Tag Archives: Philosophy

The Five Temptations of a CEO: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

Summary

  1. Many CEOs put the success of their organization in jeopardy as they’re unwilling to face themselves and the 5 temptations of a CEO

Key Takeaways

  1. Temptation 1 – placing ego over achievement.
    1. Running a company is simple, but people make it complicated as they’re not willing to face their own issues, revealing their temptations for others to see and help with. Don’t trade the lack of short term pain for long term success
  2. Temptation 2 – popularity over accountability
    1. Have to hold people accountable or they won’t know how seriously to take you and you won’t be consistent
  3. Temptation 3 – certainty over clarity
    1. Have to set vision and expectations for yourself and entire team. Can’t hold people accountable if they don’t have clarity on their expectations
    2. Clear and timely decisions are so important. Nearly any decision is better than no decision
  4. Temptation 4 – harmony over conflict
    1. Healthy dialogue and conflict is necessary to grow
    2. Must benefit from all the ideas and feedback from your team
  5. Temptation 5 – invulnerability over trust 

What I got out of it

  1. A fun, short read that highlights the importance of an achievement oriented mentality, accountability, clarity, healthy conflict, and trust

From Poverty to Power – OR, The Realization of Prosperity and Peace

Summary

  1. James Allen discusses good and evil, the power of presence and self-mastery, truth, spiritual lessons, and more

Key Takeaways

  1. Evil is the direct result of ignorance and passing through ignorance resolves evil and leads to wisdom
  2. What you are, so is your world. The world is a reflex of you
  3. External circumstances impact you as much as you let them
  4. The cause of all power and all weakness comes from within
  5. Truth seems barren at its commencement it is only error and delusion that are inviting and enticing from the start
  6. To achieve true wealth start with becoming virtuous. And for self perfection and it shall flow from there. The truly rich see themselves as stewards and not as owners
  7. With self mastery comes mastery of the universe
  8. All the wisdom in the universe lies in self mastery and treating your enemies as thyself
  9. Salvation lies in the supreme belief in good. For, why fear or worry or doubt, if you have supreme faith?
  10. Be in supreme control of your thoughts, your mind. Daily go into the silence to find calm and gratitude. Only by controlling and channeling your thoughts will you come to make any inward progress
  11. The disbelievers wish and grumble while the believers work and wait. They know their good thoughts and hard work will eventually be rewarded. Above all, have a single aim. Let nothing distract you or pull you aside
  12. Self seeking is self destruction. He is rich who is content with what he has. He is richer who is generous with it
  13. There are two masters in this world – self and truth. Only by renouncing your self, your desires, can you hope to attain truth. Humility distinguishes the man of truth from the man of self
  14. To be in the world but not of the world is the highest victory
  15. The final test of wisdom is this: how does one live
  16. Seek continuously to give up yourself and lose yourself to the greater whole
  17. True and lasting happiness can only be found in the eternal and selfless, so give up the ephemeral and selfish wants
  18. The strongest of chains are self-forged

What I got out of it

  1. The author ties together many of the key lessons from various spiritual teachings. Great reminders and reinforcements, especially about the importance of self-mastery

Richer, Wiser, Happier: How the World’s Greatest Investors Win in Markets and Life by William Green

Summary

  1. The best investors are worth studying as they are practical philosophers, those seeking worldly wisdom. Their influence and practices can help us become better thinkers and decision makers. The purpose of this book is to share ideas worth cloning

