Tag Archives: Psychology

When More is Not Better: Overcoming America’s Obsession with Economic Efficiency by Roger L. Martin

Summary

  1. The economy is currently seen as a machine we can optimize, but is more accurately seen as a complex adaptive system. In this view, it changes how we should approach, understanding any action will have an impact and will require constant adjustment. It also forces optimization of a second feature beyond efficiency, resiliency. If the machine metaphor is kept in place it will simply allow those who are in control to profit for longer then if we treated the economy as a complex adaptive system

Key Takeaways

  1. In a CAS, there is no perfection or end in sight. The players adapt reflexively and this must always be taken into account. Relentless tweaking is the best route to steer towards a perfection that will never be achieved
  2. Metaphors are so powerful, which is why changing the “economy is a machine” to the economy is a complex adaptive system is so important
  3. Surrogation – when you surrogate the terrain for the map, when proxies become goals. The followers of great thinkers often take their ideas too far, mistaking more for better. More trade agreements, more efficiency, more division of labor is not always better
  4. Economic effects are not independent. One action could cause more of that action as scale and efficiencies increase. Interdependence moves us from a Gaussian to a Pareto distribution
  5. Pressure can help drive efficiencies and progress but it can also be taken too far if the incentives are not aligned. You just also introduce some limits and fridtion in order to ensure resiliency. These can be thought of as productive frictions in the long term. For example, pitchers are more likely to blow out their arms in the end of a game than the beginning. Pitch count restrictions help limit how much a pitcher can do and therefore prolongs the pitchers life in the long term
  6. Must balance connectedness with separation, efficiency and resilience, pressure and friction, perfection and improvement
  7. Anomalies are a treasure trove. Answers to really difficult problems tend to be found in Data points that don’t fit the current framework. Don’t ignore them, dive into them
  8. Joe’s Stone Crab is the most profitable standalone restaurant in the US. It has been around for over 100 years (resiliency) and is profitable (efficiency). They treat their company like a CAS and don’t fall prey to linear and reductionist thinking. They understand how some frictions actually make the overall system healthier. Similarly, The Four Seasons takes a win/win mentality with every stakeholder and enjoys the longest employee tenure in the industry and massive profits. They take a holistic view and don’t have a “head of guest experiences” because they feel that is every employees’ responsibility. Slack is not the enemy – seek optimal slack rather than zero slack
  9. To avoid proxies becoming a goal, use multiple internal proxies that tend to be contradictory to measure progress of the model against the goal. This forces a systems thinking rather than a reductionist one. Southwest Airlines uses 4 proxies – cost, customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and profitability
  10. Argues against monopolies as it leads to complacency, bloat and fragility. Great companies need great competitors to keep them great

What I got out of it

  1. Fascinating deep dive into complex adaptive systems and how organizations can learn from complexity science how to build a robust firm that is also efficient. Efficiency is not the be all end all, some slack is necessary. Infinite tweaking and adjusting is necessary in an interconnected and dynamic world

Hacking the Unconscious by Rory Sutherland

Summary

  1. The author discusses some legendary marketing events and how to think about why they were successful

Key Takeaways

  1. What are the product’s higher order benefits? tap into that in an aspirational way. Coke is just a drink but it can help build bonds and strong bonds can prevent war. This might only be available to the global leader. Coke can do this, RC Cola, maybe not
  2. The allure of altruism – those who do public demonstrations of helping others actually end up donating less or doing less than those who help quietly
  3. Campaigning for real women – the first rule of advertising is to get the audience’s attention and generally nothing does that better than sex. Dove overturned this with their real beauty campaign. They were real and vulnerable and it worked. Give people permission to be themselves
  4. Diamonds and the peacocks tail – signaling theory is everywhere and it is a supremely useful lens to view the world. Organisms are a marketing machine for their genes. When you see life as a series of signals, a whole bunch of things that didn’t make sense of a sudden do. Who is advertising what to whom?
  5. From ads to art – breaking the rules creates the best art and the best ads (Guinness the best things come to those who wait)
  6. Selling a philosophy – Nike’s now famous slogan – just do it – helped them move from an aspirational company to an inspirational company. The words were never spoken so it is up to the watcher to interpret it as a command a statement or whatever else speaks to them. Nike is selling their philosophy that they can do anything
  7. Designated driver – giving something a name, makes it feel more legitimate and real. Those who didn’t drink were party poopers before, but now they’re designated drivers which is a perfectly acceptable reason to not drink
  8. Marketing is so love / hate because it holds up a mirror to who we truly are. It works because it taps into things deep in our nature, whether we like it or not
  9. People are incredible at self deception. Don’t underestimate this ability
  10. If you’re given a budget for one car you’re choose a very boring and conventional car that isn’t too fast or too big or too small. However if you’re given a budget for two cars your criteria totally changed. You may choose one big SUV and one more fun car or a normal car and a moped. The same could be happening with diversity efforts where the safe and boring candidate is most often chosen
  11. Market research get people to say what they think they want you to say and this leads us astray. The logical and rational will not help us innovate. We need the absurd sounding and crazy people to take risks
  12. Showing investment in effort is as important as the product or service itself. Think of the knowledge test London cabbies have to take or the whole engagement and marriage process. Value derived from commitment. However, commitment signaling must be swept under the rug or all else goes haywire. Be aware of then, but don’t verbalize or expose them 

What I got out of it

  1. So fascinating to hear Sutherland talk about some of the all-time great ads and some of the psychology behind what made them successful. Selling a philosophy, understanding signaling and self-deception, investment in effort will stand out to me

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”

Don’t Think of an Elephant!: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate by George Lakoff

Summary

  1. Lakoff describes how and why to frame things, mostly in a liberal vs. conservative sense. Frames are automatic, effortless, everyday modes of understanding

