What you seek is seeking you
This leads us to look for paths of most resistance, often creating unnecessary hardship in the process
It’s easy to convince yourself that things need to be hard
what happens if we frame things in terms of elegance instead of strain
Sometimes, we “solve” the problem by completely reframing it
The older I get, the more time I spend—as a percentage of each day—on crafting better questions
Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask
If you want uncommon clarity and results, ask uncommonly clear questions.
Unbearable Lightness of Being, has said that “The stupidity of people comes from having an answer for everything. The wisdom of the novel comes from having a question for everything
Often, all that stands between you and what you want is a better set of questions.
What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise?
If you want to build (or foster) a world-class network, you need to interact in a way that earns it. All of these points will help.
To me, proper sequencing is the secret sauce
To keep marching forward in the meanwhile, humans (yours truly included) need short-term rewards
profundity is the fiber of knowledge—it requires intensive digestion
Everyone is fighting a battle [and has fought battles] you know nothing about. The heroes in this book are no different. Everyone struggles.
the “If helpful . . .” portion is often critical for getting good answers.
I’ve found it productive to give interviewees a real-world answer.
normal” people are just crazy people you don’t know well enough
Many problems of “focusing” are best solved by defining what to ignore.
Life would be boring if we all followed exactly the same rules
Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.
success can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations we are willing to have, and by the number of uncomfortable actions we are willing to take.
the wonderful thing about cooking is that it’s a pretty quick process, really, and it doesn’t allow for much time to get attached to the results
The important thing is to learn from each failure and try not to repeat it.
I need eight to nine hours of sleep to function properly, and I’ve started guarding my sleep time mercilessly
When in doubt, let kindness and compassion guide you. And don’t be afraid to fail.
the more clear I am about what my goals are, the more easily I can say no
I try to get out of my head and into my body. On writing days, this usually amounts to getting up and going for a walk
it’s usually because I’m not taking care of myself, so I’ll take a break.
The disease of our times is that we live on the surface
Get out of the hypercompetitive “life hack” frame of mind
ahead of you. Get out into the real dirt world and start failing
the goal is to connect with your own self, your own soul. Adversity. Everybody spends their life trying to avoid it. Me too. But the best things that ever happened to me came during the times when the shit hit the fan and I had nothing and nobody to help me
I can’t recommend Thucydides for fun, but if you want to expose yourself to a towering intellect writing on the deepest stuff imaginable, give it a try.
Driving on sun power is a major giggle, trust me.
working in “the industry” made me a pro and paved the way for whatever successes finally did come.
I believe in investing in your heart. That’s all I do, really. I’m a servant of the Muse. All my money is on her.
I decided that I would look at incoming mail the same way that firm does
Jack used to say it’s okay to take a day off from working out. But on that day, you’re not allowed to eat
In the world of writing, everyone wants to succeed immediately and without pain or effort. Really? Or they love to write books about how to write books, rather than actually writing
Real work and real satisfaction come from the opposite of what the web provides. They come from going deep into something
Bad advice is everywhere. Build a following. Establish a platform. Learn how to scam the system. In other words, do all the surface stuff and none of the real work it takes to actually produce something of value
The disease of our times is that we live on the surface
and staying there for a long, long time.
writing would be my center, and that I would look for freelance work that would give me lots of free time to pursue it.
until I had the time and space to think about life outside the hermetic culture of a law practice, I couldn’t figure out what I really wanted to do
I didn’t care how long it took and, though I wanted the book to succeed
I felt good about the investment of time regardless of the outcome—because I felt so certain that writing in general, and writing that book in particular, was the right thing to do
Most publishing houses rush books to market long before they’re fully baked
You should set up your life so that it is as comfortable and happy as possible—and so that it accommodates your creative work.
I do not believe that your best creative work is done when you’re stressed out because you’re teetering on the edge of bankruptcy or other personal disasters
it gave me a financial cushion, when I was ready, to try a creative life
I told myself that my writing goal was to get something published by the time I was 75 years old. I wanted writing to be a permanent source of pleasure, and never to be associated with financial stress or, more generally, the pressure to achieve
they should be planning how they’re going to make ends meet
whether it’s 30 minutes or ten hours a day—can be all about focus, flow, and occasional glimpses of joy
I only allow myself one latte a day, and I save it for when I’m doing my creative work
this has trained me, Pavlovian style, to associate writing with the pleasure of coffee.
Failure is inextricably connected to any major success I’ve ever had
a Finnish word, “sisu”—the mental strength to continue to try even after you feel you’ve reached the limits of your abilities
I don’t think failure is sometimes part of the process—it always is. When you feel you can’t go on, know that you’re just getting started
I think suffering is probably the most absurd thing that I love
follow your bliss
Bliss is the highest peak of what brings you joy
bliss is what makes you feel most alive
The worst advice I’ve ever been given was to not increase the fee I charged to give a keynote speech
I have to decide between a 6 or an 8, it’s a lot easier to quickly determine whether or not I should even consider it.
It means saying no to the hundred other good ideas that there are
Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination
Ignore any advice that tells you you are going to miss something
you must see the thing you desire as completed, finished, and real, now
visualize, contemplate, and focus on what it was I truly wanted
we only get what we desire most
in order to “have” you must “do,” and in order to “do” you must “be
Man’s Search for Meaning and David McRaney’s You Are Not So Smart
I could have the courage to fail on my own terms
Every great and extraordinary accomplishment in this world was done through courage
There is a big difference between intelligence and wisdom
Intelligence is like following a GPS route right into a body of water until you drown. Wisdom looks at the route but, when it takes a turn into the ocean, decides not to follow it, then finds a new, better way. Wisdom reigns supreme
The “aura of exclusivity” is really code for “bad atmosphere
competition is the opposite of creativity
You work hard because you’re inspired to, not because you have to.
When you’re creative, you render competition obsolete, because there is only one you, and no one can do things exactly the way you do
Every relationship I have in my life, from family and friends to business partners, must be a voluntary relationship
One approach I use is imaginary great-grandchildren. I talk to them all the time. I ask them about decisions and relationships and whether or not to continue them
You won’t take a bullet for pleasure or power, but you will for meaning. So you sometimes have to do what I call a “crowd-thinner.” One wrong person in your circle can destroy your whole future. It’s that important.
We do the things we want to do, period
If we say we are too busy, it is shorthand for “not important enough.”
You don’t find the time to do something; you make the time to do things
if you let yourself off the hook for not doing something for any reason, you won’t ever do it.
Make the time to do the things you want to do and then do them
I needed to deeply understand all the destructive things I was doing in order to try to live a remarkable life
Tell your therapist everything
There is no shame in feeling shame
There is nothing like understanding your motivations and insecurities to help you integrate those feelings into your psyche in the most healthy and authentic way.
most overly confident people were really annoying
overexuding that amount of confidence was a sure sign that a person was compensating for some type of internal psychological deficit
courage was more important than confidence
You are not waiting for the confidence to mysteriously arrive. I now believe that confidence is achieved through repeated success at any endeavor
Do I believe that I am working harder than everyone else? If not, what else can I be doing? What are the people who are competing with me doing that I am not doing?
Am I spending enough time on looking for, finding, and working toward winning a great
Am I constantly refining and improving my skills?
Am I doing everything I can—every single day—to stay in “career shape
No one cares if you are a people person.
