Tag Archives: Psychology

How to Own Your Own Mind by Napoleon Hill

Summary

  1. The problem most of us face isn’t that our goals are too audacious, but that we aren’t using our mind properly. Carnegie classified his approach into three broad principles: Creative Vision, Organized Thought, Controlled Attention

Key Takeaways

  1. Creative Vision – the ability to spot opportunities and act upon them
    1. Focus your mind intently on one or a few problems and your subconscious mind will reward you with solutions. It also prepares you to recognize the solution once you see it or stumble upon it. Persistence and obsession is vital
    2. Must have a definite purpose, an obsessive mission, plans to follow, make use of the mastermind principle (learning from other greats), using the power of applied faith
    3. The man who helps the greatest number to succeed is himself the greatest success
    4. The road to riches is well known, but long. You cannot get something for nothing
    5. Focus more on the services rendered than the riches you shall receive
    6. The most important skill needed is the ability to negotiate with others with the least amount of friction so as to get the maximum of friendly cooperation. In other words, win/win human relations
    7. Man of vision recognize that sound ideal oh best investments one can make
    8. 10 principles of creative vision
      1. Recognizes opportunities favorable to his own advancement.
      2. Moves with definiteness of purpose in embracing opportunities.
      3. Plans every move he makes….
      4. Provides himself with….the knowledge of others.
      5. Removes limitations from his own mind.
      6. Adopts and follows the habit of Going the Extra Mile.
      7. Keeps his mind….attuned to the circumstances and conditions of those around him.
      8. Moves on his own personal initiative, without being urged to do so.
      9. Assumes full responsibility for his own deeds and depends upon the soundness of his own judgement.
      10. Develops and uses….the faculties of imagination.
    9. Those with creative vision make their work look effortless. They achieve what they want with the minimum amount of effort
  2. Organized Thought – self-discipline, perseverance, definitiveness of purpose
    1. You must make your mind and willpower the master over emotions
    2. The mind comes to believe any idea which it is repeatedly presented, whether sound or on sound. Make sure you feed your mind with as accurate and foundational facts as possible. Habit and social heredity and mimicry play an incredibly important role. Be aware of each of their effects on your life and thinking
    3. Remove procrastination, stimulate the subconscious mind, become self-reliant, learn from others
  3. Controlled Attention – With Creative Vision and Organized Thought, you’re able to pinpoint your attention fiercely onto any goal you set
    1. Controlled attention magnetized the brain with the nature of one’s dominating thoughts, aims, and purposes, thus causing one to be always in search of every necessary thing that is related to one’s dominating thoughts.

What I got out of it

  1. “New Age” thinking but from 1908. Interesting to see how Carnegie outlines why and how he succeeded – setting ambitious goals (creative vision), setting a definiteness of purpose (organized thought), and then having the perseverance and focus to follow through (controlled attention).

The Luxury Strategy: Break the Rules of Marketing to Build Luxury Brands by Jean-Noël Kapferer and Vincent Bastien

Summary

  1. Luxury is about elevation, social stratification, the object must be handmade, the service rendered by a human, hedonistic more than utilitarian, timeless, have both a social and personal component, elicit dreams but not envy, be superlative and not comparative.