Key Takeaways

  1. Frames
    1. Frames are mental structures that shape the way we see the world. As a result, they shape the goals we seek, the plans we make, the way we act, and what counts as a good or bad outcome of our actions.
    2. You can’t see or hear frames. They are part of what we cognitive scientists call the “cognitive unconscious”—structures in our brains that we cannot consciously access, but know by their consequences. What we call “common sense” is made up of unconscious, automatic, effortless inferences that follow from our unconscious frames.
    3. Not only does negating a frame activate that frame, but the more it is activated, the stronger it gets. The moral for political discourse is clear: When you argue against someone on the other side using their language and their frames, you are activating their frames, strengthening their frames in those who hear you, and undermining your own views. For progressives, this means avoiding the use of conservative language and the frames that the language activates.
    4. Because language activates frames, new language is required for new frames. Thinking differently requires speaking differently. Reframing is not easy or simple. It is not a matter of finding some magic words. Frames are ideas, not slogans. Reframing is more a matter of accessing what we and like-minded others already believe unconsciously, making it conscious, and repeating it till it enters normal public discourse. It doesn’t happen overnight. It is an ongoing process. It requires repetition and focus and dedication.
    5. Reframing without a system of communication accomplishes nothing. Reframing, as we discuss it in this book, is about honesty and integrity. It is the opposite of spin and manipulation. It is about bringing to consciousness the deepest of our beliefs and our modes of understanding. It is about learning to express what we really believe in a way that will allow those who share our beliefs to understand what they most deeply believe and to act on those beliefs.
    6. Framing is also about understanding those we disagree with most.
    7. Facts matter enormously, but to be meaningful they must be framed in terms of their moral importance. Remember, you can only understand what the frames in your brain allow you to understand. If the facts don’t fit the frames in your brain, the frames in your brain stay and the facts are ignored or challenged or belittled.
    8. This gives us a basic principle of framing: When you are arguing against the other side, do not use their language. Their language picks out a frame—and it won’t be the frame you want.
    9. When you think you just lack words, what you really lack are ideas. Ideas come in the form of frames. When the frames are there, the words come readily. There’s a way you can tell when you lack the right frames. There’s a phenomenon you have probably noticed. A conservative on TV uses two words, like tax relief. And the progressive has to go into a paragraph-long discussion of his own view. The conservative can appeal to an established frame, that taxation is an affliction or burden, which allows for the two-word phrase tax relief. But there is no established frame on the other side. You can talk about it, but it takes some doing because there is no established frame, no fixed idea already out there.
    10. The first mistake is believing that framing is a matter of coming up with clever slogans, like “death tax” or “partial-birth abortion,” that resonate with a significant segment of the population. Those slogans only work when there has been a long—often decades-long—campaign of framing issues like taxation and abortion conceptually, so that the brains of many people are prepared to accept those phrases.
    11. The second mistake is believing that, if only we could present the facts about a certain reality in some effective way, then people would “wake up“ to that reality, change their personal opinion, and start acting politically to change society. “Why can’t people wake up?” is the complaint—as if people are “asleep” and just have to be aroused to see and comprehend the world around them. But the reality is that certain ideas have to be ingrained in us—developed over time consistently and precisely enough to create an accurate frame for our understanding.
    12. Spin is the manipulative use of a frame. Spin is used when something embarrassing has happened or has been said, and it’s an attempt to put an innocent frame on it—that is, to make the embarrassing occurrence sound normal or good.
    13. Propaganda is another manipulative use of framing. Propaganda is an attempt to get the public to adopt a frame that is not true and is known not to be true, for the purpose of gaining or maintaining political control.
    14. If you remember nothing else about framing, remember this: Once your frame is accepted into the discourse, everything you say is just common sense. Why? Because that’s what common sense is: reasoning within a commonplace, accepted frame.
    15. A useful thing to do is to use rhetorical questions: Wouldn’t it be better if . . . ? Such a question should be chosen to presuppose your frame. Examples: Wouldn’t it be better if we could fix the potholes in the roads and the bridges that are crumbling? Or, wouldn’t we all be better off if everybody with diseases and illnesses could be treated so that diseases and illnesses wouldn’t spread? Or, wouldn’t it be better if all kids were ready for school when they went to kindergarten?
    16. Always start with values, preferably values all Americans share such as security, prosperity, opportunity, freedom, and so on. Pick the values most relevant to the frame you want to shift to. Try to win the argument at the values level.
    17. Those are a lot of guidelines. But there are only four really important ones: Show respect, Respond by reframing, Think and talk at the level of values, Say what you believe
  2. Other
    1. In fact, about 98 percent of what our brains are doing is below the level of consciousness. As a result, we may not know all, or even most, of what in our brains determines our deepest moral, social, and political beliefs. And yet we act on the basis of those largely unconscious beliefs.
    2. People do not necessarily vote in their self-interest. They vote their identity. They vote their values. They vote for who they identify with. This is very important to understand. The goal is to activate your model in the people in the “middle.” The people who are in the middle have both models, used regularly in different parts of their lives. What you want to do is to get them to use your model for politics—to activate your worldview and moral system in their political decisions. You do that by talking to people using frames based on your worldview.
    3. Orwellian language points to weakness—Orwellian weakness. When you hear Orwellian language, note where it is, because it is a guide to where they are vulnerable. They do not use it everywhere. It is very important to notice this and use their weakness to your advantage.
    4. Levy addressed the question of why there were so many suicides in Tahiti, and discovered that Tahitians did not have a concept of grief. They felt grief. They experienced it. But they did not have a concept for it or a name for it. They did not see it as a normal emotion. There were no rituals around grief. No grief counseling, nothing like it. They lacked a concept they needed—and wound up committing suicide all too often.
    5. The truth alone will not set you free. Just speaking truth to power doesn’t work. You need to frame the truths effectively from your perspective.
    6. Accordingly, the frame-inherent world, structured by our framed actions, reinforces those frames and recreates those frames in others as they are born, grow, and mature in such a world. This phenomenon is called reflexivity. The world reflects our understandings through our actions, and our understandings reflect the world shaped by the frame-informed actions of ourselves and others. To function effectively in the world it helps to be aware of reflexivity. It helps to be aware of what frames have shaped and are still shaping reality if you are going to intervene to make the world a better place.
    7. Studying cognitive linguistics has its uses. Every language in the world has in its grammar a way to express direct causation. No language in the world has in its grammar a way to express systemic causation.
    8. Systemic causation has a structure—four possible elements that can exist alone or in combination.
      1. A network of direct causes.
      2. Feedback loops.
      3. Multiple causes.
      4. Probabilistic causation.
    9. Empathy and sympathy both involve the capacity to know what others are feeling. But unlike empathy, sympathy involves distancing, overriding personal emotional feeling. Someone who is sympathetic may well act to relieve the pain of others but not feel the pain themselves. The word “compassion” can be used for either empathy or sympathy, depending on who is using the word.
    10. Colin Powell had always argued that no troops should be committed without specific objectives, a clear and achievable definition of victory, and a clear exit strategy, and that open-ended commitments should not be used.
    11. Tell a story. Find stories where your frame is built into the story. Build up a stock of effective stories.

What I got out of it

  1. Didn’t realize it was a political book, but some of the core ideas about how and why to effectively frame things was helpful

The Nature of Explanation by Kenneth Craik

Summary

  1. Craik was a leader in the development ophysiological psychology and cybernetics. “Here he considers thought as a term for the conscious working of a highly complex machine, viewing the brain as a calculating machine which can model or parallel external events, a process that is the basic feature of thought and explanation. He applies this view to a number of psychological and philosophical problems (such as paradox and illusion) and suggests possible experiments to test his theory.”

Key Takeaways

  1. The important feature of a concept is that it should be exact in the right way – ie true – not just internally precise 
  2. Science is not reality; it is a method of investigating reality 

What I got out of it

  1. Short, interesting read on how Craik thought about science, explanations, truth

Alchemy: The Dark Art and Curious Science of Creating Magic in Brands, Business, and Life by Rory Sutherland

Summary

  1. There is a time and place for the “illogical” in complex human affairs. Not everything is bound by the laws of physics and it may benefit us to sometimes consider the magic which is cheap, illogical, and effective. “The whole point of this book is that just because something is irrational doesn’t mean it’s not right.” 