Key Takeaways

  1. Studying investing is not only about learning how to make money, but learning how to think and make decisions
  2. Learning how to think by probability will do you more good than any book on investing. A dispassionate analysis of the facts and probabilities is one of the best mental habits you could build. They key lies in understanding how to optimize the odds for success
  3. Game selection is key. If you don’t have an edge, don’t play. There are many ways to make money, but they all require an edge
  4. Pabrai – clone the best ideas and habits of the giants
    1. People have a bug in their DNA where they feel shameful stealing the best ideas of others. DON’T!
    2. Clone the best ideas but be open to personalizing it to your personality and context
    3. Whenever you come across a principle that is correct but that most of humanity doesn’t understand or isn’t willing to follow, make the most of it! It’s an enormous competitive advantage
  5. Templeton – to get different results, you must act differently than the crowd
    1. You have to have the inner calm, willingness, and disregard of what other people think. You have to be ok with being lonely, different, and misunderstood for long periods of time. These investors favor winning and being right than sticking with the crowd
    2. Beware your own emotions and aim to take advantage of others’
    3. Beware your own ignorance, diversify broadly, have great patience, study the abysmally performing companies and industries, don’t chase fads, focus on value and not outlook
    4. Mastering yourself is of supreme importance
  6. Howard Marks
    1. The future is ever changing and it is your job as an investor to prepare as well as you can, knowing what you and do not know, making the best decision possible. Be humble and know that you are never immune from forces greater than you
    2. Marks is a master in risk, cyclicality, probabilities, playing the odds, seeking ideas in unloved areas
    3. Understand how big of a role luck plays in your success
    4. The question to ask is “how cheap is this asset given what I think it’s value is?” Don’t worry if it’s sexy or not, just look at value
    5. Everything that is important about investing is counterintuitive and everything that is obvious is wrong
    6. Beware the pendulum of history. Know your history but don’t expect it to exactly repeat. Never rely on things that cannot last. Be ready for change, for it will come
    7. Structure your life, portfolio, and relationships to be robust. Don’t maximize. Be ready for change. Adapt and evolve
    8. See reality as it is and adapt to it. Don’t fight it. If things are frothy, pare back. When there is opportunity, seize it
  7. Jean Marie Eveillard
    1. Eveillard was equipped to outperform over the long haul, avoiding all tech stocks in the late ‘90s. He underperformed for years, lost most of his investors, but didn’t budge. He was eventually proved right, seen as a sage, and funds rushed back. This takes great fortitude and the right temperament to go against the crowd. However, he was structurally fragile. Investors redeemed at horrible times, forcing him to sell when he least wanted to. He was also pressured by internal stakeholders at his mutual fund
    2. Don’t be in a rush to get rich. The key is safety, capping your losses. The gains will take care of themselves. This is resilient wealth creation
    3. It is all about surviving the dips. That’s the first step, even better is the ability to take advantage of them
  8. Joel Greenblatt – simplicity is the master key
    1. Figure out what it is worth, and pay less for it
    2. Stocks follow earnings (eventually)
    3. Take a simple idea and take it seriously
    4. Seek to reduce the complex to its essence. Only true understanding allows for this to happen
    5. Don’t make your biggest investments in the companies that can make the most, but in those you are most confident to not lose
    6. Cheap + good business is the holy grail
    7. For most people, the ideal strategy is not the one day of the highest returns, but the one you are most likely to stick with in bad times
  9. Nick Sleep and Qais Zakaria
    1. These two ran Nomad for 13 years and had wildly successful returns in a very concentrated portfolio
    2. They used what they call destination analysis, aiming to understand where a company is, where it can go in 10 years, and what would help it get there or veer it off course. This type of inversion or reverse engineering is wildly helpful in all areas of life. Where do you want to be at the end of your life and what can you do today to help you get there?
    3. They also took a simple idea seriously. They intensively researched companies they thought would do well over 5-10 years and spent all their time reading annual reports and talking to companies
    4. They came up with the model of “scale economics shared.” Amazon and Costco perfectly follow this playbook. As they get bigger, they use their scale to get lower prices and pass those savings onto consumers, fueling the cycle even further.
    5. Make quality the pursuit – in your investing, decision making, and life. Nomad wasn’t about raking in money, but a metaphysical experiment to see if pursuing quality would work. It did.
    6. Focus on the things with the longest shelf life, not the ephemeral
    7. Must look long term and have the capacity to suffer. This is another principle that applies far beyond investing. Sacrifice today so that you can have more tomorrow
  10. Tom Gaynor – The best investors build habits that compound over time
    1. Seek small marginal gains that are relentlessly followed. Time is the enemy of bad habits, the friend of the good
    2. Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. A good enough habit you follow is far superior than the perfect habit you don’t
    3. Directionally correct, moderate efforts demonstrably work
    4. Find good things that last and stay the course. Don’t be caught up in the frenzy and fads
    5. The name of the game is longevity, not perfect maximization
    6. You don’t have to be extreme to get extreme results
    7. Gaynor considers himself a node in a massive neural network. He cultivated relationships and has many people helping him and rooting for him to succeed – the compounding of goodwill
    8. Forget about perfection, instead focus on continuous improvement that can compound over time. This is the aggregation of marginal gains
    9. Write down good habits as well as a list of things to not do
  11. Charlie Munger – aim to be consistently not stupid
    1. Inversion is a really powerful thinking habit. Before trying to help, first ask how you might harm. Must have great clarity on what not to do
    2. Collect stupidities and learn vicariously through the mistakes of others
    3. Rub your nose in your mistakes and learn from them
    4. Rely on first principles, don’t try to be perfect, be patient, adopt some guidelines and restraints to handicap massive mistakes
    5. Gain self awareness and beware psychological biases, hubris, the desire to get rich quick
    6. Learn to destroy your best loved ideas
    7. Pre-mortems and devils advocate reviews are excellent ways to mitigate your biases
    8. Be aware of your emotions and physical state before making a decision. A question as simple as “are you hungry or tired?” Can help your decision making
    9. Expect your portfolio to hit 50% drawdowns at some point. The point is to be ready and to be able to act rationally on the hard times. You have to instill good habits before you need them
    10. Be proud not only of your results, but also how you’ve attained them
    11. Life is a series of opportunities to learn how to behave well in difficult circumstances
    12. Nothing is more essential than simply surviving
    13. Build up wealth to be independent, to live the life you want without having to compromise or answer to others
  12. Arnold Van Den Berg – survived the holocaust as a child and this had a tremendous impact on his view on life
    1. Being rich consists of money, happiness, and peace of mind. Use your wealth to help and serve others

What I got out of it

  1. Really enjoyable book with some tangible takeaways for your life, investing, and relationships. Love his approach of highlighting eminent investors he admires and helping the reader understand how it can apply outside of the field of finance

Maps of Meaning by Jordan Peterson

Summary

  1. Peterson explores why people from different cultures and eras have created myths and stories with very similar structures. He discusses into why this matters, what it tells us about human nature and our psyche and morality. This deep dive helps make approachable why myths matter and what they can teach us about ourselves.