Key Takeaways

  1. Luxury items share a common core made of six criteria:
    1. A very qualitative hedonistic experience or product made to last
    2. Offered at a price that far exceeds what their mere functional value would command
    3. Tied to a heritage, unique know-how and culture attached to the brand
    4. Available in purposefully restricted and controlled distribution
    5. Offered with personalized accompanying services
    6. Representing a social marker, making the owner or beneficiary feel special, with a sense of privilege.
  2. A luxury product is rooted in a culture. In buying a Chinese luxury product (silk, let’s say), you are buying not just a piece of material but a little bit of China as well – a luxury product comes along with a small fragment of its native soil. This does of course mean that a luxury brand has to stay absolutely true to its roots and be produced in a place that holds some legitimacy for it: by remaining faithful to its origins, the luxury product offers an anchor point in a world of cultural drift, trivialization and deracination. A luxury brand should not yield to the temptation of relocation, which effectively means dislocation: a relocated product is a soulless product (it has lost its identity), even if it is not actually anonymous (it still bears a brand name); it no longer has any business in the world of luxury. We shall be returning to this later and in greater detail, but we need to understand one thing right away: a product whose production centre has been relocated loses its right to be called a luxury product.
  3. A luxury brand that cannot go global finishes up disappearing; it is better to have a small nucleus of clients in every country – because there is every chance that it will grow – than a large nucleus in just one country, which could disappear overnight. That’s the law of globalization.
  4. In addition to this key social function, luxury is an access to pleasure: it should have a very strong personal and hedonistic component, otherwise it is no longer a luxury but simple snobbery
  5. When it comes to luxury, hedonism takes precedence over functionality.
  6. Luxury has to be multisensory: it is not only the appearance of a Porsche that matters but also the sound of it, not only the scent of a perfume but also the beauty of the bottle it comes in. It is multisensory compression.
  7. It immediately follows from this analysis that if one wants a luxury product or service to be a lasting financial success (which is the point of this book) it absolutely must possess the following two aspects: a social aspect (luxury as a social statement in relation to other products or services – connecting luxury, brand status); a personal aspect (luxury as an individual pleasure – cocooning luxury, customer experience).
  8. a luxury item is both timeless and of the here and now. Put another way, a luxury item has to appear both perfectly modern to the society of the day and at the same time laden with history.
  9. Now we come back to what we said at the outset: price, and therefore money, is not a determinant of luxury. It is quite obvious that price on its own does not make something a luxury; an ordinary car will cost more than a luxury bag, and it is a common error to believe that to turn any product into a luxury product all it takes is to raise its price, which will soon bring about financial failure – a product that is more expensive can often turn into a product that is too expensive, one that nobody wants, rather than a luxury product that people long for. For anyone looking for financial success (which is the point of this book), things are even more clear-cut: within a given range, the most expensive products are never the most profitable, and a company that makes only very expensive products does not generally have any financial success (as in the case of Rolls-Royce, for example), or is likely to find it outside of its core production (designer jewellery and haute couture, for example). Too narrow a client base would entail crippling costs; Volkswagen has publicly admitted that each Bugatti Veyron costs the company over €4 million to produce, whereas it is sold for (only!) €1 million.
  10. Money fuels the luxury engine but is not the engine; the engine is the recreation of vertical hierarchy or social stratification. Luxury converts the raw material that is money into a culturally sophisticated product that is social stratification.
  11. In placing ourselves in the territory of value, so dear to economists, we could say that luxury introduces a new notion of value that goes beyond the classic dialectic of use-value and exchange-value: symbolic value.
  12. the extent to which luxury and fashion differ from each other in two fundamental respects: relationship to time (durability versus ephemerality); and relationship to self (luxury is for oneself, fashion is not).
  13. The parallelism between religion, art and luxury is striking: all three are concerned with eternity, or at least timelessness. We call what survived through the ages art, religion promises eternal happiness after death and luxury is about timeless objects of extra quality and beauty. But the comparison extends to luxury brands behaviour per se: luxury brands start small, with few clients acting as a sect of believers. Later the brand wishes to enlarge this sect, building a real community of faithful. Structurally, like religions, most luxury brands have the following: They have a creator. They have a founding myth and legend. Storytelling will maintain mystery about them. There will be a holy land, or holy place where it all started. There will be a chest of symbols ( logos, numbers, signs, etc) whose signification is known only by those who have been initiated. Luxury brands will have icons (products endowed with a sacred history). Flagship stores for these brands will be seen as new urban cathedrals. There will be regular moments of communion (called ‘community management’). Sacrifices will be involved. The most important is price. One should recall the Latin etymology of sacrifice (‘making sacred’). It is the ability to sacrifice a high sum that seals the sacred dimension of the object. A nice jewel is only nice: once you pay a lot for it, far beyond what reason or function commands, only then does it become fascinating. The sacrifice is the right to wear the object, as one has to pay a fee to enter a club. We are also close to the initiation rituals involving a physical sacrifice or at least deprivation, as described by anthropologist Mauss (1950).