Key Takeaways

  1. Overview
    1. Can avoid many mistakes by being silly and playful. Seeing things from a variety of angles and always keep top of mind that people are far less logical than they appear and that this drives much of our decision making. “Psycho-logic” aims for utility rather than optimality. It operates in the background of our consciousness and is far more powerful and pervasive than we realize 
    2. The trick is not understanding all universal laws, but seeing where those universal laws don’t apply. Doesn’t rely on logic but on things that work. Just because something makes sense does not mean it works. This 2×2 is important to keep top of mind. What works and doesn’t and what makes sense and what doesn’t. By trying to rely only on things which we can rationalize, we eliminate a very useful quadrant where the solutions to our problems may lie
    3. In an age of extreme logic it is likely that the problems that have been able to have been solved by logic already have been. So, those that remain may require illogical solutions
    4. Those in positions of power today are nearly all logical so someone illogical someone like Donald Trump can we hold tremendous power because he is unpredictable
    5. Don’t criticize something just because you don’t understand it. Something may be valuable but not valuable all the time. Nature doesn’t take shortcuts and what may seem nonsensical to us may be perfectly logical from an evolutionary perspective. Often a more important question is not whether something makes sense but rather, does it work? The trick is always to remember and ask if something is smart both logically and psycho-logically
    6. An unconventional rule that nobody else uses can yield greater results than a “better” rule that everybody else uses.
    7. Logic is a good way to explain post hoc but it is not always a good way to arrive at creative solutions. If everyone is using logic, aim for the psycho-logic. With things in scarce supply, it can be beneficial to be a bit eccentric, to value things others don’t or overlook. The author prioritized architecture in his home rather than size or location and ended up with a small but beautiful and overlooked piece of real estate 
    8. Alchemy is not only what we do but what we don’t do. Approaching problems rationally is one club in the bag but we should also take into account psycho-logic and understand how people actually behave rather than how we think they should behave. We need time to disengage, to think, to wander, to play. Sutherland wrote most of this book on days where he wasn’t at work and his best work came when he was daydreaming. The modern workplace is incompatible with alchemical solutions. 
      1. Amazing story from Henry Ford: a visitor was walking through the Ford office with Mr. Ford when they passed the office of a senior executive whose feet were up on the desk. The visitor asked why Mr. Ford kept such a man on at such a high expense. Mr. Ford replied that this man had an idea several years ago which saved him $10 million dollars and as he remembered it, his feet were in that exact position.
  2. There are four reasons why people behave seemingly illogically or psycho-logically: signaling satisficing, psychophysics, subconscious hacking
    1. Signaling
      1. Economists seem to hate branding and advertising because they don’t understand it, but evolutionary biologists get it immediately. Expensive signaling has been around for millions of years and infers fitness and/or trust. The high upfront cost is expensive and unlikely to be undertaken unless repeat business is desired (flowers have expensive signaling for bees). Overcoming short term the desire for short term gains helps build trust and is done through signaling
      2. Must be willing to ask the obvious and childish questions. Are you really trying to solve the problem or merely seem like you’re solving the problem? Most people care more about making a decision that they can defend rather than a successful decision 
      3. How you ask the question impacts the answers you get
      4. A change in perspective is worth 80 IQ points and the inability to change perspective is likely associated with stupidity
      5. Never assume that 1×10 is the same as 10×1. In physics and math it is, but psycho-logically it is not. For example, it is much easier to fool 10 people once than one person 10 times
      6. The process of discovery is not the same as the process of justification. There is way more serendipity and experimentation involved in discoveries than is often attributed to it
      7. Creating a name for something drastically reduces pushback and increases acceptance. Creating a name creates a norm. 
      8. The conscious mind thinks it’s the oval office when in fact it is the press office. Post-rationalization is a huge part of human nature
    2. Satisficing
      1. Satisficing – much more worried about avoiding a disaster than making the perfect choice, so we choose something we trust which is “good enough.” This may seem lazy but it can also be robust in a Complex system. If there are strict metrics and incentives to meet, others will be neglected and perhaps fatally so. Having some “I inefficiency” may actually be very wise. People seem to bug and make decisions not necessarily because one product is better, but because it is less likely to be disastrous. This is a hugely important distinction and illuminates why expensive brand advertising works
    3. Psycho-Physics
      1. Psycho-physics is the neurobiology of perception between different species and how that impacts our view of reality
      2. An admission of inferiority adds credibility and trust to your product or service
      3. The IKEA Effect is found everywhere adding a little bit of difficulty or friction increases peoples perceived value of the product or service
      4. Perhaps it logically behavior comes first and then our attitude not the other way around. It is only the behavior that matters focus on that and I’ll peoples reasons behind it and you can harness alchemy
      5. Give people more options and information and they will come out with an optimistic reason that serves their situation. For example, in the second and third years of the author’s university, there is a ballot for choosing rooms. If you’re at the top of the list in your second year, you choose first. However, if you’re on the bottom of the list, you get to choose your room first during your third year. What was amazing was that nobody was ever disappointed with this system
      6. What works well on a small scale works on a large scale. Human behavior is amazingly fractal so the trivial details we pick up on in every day situations can help us better understand how to approach big decisions
    4. Subconscious Hacking
      1. Never denigrate an action as irrational until you consider what job it really serves. People spend an enormous amount of time money and energy advertising to themselves and once you understand this much irrational human behavior makes much sense. many of these things fall into placebo effect territory and the author argues that they often have to be expensive silly logical or rational in someway in order to work
      2. It has been evolutionarily beneficial for us to be able to deceive ourselves so that we can more convincingly and consistently deceive others. That is why trial and error and then seeing what works is more fruitful than simply looking at what makes sense
      3. To be truly customer focused you must ignore what people say and instead focus on how they feel because this impacts what they do
      4. We cannot influence subconscious processes through a direct act of logic or will. It speaks a different language. Instead, we must tinker and change the things we can control which impact the things we don’t. We can change or design our environment to influence our emotional state. Evolutionarily, it is much more effective to bake in emotions rather than reason – instinctively afraid of snakes rather than each generation having to teach it to the next. This phylogenetic knowledge is not software, but hardware. It is on the Motherboard
  3. How to become an alchemist
    1. Given enough material to work on, people often try to be optimistic.
      1. Example of economics department choosing office and parking spots Jura lotto and those who got the highest number got first choice in office but last choice in parking spots this allowed people to focus on where they did well and over-emphasize that    This is an extraordinary finding in how to divided limited resources amongst a group of random people in order to maximize happiness.
      2. The admission of a downside can help you convince people
    2. What works on a small scale works on a large scale 
      1. Human behavior is surprisingly fractal. Adding cute animals helps increase sales and while this may seem like a silly example, using the lesson behind this can be helpful even on the largest scales
    3. Find different expressions for saying the same thing
      1. The way you ask the question impacts the response you get to the question
    4. Create gratuitous choices
      1. People seem to like choices for their own sake
      2. Give placebo choices as often as you can
    5. Be unpredictable
      1. The logical answers, while safe and conventional, have likely been tried. So, if you’re still in a bind, you may need “psycho-logic” rather than logic
    6. Dare to be trivial
      1. Best Buy’s $300m button – rather than forcing people to sign in or create an account, Best Buy allowed people to continue to checkout rather than having to register. This shows that what matters is not what we’re being asked to do, but the order in which we’re asked to do them. The same thing can be seen as good or bad depending on context and framing
    7. In defense of trivia trivia
    1. The devil is in the details so it often benefits us tremendously to pay attention to them
    2. The most important clues often seem irrelevant
  4. Other
  1. With psycho-logic, the opposite of a good idea can be another good idea
  2. People are great at rationalizing regrets. Sour grapes or sweet lemons. Either believing it’s not worth it or putting a positive spin on a bad situation
  3. Context is everything. It is impossible to wholesale import a food, liquor, culture, or even political system from one context into another unexpected to work flawlessly
  4. Think through the counterintuitive because nobody ever does
  5. Akio Morita, founder of Sony, made the first pocket-sized radio but, rather than pushing the limits of the technology and making the radio smaller, he made the pocket on his employee’s shirts larger 
  6. The “Jacks of All Trade” heuristic makes people assume that something that does one thing is better than something which claims to do a lot of things plus that one thing. Many world-changing products arose from the removal rather than the addition of features. Sony Walkman first did not have a record function because they wanted people to understand exactly what the Walkman was for – they later introduced the record button. Google is Yahoo without all the crap, Twitter is blogging with a maximum text amount…
  7. People will pay a high premium to remove uncertainty. The amount of time you have to deal with uncertainty impacts how likely you are to make a decision. Credit card companies approve or deny applications in less than 12 hours because they understand this human nature
  8. The behaviors we adopt influence our attitude more than our attitude can influence our behavior. Behavior comes first and attitude later changes in order to keep up, keep consistent
  9. Never think something irrational until you understand what the person is optimizing for 
  10. When Prussia was going through an economic downturn and war, the wealthy chose to make iron rather than gold desirable. The wealthy only wore iron jewelry and this trickled down to everyone else. Iron showed that not only were you wealthy (because you had gold that you traded for iron) but also that you were selfless and fighting for a greater cause
  11. Prussia wanted to become less reliable on bread so they tried introducing potatoes. It failed miserably until someone (probably Frederick the Great) chose to have an “exclusive” royal patch of potatoes which was “loosely guarded.” Local people broke into the garden, stole the potatoes, and spread the potato to the masses
  12. Getting people to do the right thing sometimes means giving them the wrong reason

What I got out of it

  1. An extremely enjoyable book on human nature and psychology and how we can use “psycho-logic” to get better outcomes even though they might not be logical. Focus on what works over what is logical and “makes sense.” Nature favors utility and fitness over rationality and accuracy/objectivity 

The Hour Between Dog and Wolf: Risk Taking, Gut Feelings, and the Biology of Boom and Bust by John Coates

Summary

  1. The story about traders on Wall Street, how the body and mind react to stressful moments, and how the mind does it so quickly that we aren’t consciously aware of it. It is the biology of stress and risk that the author will analyze and explain

Key Takeaways

  1. When there is a bull market or potentially a bubble, there are excess profits and this tends to lead to excessive risk taking, overconfidence, and general mania for those who are benefiting from it. 
  2. Some fascinating questions have been raised whether the increased use of anti-depressants and other drugs could have been so widely and regularly used in the early 2000’s that it changed the brains and risk-aversion tendencies of the traders who used them, exacerbating the dot com bubble
  3. Women were relatively unaffected during the dot com boom and the author argues it is because of their lower levels of testosterone which leads to lower risk taking and more independent thinking when everyone else around them is losing it
  4. Mistakes are made when we artificially separate and silo systems which are truly united. This happens in economics when we assume a perfectly rational human and, in this case, the author argues that the mind and body should be considered one – what happens in the mind affects the body and what happens in the body affects the mind
  5. The feelings we experience during stress comes about because our body is changing, preparing itself for physical movement
  6. There is a hypothesis that when fuel is running low our bodies and minds function by a last in first out methodology meaning that the things that evolve last such a self-control are the first to go when food is scarce
  7. Importantly, novelty, uncertainty, and situations which are out of our control can have as big of an effect on our bodies and minds as real danger does
  8. Goes deeply into the effects that cortisol and testosterone have on the body. Too little and we’re lethargic but too much leaves to overly risky behavior. Have to find the happy medium, flow
  9. The best traders, like the best athletes, are able to toggle between high stress moments and deep relaxation. The more amateur are in a consistent level of stress, never able to relax. The different physiological changes is also manifested in higher HRV in the higher level traders and athletes 
  10. Physical exercise, especially very intense and short spurts and cold exposure, can help us train our physical and emotional toughness 

What I got out of it

  1. Some decently fun stories about finance, risk taking, intuition. I’d recommend Sapolsky’s Why Zebra’s Get Ulcers if you’re interested in this

The Courage to Be Disliked by Fumitake Koga, Ichiro Kishimi

Summary

  1. The Courage to Be Disliked follows a conversation between a young man and a philosopher as they discuss the tenets of Alfred Adler’s theories. This book presents simple and straightforward answers to the philsophical question: how can one be happy?

If you’d prefer to listen to this article, use the player below.