Key Takeaways

  1. We need to know what things mean – not merely what they are – as this has profound impacts on how we act. We need to know what things are so that we can keep track of what they mean and how that influences our behavior. It is not effective to separate what things are from what they mean. They are inextricably intertwined. Meaning provides a useful guide for how to behave
  2. Morals and symbols and meaning are not “matter” that science so effectively deals with, but this does not make them less real. Our existence is so complex that we often don’t even know exactly what we’re saying in our mythology. We can express more than we know and stories help us work through this and communicate this. Myth can be thought of ways to understand what the world signifies and how that impacts our actions. A place to act and not to perceive or measure.
  3. We need an equivalent moral lens as our scientific and descriptive lens. A universal comparative study of the world religions, myths, and epics can help us derive a valuable guide to how to successfully live, helping us move to the ought from the is
  4. Myths help us define the known and unknown, chaos and order. Through this, we can derive meaning and it helps mitigate disputes and increase trust
  5. We can say that everything contains two final sources of information: sensory and affective. It is not enough to know when something is but we must also know what it means, the emotional meaning. It is useful to map objective reality, but we MUST model what it means or else we would quickly die. This mapping of meaning of current state, ideal future state, and behavior and actions we need to bridge the gap, help us navigate the world. Constantly compare where we are with our ideal future state and this helps determine our behavior and emotional state. If we are progressing nicely he’ll future state we are happy and satisfied and if not if they chaos and the unknown are too great and taking us off our path we get stressed and unhappy
  6. We have the pattern way of dealing with everything that is unknown – in other words chaos – as these are best dealt with their narrative form which is where our mythologies an epic stories have deep value and meaning
  7. Things do not have an absolute and objective value. They depend upon our goals and personal preferences. If our goals and preferences change, the meaning which we derive from things and situations also changes
  8. It is the exploration of the unknown, the unpredictable of chaos, that leads to all learning, growth, and wisdom. It pushes the boundaries and allows us to see a little bit more and a little bit more clearly than we were able to before. Successful exploration of the unknown needs to be expected and desired. Increasingly accurate maps bring confidence and help us more accurately navigate the world. This shows us that fear is in the and that security is learned overtime through successful exploration and the turning of the unpredictable into the predictable
  9. A story is a map of meaning that helps us understand how to act, helping us keep, transfer, mimic, and iterate upon what was learned and passed on before. This is to say we acquire wisdom for the proper way to act far before we can effectively communicate it or understand what it is we are doing. Myth and culture are the intermediaries between knowing what and knowing how they help us move from unconscious acting out to conscious understanding. Our actions beliefs and behaviors get coded into characters admits that are told and retold and refined overtime so that we get every closer to a deep understanding of what it is we are doing. In this way, story contains meta-truths and meta-skills – the synthesized truths and skills across thousands of years and millions of people. This can allow for the ability of each to become the capability for all
  10. Action requires exclusion of all things but ONE
  11. Good stories can be read at multiple levels at the same time, all holding true depending on your level of analysis. A helpful question is to ask at what level are these things the same and at what level are they different. The best stories provide clues on how to behave in the widest possible territory
  12. A good theory is beautiful. Efficient. It lets you use things for desirable ends, even things that you thought were useless before
  13. We come to understand the unknown, the unexplored by how we react to it. This is how we can define and categorize things. When I see a dog, I pet it and play with it. When I see a chair, I sit, etc. we observe our behavior and come to understand more than we did. This moves the promise and threat of the unknown into the potentially useful predictable and noun expanding our horizons and understanding only through coming into contact and playing with the unknown
  14. The beginning of wisdom is the seeking of instruction. Wisdom should be the highest good we seek to serve above money status or wealth for with it all other things come
  15. The threat or potential of the unknown depends a lot on how you approach it. If approached voluntarily that is to say you you believe it to be beneficial it’s positive manifestation is more likely to present itself. Those things that appear to us suddenly and unpredictably are more likely to be seen as a threat if we reject them they become negative but if embraced they can be greatly beneficial
  16. We are more complex than we can understand, so the best we can do is react to the situation at hand, observe our actions, try to understand that after the fact, and then learn and adjust in order to more effectively and consistently reach your aims. Stories are so effective at helping us do this because they amalgamate and generalize behaviors and beliefs over the eons, aiming to make useful patterns of behavior and meaning universal and valuable across time and context. 
  17. The Enuma Elis is the oldest mythical story in our possession and it tells of the annual ritual where the king would step outside his kingdom once a year get naked in the high priest speaking for the gods would ask him what he’s send. His voluntary subordination it’s common for every religion across the world that is the basis of a successful marriage for each person volleyball voluntarily subordinates some of their individual goals to the idea of marriage
  18. Culture is the accumulation of beneficial behaviors and actions that are passed down through the generations. Culture binds nature by limiting the scope of behavior that is acceptable in your community and by laying the groundwork and providing stories that help people live successful and long lives
  19. A common moral is to beware arrogance for if you do not know where you are going you should not presume you know how to get there. In this state you don’t know who or what is important so you need to be humble enough and kind enough and open enough to people and things that might just help you in your journey
  20. An integrated state or person’s imagination and explicit verbal descriptions are isomorphic – they match at various levels of analysis.
  21. Change and chaos, if embraced, understood, and integrated helps us move forward. This is where progress comes from and rests on the belief that perfection is attainable
  22. The revolutionary band plays outside the rules of the game. This threaten the stability of individuals in that game as well as the nation itself. This means the revolutionary man face is not only total chaos but the wrath of his citizens. This is a difficult quest but is vital for the progress and deeper understanding of the human race
  23. Wisdom alone is not enough. It must be taught and integrated into the whole community. Salvation for one does not exist if there is still suffering in others
  24. It is a scary destructive yet desirable part of maturation to meet chaos. Without it, we cannot truly grow nor learn and this is part of the human condition
  25. Lucifer is portrayed as the angel of reason, the angel closest to God before he gets thrown into hell. The idea is that reason can be dangerous and can lead you to hell
  26. Must transcend the group or risk stagnation and dogma, similar to how you must transcend childhood if you are to become an adult
  27. Integrating the complete unknown is what  Christ did. Must fully embrace and run toward the unknown, make it work for you and strengthen you. If you runaway, the ambivalent unknown becomes the terrifying and unconquerable unknown
  28. The good is anything that allows for moral progress across various dimensions and context. Evil  is anything that stands in the way of that creative progress and the hatred for the good and courageous
  29. Failure to understand and control the nature of evil leads to it’s eventual success. This has been known since the Egyptian times but thousands of years later we still fail to understand this
  30. Alchemy deals with turning the unknown – matter – into something useful. Today’s equivalent could be termed “information.” Alchemy is the heroes journey – a voluntary search, discovery and integration of the unknown. This is the purpose and meaning of life – an integrated and subjective person who actively manipulates the nature of the unknown for their benefit. Alchemy is an active myth, the idea of the individual man as redeemer. It is not enough to worship the divine, but to identify with it. These idea must be voluntarily incorporated and acted out, not simply believed in. This is exactly what we all want to hear. Perfect yourself, follow hour heart and what makes you you and you will benefit all of humanity if the aims are noble and good
  31. It is often easier to know what not to do but as you transcend it becomes increasingly important to define what to do