Have a point of view, and share it meaningfully, thoughtfully, and with conviction.
When you are in your 20s and 30s and want to have a remarkable, fulfilling career, you must work hard.
if you are looking for work-life balance in your 20s or 30s, you are likely in the wrong career
I wait. I force myself to breathe, take a step back, and wait to respond
Avoid compulsively making things worse.”
Total Freedom by Jiddu Krishnamurti
Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari
Suffering is a moment of clarity, when you can no longer deny the truth of a situation and are forced into uncomfortable change
Losing faith in my bosses and elders made me independent and an adult
on and on. Inside suffering is the seed of change.
Desire is a contract that you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.”
Happiness, or at least peace, is the sense that nothing is missing in this moment
The genuine love for reading itself, when cultivated, is a superpower
The means of learning are abundant—it’s the desire to learn that’s scarce
Follow your intellectual curiosity over whatever is “hot” right now. If your curiosity ever leads you to a place where society eventually wants to go, you’ll get paid extremely well.
Don’t do things that you know are morally wrong. Not because someone is watching, but because you are
there is no fair. Play the hand that you’re dealt to the best of your ability.
Most of history was built by young people. They just got credit when they were older
The only way to truly learn something is by doing it
Yes, listen to guidance. But don’t wait.
I say no to nearly everything
The Double Helix by James D. Watson
The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins.
The habit of listening to books as I fall asleep. This has cured my sometimes-serious insomnia without mood-altering drugs or futile and expensive psychotherapy and given me a chance to “read” even more books
the people who succeed are not any cleverer than you
the great human achievement is to specialize as a producer of goods or services so that you can diversify as a consumer
Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon
She doesn’t “allow” any laziness in reading her work; so beyond the incredible story, I learned to take my time to absorb the characters, and to reread passages when there was so much to unpack
when people care, they’ll go beyond the extra mile to understand you
There’s no conundrum that a 20-minute nap can’t help me unpack
I wake up clearer and more able to make the “gut” decision because I’ve stopped thinking
An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field
What we usually consider as impossible are simply engineering problems . . . there’s no law of physics preventing them
In my old system, the monkey was in a constant state of rebellion against a system that never really gave him any dedicated time. What
reasoning from first principles (being a “chef” who comes up with a recipe) versus reasoning by analogy (being a “cook” who follows someone else’s recipe).
don’t get daunted out of shooting for something you want, especially by potentially unfounded assumptions
I think humans can only feel real hatred of people they’re able to dehumanize in their heads
have a bunch of different kinds of magnets, a wide array of silly putties, fidget spinners, fidget cubes, bouncy balls, etc. This isn’t just because I’m a child—it actually helps me focus
I’m a kinetic thinker—the kind of person who paces constantly when on a phone call. And when I’m working—brainstorming, researching, outlining, or writing—I do a lot better with a toy in my hand
I also found myself in a permanent state of kind of working. I was rarely in a long period of full work focus, and I was rarely just carefree off work
there’s something to the “go to an office from nine to five” thing. I stopped writing from home and started putting clothes on and writing from a coffee shop
being dead serious about work until the late afternoon or early evening and then stopping entirely until the next day
Most people do their best work in the morning
Working later in the day kills your social life, since most social life happens between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m
we all have two main characters in our heads: a rational decision-maker (the adult in your head) and an instant gratification monkey
these two are in a constant battle, and the monkey usually wins
if I turn life into a yin-yang situation—e.g., “work till 6 today, then no work till tomorrow”—it’s much easier to control the monkey in the work period
You can kind of group all careers into two major buckets—careers where you’re the CEO and careers where you work for a CEO
neither of these paths is inherently better or worse than the other
Obsess over figuring out the funnest, most exciting, most natural shape of yourself as a writer and start doing that
I started out basically imagining I was writing for a stadium full of replicas of myself—which made things easy because I already knew exactly what topics interested them, what writing style they liked, what their sense of humor was, etc
I knew the Tims in that stadium didn’t care about those things—and instead focused on a single type of topic
By focusing inward on yourself as a writer instead of outward on what you think readers will want to read, you’ll end up creating the best and most original work, and that one-in-a-thousand person who happens to love it will end up finding their way to you
When I find myself with an opportunity, I ask myself whether I’d be happy if my epitaph had something to do with this project
the Epitaph Test is usually a reminder to focus my time and effort on doing the highest-quality and most original creative work I can.
Make sure I’m dedicating my time to the right people with the question, “Is this someone I might be thinking about when I’m on my deathbed?”
If I were on my deathbed today, would I be happy with the amount of time I spent with this person?
The people who matter most are always in competition for your time with both your work and with other people
life is the obstacles. There is no underlying path
We discourage failure and by doing so we subtly discourage success
Science isn’t about being right preemptively or knowing the answer. Science is motivated by the human drive to struggle to discover.
We’re building the world we want to inhabit and, by doing so, we’ve constructed a remarkable, unusual space for the sciences in an unconventional setting
life is the obstacles. There is no underlying path. Our role here is to get better at navigating those obstacles
I strive to find calm, measured responses and to see hindrances as a chance to problem-solve. Often I fall back into old frustrations, but if I remind myself, this is a chance to step up, I can reframe conflicts as a chance to experiment with solutions.
so many bad ideas that lead to authoritarian consequences begin with good intentions
Students should go to college with an open mind. I advise them to ignore all the absolutism around them, both in terms of ideas and people
When they’re told that some people or ideas are wrong, hateful, or offensive, a light bulb should go off in their heads. That is the moment their curiosity should be piqued to find out for themselves whether it is indeed a “bad” thing
Adopting an attitude of critical thinking is most crucial in learning anything.
Too often students can’t meaningfully help the disadvantaged now, even if it makes them feel good for trying to
I always advise working in the private sector, and wish I did this before entering politics and the public sector. The private sector teaches important skills like entrepreneurship that can then be applied to any area of work later on.
SubPac M2 Wearable Physical Sound System
it’s deciding what game you want to play
Sam Barondes’ book Making Sense of People
Big Five” or OCEAN: open-minded, conscientious, extroverted, agreeable, neurotic
The killer combination is high open-minded, high conscientious, low neurotic
model of adult development
there is always a single “source
That source maintains a unique relationship with the gestalt of the original idea and has an intuitive knowledge of what the right next step for the initiative is, whereas others who join later to help with the execution often lack that intuitive connection to the founder’s original insight
Many organizational tensions and power struggles often revolve around lack of explicit acknowledgment of who the source of the initiative is
many founders seem to hire friends as co-founders more to quell their own anxiety during the early, highly ambiguous days of a new company than to fulfill a specific role
Handing off the source role of an initiative to another person is possible but extremely difficult, and is most often mishandled
One key to a successful transition is for the original source to actually move on and allow the new leader room to move.