You can also find more of my articles in audio version at Listle

Key Takeaways

  1. Past doesn’t matter
    1. None of us live in an objective world, but instead in a subjective world that we ourselves  have given meaning to. The world you see is different from the one I see, and it’s  impossible to share your world with anyone else.
    2. PHILOSOPHER: If we focus only on past causes and try to explain things solely through  cause and effect, we end up with “determinism.” Because what this says is that our  present and our future have already been decided by past occurrences, and are  unalterable. Am I wrong? YOUTH: So you’re saying that the past doesn’t matter?  PHILOSOPHER: Yes, that is the standpoint of Adlerian psychology.
  2. Trauma doesn’t exist
    1. YOUTH: Wait a minute! Are you denying the existence of trauma altogether?  PHILOSOPHER: Yes, I am. Adamantly. YOUTH: What! Aren’t you, or I guess I should  say Adler, an authority on psychology? PHILOSOPHER: In Adlerian psychology, trauma  is definitively denied. This was a very new and revolutionary point. Certainly, the  Freudian view of trauma is fascinating. Freud’s idea is that a person’s psychic wounds  (traumas) cause his or her present unhappiness. When you treat a person’s life as a vast  narrative, there is an easily understandable causality and sense of dramatic development  that creates strong impressions and is extremely attractive. But Adler, in denial of the  trauma argument, states the following: “No experience is in itself a cause of our success  or failure. We do not suffer from the shock of our experiences—the so-called  trauma—but instead we make out of them whatever suits our purposes. We are not  determined by our experiences, but the meaning we give them is self-determining.” We determine our own lives according to the meaning we give to those past experiences.  Your life is not something that someone gives you, but something you choose yourself,  and you are the one who decides how you live.
    2. “People are not driven by past causes but move toward goals that they themselves set”
  3. The first step to change is knowing.
    1. The important thing is not what one is born with but what use one makes of that  equipment.
  4. Unhappiness Is Something You Choose for Yourself
    1. Yes, you can. People can change at any time, regardless of the environments they are in.  You are unable to change only because you are making the decision not
    2. Adlerian psychology is a psychology of courage. Your unhappiness cannot be  blamed on your past or your environment. And it isn’t that you lack competence. You just  lack courage. One might say you are lacking in the courage to be happy.
    3. Adler’s teleology tells us, “No matter what has occurred in your life up to this point, it  should have no bearing at all on how you live from now on.” That you, living in the here  and now, are the one who determines your own life.
  5. All Problems Are Interpersonal Relationship Problems
    1. The feeling of inferiority is a kind of launch pad? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. One tries  to get rid of one’s feeling of inferiority and keep moving forward. One’s never satisfied  with one’s present situation—even if it’s just a single step, one wants to make progress.  One wants to be happier. There is absolutely nothing wrong with the state of this kind of  feeling of inferiority. There are, however, people who lose the courage to take a single  step forward, who cannot accept the fact that the situation can be changed by making  realistic efforts.
    2. The condition of having a feeling of inferiority is a condition of feeling some sort of lack  in oneself in the present situation. So then, the question is— YOUTH: How do you fill in  the part that’s missing, right? PHILOSOPHER: Exactly. How to compensate for the part  that is lacking. The healthiest way is to try to compensate through striving and growth.
    3. You’re saying that boasting is an inverted feeling of inferiority? PHILOSOPHER: That’s  right. If one really has confidence in oneself, one doesn’t feel the need to boast. It’s  because one’s feeling of inferiority is strong that one boasts. One feels the need to flaunt  one’s superiority all the more. There’s the fear that if one doesn’t do that, not a single  person will accept one “the way I am.” This is a full-blown superiority complex.
    4. Adler himself pointed out, “In our culture weakness can be quite strong and powerful.”  YOUTH: So weakness is powerful? PHILOSOPHER: Adler says, “In fact, if we were to  ask ourselves who is the strongest person in our culture, the logical answer would be, the  baby. The baby rules and cannot be dominated.” The baby rules over the adults with his  weakness. And it is because of this weakness that no one can control him.
    5. 20. YOUTH: So life is not a competition? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. It’s enough to just  keep moving in a forward direction, without competing with anyone. And, of course,  there is no need to compare oneself with others.
    6. A healthy feeling of inferiority is not something that comes from comparing oneself to  others; it comes from one’s comparison with one’s ideal self.
    7. Human beings are all equal, but not the same.
    8. Does that mean you dropped out of competition? That you somehow accepted defeat?  PHILOSOPHER: No. I withdrew from places that are preoccupied with winning and  losing. When one is trying to be oneself, competition will inevitably get in the way.
    9. There are probably a lot of people who feel mystified by seeing a child who cuts his  wrists, and they think, Why would he do such a thing? But try to think how the people  around the child—the parents, for instance—will feel as a result of the behavior of wrist  cutting. If you do, the goal behind the behavior should come into view of its own accord.
    10. Once the interpersonal relationship reaches the revenge stage, it is almost impossible for  either party to find a solution. To prevent this from happening, when one is challenged to  a power struggle, one must never allow oneself to be taken in.
    11. So when you’re hung up on winning and losing, you lose the ability to make the right  choices? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. It clouds your judgment, and all you can see is imminent  victory or defeat. Then you turn down the wrong path. It’s only when we take away the  lenses of competition and winning and losing that we can begin to correct and change  ourselves.
    12. In Adlerian psychology, clear objectives are laid out for human behavior and psychology.  YOUTH: What sort of objectives? PHILOSOPHER: First, there are two objectives for  behavior: to be self-reliant and to live in harmony with society. Then, the two objectives  for the psychology that supports these behaviors are the consciousness that I have the  ability and the consciousness that people are my comrades.
    13. Work that can be completed without the cooperation of other people is in principle  unfeasible.
    14. There’s no value at all in the number of friends or acquaintances you have. And this is a  subject that connects with the task of love, but what we should be thinking about is the  distance and depth of the relationship.
    15. If you change, those around you will change too. They will have no choice but to change.
    16. You are not living to satisfy other people’s expectations, and neither am I. It is not  necessary to satisfy other people’s expectations. When one seeks recognition from others, and concerns oneself only with how one is  judged by others, in the end, one is living other people’s lives.
    17. One does not intrude on other people’s tasks. That’s all. In general, all interpersonal relationship troubles are caused by intruding on other  people’s tasks, or having one’s own tasks intruded on. Carrying out the separation of  tasks is enough to change one’s interpersonal relationships dramatically. There is a simple way to tell whose task it is. Think, Who ultimately is going to receive  the result brought about by the choice that is made?
    18. You are the only one who can change yourself.
    19. One can build them. The separation of tasks is not the objective for interpersonal  relationships. Rather, it is the gateway. YOUTH: The gateway? PHILOSOPHER: For  instance, when reading a book, if one brings one’s face too close to it, one cannot see  anything. In the same way, forming good interpersonal relationships requires a certain  degree of distance. When the distance gets too small and people become stuck together, it  becomes impossible to even speak to each other. But the distance must not be too great,  either. Parents who scold their children too much become mentally very distant.
    20. As I have stated repeatedly, in Adlerian psychology, we think that all problems are  interpersonal relationship problems. In other words, we seek release from interpersonal  relationships. We seek to be free from interpersonal relationships. However, it is  absolutely impossible to live all alone in the universe. In light of what we have discussed  until now, the conclusion we reach regarding “What is freedom?” should be clear.  YOUTH: What is it? PHILOSOPHER: In short, that “freedom is being disliked by other  people.” It’s that you are disliked by someone. It is proof that you are exercising your freedom and  living in freedom, and a sign that you are living in accordance with your own principles.  YOUTH: But, but . . . PHILOSOPHER: It is certainly distressful to be disliked. If  possible, one would like to live without being disliked by anyone. One wants to satisfy  one’s desire for recognition. But conducting oneself in such a way as to not be disliked by  anyone is an extremely unfree way of living, and is also impossible. There is a cost  incurred when one wants to exercise one’s freedom. And the cost of freedom in  interpersonal relationships is that one is disliked by other people. The courage to be happy also includes the courage to be disliked. When you have gained  that courage, your interpersonal relationships will all at once change into things of  lightness.
  6. Community, Praise/Punishment/Encouragement
    1. If other people are our comrades, and we live surrounded by them, we should be able to  find in that life our own place of “refuge.” Moreover, in doing so, we should begin to  have the desire to share with our comrades, to contribute to the community. This sense of  others as comrades, this awareness of “having one’s own refuge,” is called “community  feeling.” When Adler refers to community, he goes beyond the household, school, workplace, and  local society, and treats it as all-inclusive, covering not only nations and all of humanity  but also the entire axis of time from the past to the future—and he includes plants and  animals and even inanimate objects.
    2. It is necessary to make the switch from “attachment to self” to “concern for others.”
    3. People who hold the belief that they are the center of the world always end up losing their  comrades before long.
    4. Physical punishment is out of the question, of course, and rebuking is not accepted,  either. One must not praise, and one must not rebuke. That is the standpoint of Adlerian  psychology. In other words, the mother who praises the child by saying things like “You’re such a  good helper!” or “Good job!” or “Well, aren’t you something!” is unconsciously creating  a hierarchical relationship and seeing the child as beneath her. You must simply encourage
