Books I Read in 2015

  1. “Wherever you go, there you are” by Jon Kabat-Zinn
  • Pause in the experience long enough to let the present moment sink in; long enough to actually feel the present moment
  • Meditation is simply being yourself and knowing something about who that is. It is a process of deepening our attention and awareness, refining them and putting them to practical use in our lives
  • Meditation practice: The best way to get somewhere is to let go of trying to get anywhere at all

Prompt for reading this book: Olivia Cabane Fox

2. “10% happier” by Dan Harris

A hilarious account of Dan’s (a skeptic) initiation and experience of practicing mindfulness, a quick read.

  • Meditation can be viewed as a game to catch your mind wandering and come back to the breath over and over again (flexing your attention muscle)
  • Habitual responses to any experience — Want it, reject it, zone out. Fourth way — view the contents of the mind without judgement (meditation)
  • You cannot control what comes up in your head, so don’t judge yourself harshly
  • Meditation can be seen as a tool to create more space between stimulus and response

Prompt for reading this book: Picked from the best sellers list

3. “What every body is saying” by Joe Navarro, Marvin Karlins

  • 60–65% of the communication is nonverbal. The thinking brain (neocortex) is capable of dishonesty. The limbic brain that controls nonverbal behavior is more honest as it is more difficult to control (consciously)
  • Feet are the most honest part of the body. Truthfulness decreases as we move from the feet to the head
  • Body’s response to threats: freeze, flight, and fight. We have adapted these basic (and primitive) responses to deal with “modern” day threats
  • Freeze response: holding of breath, shallow breathing, interlocking of legs behind a chair, raising of shoulders and lowering of head (turtling), arms going dormant at the sides
  • Flight response: rubbing the eyes, placing hands in front of face, leaning away, placing objects on lap, turning feet towards nearest exit
  • Fight response: eye blocking, puffing out your chest, violating another’s personal space
  • Behaviors of discomfort: pressing of lips together to make them disappear (universal), leaning away, a frown, crossed/tense arms
  • It is important to observe and establish baseline behavior and notice changes with respect to the baseline

Prompt for reading this book: Jason Evanish (see his book recommendations)

4. “Pitch anything” by Oren Klaff

Must read for anybody pitching anything. Offers a completely different perspective based on neuroscience

  • Any pitch you make must pass through the other person’s crocodile brain before it is passed on to the logic center of the brain (neocortex)
  • The crocodile brain filters out anything that is not dangerous or new/exciting. If new, it tries to summarize as quickly as possible and forget the details. The message is sent to the neocortex only if the message is really unexpected and out of the ordinary
  • Hence, your message should be simple, clear, non-threatening (by adding visual cues), and above all intriguing and novel for it to pass through the crocodile brain and reach the neocortex
  • Oren’s pitching formula - STRONG - Setting the frame, Telling the story, Revealing the intrigue, Offering the prize, Nailing the hookpoint, Getting a decision
  • Situational frame control is crucial for successful pitching. In business situations there are three types of frames - power frame, time frame, and analyst frame. The response frame types - power-busting frame, time constraining frame, intrigue frame and prize frame
  • Attention = desire (novelty) + tension
  • While pitching, first give it context by framing it against three market forces or trending patterns that you believe are important. Economic forces - describe what has changed financially in the market for your big idea. Social forces - highlight what emerging changes in people’s behavior patterns exist for your big idea. Technology forces - highlight what technology changes help your big idea
  • Pattern for introducing an idea - “For [target customers] who are dissatisfied with [the current offerings in the market], my idea/product is a [new idea or product category] that provides [key problem/solution features] unlike [the competing product] my idea/product is [describe key features]
  • Steps to getting a decision - intrigue, prizing, time frame, and moral authority

Prompt for reading this book: Ash Maurya

5. “The small big” by Steve Martin, Noah Goldstein, Robert Cialdini

  • Six principles of persuasion: reciprocity - people feel obligated to return favors performed for them, authority - people look to experts to show them the way, scarcity - the less available the resource, the more people want it, liking - the more that people like others, the more they want to say yes to them, consistency - people want to act consistently with their commitments and values, social proof - people look to what others do in order to guide their own behavior
  • A small change in the setting, framing, timing or context of how information is conveyed can dramatically alter how it is received and acted upon
  • Motivations for following the crowd: motivation to make accurate decisions as efficiently as possible, motivation to affiliate with and to gain the approval of others, and the motivation to see oneself in positive light
  • Adding extra specificity to social proof appeals, makes it more persuasive
  • Including a person’s first name and a specific message can increase the persuasiveness of an appeal. Example, fine payments increased when the appeal included the offenders first name along with the amount owed
  • Choose a code name for a project based on a commonly occurring name or initial amongst people working on that project
  • Begin staff meetings by reviewing a customer account of a job well done. This helps with employee motivation as it adds significance and meaningfulness in nearly every job
  • Two factors influence people when pursuing a goal: challenge and attainability. Having high-low range goals have the advantage of engaging both these factors
  • Addressing the negative self-talk that your message is likely to elicit, enhances the persuasiveness of your message
  • When you have difficulty in getting buy-in for a new initiative, make the sequence of required steps as flexible as is practicable. However, if the difficulty is in following-through emphasize that the roll-out sequence and structured order will ensure that the initiative is successful