any subsequent positive stock performance was correlated with the founder completely leaving the board rather than hanging around to mentor the next CEO
Often the responsibility to make the room for a real transition is in the hands of the source
I conduct extensive reference checks on people in order to try to accelerate the process of building trust
By this point I was better able to hold multiple perspectives simultaneously without experiencing cognitive dissonance, the state of “negative capability” that Keats referred to as useful to writers
Today when I speak with anyone about anything, I try to hold their perspective with a “light grip”: the knowledge that they, and I, have very incomplete maps of reality
Calling it a product ignores the reality that the only source of stability is whether the mindset of the team leader is resilient or even antifragile
She surfaces my hidden assumptions—the ones that hold me rather than me holding them—and teaches me to ask better and better questions
I invest a disproportionate amount of my income in paying for an ever-growing collection of trainers and coaches
Seeing someone’s picture allows me to visualize their intentionality and unleashes more creative ideas about what we can discuss and how I may be able to help them. It also lets me access whether I have a “full-body yes” to actually seeing them and opening this new door, and if I don’t then I take my hand off the door handle.
what would be the worst thing” about that outcome not going the way I want
I’ve begun swimming most mornings, and I find it often shifts my mindset for the rest of the day
much of life is water to us—we are swimming in it and can’t see it because we’re either in a hurry or not awake to our context
discover your zone of genius
you make your craft your own and view your life as more self-expression than simply playing out other people’s roles for you
consistently “asserting reality” through their powerful storytelling
while always bearing the risk that their egos grow too big and their creative narcissism becomes too well defended
I think Musk drives hedge fund managers crazy as half of them are short his shares because he exudes so much promotional hucksterism, and half of them are long because he is actually thinking on a 100-year time scale. It’s very confusing.
strong poets losing their feel
In retrospect, I would tell my 21-year-old self to have a little more patience in swimming along the rigidity bank rather than constantly seeking the entrepreneurial and chaotic side of the river
you can always choose to course-correct and swim toward structure or chaos
The best advice I have seen comes from people who don’t try to tell me the answer . . . instead they give me a new approach to thinking about the question so that I can solve it better on my own
I am thankful every day that I didn’t get what I “wanted.”
song. Sometimes . . . not getting what you want opens the door to getting what you need
Integrity is the only path where you will never get lost
Learning how to slow down and take pictures with a manual focus lens
The right path is to know that life is short, every day is a gift, and you have certain gifts.
Happiness is about understanding that the gift of life should be honored every day by offering your gifts to the world
mind. Let your mind show you the same kindness that you aspire to show others
Most “bad” recommendations I could reduce to “I have been successful, so do it my way.” The best advice is more like, “I can’t answer your question, but this might be a good way for you to think about it.”
People who offer great advice understand that their goal is to help someone on their unique journey
Your time is limited, so it’s best to spend it with people who will make you feel like you made the most of your gift of today
I step back . . . and slow down . . . and ask the five whys. And when I am done, I also ask if I am afraid of something but too afraid to admit it.
what we need are methods to counteract our ignorance
I write the five whys on paper. If I am in a group, I write the questions down one at a time on a whiteboard:
Going very slow in this exercise is helpful, because it can cause people to turn off their “lizard brains” and fight-or-flight instincts and shift their thinking to their rational brains and problem-solving
In general, whenever I feel things are moving too quickly, I find the right instinct is almost always to slow down and get my thoughts back in order. It ends up speeding things up because we get better decisions and more alignment of everyone on the team
One should use common words to say uncommon things.”
I think the greatest exercise a person can do when they’re stuck is to remember what their favorite children’s book was
Somewhere in that book is the clue to not only what makes you tick, but also to your life’s purpose.
Don’t let someone knock you off course before you reach your destination. Trust the work. Always trust the work.
beauty is literally ruining our lives
If you can conceive of it, it’s probably wrong
most of the ideas, opinions, rules, and fixed systems I have in my mind aren’t the real truth. They’re the residues of past experiences that I haven’t let go of
my soul doesn’t speak in thoughts at all—it speaks in feelings, images, and clues
underneath my mind’s chatter, my body has everything under control if I’m willing to take the plunge and fly.
Make sure you have something every day you’re looking forward to
A little part of me dies every time someone tells me they’ve taken a job as a “steppingstone” to something else, when they clearly aren’t invested in it
Too often, aspiring artists put pressure on themselves to make their creative work their only source of income
Having another stream of income drains the pressure on your creative engine
I’m a personal practitioner of this: Even after three books and a hefty movie deal, I still tutor kids and help them with their college applications. My friends can’t understand it, but it’s the only way I know how to write without feeling like it’s a matter of life and death.
be patient. When I’m writing the book, that’s all I’m working on and I say no to everything else, no matter how lucrative
because I’m committing to maximum quality, better opportunities arise to replace the ones I’ve passed up.
Feeling overwhelmed usually means one of two things: either my blood’s trapped in my head and I need to go exercise, or, more likely, I’ve overcommitted myself and my brain knows there’s no way I can reasonably get done everything I’ve set out to do
a lack of focus is usually just fear: fear that whatever project I’m attempting will go nowhere or fail miserably
know it’s just a ghost, and I can blow right through it without looking back.
most things that are universally accepted are mediocre and boring
now that I know everything about the financials of producing my show tours and my deals, I can engage in the business conversations in an educated way.
Guns, Germs, and Steel by Jared Diamond
Power needs tools and circumstance. Neither need be earned
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: The protagonist’s audacious self-confidence and refusal to compromise his artistic vision—which was to say, himself—was a fascinating thing to survey.
David Lynch Foundation
Going to therapy has opened a portal into the how and why of my own thoughts and behaviors. I can see and act with a new level of honesty, which helps cut a path to clearer communication with myself and others. For me, these are among the more critical tools to personal freedom
I tend to lose focus for one of two reasons: exhaustion or distraction
If it’s exhaustion, I’ll just take a nap or, more recently, meditate
Reading creative writing stimulates my creative thoughts
My friend Adepero likes to ask, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?” That’s a good one
We can’t control the fact that bad things are going to happen, but it’s how we react to them that really matters, and that we can learn to control
The first no is by far the easiest and cleanest
Research shows we’re remarkably committed to maintaining a consistent sense of external identity, even if we only established it to begin with out of politeness
I use a different perfume for every film. Of the five senses, I figured the only sense I could play with was the sense of smell
What we can be is provokable, so people know we won’t be sitting ducks if they mess with us.
I start afresh with each project. I forget who I am and my past laurels. It keeps me grounded and makes me work harder
business. It takes time, but if you are consistently good at what you do, at least you get to call your success your own.
This is a quirk I enjoy, because I love to smell good. I am not a method actor, but this allows me to slip into my character with ease
Looking at the larger picture gives you perspective. Like when a plane takes off, you realize how small your little cocoon of problems, in fact, is.