    5. As you may recall from our discussion on the separation of tasks, I brought up the subject  of intervention. This is the act of intruding on other people’s tasks. So why does a person  intervene? Here, too, in the background, vertical relationships are at play. It is precisely  because one perceives interpersonal relations as vertical, and sees the other party as  beneath one, that one intervenes. Through intervention, one tries to lead the other party in  the desired direction. One has convinced oneself that one is right and that the other party  is wrong. Of course, the intervention here is manipulation, pure and simple. Parents  commanding a child to study is a typical example of this. They might be acting out of the  best of intentions from their points of view, but when it comes down to it, the parents are  intruding and attempting to manipulate the child to go in their desired direction. YOUTH:  If one can build horizontal relationships, will that intervention disappear?  PHILOSOPHER: Yes, it will. Concretely speaking, instead of commanding from above that the child must study, one  acts on him in such a way that he can gain the confidence to take care of his own studies  and face his tasks on his own.
    6. Being praised is what leads people to form the belief that they have no ability. YOUTH:  What did you say? PHILOSOPHER: Shall I repeat myself? The more one is praised by  another person, the more one forms the belief that one has no ability. Please do your best  to remember this. You convey words of gratitude, saying thank you to this partner who has helped you with  your work. You might express straightforward delight: “I’m glad.” Or you could convey  your thanks by saying, “That was a big help.” This is an approach to encouragement that  is based on horizontal relationships. YOUTH: That’s all? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. The most  important thing is to not judge other people. “Judgment” is a word that comes out of  vertical relationships. If one is building horizontal relationships, there will be words of  more straightforward gratitude and respect and joy. YOUTH:
    7. This is a point that will connect to our subsequent discussion as well—in Adlerian  psychology, a great deal of emphasis is given to “contribution.” YOUTH: Why is that?  PHILOSOPHER: Well, what does a person have to do to get courage? In Adler’s view,  “It is only when a person is able to feel that he has worth that he can possess courage.”
    8. So the issue that arises at this point is how on earth can one become able to feel one has  worth? YOUTH: Yes, that’s it exactly! I need you to explain that very clearly, please.  PHILOSOPHER: It’s quite simple. It is when one is able to feel “I am beneficial to the  community” that one can have a true sense of one’s worth. This is the answer that would  be offered in Adlerian psychology.
    9. I should start? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. Without regard to whether other people are  cooperative or not.
    10. This is a very important point. Does one build vertical relationships, or does one build  horizontal relationships? This is an issue of lifestyle, and human beings are not so clever  as to be able to have different lifestyles available whenever the need arises. In other  words, deciding that one is “equal to this person” or “in a hierarchical relationship with  that person” does not work. YOUTH: Do you mean that one has to choose one or the  other—vertical relationships or horizontal relationships? PHILOSOPHER: Absolutely,  yes.
  7. Excessive Self-Consciousness Stifles the Self
    1. There is no need to go out of one’s way to be positive and affirm oneself. It’s not self-affirmation that we are concerned with, but self-acceptance. YOUTH: Not self-affirmation, but self-acceptance? PHILOSOPHER: That’s right. There is a clear  difference. Self-affirmation is making suggestions to oneself, such as “I can do it” or “I  am strong,” even when something is simply beyond one’s ability. It is a notion that can  bring about a superiority complex, and may even be termed a way of living in which one  lies to oneself. With self-acceptance, on the other hand, if one cannot do something, one  is simply accepting “one’s incapable self” as is and moving forward so that one can do  whatever one can. It is not a way of lying to oneself.
    2. This is also the case with the separation of tasks—one ascertains the things one can  change and the things one cannot change. One cannot change what one is born with. But  one can, under one’s own power, go about changing what use one makes of that  equipment. So in that case, one simply has to focus on what one can change, rather than  on what one cannot. This is what I call self-acceptance.
    3. The basis of interpersonal relations is founded not on trust but on confidence. YOUTH:  And “confidence” in this case is . . . ? PHILOSOPHER: It is doing without any set  conditions whatsoever when believing in others. Even if one does not have sufficient  objective grounds for trusting someone, one believes. One believes unconditionally  without concerning oneself with such things as security. That is confidence.
    4. Well, I see what you’re getting at—the main objective, which is to build deep  relationships. But still, being taken advantage of is scary, and that’s the reality, isn’t it?  PHILOSOPHER: If it is a shallow relationship, when it falls apart the pain will be slight.  And the joy that relationship brings each day will also be slight. It is precisely because  one can gain the courage to enter into deeper relationships by having confidence in others  that the joy of one’s interpersonal relations can grow, and one’s joy in life can grow, too.
    5. To take it a step farther, one may say that people who think of others as enemies have not  attained self-acceptance and do not have enough confidence in others.
    6. Contribution to others does not connote self-sacrifice. Adler goes so far as to warn that  those who sacrifice their own lives for others are people who have conformed to society  too much. And please do not forget: We are truly aware of our own worth only when we  feel that our existence and behavior are beneficial to the community, that is to say, when  one feels “I am of use to someone.” Do you remember this? In other words, contribution  to others, rather than being about getting rid of the “I” and being of service to someone, is  actually something one does in order to be truly aware of the worth of the “I.” YOUTH:  Contributing to others is for oneself? PHILOSOPHER: Yes. There is no need to sacrifice  the self.
    7. Acceptance: accepting one’s irreplaceable “this me” just as it is. Confidence in others: to  place unconditional confidence at the base of one’s interpersonal relations rather than  seeding doubt.
    8. For the sake of convenience, up to this point I have discussed self-acceptance, confidence  in others, and contribution to others, in that order. However, these three are linked as an  indispensable whole, in a sort of circular structure. It is because one accepts oneself just  as one is—one self-accepts—that one can have “confidence in others” without the fear of  being taken advantage of. And it is because one can place unconditional confidence in  others, and feel that people are one’s comrades, that one can engage in “contribution to  others.” Further, it is because one contributes to others that one can have the deep  awareness that “I am of use to someone” and accept oneself just as one is. One can self-accept.
    9. They probably try to justify that by saying, “It’s busy at work, so I don’t have enough  time to think about my family.” But this is a life-lie. They are simply trying to avoid their  other responsibilities by using work as an excuse. One ought to concern oneself with  everything, from household chores and child-rearing to one’s friendships and hobbies and  so on. Adler does not recognize ways of living in which certain aspects are unusually  dominant.
    10. On such occasions, those who can accept themselves only on the level of acts are  severely damaged. YOUTH: You mean those people whose lifestyle is all about work?  PHILOSOPHER: Yes. People whose lives lack harmony. 
    11. Does one accept oneself on the level of acts, or on the level of being? This is truly a  question that relates to the courage to be happy.
    12. For a human being, the greatest unhappiness is not being able to like oneself. Adler came  up with an extremely simple answer to address this reality. Namely, that the feeling of “I  am beneficial to the community” or “I am of use to someone” is the only thing that can  give one a true awareness that one has worth.
  8. Happiness is the feeling of contribution.
    1. If one really has a feeling of contribution, one will no longer have any need for  recognition from others. Because one will already have the real awareness that “I am of  use to someone,” without needing to go out of one’s way to be acknowledged by others.  In other words, a person who is obsessed with the desire for recognition does not have  any community feeling yet, and has not managed to engage in self-acceptance,  confidence in others, or contribution to others.
    2. What Adlerian psychology emphasizes at this juncture are the words “the courage to be  normal.” YOUTH: The courage to be normal? PHILOSOPHER: Why is it necessary to be  special? Probably because one cannot accept one’s normal self. And it is precisely for this  reason that when being especially good becomes a lost cause, one makes the huge leap to  being especially bad—the opposite extreme. But is being normal, being ordinary, really  such a bad thing? Is it something inferior? Or, in truth, isn’t everybody normal? It is  necessary to think this through to its logical conclusion.
    3. This conception, which treats life as a kind of story, is an idea that links with Freudian  etiology (the attributing of causes), and is a way of thinking that makes the greater part of  life into something that is “en route.” YOUTH: Well, what is your image of life?  PHILOSOPHER: Do not treat it as a line. Think of life as a series of dots. If you look  through a magnifying glass at a solid line drawn with chalk, you will discover that what  you thought was a line is actually a series of small dots. Seemingly linear existence is  actually a series of dots; in other words, life is a series of moments.
    4. If life were a line, then life planning would be possible. But our lives are only a series of  dots. A well-planned life is not something to be treated as necessary or unnecessary, as it  is impossible.
    5. You should be on a journey the moment you step outside your home, and all the moments  on the way to your destination should be a journey. Of course, there might be  circumstances that prevent you from making it to the pyramid, but that does not mean  you didn’t go on a journey. This is “energeial life.”
    6. The greatest life-lie of all is to not live here and now. It is to look at the past and the  future, cast a dim light on one’s entire life, and believe that one has been able to see  something.
    7. And Adler, having stated that “life in general has no meaning,” then continues,  “Whatever meaning life has must be assigned to it by the individual.”
    8. No matter what moments you are living, or if there are people who dislike you, as long as  you do not lose sight of the guiding star of “I contribute to others,” you will not lose your  way, and you can do whatever you like. Whether you’re disliked or not, you pay it no  mind and live free.
    9. Philosophy refers not to “wisdom” itself but to “love of wisdom,” and it is the very  process of learning what one does not know and arriving at wisdom that is important.  Whether or not one attains wisdom in the end is not an issue.

