Tag Archives: How to Live Life

Tuesday’s with Morrie by Mitch Albom

  1. The author describes what he learned about life from Morrie, his favorite professor, who was slowly dying from by ALS
Key Takeaways
  1. Love wins. Love always wins
  2. The most important thing in life to learn is to let love in. Most of us don’t think we deserve love but we do
  3. It’s only horrible if you look at it that way. Seen from another, it can be wonderful
  4. Sometimes you can’t believe what you see, you have to believe what you feel
  5. A teacher affects eternity as you can never tell where their influence stops
  6. Everybody knows they’re going to die but nobody believes it or else they’d live life differently.
  7. Once you learn how to die you learn how to live
  8. Trying to impress those above you will only lead to derision and trying to please those below only to envy. Simply be
  9. People are only mean when threatened. And that’s what our culture does, what our economy does
  10. The problem is we don’t think we’re as alike as we are
    1. All people are alike in the sense that we all want to be loved, heard, respected, cared for, listened to
  11. This disease is knocking at my spirit but it will not have my spirit. It will take my body, but not my spirit
  12. Forgive yourself before you die and then forgive others
  13. We’re all looking for a sense of peace with death. Once we achieve that we can face death
  14. Death becomes such a big deal for most people because we don’t see ourselves as part of nature. We see ourselves as above nature
  15. The big issues most of us avoid confronting deal with awareness, responsibility, love and spirituality
  16. There is no such thing as too late in life
  17. Giving is living
  18. Never live with regret. Forgive yourself and others and move on
What I got out of it
  1. A beautiful and heart-warming book on what is really important in life – love, relationships, giving, forgiveness

Living a Life of Awareness by Don Miguel Ruiz, Jr.


  1. Miguel Ruiz Jr follows in his fathers footsteps with the Toltec way of life and explains that total and unconditional self love and other love, complete acceptance and awareness lead to a happy life as it helps us realize we are simply perfect just the way we are
Key Takeaways
  1. Unconditional love for others and oneself, awareness of illusions and delusions, completely accepting oneself and not creating false illusions of ourselves that we can’t live up to
  2. The only truth is this very moment
  3. We free ourselves of illusions through awareness and acceptance
  4. We are much larger than any of our beliefs, ideas, illusions. We therefore need not fight or impose our wills on anything or anyone
  5. We are absolutely perfect just the way we are. Be very aware of when you get emotional, defensive, judgmental as this is a good sign you are attached to something which you can let go
  6. Only do things because you want to, not because you feel like you should or have to
  7. Toltec means artist – be the artist of your life and live your dream
  8. Make your narrator your ally instead of a parasite – operating from unconditional vs conditional love
  9. Who we are is beyond any words. We can describe roles, feelings and emotions but never who we truly are
  10. Practicing, improving and integrating throughout the day the skill of listening to your inner silence is key
  11. Must have unconditional love for self before can give unconditional love to others
What I got out of it
  1. Beautiful and all important for a happy life. Echoes The Four Agreements and gives daily meditations on how to keep these topics top of mind. Physical book worth getting for daily dosage of awareness