While this is a foolproof way to get a job and live a normal life, very few people can break out of the cycle of the mundane to be adventurous, inventive, and selfless. The safety net of a regular job is too comfortable
People make recommendations based on what they think is safest for you, or based on their understanding of who you are and what you ought to be
I have become better at saying no to things and people (including friends and family) that drain my energy
when I look back at my scribbles from when I was in high school, it gives me great joy to notice how far I have come intellectually and career-wise
I generally start by focusing on my breath. I could count back from ten to one while exhaling and I drift into meditation. It takes about 20-odd minutes to become somewhat thoughtless
lucidity is meditation. It always helps
It is not daily increase but daily decrease
When you aren’t sure about a key employee or a co-founder, odds are exceedingly low your mind will be changed for the better. “The difference between winning and losing is most often not quitting
The Master and Margarita
It’s a fairly short novel, remarkable in its exceptional depth
always be decisive in battle and in business, and at a most basic level, to trust your gut
The only predictable thing about startups is their unpredictability
Look for a partner you’ll try to impress daily, and one who will try to impress you
tweaking a recipe to better suit my personal taste is fun, and feeds my innate obsessiveness
Focusing on my strengths
I was happiest when working on building
take risks, now
Barnacles of the good life tend to slow you down, if you don’t get used to risk-taking early in your career
I loved the feeling of starting something, and I had almost no other responsibilities. Eventually, one of the startups did work out, but I was prepared to try as many times as it would take to win
if you find that strength of yours (as an individual contributor or a team leader) at a company whose mission you are truly passionate about, take a risk—commit and double down, and rise through the ranks
NVC has a magical way of instantly defusing potential conflicts with anyone
no two people’s needs are ever in conflict. It’s only the strategies for getting those needs met that are in conflict
The best thing that ever happened to me was not getting accepted into journalism school
It allowed me to learn through experience rather than academics, and to take a route following my passion instead of how it’s “supposed to be done
the outcome is not the outcome
In the big picture of our lives, we really don’t know whether a particular success or failure is actually helping or hurting us
Did I do my best, given who I was and what I knew at that particular time
criticism is not failure. If you’re not being criticized, you’re probably not doing anything exceptional.
Learn more, know less
I loved writing, but I wasn’t very good at it when I started
But by being around the writers and editors I admired, and spending all my free time reading back issues in the archives, I learned to be a writer, a critic, and a reporter.
the secret to change and growth is not willpower, but positive community.
Our devices and technology have gotten to know us so well that we now need devices and technology to protect us from them
We are in an arms race against distractions
Kitchen Safe [now called kSafe], which is a timed safe I can drop my cell phone into.
Overall, what would work for both is to think of my mind as a computer, and the RAM is full. So best to shut it off for a little
Anything healthy that gets you out of your mind and into your body is ultimately good for your mind
pretending like I know what someone’s talking about when I really don’t
my downtime is just as valuable as my uptime
Not all feedback is created equal, and not all ideas from your users are good ones
Don’t wait until you get a job to do the thing you want to be doing
Anything that you can point to on your LinkedIn that screams, “Hey, I’m passionate about this!” works.
always feel better after making a good list. It’s a lot more satisfying for me to have something written down on paper that I can forcibly cross off when it’s done
I wish at least one catastrophic failure on everyone pursing the arts. It’s where you’ll get your superpowers from.
I burned off any safety net I had becoming proficient
Meditative dishwasher loading. I love loading a dishwasher while I think through a problem. It’s Tetris with dishes and silverware
Daily meditation, twice a day. Just giving my brain a chance to power the fuck down and refresh. Makes all the difference.
Enjoy the scrappy years, ’cuz they’ll make you self-sufficient way faster. Ignore anyone who tells you to go for security over experience
Trying to second-guess what the masses will accept or reject always leads to stagnation.
I’ve definitely become better at saying no as a snap decision, rather than something I need to go think on and brood about
If something doesn’t grab me, chances are it isn’t worth pursuing
I relax by playing solitaire on my iPad
The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes is a masterpiece of explaining the sequence of discoveries that led to the development of the atomic bomb in an historical context
learned more physics from the book than I did in my courses
Were I to teach a course on the history of science, The Baroque Cycle
choose a profession that is really easy for you to do and that also allows you to be creative
You will also be able to put in extra hours to blow out the competition every now and then, should that be necessary
If you are uncertain of your talent, get a broad education that does not narrow your options
The best skill is to be able to communicate efficiently both in writing and speaking.
While consuming fats and proteins evokes a feeling of satiety, consuming sugars induces a desire for more sugar within an hour or so
The worst recommendation is to keep your ideas and data secret until you have a paper describing these results accepted in a journal
Multiple scientists with different experiences and expertise can collaborate and get to the right answer much faster than a single scientist
The Doctor and the Soul by Viktor E. Frankl
learn how to live between too much and too little to create a youthful and happier existence
when disaster happens, it means that something is being asked of me
After 35 years old, no matter what we do, we’ll get worse
Why are you happy when something bad happens?” I am not happy, I am just not unhappy
Taking 100 percent personal responsibility would help me to stop blaming or complaining and achieve a sense of flow
On March 8, 2017, I bought a bracelet on Amazon for $19.95 with the first letters of each word of a sentence: IARFCDP
I Am Responsible For Calming Down People
with consistent effort, someone can turn their life completely around in the space of a year
Without having been there, though, I doubt I could find the right words at the right time for the alcoholics who need me to understand them.
Nothing is achieved because of easy choices
Our work is a synthesis of the thousands of books we have read over the years, and we will never stop learning. To us, books are what make us human.
Our purpose in the next four years is to teach you how to think for yourself
If I put firefighting gear on the winner of a marathon and the winner of an Olympic sprint and sent them to the 40th floor, who would be faster?” He stared at me for more than a minute without saying anything. Then I said, “Now you know how you slowed down firemen in New York by training them for endurance and not power.” He smiled, and we returned to the training.
I understood that my goal of owning a physical house was not going to satisfy me. What I really wanted was a spiritual house, a place inside me where I could feel fulfilled at any time.
If I accept you as you are, I make you worse; however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming I help you become that
Breathing deeply helps
In between breaths, I have time to slow down and see the thoughts running through my mind as well as see the other person in front of me.
If I have nothing positive to say, I don’t say anything
Creating jars eliminated the necessity of using force, manipulation, or persuasion
The most helpful practice for me when I feel unfocused is to go for a walk in nature
parenting is also one way to stay young
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do? This may sound odd, but I’ll tackle a chore like scrubbing the bathtub or cleaning out the fridge
The struggle ends when the gratitude begins
If you want something, you work for it
I believe that the key to self-sufficiency is breaking free of the mindset that someone, somewhere, owes you something or will come to your rescue.
For every major event in my life—everything from races to job changes to breakups—I assign a song
the point was that I had a teacher who believed enough in my intelligence to entrust me with it, and that gave my nerdy ten-year-old self all the confidence in the world
Growth and gains come from periods of rest
sometimes accomplishing a task, however mundane, gives me the momentum I need to refocus
Nature and endorphins are always the answer.
pay attention to activities, ideas, and areas where you love the process
I now take fear and discomfort as a sign that I should be doing something. That’s where the magic happens.
The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber
How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery by Kevin Ashton
The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why, by Laurence Gonzales
love stopping on the side of the road whenever I see a historical marker and reading the whole thing
you always do the best you can in the moment, and then it either connects or it doesn’t
BE HERE NOW
Ultimately, you need to develop your own voice
In the whole scheme of things, no one knows anything, or rather, all of us have a lot to learn, and it takes a lifetime
Interrogate the information shared with you by others, and use it as a way to make up your own mind, not a path to follow.
Follow your curiosity, wherever you can find it
I like collaborative environments where people who work hard and do good work get rewarded for it, no matter who they are
I’ve become much better at saying no to requests for assistance and advice, which sounds horrible! But there was a certain point a few years ago, where I was spending more time responding to queries from complete strangers than making sure I was allowing myself to be accessible and present to the actual people in my life
I try to breathe deeply and I walk
I also like road trips. I find that long drives help me to put things in perspective and solve problems and blow off steam
He began writing for The New York Times in 1995 under unusual circumstances: He hadn’t yet graduated from high school
The student with straight As is irrelevant if the student sitting next
Aren’t you worried?” His answer: “Would it help?
Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy by Lawrence Lessig
when you really examine just about any “original” thought or work, you find it’s a composite of previous influences. Everything’s a remix
value sincerity over originality. I think I perform better when I focus less on being original and more on being honest.
the heart of it is still the same: the love of creativity for its own sake
I like talking to myself. Often loudly
My wife turned me on to Google Scholar. It’s like Google, except it only searches academic and scientific studies
there’s a lot more honest joy to be had from taking pleasure in the work itself
By having to explain it to a “reader” with no prior knowledge, I’m forced to identify and parse all the elements and nuances of what’s really going on
I promise any thoughts I’ll have for you then will be far more insightful than anything I can share with you right now.
understanding how to interpret things that other people are saying in situations where their goals do not fully align with yours
A good general strategy is reasoning counterfactually: if someone tells you that X is true, ask yourself—(i) what would they say if X really is true, and (ii) what would they say if X is false? If the answer to (i) and (ii) is “they will say roughly what they just said now,” then their words provided you with exactly zero information
know when it’s really important not to take people’s words at 100 percent face value.
I watch movies frequently on airplanes, but I make sure to only watch them in languages that I am not yet fully fluent in
the interactions between these fields tend to very often inform strategic and protocol decisions.
put yourself in many different situations and environments to try to get some new inspiration
avoid falling into the trap of seeing things from the perspective of the last person you talked to, or even in general the people you spend more time with
you need to try to find ways to neutrally evaluate the situation, and perhaps talk to others who are outside of the circle that’s currently in conflict
Do your own thinking independently. Be the chess player, not the chess piece
What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last six months (or in recent memory)? Without a shadow of doubt, buying [Bose] noise-canceling earphones. These are the most religious objects I have ever come across, because I define faith as the ability to hear the music beneath the noise
Leadership on the Line by Ronald A. Heifetz and Marty Linsky, because it is the most honest book I have ever read on leadership
So there was one newspaper headline, which said, and I doubt that this has ever been said before or will ever said be again, “Archbishop of Canterbury and Chief Rabbi Accused of Heresy.”
It was then that I heard a voice. I’m not going to say this was God talking to me, but it was certainly a voice that said to me, “If you resign, you have given your opponents the victory. You have allowed yourself to be defeated in this first battle of what you see as the major challenge of the coming generation.”
That was when I suddenly realized that it wasn’t about me. It was about not letting down the people who had put their faith in me and not betraying the ideals that had led me to take the job in the first place and write the book in the second place.
There was a 180-degree shift, a Copernican shift in my understanding of the nature of what I was doing. It wasn’t personal at all; there was no self involvement here
invulnerable, because I was no longer putting myself on the line
Live. Give. Forgive
Here’s a house with a room at the bottom of the garden, and maybe there I will find peace and isolation.” It worked like a dream
The really ridiculous thing, which I find totally life-changing is, at little pauses in our life, or when we need rejuvenation, I call [my wife] Elaine, and we sit or stand, and revisit a moment in our past by watching a music video on YouTube
I realized that leaving a job as public and as privileged as that was almost certain to bring withdrawal symptoms and risk of depression.
I took a decision to overschedule my diary in order to simply not have time to be depressed. It was magically effective. I recommend it to anyone.
My wife and my two people who run my office, because I realize that my biggest weakness is an inability to say no, so I simply delegate it away
Face it full of hope, knowing that whatever challenge lies ahead, you are equal to it, and just deliver a message that is precisely the opposite of fear and defensiveness.
What did I key into the sat-nav system of my life [where do I want to be 10, 20 years from now]? What is my ultimate destination? You have to look at that every time you feel overwhelmed
distinguish between an opportunity to be seized and a temptation to be resisted.
When something goes badly, I don’t automatically assume I did something wrong
What policy was I following that produced this bad outcome, and do I still expect that policy to give the best results overall, occasional bad outcomes notwithstanding?” If yes, then carry on
The reason this habit is so important is that even the best policies will fail some percent of the time, and you don’t want to abandon them (or beat yourself up) as soon as one of those inevitable failures pops up
the amount of prep time I would have to spend before each talk, to avoid mistakes like that, is not worth it overall
I think most recommendations are bad because they’re one-size-fits-all
some people need to take more risks, while others need to take fewer risks
the most useful kind of recommendations are about improving your general judgment
Good judgment is what allows you to evaluate whether a recommendation is appropriate to your situation or not
How to Measure Anything (by Douglas W. Hubbard)
One distraction I’ve learned to avoid is consuming media that’s just telling me things I already know and agree with (for example, about politics). That stuff can be addictive because it feels so validating
Uncertainty over expected value (EV) just gets folded into EV. So, if I know that one of option A or B is going to be great, and the other’s going to be a disaster, but I’m totally unsure which is which, then they have the same expected value.
(Of course this assumes you can’t cheaply purchase more information about A and B to reduce your uncertainty about which is better. If you can, you should
if there’s no additional information you could easily get that would make the “right choice” clear—then you should relax and just pick one without worrying anymore
The Barefoot Investor by Scott Pape
Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning.
Earth doesn’t stop spinning just because you made a mistake
mistakes are more useful than success in life
I’ve never learned anything from making a success happen. It’s almost . . . too easy
Recurring” by Bonobo
Twentytwofourteen” by The Album Leaf
I’ll usually start crying from gratitude
Always try to find people who disagree with you, who can honestly and productively play devil’s advocate
The fact is that when two extreme opinions meet, the truth lies generally somewhere in the middle. Without exposure to the other side, you will naturally drift toward the extremes and away from the truth of the matter
Second, stay flexible and be open to opportunities as they come your way. Most of the successful people I know did not know exactly what they wanted to do coming right out of college, and they changed their focus over the course of their careers
Doing some mindful time travel helps you get perspective.
disconnect failure from outcomes. Just because I lose doesn’t mean I failed, and just because I won doesn’t mean I succeeded
every decision failure is an opportunity to learn and adjust my strategy going forward
losing becomes a less emotional experience and more an opportunity to explore and learn
Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
The man who tries methods, ignoring principles, is sure to have trouble.
When I get overwhelmed, I lose a sense of direction, and I need a human GPS to help me “recalculate” and find my path. In moments when you don’t believe in yourself, you need other people who believe in you
you won’t always know in advance which are the important moments
Invest in your connections, even those that seem inconsequential.
Always take the time to acknowledge people—and not just when you know you have something to gain
If you show interest in them, they will be interested in you. People react to kindness with kindness, to respect with respect
Relationships—even brief ones—are doorways to opportunity
Many people feel that when they are overwhelmed or lose focus, they need to retreat into themselves and shut out the world. They think that there is greater merit and virtue in figuring things out alone. That doesn’t work for me
Some of today’s books come as manuals, step-by-step guides, and although that’s practical, it is not how life always turns out
I enjoyed this book because it doesn’t give you answers; it makes you wonder what answers you might give yourself.
internally, losing sets you up for winning. Losing makes you think in ways victories can’t.