  14. He reminds us also that it is only by spending on non-productive items that people signal their rank. Here lies the difference between luxury and premium. People buying premium or even super-premium cars like to justify every dollar by a return on investment. Premium means pay more, get more in functional benefits. Luxury is elsewhere: it signals the capacity of the buyer to transcend needs, functions, or objective benefits.
  15. Luxury is superlative, never comparative. Comparisons must be avoided at all costs. Upper-premium brands remain comparative, whereas luxury is superlative. The price of any upper-premium car must be justifiable by its utility curve.
  16. Two observations need to be made at this point. First, the history need not necessarily be a long one: new genuine luxury brands will be born tomorrow. Second, history alone is not enough: it is necessary to create a myth, a legendary discourse that gives birth to the dream. This is what distinguishes luxury from the brand, even from the upper-premium brand.
  17. In this chapter we shall be putting forward 24 management principles, which we call anti-laws of marketing peculiar to luxury, as they are at the opposite extreme of what marketing doctrine normally preaches – and rightly so – concerning products and brands, even premium ones.
    1. Forget about ‘positioning’, luxury is not comparative
    2. When it comes to luxury, being unique is what counts, not any comparison with a competitor. Luxury is the expression of a taste, of a creative identity, of the intrinsic passion of a creator; luxury makes the bald statement ‘this is what I am’, not ‘that depends’ – which is what positioning implies.
    3. Does your product have enough flaws? Their ‘flaw’ is a source of emotion. In the world of luxury, the models and the products must have character or personality.
    4. Do not pander to your customers’ wishes
    5. There are two ways to go bankrupt: not listening to the client, but also listening to the client too much.
    6. Keep non-enthusiasts out
    7. When it comes to luxury, trying to make a brand more relevant is to dilute its value, because not only does the brand lose some of its unique features, but also its wider availability erodes the dream potential among the elite, among leaders of opinion.
    8. Do not respond to rising demand
    9. ‘When a product sells too much we stop producing it,’ says Hermès CEO.
    10. a luxury brand must have far more people who know it and dream of it than people who buy it.
    11. Dominate the client
    12. The luxury brand should be ready to play this role of adviser, educator and sociological guide. On this account it simply has to dominate.
    13. Make it difficult for clients to buy
    14. People do eventually get to enjoy the luxury after passing through a series of obstacles – financial obstacles, needless to say, but more particularly cultural (they have to know how to appreciate the product, wear it, consume it), logistical (find the shops) and time obstacles (wait two years for a Ferrari or a Mikimoto pearl necklace).
    15. To create this obstacle to immediate consumption, it should always be necessary to wait for a luxury product – time is a key dimension of luxury,
    16. Protect clients from non-clients, the big from the small
    17. In practice that means that the brand must be segregationist and forget all society’s democratic principles. In stores, for example, it is necessary subtly to introduce a measure of social segregation: ground floor for some, first floor for others.
    18. The role of advertising is not to sell
    19. Advertising feeds on a sustained myth, mystery, magic, racing, highly people-centred but private shows, product placement, and art – as we saw above, an extremely important element for any luxury brand.
    20. Communicate to those you are not targeting
    21. Luxury has two value facets – luxury for oneself and luxury for others. To sustain the latter facet it is essential that there should be many more people who are familiar with the brand than those who could possibly afford to buy it for themselves.
    22. The presumed price should always seem higher than the actual price
    23. Luxury sets the price, price does not set luxury
  18. Raise your prices as time goes on in order to increase demand
  19. Keep raising the average price of the product range
  20. Do not sell
  21. You tell customers the story of the product, the facts, but you do not pressure them into making a purchase there and then.
  22. Keep stars out of your advertising. If celebrities are used to promote the luxury product, the status of the latter is reduced to that of a mere accessory.
  23. However, it is legitimate for a luxury brand to test new products with a selection of existing good customers of the brand, and especially on the shop floor, where a real face-to-face discussion is possible. Not only is the opinion of these brand-lovers good to collect, as they share the dream of the brand, but also it helps them to feel more ‘part of the club’, enhancing their brand loyalty.
  24. Do not look for consensus
  25. Do not look after group synergies
  26. Do not look for cost reduction
  27. Just sell marginally on the internet
  28. This marker conserves in its genes this first function: maintaining rank, and the visibility of rank. This is why it must be highly visible: like a social seal.
  29. The five types of rarity
    1. Ingredients, components limited capacity, eg: diamonds, rings, rare human expertise, fur
    2. Techno-rarity, innovations, new products and features
    3. Limited editions, custom-made orders, one-to-one relationships
    4. Distribution-based rarity Good
    5. 5. Information-based rarity, marketing, brand, secrecy  (best)
  30. It is noticeable that the brands themselves diminish the size and visibility of their logos for their products in the more expensive price ranges. It is obvious for the accessories
  31. The internet is a fabulous place to sell fashion or premium products, but a very dangerous one to sell luxury ones.
  32. Today you can reach the masses, but you have to do it through communities.