Prompt for reading this book: Picked from the best sellers list

6. “The paradox of choice” by Barry Schwartz

  • Choice is essential to autonomy, which is absolutely fundamental to well-being
  • Clinging tenaciously to all the choices available to us contributes to bad decisions, to anxiety, stress, and dissatisfaction
  • Paradox of our time - we want more control over the details of our lives, but we also want to simplify our lives
  • Steps to making a good decision - figure out your goal or goals, evaluate the importance of each goal, array the options, evaluate how likely each of the options is to meet your goals, pick the winning option, use the consequences of your choice to modify your goals, the importance you assign to them, and the way you evaluate future possibilities
  • Choices are based on expected utility. Once a choice has been made, you will have experienced utility. However, future choices will be based on their remembered utility. In the real world, these three utilities rarely align (what we remember of an experience does not accurately reflect how we actually felt during the experience). What we remember of an experience is governed by the peak (best or worst) experience and how we felt when they ended
  • When making choices among alternatives that involve a certain amount of risk or uncertainty, we prefer a small sure gain to a larger uncertain one
  • Growth of options and opportunities for choice has three, related unfortunate effects - it means that decisions require more effort, it makes mistakes more likely, it makes the psychological consequences of mistakes more severe. Wealth of options may turn us from choosers into pickers
  • Choice is what enables us to tell the world who we are and what we care about
  • Trade-offs have psychological consequences. The necessity of making trade-offs alters how we feel about the decisions we face; more important, it affects the level of satisfaction we experience from the decisions we ultimately make (it makes people unhappy and indecisive)
  • When we are in a good mood, we think better. We consider more possibilities, we see subtle connections between pieces of information
  • Greater the number of appealing choices, the greater the opportunity for regret
  • People establish standards of satisfaction based on the assessment of four gaps - the gap between what one has and wants, the gap between what one has and thinks others like oneself have, the gap between what one has and the best one has had in the past, and the gap between what one has and what one expects
  • Happy people have the ability to distract themselves from failures and poor performances and move on, whereas unhappy people get stuck ruminating and make themselves more and more miserable
  • When people are looking for causes for failure, they are predisposed to attributing it to these dimensions - global or specific, chronic or transient, personal or universal. Optimists explain success with chronic, global, and personal causes and failures with transient, specific, and universal ones

Prompt for reading this book: Kathy Sierra, Tomasz Tunguz

7. “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie

  • The aim of education is not knowledge but action. We learn by doing.
  • Questions Dale asked in his weekly reviews - what mistakes did I make?, what did I do that was right, and in what way could I have improved my performance?, what lessons can I learn from that experience?
  • Criticism is futile because it puts a person on the defensive and usually makes him strive to justify himself. It wounds a person’s precious pride, hurts his sense of importance, and arouses resentment. As much as we thirst for approval, we dread condemnation
  • When dealing with people, remember that we are not dealing with creatures of logic. We are dealing with creatures of emotion, creatures bristling with prejudices and motivated by pride and vanity
  • Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain. But it takes character and self-control to be understanding and forgiving
  • The only way to get anybody to do anything is by making the other person want to do it
  • The deepest urge in human nature is the desire to be important, the craving to be appreciated
  • Action springs out of what we fundamentally desire
  • Self expression is the dominant necessity of human nature
  • While using the word “but”, pause and consider using “and”

Prompt for reading this book: Jason Evanish

8. “Unlimited power” by Tony Robbins

  • Sources of power over time - physiology, heritage, capital, specialized knowledge
  • Action is what unites every great success. Action is what produces results. Literal definition of power is the ability to act
  • The way we communicate with others and the way we communicate with ourselves ultimately determine the quality of our lives
  • “Things do not change; we change” - Henry David Thoreau
  • Beliefs - preformed, preorganized approaches to perception that filter our communication to ourselves in a consistent manner. Sources of beliefs - environment, small and large events, knowledge, past results, and creating in your mind the experience you desire in the future as if it were here now
  • The first step toward excellence is to find the beliefs that guide us toward the outcomes we want
  • The meaning of an experience is determined by the order of the signals provided to the brain
  • The most effective way to breathe in order to cleanse your system - inhale one count, hold four counts, exhale two counts
  • Always eat fruit on an empty stomach
  • If you can find enough reasons to do something, you can get yourself to do anything
  • The pain of discipline weighs ounces while the pain of regret weighs tons
  • Components of success - attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors that go into producing it
  • You can promote your product in two ways - by what it does or by what it doesn’t do
  • One of the key life skills - learning how to handle frustrations
  • “Little things affect little minds” - Benjamin Disraeli