Give and Take: Why Helping Others Drives Our Success by Adam Grant

  1. People tend to operate as either givers, matchers or takers. In today’s increasingly connected and competitive world, it is in fact the givers who tend to come out on top (but also the bottom). Highlights what effective networking, negotiation, influence and leadership skills have in common
Key Takeaways
  1. Successful people tend to have motivation, ability and opportunity but more importantly, success depends on how we interact with other people. We always have a choice to make – do you try to claim as much value as you can or give as much value without worrying about what you get in return. These are the two ends of the reciprocity spectrum – takers and givers, self focused vs other focused. Most people of course fall somewhere in between and are known as matchers – believing in equality and “tit for tat”
  2. Givers tend to be either amongst the most successful or the least successful of their group or peers
  3. Givers are just as competitive and ambitious as takers but they realize that giving has a cascading effect that over time far outweighs any short term gains they might get from taking. People root for givers to win whereas takers often make others envious. Givers succeeding creates more value for themselves and others
  4. Abraham Lincoln is a top notch giver and early in his political career he gave up political power for the greater good. This showed his true nature and won him many friends which supported him fully when he later ran for president
  5. Life isn’t zero sum. Givers realize this and their seemingly self sacrificing decisions ultimately work to their advantage 
  6. The giving advantage compounds over time and eventually reaches a compounding, flywheel state
  7. Success doesn’t have to come at the expense of others
  8. Strong networks help you connect with people with diverse skill sets, knowledge and power. How people think about and use their networks says a lot about them. Over time, givers deliver far more value to their network than they receive. The more altruistic you are, the more benefits you’ll gain as others sense you are genuine and wanting to help
    1. Andy Rifkin is an ideal example of a giving networker
  9. A true measure of a man is how he treats someone cannot help him at all
  10. Regardless of who they are, you should always be asking “how can I help this person?”
  11. Weak social ties hope you reach into new network and meet people or ideas you never otherwise would have had access to. Weak ties actually tend to help for that strong ties as they serve as bridges to other people sectors jobs and opportunities
  12. 5 minute favor – you should be willing to do anything for anyone that takes you less than 5 minutes without expecting anything in return
  13. Frank Lloyd Wright worked more as a taker and this could have been part of the reason for his dry spell
  14. George Meyer is an extremely talented writer and has helped many shows from The Simpson’s to Seinfeld and is a grade A giver
  15. Givers see interdependence as a strength rather than weakness
  16. Ability to empathize and see the other persons point of view is a vital skill to have 
  17. Pronoia – The opposite of paranoia where you believe people are going out of their way to help you or speak kindly about you
  18. Dormant ties are a powerful and neglected source of ideas and opportunities
  19. Givers tend to be more open and secure with themselves and this leads them to be more open to take risks and encourage others without seeking credit
  20. Establishing a culture with psychological safety, knowing that you can take risks without being punished, is vital for any organization
  21. Do everything you can to minimize perspective gaps. Continually put yourself in other’s positions to see how you’d feel or react
  22. New research indicates that interest and motivation precede talent, not the other way around. First teachers tended to be caring, kind and patient (Givers)
  23. Gritty people much more likely to achieve their goals and where givers tend to focus most of their energy as it often has the biggest payoff. There is a very close connection between grit and giving 
  24. Givers tend to be less vulnerable to the sunk cost fallacy as they are more open to feedback and their ego less tied to results
  25. Givers more open to the expertise of others, even if it challenges their beliefs
  26. Two main sources of influence – dominance and prestige (power and authority vs respect through admiration). Givers aim for prestige as it is more sustainable and less polarizing. Questions lead to powerless communication which can evolve into prestige.
    1. Side note – article on Melting Asphalt on this topic is fascinating
  27. Power of opening self up and being vulnerable can’t be overstated. This is especially true for experts. Some blunder, weakness or other flaw helps make the expert more human and like able (lawyer with stutter)
  28. People often get suspicious of powerful and persuasive pitches which is why questions and listening are often more effective in winning people over
  29. Advice seeking is a form of powerless communication and leads to group trust and more influence 
  30. Being “other interested” sets apart sustainably successful givers from temporary givers who are more self interested
  31. Givers burn out when they don’t see a way to effectively help. Sometimes all it takes is a change of context to get remewed energy
  32. Chunking giving has larger “feel good” effects than spreading giving out
  33. Volunteering about 100 hours per year seems to be the tipping point for givers to gain energy
  34. Giving for sense of enjoyment instead of duty much more gratifying
  35. Developing a strong support network of givers is important. Especially during stressful times
  36. Be careful not to stereotype affable people at givers and cold people at takers at this it’s often not the case
  37. Givers can protect themselves from takers by becoming matchers with takers
  38. Givers who aren’t assertive enough can imagine they are advocating on belated of family or others in order to gain more confidence. Fighting for others is often easier than fighting for oneself
  39. Common ground is  a major influence on giving behaviors. Uncommon commonalities is an especially strong connector
  40. People often take more than their allotment when they don’t know that they are deviating from the norm
  41. Assuming people are either givers or takers often is a self fulfilling prophecy
  42. Always aim to help your counterparts in a negotiation as much as possible
  43. Reciprocity rings – a group of people you can turn to to ask a favor or request of
  44. Tips to become a better giver – connect people who have some sort of connection (even if very weak), rekindle dormant ties, practice powerless communication, get better at asking for help
What I got out of it
  1. By honing your giving skills you can help others and yourself more than you ever thought possible. The ultimate win-win mindset