What I got out of it

  1. A really deep book that helped me better understand Jordan’s other book, 12 Rules for Life. A deep dive into religion, philosophy, psychology, wisdom, and more. “A story is a map of meaning that helps us understand how to act, helping us keep, transfer, mimic, and iterate upon what was learned and passed on before. This is to say we acquire wisdom for the proper way to act far before we can effectively communicate it or understand what it is we are doing. Myth and culture are the intermediaries between knowing what and knowing how they help us move from unconscious acting out to conscious understanding. Our actions beliefs and behaviors get coded into characters admits that are told and retold and refined overtime so that we get every closer to a deep understanding of what it is we are doing. In this way, story contains meta-truths and meta-skills – the synthesized truths and skills across thousands of years and millions of people. This can allow for the ability of each to become the capability for all”

Beyond Order: 12 More Rules for Life by Jordan Peterson

Summary

  1. Peterson follows up his phenomenally successful first book – 12 Rules for Life – with 12 More Rules for Life

Key Takeaways

  1. Peterson’s 12 rules
    1. Do not carelessly denigrate social institutions or creative achievement 
      1. Understand and follow the rules, but break them when necessary to follow its spirit
      2. The balance between conservatism and liberalism is paramount
    2. Imagine who you could be and then aim single mindedly at that
    3. Do not hide unwanted things in the fog
      1. Speak up if something makes you unhappy, especially if it happens everyday. Have the fight. It’s worth it in the long run. Life is what repeats and it’s worth Etting what repeats right
      2. Willful blindness is very real and causes a big portion of our problems
      3. You must intimately know what you want and stand up for that
      4. The fog is your refusal either internally or externally to confront what you want or bothers you
    4. Notice that the opportunity lurks where responsibility has been abdicated
      1. This is difficult, challenging and this makes it meaningful. It provides purpose and aim
      2. Seek to play generative, iterative games
      3. The highest good is that which is good for you and others across time. Never neglect time and the fact that you need others to want to work and play with you. Happiness should not be what you optimize for, but value, meaning, purpose across time. People feel positive emotion in the pursuit of a meaningful goal, not the attainment of it. The meaning of your life is proportional to the amount of responsibility you voluntarily take on
      4. When you’re in a situation that you can’t escape, the right attitude is to confront it voluntarily
      5. The goal is to find strategies and tactics that work across multiple times, people, and places
    5. Do not do what you hate
    6. Abandon ideology
    7. Work as hard as you possibly can on just one thing and see what happens
      1. Heat and pressure turn coal into diamond, the same can be said of people too
    8. Make one room in your house as beautiful as possible
      1. Beauty is a window into what’s possible; it is part of what makes life worth living
    9. If old memories still upset you, write them down carefully and completely
      1. Traumatic memories cannot be forgotten and integrated if they are not first understood
      2. We must know where we are and where we are going, and this includes an accurate recall and integration of painful memories. This gives us an accurate a map as possible to effectively navigate life
      3. We must recollect our experiences and derive from them our morals 
    10. Plan and work diligently to maintain the romance in your relationship
      1. Have consistent dates to build intimacy and trust and keep the spark alive
      2. Must know what you yourself want and then verbalize it to your partner. This can be scary but you must trust your partner if the relationship is to grow
      3. You do not find – as much as make and deserve – a perfect partner
      4. There are 3 iterations of relationship: tyrant/slave, slave/tyrant, negotiation. Negotiation is difficult but the best option all things considering. It creates for difficult arguments and awkward talks, but also contains the greatest potential
    11. Do not allow yourself to become resentful, deceitful or arrogant 
    12. Be grateful in spite of your suffering
      1. It takes genuine courage and work to be grateful. Naïveté can bring it too but it is fragile. It takes courage to work through difficult situations and act nobly in the da e of struggle, but this hardens you and makes life less difficult than it otherwise would be
      2. You love people not only in spite of their imperfections but because of their imperfections. This is worth pondering deeply for a long time
      3. Genie – genius – is the combination of potential, possibility, and extreme constraint

What I got out of it

  1. A powerful, meaningful book. To me, the idea of confronting and having the difficult conversations openly and transparently rings most true. In addition, the rule that opportunity lies where responsibility has been abdicated is a master key to learning, growing, and gaining trust in your ecosystem

Theory of Everything by Ken Wilber

Summary

  1. The author aims to provide an integrated, unified view of the cosmos – matter, mind, body, soul, art, and everything else. Not reducing things down unnecessarily to matter alone. This endeavor is surely to fail and overgeneralize, but it is a worthwhile journey because a little bit of wholeness is better than a whole bunch of slices that are never integrated or unified