Prompt for reading this book: Read other books from Tony

9. “Work the system” by Sam Carpenter

  • Fires are products of dysfunctional systems. Fix the dysfunctions systems and the fires will be taken care of. Your job is not be a fire killer. Your job is to prevent fires
  • Methodically isolate problematic systems and adjust them to produce the outcomes that we want. Attack the most dysfunctional system first
  • A business is a sum total of efficient and inefficient processes that composed it
  • Happy people are in control of the lives because they spend their days enjoying the intentional good results of managed systems
  • Most people don’t fail by making overt mistakes. They fail because they don’t take action
  • Every recurring process requires a working procedure. The procedure will precisely define the best way to execute the process, handle the situation, or answer the question

Prompt for reading this book: Watched an interview with Sam

10. “Permission marketing” by Seth Godin

  • Attention is an increasingly scarce resource (if not the scarcest resource after time)
  • If you get your prospect’s permission to sell to him, you have won a valuable asset, an asset no competitor can take from you
  • Prospects go through a five-step cycle: strangers, friends, customers, loyal customers, and former customers
  • Before a marketer can build trust, it must breed familiarity. There is no familiarity without awareness (letting people know you exist and getting them to understand your message)
  • Trust is required for buying. Most trusted brands are also most profitable. Frequency leads to awareness, awareness leads to familiarity, and familiarity leads to trust
  • Permission troika - anticipated, personal, and relevant
  • The heart of permission marketing is giving the stranger a reason to pay attention

Prompt for reading this book: From my reading list

11. “Flow: The psychology of happiness” by Mihaly Csikszetmihalyi

  • The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile
  • Flow - the state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience itself is so enjoyable that people will do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it
  • Attention is the most important tool in the task of improving the quality of experience
  • The self represents the hierarchy of goals that we have built up, bit by bit, over the years
  • Two strategies to improve the quality of life - try making external conditions match our goals, change how we experience external conditions to make them fit our goals better
  • Pleasure is a feeling of contentment that one achieves whenever information in consciousness says that expectations set by biological programs or by social conditioning have been met
  • Enjoyment has eight major components - we confront tasks we have a chance of completing, we are able to concentrate on what we are doing, task undertaken has clear goals, we get immediate feedback on the tasks, we act with a deep but effortless involvement, we are able to exercise a sense of control over our actions, concern for self disappears, the sense of the duration of time is altered
  • Enjoyment appears at the boundary between boredom and anxiety, when the challenges are just balanced with the person’s capacity to act
  • Family context promoting optimal experiences - clarity: kids feel that they know what their parents expect from the, and feedback is unambiguous. Centering: kids perception that their parents are interested in what they are doing in the present. Choice: kids feel that they have a variety of possibilities from which to choose. Commitment: trust that allows the kid to feel comfortable enough to set aside the shield of defenses, and become unselfconsciously involved in whatever he is interested in. Challenge: Parents dedication to provide increasingly complex opportunities for action
  • Steps to produce flow - set an overall goal, and as many sub goals as possible, find ways of measuring progress, keep concentrating on what one is doing, and keep making finer distinctions in the challenges involved, develop necessary skills to interact with the opportunities, keep raising the stakes if the activity becomes boring
  • Quality of life depends on two factors - how we experience work, and our relations with other people
  • It is not enough to find a purpose that unifies one’s goals; one must also carry through and meet its challenges. The purpose must result in strivings; intent has to be translated into action

Prompt for reading this book: Kathy Sierra

12. “Meet your happy chemicals” by Loretta Breuning

  • Happiness come from four brain chemicals - dopamine, endorphin, oxytocin, and serotonin. Each chemical produces a certain feeling. Dopamine - joy of finding what you seek (eureka I got it). Endorphin - produces the oblivion that masks pain. Oxytocin - feeling of being safe with other (bonding). Serotonin - feeling of being respected by other’s pride
  • Each chemical motivates a different type of behavior. Dopamine - motivates you to get what you need, even when it takes a lot of effort. Endorphin - motivates you to ignore pain so that you can escape from harm when your injured. Oxytocin - motivates you to trust others, to find safety in companionship. Serotonin - motivates you to get respect
  • Expectation of reward triggers dopamine. Seeking stimulates dopamine
  • Cortisol is the brain’s emergency broadcast system. A big burst of cortisol is what we call fear. Small drips of cortisol are anxiety or stress
  • Mirror neurons are activated when you see others seek rewards, risks or pain
  • Synapses develop from repetition and emotion. Emotions develop a synapse quickly, while repetition develops them slowly
  • Celebrating small accomplishments triggers dopamine