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

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams


  1. Adams is the comic behind the Dilbert series and this book is his story about how he stumbled his way to success amid many failures. Goals are for losers, your brain isn’t magic – you can program it, most important metric to track is your personal energy, every skill you acquire doubles your chances of success, success is happiness + freedom, conquer shyness by being a huge phony (in a good way), fitness is the lever that moves the world, simplicity transforms the ordinary into the amazing
Key Takeaways
  1. When it comes to any big question, humility is the only way to handle it
  2. 6 filters for truth (how to filter out the bullshit) – personal experience, experience of people you know, experts, scientific studies, common sense, pattern recognition
    1. Look for truth by getting at least 2 of the filters in agreement
  3. Consistency is the closest thing we can get to truth
  4. Writing good comics requires stripping a situation of all noise until only the true but absurd core is left
  5. Adams invites failure into his life whenever he can and extracts as much value from it as possible. View failure as a tool, not an outcome
  6. Energy is good. Following your passion is bullshit – people tend to be passionate about things they’re already good at. Never hear about passionate people who failed
  7. The market rewards execution, not good ideas 
  8. Seek opportunities in which you have an advantage 
  9. Timing is often the biggest component of success – makes sense to try many things because timing is so hard to predict
  10. There are very few, if any, useful things which can come from management
  11. Looking for a better job should be a continual process
  12. Systems over goals – Instead of having goals, have a system. Goals lead to an uneasy state and temporary satisfaction but a system is a long term, sustainable life style
  13. A proven, sustainable system which utilizes your talents will beat passion in the long term
  14. Aim to create something which is easy to scale which utilizes your competitive edge and makes it easier for luck to find you
  15. If you want success, figure out the price and pay it
  16. 3 levels of generosity – selfish, stupid and a burden to others. Best to be selfish as this will more than likely lead to success and giving more than you consume and forces you to take the long term view on things
  17. Aim to pick up a room whenever you enter it – have infectious energy
  18. Influence works best when the person you’re trying to influence has no objection to the given change
  19. Organize and base your life upon your personal energy. Search to fill your life with things and activities which fill you with energy. Some selfish things in life are enlightened as they make you a better person and more fun to be around
  20. Match your task to your mental state
  21. There are optimizers and simplifiers – choose which is appropriate for you, the task and your energy
  22. Be aware of how a tidy vs messy home and workspace affect you
  23. Do flash searches (1 minute research) for topics to intimidate you and you’ll often find it’s simpler than you might think
  24. Set your priorities by what will add the most to your personal energy. Priorities are things you need to get right so things you love can thrive 
  25. Positive attitude very important. Be conscious of the media you consume and aim to have as much of it as possible be feel good stuff
  26. Perception of reality most likely flawed so change perception to what makes you happy and that works. Reality is overrated
  27. Quality sometimes not a good predicting success (computers). However, customers still demanded the product although it would be a while until the product was of a high quality
  28. Your product or service doesn’t need to be loved by all, but a small subset must be very enthusiastic about it
  29. What people do is much more honest than what they say
  30. Determine if you are a “practicer” or need novelty in order to keep enthused
  31. For your resume, imagine that you got $100 for each word you removed and see how it looks after. Simplicity beats accuracy every time
  32. Being good at a couple different skills is often better than being great at one (unless you’re world class)
  33. Everything you learn becomes a shortcut to learning everything else
  34. Knowledge formula – the more you know, the more you can know
  35. Finding your “blind spots” is extremely important. see the world as math (probabilities) as opposed to magic. This will help you be more positive and build new skills
  36. If you see something that impresses you, it it is your duty to speak up and complement the person
  37. People’s perception of their own potential is often very lacking 
  38. Never be blind to the psychology in a situation 
  39. Quality is not an independent force – it must be compared to something 
  40. Make learning a psychology a top priority and a lifelong goal
  41. Reason is often the smallest driver of our decisions – consider incentives and psychology over reason 
  42. Business writing is all about getting to the point and leaving out the noise
  43. Being a good conversationalist is about asking good questions – name, where from, where live, family, work, hobbies, travel
  44. Determine whether the person or people you are talking to are ‘thing’ people or ‘people’ people – like to hear of events or things vs hearing about other people
  45. Persuasive phrases – because, would you mind, I’m not interested, I don’t do that, I have a rule, I just wanted to clarify, is there anything you can do for me?, thank you, this is just between you and me, decisiveness, energy is contagious, insane people usually have their way (can fake insanity by bringing emotions into it which won’t bend to reason), proper voice technique (speak how you think a confident person would speak, low voice, no “umms”)
  46. Always look for patterns
  47. Affirmations – Writing, thinking, speaking the outcome you want to achieve many times per day
  48. Step 1 to happiness is getting control of your schedule; where you’re heading more important than where you currently are; reduce daily decisions to routine
  49. As humans have limited willpower, you want to routinize as much as possible, especially diet and exercise. An attractive alternative makes willpower much less important
  50. Make healthy foods as convenient as possible for you in order to save willpower and make it easier on yourself
  51. Fail forward – if you’re going to fail, make sure you learn a lot out of it
  52. Optimists make it easier for luck to find them
  53. Don’t think of your body as magic. Understand that the right inputs (diet, exercise, thoughts, etc) lead to better outputs 
What I got out of it
  1. An unexpectedly good book – Adams is honest, rational, witty and gives a lot of great advice from diet/exercise to affirmations to what it takes to be successful. One of my favorite books of the year