You can’t ever say the words “please” and “thank you” enough. And turn those words into actions, make people around you feel that those words are genuine
The number of remarkable people and serendipities and successes that have come into my life since I adopted this awareness of others—which quickly developed into a reflexive habit of directing my attention solely on them when I am not alone—has been nothing short of astonishing. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments you’ve ever made? I’ve made many investments in my life—of money, of time, of energy, of passion and emotion—and one of the best payoffs for the amount invested was learning to meditate. I’ve always been driven, excited by the world, so my mind is continually racing at 1,000 miles per hour pursuing this question or that, creating this system or that. Nonstop. Twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year, 366 on leap years. Now all that nonstop mental and psychic stimulation gets exhausting, of course. And if you want to perform optimally, at anything, you need to find a way to recover from the stresses of that activity
Almost always, the answer is “my mission,” which is like a beacon that always beckons. But sometimes I take on too many commitments. Because I sometimes have trouble saying no to others eager to work with me, I can become overcommitted and overwhelmed.
Our unconscious mind is working all the time, processing orders of magnitude more information, and with astoundingly greater facility, than is our conscious mind
Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, The Crack in the Cosmic Egg
Zen in the Art of Archery
The Act of Creation
The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
if you want to change the world, you have to enroll others in your plans and vision
First, whenever possible, connect with others. Second, with enthusiasm, strive always to create fun and delight for others. And third, lean into each moment and encounter expecting magic—or miracles
Now, I so eagerly look forward to leaving my home each day, wondering what magic I’ll create encountering others, that I can scarcely contain myself.
My days now have a natural rhythm between introversion and extroversion that is akin to breathing: when I am alone, inhaling my ideas, and then exhaling with others.
turn off” my mind and just relax, just enjoy—just be
Your mind is too active to submit to the hypnosis
you just focus on your breathing, using biofeedback to measure the “smoothness” and the amplitude—variability—of your heart rate
focusing on your breathing, making your “jagged” heart rate smooth out like a sine curve and to widen its amplitude
Now, whenever I need to detach from the world or from the stresses of daily life and to allow my mind a rest, I simply get centered and inhale from my diaphragm
And I do so numerous times a day. A minute here. A few minutes there. At least once a day, I “waste” a larger 15- to 20-minute block of time meditating in this way.
But not in the field of counterintuitive world of investing, where accumulating information can hurt your investment results
So the additional information made them no more accurate but a whole lot more confident. Which would have led them to increase the size of their bets and lose money as a result.
Beyond a certain minimum amount, additional information only feeds—leaving aside the considerable cost of and delay occasioned in acquiring it—what psychologists call “confirmation bias
Worse, we think we understand the world, giving investors a false sense of confidence, when in fact we always more or less misunderstand it.
the more dogged our attempts to understand the world, the more we earnestly want to “explain” events and trends in it, the more we become attached to our resulting beliefs
By the time investors formulate an understanding that gives them the confidence to invest, the investment opportunity has already passed.
Each day presents us with 86,400 seconds, which means each day presents us with virtually countless opportunities to reset
I realize my focus is off, and certainly when I’m experiencing any negative emotions, I ask myself, “Where should my attention be right now?”
What activity or commitment can I cut out right now that will free up the most time
Rather than attempting to keep all of my afternoon appointments, which I’d reach later and later as the day progressed, I scan my calendar, asking myself which is the earliest appointment I can “burn” by postponing it to another day
each week I leave one day completely open and schedule a pretend trip out of the city so that I’m not tempted to fill it in any way, not even with meeting friends or other fun diversions
I get endless delight covertly “ambushing” unsuspecting strangers with random acts of kindness. So, for example, after ordering my iced latte, I’ll give a Starbucks barista a $20 bill and tell him to comp the person after the person behind me for whatever he or she wants, and to give that person the change as well. I don’t do the person behind me, who might suspect that I was the mystery benefactor
watch the confusion give way to smiles when the random beneficiary realizes the unexpected bounty
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
study of softness and receptivity as a counterpoint to my mad passions.
Ernest Hemingway on Writing: The most potent little book of wisdom on the creative process that I have run into.
The principle: the power of empty space—or responding to aggression with a void
I love rain, storms, inclement conditions, chaos with hidden harmonies
finding the thematic or psychological lesson hidden in the technical error (which hugely amplifies the ensuing growth), and having a sense of the beauty and potency of how the loss is actively improving me while I’m still in the thick of the pain of the blow
Harness the body to train the mind.
Just about anything that comes from someone who has not lived and been tested in the trenches. Beware the philosophologist
I say no to just about everything public. I say no to more than 99 percent of professional opportunities that people approach me with
there is no better investment than in my own learning process, and so I only engage in partnerships that will challenge and improve me. I am exponentially better when I am all in than when I am 99 percent in
It’s remarkable how the mind follows the body.
a lack of understanding or desire to understand that simple evolutionary reality is what inhibits so many people from rapidly improving their lives
if you love something enough, it is far easier to really commit to something
Through true commitment and hard work, you can out-prepare the competition
I had already won the round before my opponent spoke a single word
we often forget to step back and make sure that the future we are racing to is one we truly want to create
Develop a philosophy of giving as soon as you enter the working world
charitable giving is as much a habit as it is a conscious act
simply making and keeping such a personal commitment can carry tremendous meaning
“Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack
“Most of the wonderful places in the world were not made by architects but by the people.
Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket
Price is what you pay. Value is what you get
the great moves are usually greeted by yawns
Don’t pay any attention to what they write about you, just measure it in inches
Knowledge is the beginning of practice; doing is the completion of knowing
There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all
It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”
Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.
Put one dumb foot in front of the other and course correct as you go
A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing
A complex system that works is invariably found to have evolved from a simple system that worked
Whenever there is a hard job to be done, I assign it to a lazy man; he is sure to find an easy way of doing it.
Lose an hour in the morning, chase it all day
Every time I’ve given without any expectation of return. Money, time, energy, whatever. Whenever I’ve expected something in return, the investment was stunted. Whenever I’ve given purely for giving, for helping, for supporting, for aiding, for encouraging—with zero expectation or interest in any return whatsoever—it’s been thoroughly fulfilling
when you work out less: you realize that you have to eat better, sleep better, and live better on your off days.
Focus on your writing skills. It’s the one thing I’ve found that really helps people stand out
only the right details matter. Pay close attention to what you’re spending your time on
you’ll always have less attention than time
Full attention is where you do your best work, and everyone’s going to be looking to rip it from you. Protect and preserve it
stay as small as possible for as long as possible
habits early on. If
you raise money, you’ll get good at spending money
If you bootstrap, you’ll be forced to get good at making money. If there’s one habit/skill an entrepreneur should practice, it’s making money. So force yourself into it.
If the ask is more than a week away, I almost always say no, regardless of what is it
Exceptions include family things I need to attend, and a conference or two I really want to speak at, but other than that, if the “yes” would tie me to something further than a week or so out, it’s almost always a no
Thanks for the invitation, but I just can’t commit to anything more than a day or so in advance. I need to keep my schedule open for me and the people I work with on a regular basis
the further out the yes, the more I regret the moment when it comes due
Because there’s no cost now, it’s simply too easy to say yes about something deep in the future. Further, a future “yes” ultimately means that the past controls your schedule
I go for a walk. Preferably on a route I’ve never taken before.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do? I love taking even five minutes for a short meditation. It helps me move beyond the surface and go deeper, and after just a few moments of focusing on my breath, I feel recentered.