Prompt for reading this book: Listened to a podcast

13. “Badass: Making users awesome” by Kathy Sierra

Must read for anybody building products. Provides an excellent overview of how to develop expertise

  • What creates best sellers - trusted recommendations
  • How to create trusted recommendations - create badass/successful users, create awesome results for users of your products
  • How to determine success for users of your products - look at the bigger compelling context, what results are they after (Note: Users should become experts at getting results, not experts in using your tools)
  • Results include being more skillful (higher resolution of experiences, deeper and richer experiences) and more knowledgeable
  • Don’t make a better [x], make a better [user of x]
  • Definition of badass: Given a representative task in the domain, a badass performs in a superior way, more reliably
  • Experts make better choices, practice better (deliberate), produce superior and more consistent results/performances. Experts were exposed to high quantity, high quality (diverse) examples of expertise (combined with feedback) before they became experts
  • Common pitfalls of developing a new skill: we try to learn and practice too many things simultaneously instead of nailing one thing at a time. Practice makes permanent, hence make sure you are practicing correctly
  • Deliberate practice: What exercises can you design that will get results on fine grained tasks up from unreliable to 95% accuracy, within one to three 45–90 minute session?
  • Pattern discovery while learning a new skill is often subconscious and requires - enough examples, enough diversity in the examples, short gap between exposure and feedback, attribute/pattern was distinct enough
  • The gap of suck: We must help users through the large, painful gap between the motivating goal and their early experiences in the suck zone. Lot of times people stop when they are in the suck zone because - they don’t know that struggling is appropriate, they don’t know that are exactly where they should be, the don’t know that everybody struggles at this point. Just tell them that their struggle is typical and temporary
  • To help users stay motivated give them - a description of the path with guidelines to help them know where they are at each step, ideas and tools to help them use their current skills early and often
  • If you have a bad user manual, just be honest and say it. (Don’t make the user think that the manual works for everyone else)
  • To reduce cognitive leaks - delegate cognitive work to something in the world, don’t make them memorize, make the right action the most obvious and natural action, don’t make them choose (smart defaults), help them automate skills, give them practice hacks, help with top of the mind problem
  • Escaping the brain’s spam filter - make it visceral (story, picture), reduce the amount of things you need to get past the filter, appeal to “just-in-time” needs
  • Questions to ask before building products - what does having X enable? What can people now do because of X that they couldn’t do without it? What can now people do better because of X? What are people not doing now, but could if they took advantage of all that X supports?
  • Questions to ask about the first user experience - what can they do within the first 30 (or x) minutes, what could he do in the first 30 minutes but he doesn’t know he can, what support does he have in the first 30 minutes, what would he do if he knew he wouldn’t break anything?
  • Questions to ask when users stop using the product - what pulled them off the forward path? What’s more compelling than the forward pulling path? What’s more powerful than whatever motivated them to start on this path?

Prompt for reading this book: Was eagerly waiting for it

14. “The social animal” by David Brooks

  • Reason and emotion are not separate and opposed. Reason is nestled upon emotion and dependent upon it. Emotion assigns value to things, and reason can only make choices on the basis of those valuations
  • Unconscious learning is done through imitation
  • A person who is interrupted while performing a task takes 50 percent more time to complete it and makes 50 percent more errors
  • Self-control is twice as important as IQ in predicting high-school performance
  • Behavior change often precedes changes in attitude and feelings
  • Highly ambitious people often possess some early talent that gave them some sense of distinction. They often have a vision of an elevated circle that they might join
  • Traits that correlated most powerfully with success - attention to detail, persistence, efficiency, analytical thoroughness, and the ability to work long hours
  • Consumers frequently believe products placed on the right side of a display are of higher quality than those on the left
  • People have two sets of tastes, one for stuff they want to use now and one for stuff they want to use later
  • The world is divided between askers and guessers. Askers feel no shame when asking for requests. Guessers hate asking for favors and feel guilty when saying no other people’s requests
  • Adulthood can be defined by four accomplishments - moving away from home, getting married, starting a family, and becoming financially independent
  • Plato believed the soul was divided into three parts: reason, spirit, and appetite. Reason seeks truth and wants the best for the whole person. Spirit seeks recognition and glory. Appetite seeks base pleasures
  • “The art of being wise is the art of knowing what to overlook” - William James
  • We are all born with deep selfish drives - a drive to take what we can, to magnify our status, to appear superior to others, to exercise power over others, to satisfy lusts
  • Softest social skills - listening, understanding, and building trust
  • Students learn best from someone they love