True Success by Tom Morris


  1. One of the most common maladies of our time is a misunderstanding of success. In this book Morris lays out the simple truth about success, what it is and how to have it
Key Takeaways
  1. Socrates determined that most people spend the most attention on the least important things and the least attention on the most important things
  2. There are 7 C’s of Success, 7 components of a successful mindset, 7 means to a successful life
    1. Conception – you need a clear and precise conception of what you want, a vivid vision, a goal or set of goals powerfully imagined
    2. Confidence – you need a strong confidence that you can attain your goals
    3. Concentration – you need a focused concentration on what it takes to reach your goal
    4. Consistency – you need a stubborn consistency in pursuing our vision, a determined persistence in thought and action
    5. Commitment – you need an emotional commitment to the importance of what you’re doing and to the people with whom you are doing it
    6. Character – you need a good character to guide you and keep you on a proper course
    7. Capacity – you need a capacity to enjoy the process along the way
  3. If you’re after power, understand power for what purpose
  4. The happiest people in the world are people who love what they are doing, regardless of whether wealth, fame, power and elevated social status ever come their way. The happiest people in the world realize that true success is up to them – using their talents and following their heart to bring about important change in their lives and lives of others
  5. Self-knowledge is the greatest source of personal power on this earth
  6. We need to put aside time to simply sit and think – to understand ourselves, what we want, what we love and value
  7. Goals must be clear and specific
  8. Satisfaction Audit – asking yourself what you like and dislike in your life and how to go about changing what you dislike
  9. Self-knowledge, self-discovery and self-definition
  10. Our values give rise to our goals
  11. Goals and desires are subtly but very different – you can’t have a goal that you don’t intend to act on
  12. Imagination is more important than knowledge
  13. Losers visualize the penalties of failure where winners visualize the rewards of success
  14. Good to ask yourself what the worst case scenario is – it is often not nearly as bad as we initially make it out to be
  15. Do everything to the best of your ability – that way you can look back on your life with no/few regrets
  16. Celebrate, no matter how small, whenever you reach a goal
  17. Whenever you achieve your goals, you must set yourself new goals immediately
  18. We all need support when we confront something difficult – need cheerleaders (Stutman)
  19. It’s easy to underestimate the power of negative thinking
  20. Precursive faith – faith that runs ahead of evidence
  21. You can’t please everybody. Don’t even try and don’t let it bother you
  22. Nothing worth doing is easy
  23. By learning how not to do something, you put yourself in a position so that you’ll be able to do it. Failure = learning
  24. Aim to be a realistic optimist
  25. Important to communicate confidence to yourself with self-talk and to others through how you carry yourself, what you do, how you speak/dress, etc.
  26. One of the most elusive traits today is self-esteem, aim to be moderately high in this arena
  27. Third party compliments do amazing things (Stutman)
  28. Nothing builds your own confidence like the hard work of good preparation
  29. The most consistently lucky people happen to be those who are best prepared
  30. “Everything we do can be, in one way or another, preparation for what we can contribute in this life. The good we do, and even the mistakes we make, can prepare us for greater good. But I cannot stress too much the importance of deliberate, thoughtful and specific creative preparation for any success we hope to attain.”
  31. Most people underestimate their limits and underestimate their strengths
  32. Intelligent preparation can make hard work much easier – knowledge itself is leverage
  33. Little things mean a lot and can make all the difference
  34. Expect the unexpected – even the best plans are made with incomplete knowledge
  35. What seems very bad at the time can turn out to be very good in the end
  36. Fail soon, fail often, fail forward
  37. No matter what, always learn from your failures
  38. Do not think that a successful plan, thought process, goal, etc. will translate into a different context
  39. Always look for the sages – the guys who have been around forever and have seen a lot
  40. Most successful people love to magnify their success through younger people
  41. Must know when to be stubborn and consistent in your goal but also when to be flexible in your approach
  42. Small inconsistencies should never be ignored
  43. The 5-I Framework for Positive Change – Ignorance, Indifference, Inertia, Information, Imagination
  44. Enthusiasm – theos (God) en (infused)
  45. Energy, enthusiasm, emotional commitment is the ultimate aphrodisiac. People are attracted to people who care
  46. “By the work one knows the workman” – Jean de la Fontaine
  47. Successful living and successful working is a process of self-discovery, self-invention, self-discipline and self-indulgence
  48. Make everything sacred. Aim to only have beautiful things around you
  49. Have to work in renewal and relaxation – learn when to take a break, stretch out, gain perspective and slow down. Better to sprint and rest than slowly trot along (The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working)
  50. Selfishness is self-destructive
  51. Elevate characteristics and not people
  52. Arete = excellence, virtue (human excellence and ethics are one in the same)
  53. “I believe I have an ethical obligation to be the best I can be in everything I do, across a broad range of activities, compatible with the realities of my situation.”
  54. Avoid compartmentalization – integrate all parts of your life
  55. “True success is best thought of not as a far off destination, or an end state of any kind, but as a process, a dynamic process of successful living…Enjoyment should not be the end goal but interwoven through the way.”
  56. Enjoyment must come from within
  57. Nothing is as good or as bad as it seems
  58. Be people’s biggest fan – celebrate with them, appreciate them, acknowledge them (Stutman)
  59. We tend to enjoy whatever we are doing the most when we are most immersed in it
  60. We are happy when we are growing
  61. Everyone needs a sense of uniqueness, a sense of union with something larger than the self, a sense of usefulness and a sense of understanding
What I got out of it
  1. One of my favorite books of the year – success needs to be interwoven into your daily routine/journey, 7 C’s of Success