What I got out of it

  1. I think the narrative format is really helpful to make some concepts very concrete and memorable – all problems are interpersonal problems; you can be happy today; you are the only one who can change you; happiness is contribution; past doesn’t matter; trauma isn’t real – we are not determined by our experiences, but the meaning we give to them; separation of tasks; courage comes from the confidence that you can contribute, that you are worthy; only encouragement and not praise

The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life by Kevin Simler

Summary

  1. Human behavior is not always what it seems as it tends to be driven by multiple motives and some of these motives are subconscious or we are at least not fully aware of them. We are designed this way so that we can chase selfish motives while attempting not to appear selfish to others. Our brains try to get past this by keeping us in the dark – the less we know, the less we’ll give away. We are strategically self-deceived – individually and as a society. In a word, the “elephant in the brain” is selfishness and this book shows why only by confronting it can we begin to deal with it and what’s really going on. This book shines the light on certain real world examples where self-deception is rampant 

Key Takeaways

  1. Elephant in the brain – an important but unacknowledged feature of how our mind works, an introspective taboo
  2. We pretend like we know what we’re up to but we often don’t and this gets us into trouble 
  3. People are judging us all the time. Namely, our motives. Because people are judging us, we downplay our selfish motives and make our selves look as good as possible. This applies not only to our words but also our thoughts. In some areas of life we are more likely to point out selfish motives (politics) but in others (medicine) we are more likely to gloss over and act like everyone’s intentions are pure 
  4. By studying primates we can get a good idea of what our social interactions really mean. Distance gives perspective. Social grooming in apes is about hygiene but also politics, prestige, status, hierarchy, and reciprocation. Similar for humans 
  5. The major social interactions which fall into this category for humans is sex, hierarchy and politics. Inter-species competition is at the root and is rarely discussed. Collaboration is the flip side of the same coin. A lot of energy is wasted with competition. Imagine how much shorter redwoods could be and how much energy they’d save if they could agree on a height maximum. This is one of our species superpowers – turning wasteful competition into fruitful collaboration. Norms define these behaviors and is part of what we try to deceptively overcome. We hold ourselves back collectively for the greater good. The norm isn’t defined by how it is explicitly defined but by which actions are punished and to what degree. Weapons originally and later gossip and reputation helped keep people in line and follow norms. However, everyone cheats and it is intentions even more than actions which are judged. Humans are incredible at spotting cheating because our brains are adapted to it – meaning humans have always cheated as it gets you the reward without the cost if you can pull it off. A little discretion can go a long way if you’re trying to cheat – think of the brown paper bag used when people want to drink in public. 
  6. The most honest signals are expensive to produce but even more expensive to fake. 
  7. We deceive ourselves but blame others and project our own failings or guilt onto others. Self-deception can be used to protect ourselves but if our mental models help us navigate the world, why would we have evolved to react this way? Information is the lifeblood and you’d think that with less or incorrect info we’d be worse off. This is the old school of thought. The new school is that self deception is used for manipulation and is self-promoting. We deceive ourselves to better deceive others. Lying is hard to pull off, is cognitively demanding, and we are afraid of getting caught so not admitting it to ourselves is easier. We are not as opaque as we believe and our thoughts can be quite transparent to others but if we don’t know something, others won’t be able to see it. Modeling the world accurately isn’t the be all, end all of our brains. It is reproduction and in this case self deception helps us further this goal 
  8. 4 types of self deception in mixed motive scenarios 
    1. Madman – you’ll do anything to attain your goal and others know it. Intimidation
    2. Cheerleader – a form of propaganda where you try to change other people’s beliefs 
    3. Loyalist – shows commitment and belief and will go along with the party or person no matter what. Earned trust 
    4. Cheater – turning a blind eye so you have plausible deniability. Throw people off our trail 
  9. The main cost of self deception is that it can get us to act suboptimally
  10. Our saving grace is inconsistency as one part of our mind’s “system” can be aware of something but be hidden from others. Our brains architecture keeps some of our baser evolutionary motives hidden from full view and allows us to act hypocritically without truly realizing it. Our mind is built to help us advance socially. Shame, guilt, and other negative emotions is our brain’s cue to avoid those neural pathways, putting our true desires even further out of grasp 
  11. The most important self deception is about our own motives. 
  12. We don’t always know the “why” behind what we do but we always think we do. We can rationalize anything we do The brain can be thought of as a press secretary – giving internal and external interpretations of the experiences. Your brain is not the king of decisions like we’d like to think, but merely the rationalizer of them. Every time we give a reason we may just be making it up. We know ourselves less than we think. We cherry pick and celebrate our most pro social reasons and hide away the anti social ones 
  13. We are also intentionally blind to many non-verbal cues such as body language because being consciously aware of and in control of them would give away too much and make us feel too manipulative. Body language is an honest signal and is it the sense that it is more costly to fake them produce so we can use it effectively and should rely upon it in many different situations to get a better feel for how others are feeling rather than relying on what they’re saying. Eye contact (an even ratio of eye contact while listening and speaking conveys dominance and high social status), open postures, contact, lean in or back, pheromones, proximity, touch, how relaxed we seem, social status, and more. The beauty of nonverbal communication is that it allows us to pursue illicit agendas with a smaller risk of getting caught and accused as the actions are harder to pin down than outright actions are. That is why being aware of them is slightly dangerous and is why we don’t teach them to our children 
  14. Laughter is designed for social situations, it is a sound which is always used for communication purposes, and laughter occurs in other species. This inter and intraspecies communication indicates to self and others our playful intent and happy mood. This allows for safe social play even when the behavior could technically be dangerous or serious – it is a play signal. Flirting with violating a norm or actually violating it tends to be found funny. Context is extremely important as the same event can be seen very differently. Humor is extremely informative and showing us what is acceptable and what is transgressive, showing us where the boundaries are and are norms and how far we can push it. Since laughter is in voluntary and deniable it is a great window of truth because we can’t hold it back as easily as we can with language and it gives a safe harbor to be able to explain things away if what we laugh it seems inappropriate to others
  15. Language and speech 
    1. Speaking gains you social status if you prove you’d be a powerful ally who knows something which is new and/or useful to you. When you speak you can show off your verbal and mental “tools” which make you a strong ally. That is the subtext to every speech. Speaking well gains you prestige as prestige can be equated with being a strong allies others want to partner with 
    2. This may be why people tend to speak more than listen although listening might be the best thing you can do as you can learn more 
    3. People are more impressed with others who have something interesting to say regardless of where the conversation goes rather than being led to a specific topic the speaker knows a lot about 
  16. Conspicuous consumption influences everything we do, what we buy, how we judge others, it conveys our status, values and priorities
  17. People have forever been obsessed with gossip, news, and media. And although they may say it is for staying on top of global events, the subtext is that they want to be able to know what others are talking about and chime in in conversation 
  18. Art is an impressive display in the sense that it is meant to impress others. Evolutionarily it is hard to describe or explain because it is costly takes a lot of time and does not directly do anything to enhance our survival but one thought about what it signals to potential mates the fact that we have surplus time, energy, health, and wealth to pursue these sorts of things it makes more sense. The gower bird is a great example because the male builds some impressive structures and collects hard to find artifacts and colors to put within the structure which shows the female he has surplus energy and proves he is a qualified mate. What makes this even more interesting is that after they mate the male does not help raise the young at all. His pre-mating structure speaks to his genes more than anything else he could do. Art therefore needs to be impractical in order to succeed as it shows the fitness of the individual who is performing it
  19. Charity, like everything else discussed, is not done for pure charitable reasons or else people would donate differently. There are five main factors which influence what we do and how we give it including: visibility, peer pressure, proximity, relatability, and mating motives. Being generous signals that we have a surplus of wealth time and fitness and we want our leaders to be generous because it shows that they don’t play zero-sum games, that they know how to share, and that they are socially aligned 
  20. Education in large part is the signaling mechanism to show that you have the capability to learn a broad swath of information, prioritize and work hard. It does not necessarily mean that you know these topics very well. Education is a form of conspicuous consumption too as it tends to be expensive and going to college shows you can afford it. It shows which students can learn well but not necessarily how much they know. Colleges also are in some fashion propaganda machines and also serve to “domesticate” young people
  21. As is this case with many of these hidden mode of explanation, things which seem like flaws for the stated function are in fact features of the hidden one
  22. Bringing food to people who are sick is a universal but in today’s age, far more important is that it is homemade – showing you took time out of your busy schedule to make this
  23. Americans spend too much on medicine in an effort to “keep up with the Joneses”. It is hard for most people to act in the belief that doing less or maybe even nothing is the best course of action no matter if it has been proven that it can be better. More is thought of as better because it signals that we care and are cared for. People don’t actually care as much about if something works – they want the best doctors doing the most expensive treatments. Sleep, rest and eating well is not received well when we’re sick. 
  24. We worship and believe in religion because it helps us socially by forming a cohesive community. We become accepted by a group which helps us survive and reproduce. While the skeptic may think of religions as delusions, it is hard to argue against their benefits. Sacrifice is very socially beneficial to show your loyalty and fitness. The boredom experienced in sermons may be a feature and not a bug – you are conspicuously sacrificing your time for the group 
  25. Groups of nice, trusting people tend to out compete groups of nasty people. This has deep implications if you think about it

What I got out of it

  1. Fun read with deep implications. We keep ourselves in the dark to many of our selfish motives in order to better deceive others