Prompt for reading this book: Ramit Sethi

15. “The happiness hypothesis” by Jonathan Haidt

  • Like a rider on the back of an elephant, the conscious (rider) reasoning part of the mind has only limited control of what the elephant (unconscious) does
  • Reciprocity is the most important tool for getting along with people
  • Happiness hypothesis: happiness comes from within and cannot be obtained by making the world confirm to our desires
  • Reason and emotion must work together create intelligent behavior, but emotion (a major part of the elephant) does most of the work
  • There are two processing systems at work in the mind at all times: controlled processes and automatic processes
  • When you refute a person’s argument, does she change her mind? No, because the argument you defeated was not the cause of her position; it was made up after the judgment was already made
  • Our minds are a loose confederations of parts, but we identify with and pay attention to one part; conscious verbal thinking
  • Riches and fame bring anxiety and avarice, not peace and happiness
  • Nothing is miserable unless you think it is so; and on the other hand, nothing brings you happiness unless you are content with it
  • Gratitude and vengefulness are big steps on the road that led to human ultrasociality
  • When people pass along high quality gossip, they feel more powerful, they have a better shared sense of what is right and wrong, and feel more closely connected with their gossip partners
  • The elephant learns whenever pleasure (or pain) follows immediately after behavior, but it has trouble connecting success on Friday with actions it took on Monday
  • The human mind is extraordinarily sensitive to changes in conditions, but not so sensitive to absolute levels
  • Happiness formula - the level of happiness you actually experience is determined by your biological set point plus the conditions of your life plus the voluntary activities that you do
  • Changing an institution’s environment to increase the sense of control among it’s workers or other users was one of the most effective possible ways to increase their sense of engagement, energy, and happiness
  • Adversity hypothesis - people need adversity, setbacks, and perhaps even trauma to reach the highest levels of strength,fulfillment, and personal development
  • Most life goals can be bucketed into - work and achievement, relationships and intimacy, religion and spirituality, and generativity (leaving a legacy and contributing something to society)
  • When crisis strikes people cope in three ways - active coping (taking direct action to fix the problem), reappraisal (doing the work within - getting one’s own thoughts right and looking for silver lining), and avoidance coping (denying or avoiding events, drinking)
  • Wise people are able to balance three responses to situations: adaptation (changing the self to fit the environment), shaping (changing the environment), and selection (choosing to move to a new environment)

Prompt for reading this book: Jason Evanish

16. “Switch” by Dan and Chip Heath

  • For anything to change, someone has to start acting differently
  • To change someone’s behavior you have to change that person’s situation
  • Surprises about change: What looks like laziness is often exhaustion. What looks like resistance is often lack of clarity. What looks like a people problem is a situation problem
  • Big problems are rarely solved with commensurately big solutions. Instead, they are most often solved by a sequence of small solutions, sometimes over weeks, sometimes over decades
  • Successful change transformations were more likely to set behavioral goals
  • Clarity dissolves resistance
  • Every change initiative should have a destination postcard - a vivid picture from the near-term future that shows what could be possible. The postcard shows where you are headed, and why the journey is worthwhile
  • Trying to fight inertia and indifference to change with analytical arguments will not help. You need to present something that will make it easy to feel the need to change. The sequence of change is see-feel-change (not analyze-think-change). Motivation comes from feeling, knowledge isn’t enough to motivate change. Motivation also comes from confidence
  • A small win reduces importance (this is no big deal), reduces demands (that’s all that needs to be done), and raises perceived skill levels (I can atleast do that)
  • When making a choice, we rely on one of two models of decision making - the consequences model (weight costs and benefits, maximize satisfaction) and the identity model (who am I?, what kind of situation is this?, what would someone like me do in this situation?)
  • Fundamental attribution error: our inclination to attribute people’s behavior to the way they are rather than the situation they are in
  • Blueprint for change: find the bright spots, point the destination, find the feeling to get motivated, build the identity, build the growth mindset, shape the environment, and rally the herd (someone to keep you honest)

Prompt for reading this book: From my reading list

17. “The happiness project” by Gretchen Rubin

  • We are more likely to make progress on goals that broken down into concrete, measurable actions, with some kind of structured accountability and positive reinforcement
  • Tackle nagging/unfinished tasks, they drain a lot of energy
  • What you do everyday matters more than what you do once in a while
  • The most reliable predictor of not being lonely is the amount of contact with women
  • Feeling right is about living the life that’s right for you - in occupation, location, marital status, doing your duty, living up to the expectations you set for yourself
  • “We are happy when we are growing” - Yeats
  • Challenge brings happiness as it allows you to expand your self-definition. The more elements make up your identity, the less threatening it is when any one element is threatened