The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb

  1. Black Swan is an event which is an a rarity, has an extreme impact and is retrospectively (though no prospectively) predictable. This book concerns itself with our blindness with respect to randomness, particularly the large deviations. Must use the extreme event as the starting point and not treat it as an exception to be pushed under the rug. The future will be increasingly less predictable the more we try to control it and “know” it through vast amounts of data
Key Takeaways
  1. Human nature makes us concoct explanations for black swans after he fact, making it explainable and predictable
  2. Literally, just about everything of significance might quality as a black swan
  3. Black Swan logic makes what you don’t know far more relevant than what you do know
  4. It is much easier to deal with the Black Swan problem if we focus on robustness to errors rather than improving predictions
  5. What is surprising is not the magnitude of our forecast errors, but our absence of awareness of it
  6. Certain professionals, while believing they are experts, are in fact not
  7. You can set yourself up to collect serendipitous Black Swans (of the positive kind) by maximizing your exposure to them. Tinker as much as you possibly can to collect as many Black Swan opportunities as possible
  8. People often get into trouble as they tend to learn the precise, not the general. Also, people tend to only learn facts and not rules
  9. To the author, the rare event = uncertainty
  10. Platonicity – mistaking the map for the territory, forcing categorizations and forms when it is inappropriate (almost always)
  11. Read books are far less valuable than unread ones (antilibrary)
  12. History is opaque. You see what comes out, not the script that produces events, the generator of history
  13. Triplet of opacity – the illusion of understanding (world is more complicated than we realize); retrospective distortion (can only assess matters after the fact); overvaluation of “factual” information
  14. Our minds are incredible explanation machines – often creating stories to fit the facts
  15. History and society does not crawl. It jumps
  16. Categories are necessary to survive but people get in trouble when they don’t realize the fuzziness of boundaries
  17. The problem lies not in the nature of the events, but in the way we perceive them
  18. Extremistan (real world) where Black Swans exist and have a huge impact (notion of Bill Gates distorting average wealth in a group) vs. Mediocristan (average) where there is no person tall/heavy enough to distort group averages
  19. Be suspicious of knowledge you derive from data
  20.  Don’t simplify anything beyond what is necessary
  21. Black Swans differ per person – it occurs relative to the person’s expectations and they don’t have to be instantaneous surprises
  22. Positive Black Swans tend to take time to show their effects whereas negative ones happen very quickly
  23. Blindness to black swans can come from: error of confirmation, narrative fallacy, human nature is not programmed for Black Swans, distortion of silent evidence and we “tunnel” (focus on a few well-defined sources of uncertainty)
  24. Domain specificity – our reactions, mode of thinking, intuitions, depend on the context
  25. Naive empiricism – finding evidence of what suits your beliefs (NED – no evidence of disease vs. END – evidence of no disease)
  26. People build stories in order to help tie events, facts together but can hurt us when it increases our impression of understanding
  27. It takes considerable effort to see facts while withholding judgment and resisting explanations
  28. The Black Swans we imagine, discuss and worry about do not resemble those likely to be Black Swans. We worry about the wrong “improbable” events
  29. Favor experimentation over storytelling, experience over history and clinical knowledge over theories. Another approach is to predict and keep a tall of the predictions
  30. The relevant is often boring, nonsensational and we tend to favor the sensational and the extremely visible
  31. Your happiness depends far more on the number of instances of positive feelings than on their intensity when they hit
  32. Silent evidence – you only see survivors and hear their stories, you don’t hear of the “drowned sailors who also prayed to God”
  33. The gravest of all manifestations of silent evidence is the illusion of stability
  34. Has been shown that people often take risks not because of bravado but because of ignorance and blindness to probability
  35. Reference point argument – don’t compute odds from the vantage point of the winning gambler but from all those who started in the group
  36. Be very careful of the “because,” especially in situations where you suspect silent evidence. People harbor a natural scorn for the abstract
  37. Ludic fallacy – the attributes of the uncertainty we face in real life have little connection the sterilized ones we encounter in exams and games
  38. Knightian risks you can compute whereas Knightian uncertainty is incomputable
  39. Prediction, not narration, is the real test of our understanding of the world
  40. The larger the role of the Black Swan the harder it will be for us to predict
  41. People are arrogant about what we think we know. Increasing knowledge helps but it can hurt as even more by increasing our confidence, ignorance and conceit
  42. Ideas are sticky – once we produce a theory, we are not likely to change our minds – those who delay forming theories are better off
  43. Certain fields like astronomers and physicists tend to have experts whereas stockbrokers, court judges, etc. tend not to be experts
  44. You cannot ignore self-delusion
  45. What matters is not how often you are right, but how large your cumulative errors are
  46. We cannot truly plan because we do not understand the future but we can plan while bearing in mind such limitations
  47. People cannot work without a point of reference (anchoring)
  48. The policies we need to make decisions on should depend far more on the range of possible outcomes than on the expected final number
  49. When new technology emerges, we either grossly underestimate or severely overestimate its importance
  50. Choose to follow evidence over theory as we cannot explain everything and often underestimate the complexity of nature and biology