  33. In order for a luxury product to succeed, it is important to master three concepts: the separation of the dream aspect from the functional aspect, the holistic understanding of the competitive universe, and management of the time relationship.
  34. The conclusion is that initially it is necessary to expend all your energies and resources on fine-tuning the product and conquering a first core group of clients who will be the brand’s advocates. Once critical mass has been attained, it is then better to stabilize the offer and no longer invest heavily in the product, but reorientate your financial investments towards distribution and communication.
  35. The luxury product is not a perfect product, but a sacred product
  36. Extraordinary customer care needs extending to boundaries beyond the company’s natural expertise, to an individual and customized approach, and finally surprise and delight.
  37. More than empathy, anticipation of desires is also required.
  38. the true role of the salesperson is not to sell the product – it is to sell the price.
  39. The sales personnel should never earn direct sales commission
  40. The second challenge linked to globalization can be summarized by the statement: one brand, one world.
  41. An own brand store makes it possible, in particular, to know exactly and in real time which products are selling, leading to a very precise steering of the logistical chain. On this point, the system is very effective: we calculated at the time that a competitor, not having integrated its production and not selling through its own network, would have had to sell a bag at twice the price that Louis Vuitton sold it in order to make ends meet. In fact, the exceptional (sometimes criticized) margins at Louis Vuitton did not arise from excessively high prices, but from the removal of all costs and damages due to intermediaries. Louis Vuitton’s competitiveness was therefore structural.
  42. You need to sponsor an event – since you can then control all its parameters – but not a competitor (Louis Vuitton sponsors the LV Cup, not a boat; Hermès sponsors the Grand Prix de Diane, not a horse). You must choose an event that is coherent with the universe of the brand’s core, its roots (Hermès and horses; Louis Vuitton and travel, therefore boats), and concentrate on the most prestigious events.
  43. One last point: the luxury brand should not disperse itself across multiple events in multiple sectors but concentrate fully on a single universe, in which you can develop a very strong image by devoting all your available means to it. For instance, Royal Salute has chosen Polo only.
  44. Premium and luxury differ in their use of these strategies: premium uses an ambassador, luxury shows testimonial users.
  45. The black and white ball organized by Truman Capote on 28 November 1966 at the Plaza Hotel in New York remains a model of the genre. The dress code was dinner jackets and long dresses, with a mask: even the journalists and bodyguards had to wear masks. Truman Capote invited 540 friends, only the rich, powerful or famous. But he made 15,000 enemies that evening: in fact, he organized a leak of information and the New York Times published the list of invitees. All those who had not been invited therefore knew that they were not members of the club, and would do anything to be invited next time.
  46. There are nine systematic and necessary elements of the signature of a luxury brand:
    1. The figure of the brand’s creator, the individual who made the brand a work and not a production.
    2. The typographical logos, generally short and very visual, such as Chanel’s double
    3. A visual symbol that accompanies the typographical signature: Aston Martin’s wings, Mercedes’ circle.
    4. A brand colour: Tiffany’s blue, Veuve Clicquot’s orange.
    5. A favourite material, such as silk for Hermès or python skin and ostrich leather for Prada.
    6. The cult of detail, to the point of obsession, which is expressed visually, for example through close-ups on the seams and the lock details at Louis Vuitton. The constant hymns to the manual work, to the excellence of the artisans who have contributed to each object, to the know-how.
    7. A way of doing things that is typical of the brand: whether it is the ‘Chanel style’ so visible in the woman’s suit – an icon of the brand – or the quilting of the Chanel bag, or the typical driving experience at the wheel of a BMW.
    8. The creator–manager tandem is a characteristic of luxury. In contrast, Pierre Cardin’s solitude was the cause for his decline, despite his immense talent.
    9. There are few real synergies within a group. In fact, groups that work well, such as LVMH, are associations of companies each with its own brand, teams, CEO, and considerable freedom of management, with just a small central holding activity, limited to the management of only part of the finances and human resources, and not rigid, heavy structures managing subsidiaries dependent on an all-powerful headquarters.
  47. This is a major characteristic of this business model: you need entry products, that is, ‘budget’ products, but you need as few of these as possible, since they are not there to ‘meet a quota’ or ‘make money’.
  48. You need to begin local and specific (one place, one product) in order to ensure coherence and the personal link to the clients from the start, and then become regional, and finally national. We have seen that the luxury product always carries the marks of its birthplace, which forms part of the client dream. Wine is French, silk is Chinese, caviar is Russian, Rolls-Royce is British.
  49. This step is crucial, and requires skilful steering. In particular, you should not launch ‘in all directions’, nor choose markets according to their size. You must begin with those whose clients are most receptive to the brand, and who will accept the product as it stands, without modifications, as a luxury product.
  50. Scarcity is painful, but rarity, if well managed, can become a dream.
  51. The essence of luxury strategy is to never sacrifice long term to short term.

What I got out of it

  1. A really thorough book on the ins and outs of luxury. Luxury is superlative, not comparative. It has to have personal and social ramifications

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