Prompt for reading this book: From my reading list

18. “What I learned losing a million dollars” by Jim Paul, Brendan Moynihan

  • “Success always obsoletes the behavior that achieved it” - Drucker
  • If you can’t do something, pay someone else who can and don’t worry about it
  • Learning how not to lose money is not more important than learning how to make money
  • Don’t confuse net-worth with self-worth
  • Gambling creates risk, investing/speculating assumes and manages the risk that already exists
  • Investing indicates an intention to be separated from the capital for an extended period of time
  • People bet on whom they want to win rather than on whom they think will win
  • A position in the market is a continuous process and does not end until you make it end. If you are losing and stop acting, the losses don’t stop; they continue to grow almost indefinitely
  • We tend to overvalue wagers involving a low probability of a high gain, and undervalue wagers involving a relatively high probability of low gain
  • There are two kinds of rewards in the world - recognition and money
  • People make purchases for two reasons - to feel better (satisfying a want) or to solve a problem (satisfying a need)
  • Hope and fear are our strongest emotional responses to the uncertain future
  • The sequence of thinking before acting is the exact definition of the word plan
  • Before you decide to get into the market you have to decide where (price) or when (time) or why (new information) you will no longer want the position
  • When thinking of a position, ask the question - if we were not committed to it today, would we go into it? Your entry to a position should be a function of the exit point
  • Thinking before acting is the definition of speculation, acting then thinking is betting
  • The failure to have and follow a plan is the root cause for losing money in the market
  • Your self image should not be a function of what you have accomplished but how you have gone about doing it

Prompt for reading this book: Tim Ferris

19. “The effective executive” by Peter Drucker

  • Knowledge work is defined by results (not quantity and costs)
  • Executives plan, organize, integrate, motivate, and measure
  • Changes in trends are more important than trends
  • Effectiveness is a habit, a complex of practices
  • Effective executives - know where their time goes, focus on outward contribution, build on their strengths, concentrate on a few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results, make effective decisions (right steps in right sequence)
  • When more people work together, more time will be spent on interacting rather than on work and accomplishment
  • Too many meetings signify that work should be in one job or in one component is spread over several jobs or several components
  • Why are we meeting? Do we want a decision, do we want to inform, or do we want to make clear to ourselves what we should be doing?
  • To focus on contribution is to focus on effectiveness
  • Staffing the opportunities instead of the problems not only create the most effective organisation, it also creates enthusiasm and dedication
  • Courage rather than analysis dictates the truly important rules for identifying priorities
  • Hypotheses: one does not argue with them; one tests them

Prompt for reading this book: Jeff Bezos

20. “No one understands you and what to do about it” by Heidi Halvorson

  • It is easier to believe that people who have one positive quality have lots of other ones, because there’s no risk of creating dissonance
  • For a behavior to count as automatic four conditions must hold true - the behavior happens without awareness, it occurs without conscious intent, it is relatively effortless, and it is largely if not completely uncontrollable
  • We naturally describe people in terms of their traits (smart, funny), rather than talking about their beliefs, goals
  • Research shows that eye contact, nodding, and smiling are the three key physical indicators of warmth
  • Allowing yourself to be a bit vulnerable is a great way to project warmth
  • Those who make eye contact are consistently judged as more intelligent. Easy to understand communication, faster speech rate, gesturing, nodding, and upright posture all lead to perceptions of greater competency
  • People are much more impressed by your potential than by your track record
  • If you appear too warm people may question your competence, and if you appear too competent, people may assume you’re cold
  • Traits like courageous, fair, principled, responsible, honest, and loyal - traits that lack the touchy feeliness we generally associate with warmth - convey good intentions and trustworthiness
  • Power is asymmetrical control over desired resources. Powerful people get to make the decisions, and powerless people get to live with the results
  • Sources of power are dependent on context and circumstance
  • In a team setting, people don’t want compensation or empathy. They want an acknowledgment of violated rules and norms

Prompt for reading this book: Product management newsletter

21. “Willpower Rediscovering our greatest strengths” by Roy Baumeister, John Tierney

  • People spend at least a fifth of their waking hours resisting desires (3–4 hours per day)
  • Ego depletion creates a double whammy. Your willpower is diminished and your cravings feel stronger than ever
  • You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it. You use the same stock of willpower for all manner of tasks
  • We can divide the uses of willpower into four broad categories - control of thoughts, control of emotions (affect regulation), impulse control (resist temptations), performance control (focusing your energy on the task at hand)
  • Focus on one project at a time. If you set more than one self improvement goal, you may succeed for a while by drawing on your reserves to power through, but that just leaves you more depleted and more prone to serious mistakes later
  • No glucose, no willpower
  • The first step in self control is to set a clear goal (and the next action)
  • Keeping track is more than just knowing where things are. It means knowing where things are in relation to where they should be
  • People care more about what other people know about them than about what they know about themselves
  • Emotion regulation does not rely on willpower
  • Exercising self-control in one area seemed to improve all areas of life
  • There is a link between external order and inner self-discipline
  • Narrow, concrete, here-and-now focus works against self-control, whereas a broad, abstract, long-term focus supports it
  • Conflicting goals impede self-regulation. Religion affects two central mechanisms for self-control: building willpower and improving monitoring
  • Three basic facets of punishment: severity, speed and consistency
  • Consistent discipline tends to produce well behaved children. Children react well when reprimands are delivered briefly, calmly, and consistently
  • Research has shown that children who open bank accounts are more likely than others to grow up savers. So are children who grow up discussion money with their parents
  • Lack of adult supervision during the teenage years turned out to be one of the strongest predictors of criminal behavior
  • The more that children are being monitored the more opportunities they have to build their self-control
  • Telling yourself I can have this later operates in the mind a bit like having it now
  • One of the most common reasons for the self-control problem is overconfidence in willpower
  • Mint (company) asked their managers and team members to set their top goals for the week (you could not have more than 3 goals)