  51. We fail to learn about the difference between our past predictions and the subsequent outcomes (when we think of tomorrow we just project it as another yesterday)
  52. We don’t learn much from our past experiences and we also don’t know what to epect from the future
  53. Randomness is incomplete information (opacity)
  54. Doesn’t advise always withholding judgment, opinions, predicting, being a fool – but be a fool in the right places. Avoid unnecessary dependence on large-scale harmful predictions. Avoid the big subjects that may hurt you in the future. Do not listen to economic forecasters or to predictors in social science but do make your own forecasts. Know how to rank beliefs not according to their plausibility but by the harm they may cause
  55. Make many small bets with asymmetric payoffs and where the harm is minimal
  56. Maximize the serendipity around you
  57. Trial and error means trying a lot
  58. You need to love to lose – series of small failures are necessary in life
  59. Barbell strategy – be hyperconservative and hyperaggressive instead of being mildly aggressive or conservative (90% in extremely safe instruments and 10% in extremely speculative bets)
  60. Do not try to predict precise black swans. Invest in preparedness, not in prediction
  61. Seize anything that looks likeopportunity – free options
  62. Beware of precise plans by governments
  63. Nobody in particular is a good predictor of anything
  64. Pascal’s wager – eliminates the need for us to understand the probabilities of a rare event and focus on the payoff and benefits of an event if it takes place
  65. Gray Swan – reducing Black Swans surprise effect by getting a general idea about the possibility of their outcomes
  66. An early, initial advantage tends to follow people through life
  67. For something to become “contagious” it must agree with human nature
  68. Luck is the grand equalizer
  69. Moving forward we will have fewer but more sever crises
  70. 80/20 rules can become the 50/01 rule – 50% of work done by 1% of workers (80/20 might even be more extreme in Extremistan, like 97/20)
  71. Study the intense, uncharted, humbling uncertainty in the markets as a means to get insights about the nature of randomness that is applicable to psychology, probability, mathematics, decision theory and even statistical physics . You will see the sneaky manifestations of the narrative fallacy, the ludic fallacy and the great errors of Platonicity (going from representation to reality)
  72. Fractal randomness is a way to reduce these surprises, to make some of the swans appear possible, so to speak, to make us aware of their consequences, to make them gray. Fractal randomness does not yield precise answers
  73. Worries less about small failures than large, catastrophic ones (“safe” blue chips vs. venture capital)
  74. “Missing a train is only painful if you run after it.” – it is more difficult to lose in a game that you set up yourself
  75. Redundancy equals insurance
  76. Mother Nature does not like overspecialization, anything too big, too much connectivity and globalization,
  77. The organism which has the highest number of secondary uses is the one that will gain the most from environmental randomness and opacity
  78. Certain fields make distinctions which make sense in their narrow world but have no effect in the real world
  79. Let human mistakes and miscalculations remain confined – artificially reducing volatility and ordinary randomness increases exposure to Black Swans as it creates an artificial quiet
  80. Living organisms need variability and randomness in order to avoid become fragile – diet, workouts, tabata, slow meditative walks, thermal variability, sleep deprivation, fasting – trade duration for intensity
  81. A little bit of extreme stress is vastly better than a little bit of stress all the time
  82. Volatility does not equal risk
  83. Do not bet on Black Swans taking place – he is advocating acts of omission and not comission
  84. Evolution does not work by teaching but by destroying
  85. The Black Swan corresponds mainly to an incomplete map of the world
  86. Focus more on the consequences of decisions than on their probabilities
  87. People are suckers and will gravitate to those variables which are unstable but appear stable
  88. There is no reliable way to compute small probabilities
  89. It is much more sound to take risks you can measure than to measure the risks you are taking
  90. Recommendations of the style “do not do” are more robust empirically. Success consists mainly in avoiding losses, not in trying to derive profits
  91. Acting, doing something, often more harmful than doing nothing
  92. How to move from the Third to Fourth Quadrant (Black Swan)
    1. Have respect for time and nondemonstrative knowledge
    2. Avoid optimization; learn to love redundancy (do not overspecialize)
    3. Avoid prediction of small-probability payoffs – thought no necessarily of ordinary ones
    4. Beware the “atypically” remote events
    5. Beware moral hazard with bonus payments
    6. Avoid some risk metrics
    7. Positive or negative Black Swan?
    8. Do not confuse absence of volatility with absence of risk
    9. Beware presentations of risk numbers
  93. 10 Principles for Black Swan Robust Societies
    1. What is fragile should break early, while it’s still small
    2. No socialization of losses and privatization of gains
    3. People who were driving a school bus blindfolded (and crashed it) should never been given a new bus
    4. Don’t let someone making an “incentive” bonus manage a nuclear plant – or your financial risks
    5. Compensate complexity with simplicity
    6. Do not give children dynamite sticks, even if they come with warning labels
    7. Only Ponzi schemes should depend on confidence. Governments should never need to “restore confidence”
    8. Do not give an addict more drugs if he has withdrawal pains (no leverage)
    9. Citizens should not depend on financial assets as a repository of value and should not rely on fallible “expert” advice for their retirement (investments should be for entertainment)
    10. Make an omelet with broken eggs (have the right people like entrepreneurs take the risks, not bankers; smaller firms with less effects if the fail)
What I got out of it
  1. Awesome book. I think Antifragile ties in all his books into one but still makes a lot of great points and might be worth re reading at some point