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills. There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself
It wasn’t much, but it changed my life because it meant I could keep things together for a few more rejections
putting my own oxygen mask first—sleeping, meditating, walking, working out
unhijack your mind
so much of the world is still living under the collective delusion that they have to choose between their own well-being and success.
when we prioritize our well-being, our performance goes up across the board
Nothing impairs the quality of your decisions faster than running on empty.
I was as cliché of a 1982–1994 school system loser as it gets. Yet here I am
I think the extremities of my educational life set me up for the extreme winnings that I’m having in real life, because the market—a.k.a. my friends, parents, and the teachers who always razzed on me, and put me down, and anticipated losses from me—forced me to become better
Macro patience, micro speed. They should not care about the next eight years, but they should stress the next eight days.
Everybody’s impatient at a macro, and just so patient at a micro, wasting your days worrying about years. I’m not worried about my years, because I’m squeezing the fuck out of my seconds, let alone my days. It’s going to work out.
there is just absolutely no debating that I should, in theory, have a lot of things work out positively for me in my 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s that are benefitted by me putting in the work now
How can I feel good and build for the long term
gaining success is they become crippled by opportunity
I still need a healthy balance of 20 percent yeses to things that seem dumb, because I believe in serendipity, and that’s an important balance that people struggle with
want to be closer to the no’s and be good at that, and really value my time. However, I do think that there’s a nice healthy balance of doing things on spec that aren’t obvious ROI on intuition, because one of those things in that 20 percent usually makes the entire investment worth it.
Work on stuff that matters.” “Create more value than you capture.” “Money in a business is like gas in your car. You need to pay attention so you don’t end up on the side of the road. But your trip is not a tour of gas stations
and environmental issues (ahem, climate change or income inequality) as well. What are bad recommendations you hear in your profession or area of expertise? “Disrupt!” When Clayton Christensen introduced the term “disruptive technology” in his 1997 business classic, The Innovator’s Dilemma: When New Technologies Cause Great Firms to Fail, he was asking a very different question than “How can I get funded by convincing VCs that there’s a huge market I can blow up?” He wanted to know why existing companies fail to take advantage of new opportunities. He discovered that breakthrough technologies that are not yet mature first succeed by finding radically new markets, and only later disrupt existing markets. The point of a disruptive technology is not the market or the competitors that it destroys. It is the new markets and the new possibilities that it creates
smaller companies that keep freedom alive, with economics at least one of the battlegrounds
the long view
You have to think of your company as part of a web of life, just like an organism in an ecosystem
Every morning, on my run, I try to take a picture of a flower and share it on Instagram
That’s because you never really looked at them when you were alive
When I roll out of bed, I do the plank for two minutes right off, followed by downward dog for the same, then a series of stretches
Would I say yes if it were on Tuesday?” Because the day will come when it is on Tuesday, and you’ll be saying, “Damn, why did I say yes to that?”
these new markets are often too small for established companies to consider them worth pursuing
the idea that we should focus on disruption rather than the new value that we can create is at the heart of the current economic malaise, income inequality, and political upheaval
use technology to do things that were previously impossible
The point of technology isn’t to make money. It’s to solve problems
The ultimate fitness function for too many entrepreneurs is not the change they want to make in the world, but “the exit,” the sale or IPO that will make them and the venture capitalists who funded them a giant pile of money
Let life ripen and then fall. Will is not the way at all.”—Lao Tzu, from The Way of Life According to Lao Tzu
sometimes, an attitude of alert watchfulness is far wiser and more effective
My own life has been shaped by happy coincidences
Listen to your inner voice, which tells you what to choose
It is this ability to wait quietly for the right moment, rather than rushing about aimlessly, that can lead even an ambitious success-hunter to capture the biggest game.
When you feel overwhelmed or unfocused, what do you do? Walk. Walk. Walk. A 30-minute (or even 15-minute) out-of-the-office walk with no devices almost invariably clears my head.
Excellence: Lessons from America’s Best-Run Companies
Execution is strategy—it’s all about the people and the doing, not the talking and the theory
How to Conquer the Business World with Kindness
Cain’s book embarrassed me. It suggests that most of us undervalue introverts and, thus, effectively take a pass on about 40 percent of the population. In particular, introverts tend to be more thoughtful and deliberate
The ability to pause and reflect separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom
She also mocks the idea of a “vision”—the point is instead the quality of today’s work
Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big
Tom, what do you consider the number-one failing of CEOs?” After I hemmed and hawed, he said, “They don’t read enough
I took a de facto one-year sabbatical, and . . . READ and READ and READ some more
being civil and decent and kind is the bedrock of career success, as well as personal fulfillment
Good manners pay off big time
become a superstar, all-pro listener
say: Think small. Do something super cool by the end of the day
Excellence is the next five minutes or nothing at all
When I’m stuck or down, I stand up from my desk and take a 30-minute ramble on the floor. Just talking with our gang for a few minutes clears my head and unfailingly inspires me.”
Failure means struggle, and it is struggle that has always developed my strength
Don’t shy away from the hard times. Tackle them head-on, move toward the path less trodden, riddled with obstacles, because most other people run at the first sign of battle
be kind along the way
Learning to enjoy the process, rather than always striving for the future
most people, when it gets tough, start to look around for an excuse or a different tactic
Often, though, when it starts to get tough, all it requires is for you to get tougher and hold on
Everyone wants to be brave, but no one wants to be vulnerable.
Problem identification is always a sound investment of time, money, and energy. Einstein said, “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions
It feels uncomfortable to spend time and resources trying to figure out exactly what the problem is
Most of us are plagued with action bias
getting clear about what’s wrong and why it’s a problem is the best investment you can make at home or work
Sleep. Diet, exercise, and work ethic don’t hold a candle to how sleep can revolutionize the way you live, love, parent, and lead.
The real work is the constant iteration, incorporating consumer feedback, troubleshooting, figuring out when to push and when to bail, and helping everyone reset after a setback and learn.
I spend a lot of time with teams at the start of a project defining what “done” looks like, and I’m involved in their standups once a week
The simple willingness to improvise is more vital, in the long run, than research.
It led to my entire life changing, and to me helping others to change habits
Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki
Embrace uncertainty, groundlessness, and fear as the place where you’ll really learn and grow
Go into that place, rather than shrinking from it. It’ll help you overcome procrastination, social anxiety, fear of launching your own business or pursuing your dreams, fear of failure and ridicule, and more
Those fears will still be there, but you’ll find the deliciousness in them.
I drop into my breath and the sensations I’m feeling in my body
Not a narrative about my feeling, but actual sensations in my body
What’s the most loving thing I can do for myself and others right now?” Then I get to it.