Key Takeaways

  1. Spiral dynamics – 8 levels of consciousness
    1. Beige – survival instincts
    2. Purple – clan instinct
    3. Red – egocentric
    4. Blue – finding purpose in life
    5. Orange – autonomy and independence
    6. Green – community and unity
    7. Yellow – integration, living in paradox
    8. Turquoise – holism, all part of same living whole
    9. First tier thinking – every level thinks that every other level is wrong, only their way is right.
    1. Second tier thinking, understands that all those games are necessary parts of human evolution of consciousness and people to reach this level are able to think vertically and horizontally seeing the bigger picture seeing things holistic Lee and not as black and white. This is a massive mental and consciously that is necessary to move from silos or integralism
    2. Understanding first year and second-tier situation is important because it is often a subjective and personal experience. People move from first tier to second-tier and no amount of arguing or explaining will do the trick. When the student is ready the teacher appears
    3. Evolution from one spiral to the next is natural and necessary. No one tier gets preferential treatment or is more important. The most effective thing we could do is help the billions of people move up a tier, not getting a select few to the second tier
  2. Human consciousness project – served as the roadmap for our theory of everything
  3. One definition of development could be viewed as a continual decline of ego centrism towards ethno-centrism to world centrism (I, we, it)
  4. High minded social activism can often come from low minded egocentric views and beliefs
  5. It can be helpful to think of hierarchies in terms of dominance hierarchy and actualization hierarchies. The latter is in towards status quo and power the second towards grow confidence and unity

What I got out of it

  1. A bit too out there for me, but the framework of consciousness progressing up a spiral is one I’ll remember

What Owen Didn’t Know by Laurence Endersen

Summary

  1. A short, beautiful book reminding us what is truly important

Key Takeaways

  1. Owen and Rose spoke for no more than a few minutes, but a lot can happen in a few minutes. Life is funny that way. 
  2. The Danes have two words for play: spille for structured play, like soccer or board games, and lege for open-ended, imaginative play with no specific goal. Rose saw learning to play as a prerequisite for any balanced life. As an only child she appreciated how much joy she got from playing with the other children on her road
  3. Life is paradox and contrast. More constructively, Owen also recalled his dad advising that if you wanted to get the best from people you should build on their strengths, rather than try to correct weakness. Weakness can be coached to average, but strength can be leveraged to the moon. People are highly motivated by achievement and recognition. Give them a reputation to live up to. When staff presented their work to Owen, he always had one question for them: Is this your best work? He asked nicely, and invariably they would come back with something far better. This created a virtuous cycle, and the partners at NT soon saw that practically everything that came out of Owen’s team was first-class. Everyone in his team was now working to protect and promote the reputation of the team.
  4. The first default setting relates to conversation. Are you a listener or a talker? In our conversations,w e can default to a lecturing lens or a listening lens. The rooster can crow at 142 decibels, which is like being within 100 meters of a roaring jet engine. That’s almost deafening. So why doesn’t the rooster deafen itself? Because when it opens its beak, it shuts off its ear canals. Sound familiar? Too many of us are roosters. Or crocodiles – all mouth, no ears.
  5. Stress is wrestling with reality
  6. Tiny improvements forever
  7. Rose had read numerous psychology books. She had studied the Stoics. But there is a deep chasm between understanding something intellectually and knowing it viscerally. That’s the gap between the label and experience. She wasn’t going to magically forge advantage from adversity simply by reading about how others had done it. No amount of reading, philosophizing, or indeed writing could have protected her from such an unexpected loss. Loss of friendship. Loss of love. Loss of even caring about loss.

What I got out of it

  1. A beautiful story to remind us all to be here now and focus on the things that truly matter

Anything You Want: 40 lessons for new kind of Entrepreneur by Derek Sivers

Summary

  1. “I hope you find these ideas useful in your own life or business. I also hope you disagree with some of them. Then I hope you email me to tell me about your different point of view, because that’s my favorite part of all. (I’m a student, not a guru.)”

Key Takeaways

  1. What’s Your Compass?
    1. Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself
    2. Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself
    3. When you make a company, you make a utopia. It’s where you design your perfect world
    4. Never do anything just for the money
    5. Don’t pursue business just for your own gain. Only answer the calls for help
    6. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what’s not working
    7. Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what people really want until you start doing it.
    8. Starting with no money is an advantage. You don’t need money to start helping people
    9. You can’t please everyone, so proudly exclude people
    10. Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your busienss
    11. The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy
  2. If it’s not a hit, switch
    1. We’ve all heard about the importance of persistence. But I think had misunderstood. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working. When you present one to the world and it’s not a hit, don’t keep pushing it as is. Instead, get back to improving and inventing
  3. No “yes.” Either “Hell yeah!” or “no.”
  4. The advantage of no funding
    1. Never forget that absolutely everything you do is for your customers. Make every decision – even decisions about whether to expand the business, raise money, or promote someone – according to what’s best for your customers. If you’re ever unsure what to prioritize, just ask your customers the open-ended question, “How can I best help you now?” Then focus on satisfying those requests. None of your customers will ask you to turn your attention to expanding. They want you to keep your attention focused on them. It’s counter-intuitive, but the way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers. Just thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone. 
  5. Proudly exclude people
  6. This is just one of many options
    1. You can’t pretend there’s only one way to do it. Your first idea is just one of many options. No business goes as planned, so make ten radically different plans. Same thing with your current path in life
  7. How do you grade yourself?
    1. Knowing what you’re keeping track of determines how you play the game
  8. Care more about your customers than you do yourself. 
    1. That’s the Tao of Business: care about customers more than about yourself, and you’ll do well
  9. Act like you don’t need the money
    1. It’s another Tao of business: set up your business like you don’t need the money, and it’ll likely come your way
  10. The most successful email I ever wrote
    1. Your CD has been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow. A team of 50 employees inspected your CD and polished it to make sure it was in the best possible condition before mailing. Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CD into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy. We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved “Bon Voyage!” to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Friday, June 6th. I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as “Customer of the Year.” We’re all exhausted but can’t wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!
    2. When you’re thinking of how to make your business bigger, it’s tempting to try to think all the big thoughts and come up with world-changing massive-action plans. But please know that it’s often the tiny details that really thrill people enough to make them tell all their friends about you
  11. Delegate or Die: The self-employment trap
    1. Always do whatever would make the customer happiest, as long as it’s not outrageous. Little gestures like these go a long way toward him telling his friends we’re a great company
  12. Make it anything you want
    1. Never forget that you can make your role anything you want it to be. Anything you hate to do, someone else loves. So find that person and let her do it. 
  13. Delegate, but don’t abidcate