Prompt for reading this book: Kathy Sierra

22. “The new psycho-cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz

  • Your self image controls what you can and cannot accomplish. Your goals are filtered through your self image, if the goals are inconsistent with your self-image, they are rejected. By changing your self-image, you end its conflict with your goals
  • Self-image imprinting is controlled by three factors - authoritative source, intensity, and repetition
  • Learning and continued success are accomplished by forgetting the past errors, and remembering the successful response
  • Human beings always act and feel and perform in accordance with what they imagine to be true about themselves and their environment
  • Because we think, believe, and assume that we should measure up to some other person’s norm, we feel miserable and second rate, and conclude that something is wrong with us
  • Behavior and feeling spring from belief
  • Men are disturbed not by the things that happen, but by their opinion of things that happen
  • Our self-image and our habits tend to go together. Our habits are literally garments worn by our personalities
  • People react to their own mental images, not to things as they are
  • Continually remind yourself you are not your mistakes (also you are not your moods)
  • Confidence is built on an experience of success
  • Deliberately remember and picture to yourself past successes
  • By arranging things so that we can succeed in little things, we can build an atmosphere of success that will carry over into larger undertakings

Prompt for reading this book: Brandon Hakim

23. “The progress principle” by Teresa Amabile, Steven Kramer

  • Execution on a company’s strategy is dependent on inner work life of it’s employees. Inner work is profoundly influenced by events at works. Three crucial events — progress in meaningful work; events that directly help project work (catalysts); interpersonal events that uplift the people doing the work (nourishers). Hence, tremendous energy and effort needs to be placed on creating/facilitating these events while preventing events that powerfully undermine the above events — setbacks in work; events that directly hinder project work (inhibitors); interpersonal events that undermine the people doing the work (toxins)
  • Inner work life — perceptions, emotions, and motivations that people experience as they react to make sense of events in the workday
  • Perceptions — immediate impressions to fully developed theories. When something happens that grabs your attention at work, your mind poses a series of questions. These questions and their answers make up your perceptions
  • Motivation — combination of a person’s choice to do some task, desire to expend effort at doing it, and drive to persist with that effort
  • Four dimensions of high performance — creativity, productivity, commitment, and collegiality
  • Best way to motivate people is by facilitating progress (even small wins)
  • Emotions vary on two key dimensions: degree of pleasantness and degree of intensity. Feelings inform values which in turn inform decisions
  • Key elements supporting creativity: positive emotions, sufficient resources for doing work and sufficient time
  • Inner work life effect operates in three primary ways - attention to tasks, engagement in the project, and intention to work hard
  • What keeps you hooked to games - constant progress indicators, and achievement markers
  • If you want to foster great inner work life, focus first on eliminating the obstacles that cause setbacks
  • A reliable way to kill meaning is to make employees doubt that the work that they are doing will never see light of day
  • Seven major catalysts - clear goals; allowing autonomy; providing resources; giving enough time; help with the work; learning from problems and successes; allowing ideas to flow

Prompt for reading this book: Kathy Sierra

24. “Managing oneself” by Peter Drucker

  • Whenever you make a key decision or take a key action, write down what you expect will happen
  • Some people learn by writing, other learn by doing, some learn by hearing themselves talk
  • To determine where you belong, answer these questions - what are my strengths, how do I perform, what are my values
  • To determine what your contribution should be, answer these questions - what does the situation require, given my strengths, my way of performing, and my values, how can I make the greatest contribution to what needs to be done? what results have to be achieved to make a difference?
  • Prerequisite for managing the second half of your life: you must begin long before you enter it