Do the Work by Steven Pressfield

  1. “This book is designed to coach you through a project (business venture, ballet, philanthropic enterprise) from conception to finished product, seeing it from the point of view of Resistance…those junctures where fear, self-sabotage, procrastination, self-doubt, and all those other demons we’re all so familiar with can be counted upon to strike.”
Key Takeaways
  1. Your enemies include resistance, rational thought and at times friends and family
  2. Your allies include stupidity, stubbornness, passion, blind faith, assistance and friends and family
  3. The book is broken down into 4 parts – beginning, middle, middle part 2 and end
    1. Beginning – Stay primitive. Trust the Soup (your muse). Swing for the fences. Be ready for Resistance
    2. Middle
      1. Seven Principles of Resistance  there is an enemy; this enemy is implacable; this enemy is inside you; the enemy is inside you, but it is not you; you are not to blame for the resistance you hear in your head; the “real you” must duel the “resistance you”; resistance arises second; the opposite of resistance is assistance
      2. Two Tests – How bad do you want it? and Why do you want it?
    3. Middle part 2 – Expect a big crash and don’t take failure personally
    4. End  – finishing is the critical part of any product; Fear of success is the essence of resistance; Stay stupid. Trust the Soup. Start before you’re ready.
What I got out of it
  1. I like the message that Pressfield is sending – expect to encounter resistance, trust the “soup” (your muse) and once you overcome resistance you will have the confidence to tackle it again and again in the future. This book is for anybody, in any field, at any point in their lives who wants to get better at breaking through this daunting barrier.

