emotion in your own body – location, size, color, sound, temperature, intensity
    5. How does the emotion move through your body
    6. Does the emotion have any special features?
  42. Enhance habits / rituals with a positive emotion
    1. Landscaping – determine where in routine can get most practice per buck
  43. Need emotional intelligence, literacy and self-management
  44. Memories stored like holograms
    1. Coherence, BREATHE leads to perfect hologram which can make you better and more clearly recall what we know
  45. 10 levels of consciousness
    1. Shadow work – working on aspects of ourselves that are not easy to see, address and heal
    2. Level 6 – cease to be a victim, don’t let others control your emotions, complete ownership of all aspects of self
    3. Level 7 – selflessness, loving empathy without criticism
    4. Level 9 – pre-awareness,n no observer and object, just one union; time false, space infinite and everything connected; no duality – all simply is, cease to have preferences
  46. Happiness truly a life of service
  47. 9 internal phenomena which influence thinking, behavior, etc
    1. Values – feeling defined by a principle
    2. Belief – thought powered by emotion
    3. Attitude – collection of values / beliefs and which influences thoughts, behavior, perspective
    4. Culture – collective attitude of the group
  48. Cognitive coherence lies in increasing perceptual awareness
    1. SHIFT – stop and shift attention to your heart; breathe through this area of your chest to induce positive emotion, feel it through your body; turn your brain back on and notice insights
  49. Enlightened leadership emerges with coherence across all critical and internal areas (physiology, emotion, cognitive, maturity, values / Behavior, networks, impact)
  50. The purpose of doing everything is to generate better results
  51. Long-term, consistent, brilliant behavior requires us to be in tune with what we think, feel and the amount of energy we have
  52. Must understand root causes of what leads to better performance
  53. Correcting behavior doesn’t lead to success, only stops failure (must introduce new behaviors)
  54. Obsession with results has lead to a widespread erosion of humanity
  55. Must understand appropriate pressure needed for peak performance for self and others
    1. Narrow the focus and clarify as much as possible
    2. Early detection of underperformance crucial
      1. Loss of perception, self esteem, increased irritability, ill health all good indicators
  56. Best leaders move seamlessly through 4 quadrants – I, IT (short-term), IT (long-term), WE
  57. Few leaders think about how they think, their weaknesses, brand, leaderships qualities and therefore have little self-awareness
  58. Maturity is key to be a great leader – differentiation between knowledge and wisdom
  59. True leaders aim to strip away illusions and see deeper realities – able to integrate knowledge and wisdom, more holistic view, no preconceived answers, continuously try to flush out hidden assumptions
  60. Vision – picture of the future you’re aiming for
  61. Ambition – how big / impactful you want to be
  62. Purpose – emotional statement to drive engagement and differentiate yourself
  63. Strategy – how to get ot vision, ambition and purpose
  64. Governance – process for making better, more efficient decisions and better accountability and alignment
  65. 12 performance enhancing behaviors
    1. Imagine – gathering info, forming concepts, conceptual flexing
    2. Involve – empathetic connecting, facilitating interaction, developing people
    3. Implement – being proactive, continuous improvement, building customer value
    4. Ignite – influencing others, building confidence, communicating clearly
    5. Knowing where you stand is vital
  66. Understanding personal purpose is vital
  67. Job – Career – Calling
    1. What would you do for free? What comes effortlessly to you?
  68. Appreciation and forgiveness of self and others is key
  69. To be the best leader you can be you must make personal connections, understand other’s motives, be consistent and know how to best work with different working styles
  70. Ultimate goal – influence and ability to foster deep, influential relationships
  71. Relationships tend to fail because of either poor communication or low levels of trust
    1. Effective communication has two basic aspects – transmission and reception
    2. 3 levels of communication -what people say, what people think or feel and most deeply, what people mean
  72. Making others feel heard is extremely motivating
  73. Trust givers trust people automatically where trust earners must make others prove themselves first
  74. TRUST – taking responsibility for understanding other people’s traits
  75. Internal coherence lays foundation for extraordinary performance and also to develop deeper and longer lasting relationships (ultimate prize in life
  76. Leaders must be able to transform their personal leadership qualities, real development and the corporate culture
  77. When hiring, look at what the business needs and if necessary, bring someone in and train them rather than trying to fit the role to the person
  78. Use MAP to get at the true meaning of what people say. Move attention to body and breathe, appreciate the speaker, play back the underlying meaning
  79. Watkins is the founder of Holacracy – Tony Hsieh recently implemented at Zappos
    1. Clarify purpose; clarify all decision making forums; define limit of authority; define reporting process, establish clear accountability; create new roles; assign new accountabilities to new roles; establish new policies or changes to existing policies; define ways of working within teams
What I got out of it
  1. Being self-aware is absolutely vital and focusing on the different areas (physiology, emotion, cognitive, maturity, values / Behavior, networks, impact) is key. Must be healthy before can focus on emotions, cognition…