The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene

Summary
  1. Robert Greene draws on a multitude of different resources to highlight the laws of human nature. The examples are timeless, universal, and profound. By acknowledging these human universals, to what extent they impact you, and how they are prevalent in others, you will become more aware and better able to mitigate and control them in yourself and others. “Human nature is deeply ingrained within our genes, within our brain’s structure, and has evolved over millions of years. It is partly responsible for how we make decisions, how we manage our emotions, and it controls, unknown to us, the vast majority of what we do and think. Human nature has helped us survive and determines much of our emotions and how we think and behave.  Understanding how we are wired will help us better deal with others and better see through when they’re trying to manipulate us, take advantage of us, charm us, or otherwise. We developed extreme sensitivity so that we could better read and judge others and to this day, although we don’t realize it, we are finely tuned to register how others react, to their voice, their body language, and more. This book is an attempt to draw together the vast store house of knowledge from many different fields to describe and give examples of some laws of human nature. They are laws in the sense that people tend to react quite consistently in similar situations. Becoming aware of these laws will make you a calmer and better observer of human nature, more able to notice and decipher the subtle cues everyone emits, and become a greater judge of character.”
Key Takeaways
  1. It is important to realize that these laws of human nature impact, affect, and influence you as much as other people and by truly understanding them, they will help build your empathy, allowing you to simply see other points of view better and more clearly, giving you the opportunity to focus on what’s important – helping others and having having an impact. You will be able to train yourself to be present, to let go of preconceived notions, and to continually adapt your understanding of the people around you. This understanding will help you become more empathetic and more effective in everything that you do
  2. The Law of Irrationality – Master Your Emotional Self
    1. Realize that people often act the opposite of how they feel – someone loud and obnoxious is often insecure
    2. Emotions taint our thinking and behaviors, not allowing us to see and act in accordance with reality, leading to bad decisions, pain, and stress. By admitting and embracing this rationality we can slowly tame our emotions, become more rational, thereby making us more effective and insightful as we can align with reality, to see things as they really are and not as we wish they were
    3. The first step to tame your rationality is to admit that you are irrational. As you become more introspective, the calm inner voice will grow more confident and louder, allowing you to see things more clearly and accurately. You first recognize the biases in yourself and work towards giving yourself the space and time to think and act how you want, and not simply react emotionally
    4. The goal of rationality is not to eliminate emotion, but to channel it in order to become aware of why you are feeling what you are feeling – to take advantage of it and use it to further what you want to do
    5. You can become more rational by becoming more aware of low grade irrationality or what happens in the subconscious, and high-grade rationality (what happens in your conscious). Over time, you will be able to train your emotions so that you become be less reactive over time. You improve your rationality by first knowing yourself thoroughly – knowing your strengths and weaknesses, how you react under pressure, and when you’re flattered. Next, you must improve your reaction time giving yourself space to think and not just react instinctively. Then you must accept people as facts and not try to change them but just accept who they are, understand them, and how you have to deal with them
    6. We must learn from our mistakes. The point of memory is to not repeat mistakes but so few people take the time and energy to really dive into what caused him to err.  We have to become aware in the moment of things that make us react and dive into why we feel that way – is it a childhood trauma, something our parents told us, or why do we just react emotionally?
    7. People‘s true character and ability shine through under stress. You have to find time, space, and quiet in order to be able to think and gain perspective. Don’t think you are above stress and that it doesn’t impact you – it does!
    8. Be weary of groups as it doesn’t stimulate rationality and independent thought but rather the much deeper and more ingrained part of us that wishes to belong – leading to herd behavior
    9. Don’t think that we are in a steady path towards rationality as a species. The pendulum swings back and forth between rationality and irrationality. It is part of the cycle of human nature. Irrationality won’t always look the same but it will always come back. Improving rationality is something to be done at an individual level and not at a species level
  3. The Law of Narcissism – Transform Self-Love into Empathy
    1. We must be honest with ourselves and grow and come to love a cohesive self or risk falling into narcissism
    2. Turning your attention outwards to others rather than inwards like most people do will help you grow your empathy muscle and give others the attention they so gravely seek
    3. Shackleton in the toughest of times drew out very specific daily tasks to give everyone meaning and focus. In addition, he understood each man so well that he knew what to talk to them about, when, and how to keep them happy, their morale high and content. This empathy was literally life and death as it is for us, although it’s not as clear
  4. The Law of Role-Playing – See Through People’s Masks
    1. People hide their true feelings and intentions so you must become an expert reader in other people and at the same time learn how to play your role as convincingly and consistently as possible
    2. Milton Erickson was diagnosed with polio at a young age and to occupy his mind he observed others extremely closely and through this knowledge and pattern recognition came to see an incredible world of nonverbal cues, motions, gestures, the importance of tone of voice, and everything beyond what is simply said. Observe, observe, observe. People tell you so much with their walk, tone of voice, how they sit, their micro expressions, and more.
    3. Negative emotions leak out through body language and they must be observed and weighed more than whatever mask people put on
    4. Be authentic, humble, open minded and generous – “saintly” and above reproach
  5. The Law of Compulsive Behavior – Determine the Strength of People’s Character
    1. Gravitate to those who display strength. One best reads people’s character in stressful and difficult times
    2. Character comes from the Greek word meaning “stamped upon”. Our character is ingrained in us and is composed of our genetics, our earliest relationships and quality of attachments, and from habits and experiences. We can learn to compensate any harmful traits but for the most part they’re hard to rid
    3. People are quite bad at judging character but the most reliable way to assess someone is through their actions (people never do anything just once, actions are truer and can’t be rationalized by words), how people handle small and simple affairs, how people handle power and responsibility. Try to only work with people of strong character for those with weak character will negate all their other good qualities and will cause more headache than you want. People who are strong of character are as rare as gold and you should hold onto them is if you found treasure
    4. It is impossible to change one’s or others’ character but you can mitigate them by going deep within yourself, admitting your flaws and weaknesses, and doing all you can to strengthen them up and act in such away to emphasize your strengths and downplay your weaknesses. The goal is not to become someone else but to be thoroughly and authentically the best version of yourself
  6. The Law of Covetousness – Become an Elusive Object of Desire
    1. Realize that most people, no matter how often it is said, don’t really want truth and facts, they want their imagination lifted and their ego boosted
    2. Realize that the grass is rarely greener on the other side
    3. Learn when and how to remove yourself. You also want to be a little cold and ambiguous so people can’t get a great feel for you
    4. It is not possession but desire that drives people. By becoming a scarce commodity and playing on other’s covetousness, you can become highly desirable
    5. In the end, what you must covet is a closer relationship to reality, bringing calmness, knowledge about yourself, an understanding of what you can change and what you can’t, and being OK with both
  7. The Law of Shortsightedness – Elevate Your Perspective
    1. Learn to judge people by the breadth or narrowness of their vision and seek to surround yourself with those who can understand the consequences of their actions and have a bold vision
    2. With an elevated perspective, you will have the patience and clarity to achieve almost any goal
    3. When people’s horizon shrink to days or weeks, they lose the ability to see the consequences of their actions and they become manic
    4. 4 signs of shortsightedness:
      1. Unintended consequences (have at least one person focus solely on consequences)
      2. Tactical hell happens when you can’t back out of everyday battles to get detachment, perspective and the long-term view (strategists will always beat tacticians)
      3. Ticker tape syndrome (need to know instantly drives short-termism, avoid the noise as much as possible)
      4. Lost in trivia (know what’s most important and spend most of your time on that)
  8. The Law of Defensiveness – Soften People’s Resistance by Confirming Their Self-Opinion
    1. Learn to tame your stubbornly held positions and come to see other’s points of views and beliefs. This will open them up, making them more open to your suggestions
    2. It’s hard to ignore a man who makes you feel good. When you have valuable information and can get things done on top of it, you’re a force
    3. LBJ knew he had to rein in his more aggressive and bullying qualities in order to win over key allies and learn from them. Having one key ally near the top of the mountain can make a lot of things happen. He never asked for favors but did others favors, if his allies had any interests he would cultivate an interest in that too, he was always willing to help and work hard, knew what others wanted and needed and figured out how to make himself the gate between those things, he made it in other’s interest to hand over power to him
    4. Influence over people is often gained in the opposite way than we imagine. Put the focus on others and make them the stars of the show. Always step back and assume a subtle inferior position. Then do some small favors for them and they’ll begin helping you, expanding your influence. Bring out the cleverness of others and make them feel good when they leave you
    5. People have a self opinion and it doesn’t matter if it’s accurate. 3 universal traits: I’m autonomous, intelligent, good and decent. These affect everyone’s self opinion and playing into these and validate them make them feel good. Avoid confronting people’s self opinion.
    6. 5 strategies of master persuaders
      1. Be a deep listener and be aware of subtle nonverbal cues
      2. Infect people with the proper mood (acceptance of others unconditionally, calm, enthusiastic)
      3. Confirm their self opinion (people choose to help you)
      4. Know what people are insecure about and compliment that
      5. Use people’s resistance and stubbornness against them (channel their aggressive energy in order to make them fall on their own – use their emotions, their language, their rigidity)
    7. Praise people for their effort and not their talent
  9. The Law of Self-Sabotage – Change Your Circumstances by Changing Your Attitude
    1. Our attitudes are self fulfilling and paint everything we see, experience, learn and do
    2. See yourself as an explorer – always curious, open to new things, having weakly held convictions, you are always trying new things and want to learn
    3. See adversity as opportunities to improve and to get better, not something to be avoided. Understand that you can’t change people – embrace and enjoy who those people are and make the most of it. When you do this people, come to love you, accept you, and see you as a leader