Tao Teh Ching by Lao Tzu (Translated by John C.H. Wu)

  1. This classic is a “series of insights into life and nature; it is suggestion rather than statement. It looks at what it means to follow the way of the Tao and how to go about doing so. Be humble, don’t strive, the weak are strong, be generous, be frugal, don’t force things are some of the many timeless tenets it advocates
Key Takeaways
  1. The Tao Teh Ching lays out an amazing framework on how to live. Among other things, avoid unnecessary things, stress and emotions. This type of framework can change your outlook on life, people, decisions, goals, etc and alleviates so many unnecessary components that cause unneeded stress and worry
  2. There are too many gems to highlight here or to only read once but below are some of the passages I found most powerful
    1. “…Therefore, the Sage wants to remain behind, But finds himself at the head of others; Reckons himself out, But finds himself safe and secure. Is it not because he is selfless That his Self is realized?
    2. “The highest form of goodness is like water. Water knows how to benefit all things without striving with them. it stays in places loathed by all men. Therefore, it comes near the Tao…If you do not strive with others, You will be free from blame.”
    3. “…Hence, only he who is willing to give his body for the sake of the world is fit to be entrusted with the world. Only he who can do it with love is worthy of being the steward of the world.”
    4. “…The Great Way is very smooth and straight; And yet the people prefer devious paths.”
    5. “…Do the non-Ado. Strive for the effortless. Savour the savourless. Exalt the low. Multiply the few. Requite injury with kindness…”
    6. “…Therefore, the Sage desires to be desireless, Sets no value on rare goods, Learns to unlearn his learning, And induces the masses to return from where they have overpassed. He only helps all creatures to find their own nature, But does not venture to lead them by the nose.”
What I got out of it
  1. Powerful, forever important and relevant. I’ll come back to this classic many times.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown

  1. McKeown shows you how to get more done in less time and do it better. You must be very selective about what to focus on, eliminate everything else and learn how to emphatically but gracefully say no. Less but better
Key Takeaways
  1. The wisdom of life lies in the removal of nonessentials
  2. Learn to say no – accept only the take you have the time and resources for. Allows you to produce higher quality work, be less stressed and more focused – do the work where you can have the biggest contribution
  3. Less but better
  4. Explore, eliminate, execute. With clothes, for example, ask if you love it, wear it often and look good in it. Then put clothes that don’t meet this into an eliminate pile. And lastly, execute as effortlessly as possible. 
  5. Essentialist choose to do something whereas others feel like they have to
  6. Tasks should meet these criteria – you’re passionate about it, good at it and the world needs it
  7. Be brutally honest and transparent about trade offs. More or better
  8. Schedule time daily to do nothing and just think
  9. Often what not said or done more important than what is being said or done. Read between the lines to get a sense of the big picture and trends 
  10. Aim to only do or have things that you absolutely love. Can try to implement a grading system and make a rule that anything that falls below an 8 is rejected. Whatever the rule is, make it selective and explicit 
  11. Saying no emphatically but gracefully is very difficult and takes practice. Must get over this fear as it really brings great results and respect from others. In short, learn the art of the slow yes and the quick no
  12. Be the editor of your life – remove things you consider nonessential. Deliberate and disciplined subtraction
  13. 4 rules of subtraction
    1. Cut out options
    2. Condense everything you say and do
    3. Understand your life’s overarching intent and what is important for you and make decisions fitting with that
    4. Edit/do less
  14. Start everything early and small
  15. Routine in an intelligent man is a sign of ambition
  16. Through habits, make the essential your default mindset which makes things looks easy. Routines allow you to do great things on autopilot. Spend a great deal of time consciously deciding what habits and routines you want to form and this will payoff in spades once it all becomes habit. Also creates mental space which allows you to try new and challenging things
  17. Every habit consists of a cue, routine and reward and in order to change a habit one must change the cue
  18. WIN – what’s important now – gets you to focus on the most important
  19. When you truly adopt the tenets of essentialism, you will often find yourself acting in opposite of the people around you. Saying no when others say yes, thinking when others are acting, listening when others are speaking
  20. Simplicity is extremely important for happiness
  21. Attempt to apply the question – is this essential? Into every aspect of your life. Eliminate the rest
What I got out of it
  1. No doubt implementing the ideas McKeown lays out here will be difficult but I also think they are no-brainers. Learning to gracefully but emphatically say no will be hugely important. The process of asking whether every possession/action/idea is essential is exciting (at least to me…) as I believe it leads to self-knowledge.

Continue reading