What I got out of it

  1. A great, quick book which is fun and has a lot of worthwhile lessons. While all 40 lessons are key, I’ve only included the ones that seem most relevant/differentiated. Make yourself unnecessary, build a business for the love of it

On Bullshit by Harry Frankfurt

Summary

  1. Frankfurt on the essence of bullshit

Key Takeaways

  1. One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share.
  2. It does seem fitting to construe carelessly made, shoddy goods as in some way analogues of bullshit. But in what way? Is the resemblance that bullshit itself is invariably produced in a careless or self-indulgent manner, that it is never finely crafted, that in the making of it there is never the meticulously attentive concern with detail to which Longfellow alludes? Is the bullshitter by his very nature a mindless slob? Is his product necessarily messy or unrefined? The word shit does, to be sure, suggest this.
  3. However studiously and conscientiously the bullshitter proceeds, it remains true that he is also trying to get away with something. There is surely in his work, as in the work of the slovenly craftsman, some kind of laxity that resists or eludes the demands of a disinterested and austere discipline. The pertinent mode of laxity cannot be equated, evidently, with simple carelessness or inattention to detail.
  4. Wittgenstein devoted his philosophical energies largely to identifying and combating what he regarded as insidiously disruptive forms of “nonsense.” He was apparently like that in his personal life as well.
  5. Now assuming that Wittgenstein does indeed regard Pascal’s characterization of how she feels as an instance of bullshit, why does it strike him that way? It does so, I believe, because he perceives what Pascal says as being—roughly speaking, for now—unconnected to a concern with the truth. Her statement is not germane to the enterprise of describing reality.
  6. Her fault is not that she fails to get things right, but that she is not even trying.
  7. It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth—this indifference to how things really are—that I regard as of the essence of bullshit.
  8. It does seem that bullshitting involves a kind of bluff. It is closer to bluffing, surely, than to telling a lie. But what is implied concerning its nature by the fact that it is more like the former than it is like the latter? Just what is the relevant difference here between a bluff and a lie? Lying and bluffing are both modes of misrepresentation or deception. Now the concept most central to the distinctive nature of a lie is that of falsity: the liar is essentially someone who deliberately promulgates a falsehood. Bluffing, too, is typically devoted to conveying something false. Unlike plain lying, however, it is more especially a matter not of falsity but of fakery. This is what accounts for its nearness to bullshit. For the essence of bullshit is not that it is false but that it is phony.
  9. This points to a similar and fundamental aspect of the essential nature of bullshit: although it is produced without concern with the truth, it need not be false. The bullshitter is faking things. But this does not mean that he necessarily gets them wrong.
  10. It is impossible for someone to lie unless he thinks he knows the truth. Producing bullshit requires no such conviction.
  11. For the bullshitter, however, all these bets are off: he is neither on the side of the true nor on the side of the false. His eye is not on the facts at all, as the eyes of the honest man and of the liar are, except insofar as they may be pertinent to his interest in getting away with what he says. He does not care whether the things he says describe reality correctly. He just picks them out, or makes them up, to suit his purpose.
  12. The bullshitter ignores these demands altogether. He does not reject the authority of the truth, as the liar does, and oppose himself to it. He pays no attention to it at all. By virtue of this, bullshit is a greater enemy of the truth than lies are.
  13. Bullshit is unavoidable whenever circumstances require someone to talk without knowing what he is talking about. 

What I got out of it

  1. Really relevant book given today’s context. It is just this lack of connection to a concern with truth—this indifference to how things really are—that I regard as of the essence of bullshit. The essence of bullshit is not that it is false but that it is phony. It is produced without the concern for truth, but need not be false