So why was this liberating? Because it allowed us to fully retreat from the world. To withdraw and just spend time
Twenty minutes when we get up and 20 minutes toward the end of the day when we really need it anyway
I am much better in my relationship as a dad with it. I’m much better in all my relationships with it
a reset is needed at times
I was always included in my parents’ and their adult friends’ conversations, and I try to practice the same with my kids, valuing their ideas and thoughts
Always take jobs for which you are not qualified
Addiction is short-term desire. Purpose is long-term desire
poor people do stupid things for lack of money, while rich people do stupid things for lack of time
Always make new mistakes
Would you say yes if this were next Tuesday?” It’s so easy to commit to things that are weeks or months out, when your schedule still looks uncluttered
Fear of the unknown is generally far worse than fear of something specific
The Bible: Reading this all the way through, beginning to end, shattered all expectations I had of such a foundational text. It was weirder, stranger, more disturbing, and more powerful than I was led to believe. I’ve read it through several times more and it never fails to disturb me, in good ways and bad
In his spare time, he writes best-selling books
science fiction opened up my universe
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: I got sucked into reading this over-the-top manifesto of self-reliance during finals of my first year of college. By the end of the book, I decided to drop out of school. I never returned. It was the best decision of my life
This autobiography of Gandhi curiously led me to Jesus
mind and intelligence can overcome any physical limitations, and are therefore the only scarce resource
Whenever I am trying to decide whether to accept an invitation, I just pretend it is going to happen tomorrow morning. It is easy to say yes to something happening six months from now, but it has to be super fantastic to get me to go tomorrow morning.
I avoid working on things that someone else could do, even if I enjoy doing it and would get paid well to do it. I try to give my best ideas away in the hope that someone will do them, because if they do them, that means I was not the only one who could have
In the end, I’m left with projects that only I can do, which makes them distinctive and valuable.
Don’t try to find your passion. Instead master some skill, interest, or knowledge that others find valuable
Once you master it, you’ll be rewarded with new opportunities that will allow you to move away from tasks you dislike and toward those that you enjoy
If you continue to optimize your mastery, you’ll eventually arrive at your passion
The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp. If you want to be a hands-on parent and also have some version of a career, this book is gold
The more that I study people and the way systems work, the more I realize that it’s all made up
the deeper you dig, the more you realize we are all just standing on piles of collective fiction
I knew that the low of failure would never match the low of shame
Shit or get off the pot.” Too many people are waiting to get shit set up just right so they can do the thing they are gonna do. It’s time
Doing something is doing something, everything else is just talk
finally started to value sleep. I’ve realized that if I don’t sleep responsibly, I’m performing below optimal state in [nearly] every aspect of life
Generally the cure for feeling overwhelmed is getting to a state of appreciation. Walking helps you appreciate the world around you
Be polite, on time, and work really fucking hard until you are talented enough to be blunt, a little late, and take vacations and even then . . . be polite
If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems. And that’s a big mistake
Sometimes you need to allow life to save you from getting what you want
Be very careful with the moral high ground
Everyone wants to see themselves as a good person.” No matter how egregious the crime, the criminal usually has a reason for viewing it as morally acceptable.
My main motivation as an artist has always been to create something different
the most that any of us can achieve is to find a way to say something new
the best art will always be the riskiest
Propaganda by Edward Bernays, along with the documentary The Century of the Self. This book opened my eyes to the marketing industry in a time when I was blindly playing my role in it
because of the bad reputation of the word “propaganda,” he renamed it “public relations” and created the first PR firm in America
I am passionate about the life of Bernays because he did everything wrong
He chased money over purpose. Fame over impact
each one of those difficult decisions that looked like failures (at first) took me a bit closer to my real self
I can see a clear pattern of rejection every time I try to get closer to my real self, so the feeling of “looking like a failure” has become more of a fuel than a burden
Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan
Make yourself proud
You are 99 years old, you are on your deathbed, and you have a chance to come back to right now: what would you do?
Before eating, I pray. Not religiously, but more for setting intentions
Feeling gratitude for the animal’s life is a good way to honor it
we are all mini gods. I mean this in the sense of creators
the entire universe is not just outside but also within us
We are complete. We are full. So full that we can give without counting
Anybody telling you he knows better is—more than anything—disempowering you, because he is placing you below and himself above
Anything that creates separation is an illusion
If you are studying business/PR/marketing, then drop out today. The world is already full of marketers and businessmen. The world doesn’t need more of that. The world needs healers and problem-solvers who use their hearts. Your heart is a million times more powerful than your brain
Respect yourself. Most of the world is asleep today, playing a small role in a gigantic illusion
You will know the answers when you take the time to find yourself and trust yourself
Promoting unethical or unhealthy companies for money is not success, it is actually called “corruption
The worst advice anyone with an online audience can ever receive is from marketers. Gary says it himself, “marketers ruin everything.”
if the humanitarian space suddenly gets disrupted like every other industry, it will bring massive change into those NGOs and for all the people that work in them
They were empowered
most people are asleep and forgetting their inner powers, so they think they need to take power out of others to feed themselves
we cannot avoid suffering, but we can choose how to cope with it, and that having meaning in our life is essential
the value of asking the right questions
The Alchemist speaks of everyone having an ultimate goal in life, but most of us are too afraid to pursue it
to find contentment and to be at peace with yourself, you must have a positive impact on anyone you interact with each day
patience in problem-solving can often be underrated
something does not add meaning or fun to one segment, then I don’t participate
The weak spot in any restaurant is consistency—you cannot be great one day, then be only okay the next
The more you divide your focus, the more each endeavor can suffer from your lack of attention.
people weren’t sitting out there waiting to cruelly judge me. They also weren’t sitting out there waiting to hear me expound on my incredible expertise
What they wanted more than anything else was a sense of connection, and I could provide that by being genuine and present
We practice (meditation) not to attain Buddhahood but to express it
vital difference between practicing to get something you think you lack, and practicing to express the fullness of who you are.
You simply have to exist
meditation, she consciously brought up situations where she might have better said no, and she looked at what was happening in her body as she replayed the questioning
She learned the feeling of those sensations, and the next time she was at work, or with her family, and that very kind of question was asked and she felt those sensations beginning, she used that as her feedback to say, “I’ll have to get back to you on that
Just breathe” is also something I say to myself if I feel chaotic. Or I shift my attention to feel my feet against the ground
The more my awareness can pervade my body, the more I remember to breathe, the more focused I naturally become.
I lived the first 33 years of my life actively trying to avoid failure
I’m reasonably sure that there’s not a failure I can’t survive.”
the first three years of my career were a catalog of failed attempts at careers I thought that I might like
good but unremarkable
ironically, my work at the Black List is, in many ways, a synthesis of helming a movement, driven by writing, that requires a real understanding of corporate systems and operations.
my sincere love of the game has bonded a number of professional relationships with folks who share my interest
I give myself a day off (or, if a full day isn’t possible, a few hours, or even a few minutes) with permission to not think about wherever I’m failing
lived the first 33 years of my life actively trying to avoid failure. More recently, I’ve worried less about failing and more about not risking failure enough
accepts conventional wisdom that is more convention than wisdom without interrogating whether there’s any evidence to support those assumptions.
Try everything you think you might want to do professionally before accepting whatever backup plan you have
The great majority of that which gives you angst never happens, so you must evict it
Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story
I never forgot that my failure was not convincing them that short-term thinking is not good in a marathon.
controlling the content and the right to distribute it was critical to the vitality of our brand and enterprise
See your world as an ever-increasing set of realities and seize the day
I brush my teeth standing on one leg, alternating each time. It is great for your legs, core, and stabilization
If you dare, then you have already gotten further ahead than 99 percent of all the others
Black Box Thinking: The Surprising Truth About Success
he never backed down, and he allowed people to read it for free in order to then boost sales
Poor Charlie’s Almanack
I like to take at least two of my meetings every day as a “walk and talk
my mother has been the person who’s given me the security to do what I do today
Do what you really feel like doing, and I’ll be here for you no matter what