  10. The Law of Repression – Confront Your Dark Side
    1. Embrace your dark side and integrate it into your personality. You’ll become a more complete and authentic person and radiate that to others – attracting them into your circle and influence
    2. Depression and anxiety comes from not being aware of your dark side and not letting it shine through in a positive way. By denying that side and repressing it, it only becomes stronger and comes out stronger in ways that you will come to regret
    3. Most hatred stems from envy and is a way for the subconscious to release some energy
    4. Steps to bring about and integrate the shadow:
      1. Become self aware and see the shadow (others can often see your shadow better than you can so ask them for their opinion)
      2. Embrace your shadow
      3. Show the shadow
  11. The Law of Envy – Beware the Fragile Ego
    1. You must become a master decoder of envy and those who are predisposed to being envious.
    2. People are status-seeking animals and constantly monitor their relative position in the hierarchy. People must have an adequate position to be comfortable and happy
    3. Always emphasize the role of luck in your life. Enhance your flaws in order to make yourself more relatable and to mitigate envy. As you gain power, keep humbling yourself and asking for the opinion of those below you
    4. Be wary of mass – spread the love, the relationships, and the wealth and you’ll have people pushing for you to rise rather than trying to put you down
  12. The Law of Grandiosity – Know Your Limits
    1. You must be aware of your tendencies towards grandiosity and how important that is for you. If you feel the temptation, you must mitigate this by realizing your weaknesses and how big a role luck has played, becoming more realistic and grounded
    2. Be aware of your grandiosity needs, concentrate that energy on a particular task or goal, create a dialog with reality and be open to the flaws in your plan, find appropriate challenges which test you but aren’t too much, occasionally let yourself take on huge challenges
  13. The Law of Gender Rigidity – Reconnect to the Masculine or Feminine Within You
    1. By blending in the opposite side, what you’re most lacking, you’ll become more complete, fluid, whole, and authentic, drawing other people to you as you merge the different sides of your personality.
      1. This is a far more effective tactic than trying to become a purer version of what you already have
  14. The Law of Aimlessness – Advance with a Sense of Purpose
    1. We must be open to our internal, primal traits that make us unique. They not only help set us apart and get us on a path towards mastery but also helps the community at large as it fosters diversity and helps spur creativity and innovation in others
    2. Operating with a high sense of purpose which aligns with who you are and what you want is the force multiplier – allowing you to achieve more and have a more meaningful and impactful life. Discover this sense of purpose and find as many ways to connect with it as possible – this will draw others towards you and open up opportunities that you would have thought impossible
    3. Discover your calling by going back to your roots, your childhood, the primal inclinations which set you on fire – the things which you got very enthusiastic about and couldn’t stop thinking about. Things which are so fun or easy for you are good signs.
    4. Surround yourself with as many people as possible with the deep and true sense of purpose. They will help teach you, guide you, energize you, and motivate you
    5. Have a long term goal but also build in small, shorter term goals which build up to the ultimate goal. This will keep you moving in the right direction and mitigate anxiety
    6. You must get into deep flow as often as possible in order to progress quickly and in the right direction. It takes a lot of work and is difficult as it takes sacrifice and dedication but is the only way to get there
  15. The Law of Conformity – Resist the Downward Pull of the Group
    1. Develop self awareness and the changes that occur to yourself and others when in a group. One of the greatest threats to our survival thousands of years ago was being ostracized so today fitting in and being accepted in the group is one of our greatest concerns. We fit in by accepting the norm and imitating and following the group. The danger is that we stop thinking for ourselves and simply imitate the group and lose what makes us unique and gives us power
    2. All people have evolved to see hierarchies and this gets exaggerated in groups. We lose our rationality and go with the herd, often leading to dangerous or poor outcomes
    3. You must be aware of the effect that groups have on people as individuals and the broader group dynamics – hierarchies can lead to cliques, factions, and power mongering
    4. In any group you have to understand the culture and the fact that an older company and a bigger group will likely control you rather than you control it. You also have to understand the group dynamic and the hierarchy – who is moving up and down relatively
    5. You can make factions and cliques less attractive by creating a positive, unifying, and uplifting culture that people can go all in on
    6. You must understand and be really realistic with yourself and how big of an influence the group has on you. You’re not as much of an individual thinker as you think you are. You must be able to detach yourself from the group and be a realist – this is more important today than ever
    7. Bad culture drags everyone down. You can’t focus I’m trying to improve individuals – you have to fix the dynamic. Improving the culture this will lift everyone up. When the group can face reality head on and kick-ass, that is when you have a great culture. Instill a collective sense of purpose (no matter what field, quality and excellence are key factors – money and success are byproducts). This higher purpose is rare to come by so people will go all-in and police themselves when they find it. Assemble the right team of lieutenants (avoid the petty details which cause confusion, competence and character are vital, know their roles and make sure they have complimentary skills, you must treat people equally, get rid of those who don’t fit the mold, and lead from the front), let information and ideas flow freely (frank and diversified information, open communication, transparency on how decisions were made), infect the group with productive emotions (lack of fear, courage, calm, openness to new ideas), forge a battle-tested group (group who rises in tough times and doesn’t wilt)
    8. A group willing to face reality with a great culture help rise people up, it is one of people’s most memorable experiences to be part of a group like this. It is our duty as enlightened humans to create as many such groups as possible, making society healthier in the process
  16. The Law of Fickleness – Make Them Want to Follow You (an amazing chapter on leadership)
    1. People are always ambivalent about powers and leaders. Authority is the delicate art of wielding power while making people feel like you are working for them
    2. As the leader you have to embody and practice all the traits that you would want in a leader. You must work hard, lead from the front, be fair, be consistent, courageous, wise, and calm and difficult situations
    3. As a leader be very aware of how fickle people are and how history is riddled with examples of great leaders who start showing some signs of weakness, arrogance, or whatever else which leads their people to turn on them and sometimes put them to death or ostracize them
    4. The fundamental role of the leader is to provide a far reaching vision to unite the group. We must avoid seeming petty  and our focus needs to be on others, on the culture, and the vision.
    5. Toughness and empathy are the twins pillars of leadership. They are not mutually exclusive but inextricably bound. You must have both or people will begin to lose faith in you as a leader
    6. You must be a consummate observer of people and these traits of leadership and hierarchy, coming to embody and practice them consistently in all situations
    7. Most people run away from the dangers and responsibilities of leadership but you must embrace it. This skill is increasingly rare in today’s world so the more you can run towards it, the more you’ll stand out. The essence of leadership is that when people willingly follow, you will not need force, rah rah speeches or to punish people. Your leadership style most authentically arise out of your personality and character you can be authentic, a founder, the deliverer, a visionary artist, healer, pragmatist, etc – but it must be natural for you
    8. Turn your focus outwards so that you’re always looking to help others and then you work to earn people’s respect – never assuming it will be given to you. What drives you is bringing the greatest meaning and utility to the largest group – never on your ego or selfish desires.
    9. Having a vision allows you to work backwards from the future to the present and determine the steps that you need to take in order to get there.
    10. You have to lead from the front and show early that you’re tough. Have high standards for your own work and  if there are sacrifices to be made, you have to be the first to make them, and they can’t simply be symbolic. If you take things away, make it known that it is only temporary. Be in a position where you can be generous
    11. Never overpromise
    12. Finally, we like to focus on the psychological health of individuals, and how perhaps a therapist could fix any problems they might have. What we don’t consider, however, is that being in a dysfunctional group can actually make individuals unstable and neurotic. The opposite is true as well: by participating in a high-functioning reality group, we can make ourselves healthy and whole. Such experiences are memorable and life-changing. We learn the value of cooperating on a higher level, of seeing our fate as intertwined with those around us. We develop greater empathy. We gain confidence in our own abilities, which such a group rewards. We feel connected to reality. We are brought into the upward pull of the group, realizing our social nature on the high level it was intended for. It is our duty as enlightened humans to create as many such groups as possible, making society healthier in the process.
  17. The Law of Aggression – See the Hostility Behind the Friendly Facade
    1. John D Rockefeller is the role model and story for this. He would use his will to outdo, outthink and outwork his opponents. Hostility is within every human and don’t be fooled to think anyone is too nice. Rid yourself of the denial that this doesn’t exist in people.
  18. The Law of Generational Myopia – Seize the Historical Moment
    1. Transitions can be seen over decades and seem to be universal across time and indicate that they are bigger than any one generation. It is part of human nature the pendulum swings in the trends follow
    2. We must develop generational awareness understanding how our own generation impact our thinking in view of the world and have generations overall impact people across time
    3. You must understand and honor how much the time period and generation you were born into affects you. For example, millennials care more about teamwork than individualism, and security rather than risk because of the financial crisis. If you can define the zeitgeist for each generation, you will better understand the people within it and how to work and get along with them. Taking different perspectives will help your creativity and calm you. Once you have a sense for the zeitgeist, look back in history and find a parallel. Associate yourself with heroes of the past
    4. Always work with the spirit and don’t critique or try to change it. Always evolve and adapt, don’t become a caricature of the past. Modernize your spirit, adopting your experience and perspective with some of the traits of the younger you agree with
    5. You must develop deep relationships with people from various generations
  19. The Law of Death Denial – Meditate on our Common Mortality
    1. Realize that life is short, that most people are terrified of death and have not confronted that within themselves.
    2. If you live everyday, there is more than enough time
What I got out of it
  1. Deep self-awareness is the cornerstone. Once you can face reality and admit your flaws and weaknesses, you can address them and mitigate them. As much as you can, put others before yourself, put your energy and attention on them rather than yourself