Latticework: The New Investing by Robert Hagstrom

Summary

  1. Latticework: success in investing based on a working knowledge of a variety of disciplines

Key Takeaways

  1. Latticework
    1. Latticework is itself a metaphor. And on the surface, quite a simple one at that. Everyone knows what latticework is, and most people have some degree of firsthand experience with it. There is probably not a do-it-yourselfer in America who hasn’t made good use of a four-by-eight sheet of latticework at some point. We  use it to decorate fences, to create shade over patios, and to support climbing plants. It is but a very small stretch to envision a metaphorical lattice as the support structure for organizing a set of mental concepts
  2. Physics – Equilibrium
    1. Physics is the science that investigates matter, energy, and the interaction between them – the study, in other words, of how our universe works. It encompasses all the forces that control motion, sound, light, heat, electricity, and magnetism, and their occurrence in all forms, from the smallest subatomic particles to entire solar systems. It is the intellectual foundation of many well-recognized principles such as gravitation and such mind-boggling concepts as quantum mechanics and relativity.
    2. Equilibrium is defined as a state of balance between opposing forces, powers, or influences. An equilibrium model typically identifies a system that is at rest; this is called “static equilibrium.”
    3. The concept of equilibrium is so deeply embedded in our theory of economics and the stock market, it is difficult to imagine any other idea of how these systems could possible work…One place where the question is being raised is the Santa Fe Institute, where scientists from several disciplines are studying complex adaptive systems – those systems with many interacting parts that are continually changing their behavior in response to changes in the environment…If a CAS is, by definition, continuously adapting, it is impossible for any such system, including the stock market, ever to reach a state of perfect equilibrium. What does that mean for the stock market? It throws the classic theories of economic equilibrium into serious question. The standard equilibrium theory is rational, mechanistic, and efficient. It assumes that identical individual investors share rational expectations about stock prices and then efficiently discount that information into the market. It further assumes there are no profitable strategies available that are not already priced into the market. The counterview from SFI suggests the opposite: a market that is not rational, is organic rather than mechanistic, and is imperfectly efficient. 
    4. The SFI pointed out 4 distinct features they observed about the economy: dispersed interaction, no global controller, continual adaptation, out of equilibrium dynamics. 
  3. Biology – Evolution
    1. What we are learning is that studying economic and financial systems is very similar to studying biological systems. The central concept for both is the notion of change, what biologists call evolution. The models we use to explain the evolution of financial strategies are mathematically similar to the equations biologists use to study populations of predator-prey systems, competing systems, or symbiotic systems. 
    2. Complex systems must be studied as a whole, not in individual parts, because the behavior of the system is greater than the sum of the parts. The old science was concerned with understanding the laws of being. The new science is concerned with the laws of becoming
  4. Social Sciences – Complexity, Complex Adaptive Systems, Self-Organized Criticality
    1. Although Johnson’s maze is a simple problem-solving computer simulation, it does demonstrate emergent behavior. It also leads us to better understand the essential characteristic a self-organizing system must contain in order to produce emergent behavior. That characteristic is diversity. The collective solution, Johnson explains, is robust if the individual contributions to the solution represent a broad diversity of experience in the problem at hand. Interestingly, Johnson discovered that the collective solution is actually degraded if the system is limited to only high-performing people. It appears that the diverse collective is better at adapting to unexpected changes in structure. 
      1. Folly to think you can eliminate every waste, every performer who doesn’t meet the highest bar, and excel and survive. Can shift the entire bell curve to the right, but you still need the full spectrum
      2. Notes: We have observed anecdotal evidence of emergent behavior, perhaps without realizing what we were seeing. The recent bestseller, Blind Man’s Bluff: The Untold Story of american Submarine Espionage, presents a very compelling example of emergence. Early in the book, the authors relate the story of the 1966 crash of a B-52 bomber carrying four atomic bombs. Three of the four bombs were soon recovered, but a fourth remained missing, with the Soviets quickly closing in. A naval engineer named John Craven was given the task of locating the missing bomb. He constructed several different scenarios of what possibly could have happened to the fourth bomb and asked the members of the salvage team to wager a bet on where they thought the bomb could be. He then ran each possible location through a computer formula and – without ever going to sea! – was able to pinpoint the exact location of the bomb based on a collective solution
    2. It is when the agents in the system do not have similar concepts about the possible choices that the system is in danger of becoming unstable. And that is clearly the case in the stock market…The value of this way of looking at complex systems is that if we know why they become unstable, then we have a clear path to a solution, to finding ways to reduce overall instability. One implication, Richards says, is that we should be considering the belief structures underlying the various mental concepts, and not the specifics of the choices. Another is to acknowledge that if mutual knowledge fails, the problem may center on how knowledge is transferred in the system. 
  5. Psychology – Mr. Market, Complexity, Information
    1. Another aspect of behavioral finance is what some psychologists refer to as mental accounting – our tendency to think of money in different categories, putting our funds into separate “mental accounts,” depending on circumstances. Mental accounting is the reason we are far more willing to gamble with our year-end bonus than our monthly salary, especially if it is higher than anticipated. It is also one further reason why we stubbornly hold onto stocks that are doing badly; the loss doesn’t feel like a loss until we sell
  6. Philosophy – Pragmatism
    1. Strictly for organizational simplicity, we can separate the study of philosophy into 3 broad categories. First, critical thinking as it applies to the general nature of the world is called “metaphysics”…Metaphysics means “beyond physics.” When philosophers discuss metaphysical questions, they are describing ideas that exist independently from our own space and time. Examples include the concepts of God and the afterlife. These are not tangible events like tables and chairs but rather abstract ideas that metaphysical questions readily concede the existence of the world that surrounds us but disagree about the essential nature and meaning of the world. The second body of philosophical inquiry is the investigation of 3 related areas: aesthetics, ethics, and politics. Aesthetics is the theory of beauty. Philosophers who engage in aesthetic discussions are trying to ascertain what it is that people find beautiful, whether it be in the objects they observe or in the state of mind they achieve. This study of the beautiful should not be thought of as a superficial inquiry, because how we conceive beauty can affect our judgments of what is right and wrong, what is the correct political order, and how people should live. Ethics is the philosophical branch that studies the issues of right and wrong. It asks what is moral and what is immoral, what behavior is appropriate and inappropriate. Ethics makes inquiries into the activities people undertake, the judgments they make, the values they hold, and the character they aspire to achieve. Closely connected to the idea of ethics is the philosophy of politics. Whereas ethics investigates what is good or right at the individual level, politics investigates what is good or right at the societal level. Political philosophy is a debate over how societies should be organized, what laws should be passed, and what connections people should have to these societal organizations. Epistemology, the third body of inquiry, is the branch of philosophy that seeks to understand the limits and nature of knowledge. The term itself comes from two Greek words: episteme, meaning “knowledge,” and logos, which literally means “discourse” and more broadly refers to any kind of study or intellectual investigation. Epistemology, then, is the study of the theory of knowledge. To put it simply, when we make an epistemological inquiry, we are thinking about thinking. When philosophers think about knowledge, they are trying to discover what kinds of things are knowable, what constitutes knowledge (as opposed to beliefs), how it is acquired (innately or empirically, through experience), and how we can say that we know a thing.
    2. For pragmatism, anyone who seeks to determine the true definition of a belief should look not at the belief itself but at the actions that result from it. He called the proposition “pragmatism,” a term, he pointed out, with the same root as practice or practical, thus cementing his view that the meaning of an idea is the same as its practical results. “Our idea of anything, Peirce explained, “is our idea of its sensible effects.” In his classic 1878 paper, “How to Make Our Ideas Clear,” Peirce continued: “The whole function of thought is to produce habits of action. To develop its meaning, we have, therefore, simply to determine what habits it produces, for what a thing means is simply what habits it involves.” 
    3. A belief is true, James said, because holding it puts a person into more useful relations with the world…People should ask what practical effects come from holding one philosophical view over another
    4. If truth ad value are determined by their practical applications in the world, then it follows that truth will change as circumstances change and as new discoveries about the world are made. Our understanding of truth evolves. Darwin smiles.
    5. So we can say that pragmatism is a process that allows people to navigate an uncertain world without becoming stranded on the desert island of absolutes. Pragmatism has no prejudices, dogmas, or rigid canons. It will entertain any hypothesis and consider any evidence. If you need facts, take the facts. If you need religion, take religion. If you need to experiment, go experiment. “In short, pragmatism widens the field of search for God,” says James. “Her only test of probable truth is what works best in the way of leading us.” 
    6. Pragmatism, in summary, is not a philosophy as much as it is a way of doing philosophy. It thrives on open minds, and gleefully invites experimentation. It rejects rigidity and dogma; it welcomes new ideas. It insists that all possibilities should be considered, without prejudice, for important new insights often come disguised as frivolous, even silly notions. it seeks new understanding by redefining old problems. 
    7. One of the secret to Bill Miller’s success is his desire to take a Rubik’s Cube approach to investing. He enthusiastically examines every issue from every possible angle, from every possible discipline, to get the best possible description – or redescription – of what is going on. Only then does he feel in a position to explain. To his investigation he brings insights from many fields…He continually studies physics, biology, and social science research, searching for ideas that will help him become a better investor…In an environment of rapid change, the flexible mind will always prevail over the rigid and absolute…Because you recognize patterns, you are less afraid of sudden changes. With a perpetually open mind that relishes new ideas and knows what to do with them, you are set firmly on the right path. 
  7. Literature – self-education of a Latticework through books, Adler’s Active Reading
    1. We must educate ourselves and the vehicle for doing so is a book supplemented with all other media both traditional and modern…So we are talking about learning to become discriminating readers: to analyze what you read, to evaluate its worth in the larger picture, and to either reject it or incorporate it into your own latticework of mental models…We can all acquire new insights through reading if we perfect the skill of reading thoughtfully. The benefits are profound: not only will you substantially add to your working knowledge of various fields, you will at the same time sharpen your skill at critical thinking.
    2. The central purpose of reading a book, Adler believes, is to gain understanding…This is not the same as reading for information. 
    3. Reading that makes you stop and think is the path to greater understanding – not solely because of what you are reading but also because of the process of reflection in which you are engaged. You are learning from your own thinking as well as from the author’s ideas. You are making new connections. Adler describes as the difference between learning by instruction and learning by discovery. It’s evident of in the satisfaction we feel when we figure out something on our own, instead of being told the answer. Receiving the answer might solve the immediate problem, but discovering the answer by your own investigation has a much more powerful effect on your overall understanding. 
    4. Adler proposes that all active readers need to keep 4 fundamental questions in mind: what is the book about as a whole, what is being said in detail, is the book true, in whole or in part, what of it? The heart of Adler’s process involves 4 levels of reading: elementary, inspectional, analytical, and syntopical. Each level is a necessary foundation for the next, and the entire process is cumulative. 
      1. Elementary reading is the most basic level, the one we achieve in elementary education
      2. In inspectional reading, the second level, the emphasis is on time and the goal is to determine, as quickly as possible, what the book is about. It has two levels: prereading and superficial reading. Prereading is a fast review to determine whether a book deserves a more careful reading. Look at the table of contents, index, how much can you learn about the main themes through this overview. Next, Adler recommends systematic skimming. Read a few paragraphs here and there, read the author’s conclusion. These two activities should take between 30-60 minutes and help you determine if it is worth your time to read the book
      3. Analytical reading is the most thorough and complete way to absorb a book. Through analytical reading you will answer what is the book about as a whole and in detail and provide you the most complete answer to if the book is true. It has  goals: develop a detailed sense of what the book contains, interpret the contents by examining the author’s own particular point of view on the subject; and to analyze the author’s success in presenting that point of view convincingly. Take notes, make an outline, write in your own words what you think the book is about, write the author’s main arguments
      4. The fourth and highest level is what Adler calls syntopical reading, or comparative reading. In this level of reading, we are interested in learning about a certain subject, and to do so we compare and contrast the works of several authors rather than focusing on just one work by one another. Adler considers this the most demanding and most complex level of reading. It involves two challenges: first, searching for possible books on the subject; and then deciding, after finding them, which books should be read
    5. The challenge for us as readers is to receive that knowledge and integrate it into our latticework of mental models. How well we are able to do so is a function of two very separate considerations: the author’s ability to explain, and our skills as careful, thoughtful readers. We have little control over the first, other than to discard one particular book in favor of another, but the second is completely within our control
    6. I believe in…mastering the best that other people have figured out, [rather than] sitting down and trying to dream it up yourself…You won’t find it that hard if you go at it Darwinlike, step by step with curious persistence. You’ll be amazed at how good you can get…It’s a huge mistake not to absorb elementary worldly wisdom…Your life will be enriched – not only financially but in a host of other ways – if you do. – Charlie Munger, Poor Charlie’s Almanack 
  8. Decision Making – Continuously add more building blocks to your knowledge base in order to build more robust mental models
    1. Failures to explain are caused by our failures to describe
    2. Our institutions of higher learning may separate knowledge into categories, but wisdom is what unites them.

What I got out of it

  1. A beautiful book on how to approach being a multidisciplinary thinker as it applies to investing.