Prompt for reading this book: Amazon recommendation

25. “Your brain at work” by David Rock

  • Conscious thought is made up of five functions - understanding, deciding, recalling, memorizing, and inhibition
  • Brain requires a lot of power to run, that’s why it is easy to get distracted when you are tired or hungry
  • Recalling memories requires tracing back in time, recalling in chronological order the events between now and when the memory was first formed
  • Picturing something you have not yet seen is going to take a lot of energy and effort
  • One way to reduce energy required for processing information is to use visuals. Picturing a concept activates the visual cortex. This region is activated through actual pictures, metaphors, and story telling
  • Break-up work into blocks of time based on type of brain use, rather than topic
  • Working memory is either visuospatial or auditory
  • The brain is capable of holding only one representation of a visual object at a time
  • Understanding a new idea involves creating maps in the prefrontal cortex that represent new incoming information, and connecting these maps to existing maps in the rest of the brain. Making a decision involves activating a series of maps in the prefrontal cortex and making a choice between the maps. Recalling involves searching through billions of maps involved in memory and bringing the right ones into the prefrontal cortex. Memorizing involves holding maps in attention in the prefrontal cortex long enough to embed them in long-term memory. Inhibiting involves trying not to activate certain maps
  • Novelty gets attention. In small doses novelty is positive, but if the error detection circuitry fires too often, it brings on state of anxiety or fear
  • Your ability to inhibit thoughts seems to correlate closely to how well you can focus
  • Insight is characterized by a lack of logical progression to the solution, but instead to a sudden knowing. Increasing happiness increases likelihood of insight
  • Ability to stop oneself from thinking something is central to creativity
  • Primary threats - threat that could endanger your life - real threats like seeing a tiger, getting hungry, hot or thirsty, or even seeing an angry face in a photograph
  • Primary rewards - something that could help you survive - food, money, sex, or a familiar face
  • Hippocampus does not just remember facts, it also remembers feelings about facts. The stronger you feel about something, the easier it is to recall
  • Once an emotion kicks in you have three options - express, holding the feeling down and stopping the emotion from being perceived by others, think about it differently
  • The brain craves certainty. A sense of uncertainty about the future and feeling out of control both generate strong limbic system responses
  • Finding that you have choices in a situation reduces the threats from both autonomy and uncertainty
  • Four types of reappraisal - reinterpreting, normalising, reordering, and repositioning

Prompt for reading this book: Noah Kogan

26. “Coherence” by Dr. Alan Watkins

  • Our brilliance all starts with the quality of our physiology
  • Feeling wins over thinking almost every time. What we feel has a far bigger impact on what we do than thinking does
  • What is driving our behavior is our thinking, what we think and how well we think is largely determined by our feelings, which are driven by our emotions, which are made up of our physiology
  • What really determines the quality of our output is the neuroendocrine system
  • Coherence is a state of stable variability. When a system exhibits a predictable pattern of stable variability it is a vibrant, healthy, living system
  • Physiological coherence, facilitated primarily by cardiac coherence, therefore makes emotional coherence possible
  • From an energy perspective we peak at 25 years, if left unchecked our energy levels decline by 3% every year after that
  • Quickest and easiest way to stabilize our physiology is to stabilize our breathing. In order to experience many negative emotional states, it is necessary to lose control of your breath
  • Emotion is the link between biology and behavior
  • Emotion is constantly influencing our clarity of thought and ability to learn. Cortisol is well known to inhibit learning and memory
  • Instincts are generated in the neural networks of the gut and are predominantly driven by a desire to avoid danger and survive
  • Intuitions are more likely to occur when we are feeling more expansive and upbeat
  • Breath hold is the vital ingredient in the cake we bake called frustration
  • To get out of a negative emotion, take some smooth rhythmic breaths while focusing on the center of their chest and the anxiety or frustration will melt away
  • The midbrain is concerned with the four F’s - fight, flight, feeding and fornication and is the home of the ANS
  • We are born with two fears - loud noises and falling, everything else is learned
  • Relationship failures are caused by poor communication and low levels of trust
  • Four component parts of trust - personal connections, understanding motives, consistent delivery, and working style

Prompt for reading this book: Watched a presentation by Alan

27. “The ultimate sales machine” by Chet Holmes

  • Mastery is the direct result of pigheaded discipline and determination
  • People remember stories, especially when they are dramatic or humorous
  • Three P’s - planning, procedures, and policies - is essential if you want to easily and quickly grow your business
  • “What are the things standing in the way of this being a much better company?”
  • There is always a very small percentage of folks “buying now” - three percent. Seven percent of the population is open to the idea of buying (this population may be dissatisfied with their current provider or not opposed to change). 30% are not thinking about. 30% think they’re not interested. 30% are definitely not interested
  • You will attract way more buyers if you are offering to teach them something of value to them than you will ever attract by simply trying to sell them your product or service. When you sell you break rapport, but when you educate, you build it
  • If you come from the place of truly wanting to serve your buyer, then being a market expert - not just a product expert - means being more knowledgeable than any of your competitors
  • The one who gives the market the most and best information will always slaughter the one who just wants to sell products or services
  • Market data is way more motivational than product data
  • To get the most powerful market data and to uncover the smoking gun, the trick is to look at things over time. That’s where you’ll find the big breakthroughs
  • One of the most strategic things you can do is to find market data that makes your product or service more important
  • Stand up when presenting, it’s a position of greater authority
  • People naturally move away from problems and discomfort to solutions
  • Always agree with an objection
  • “Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious” - Thomas Edison

Prompt for reading this book: Noah Kogan

28. “Choose yourself” by James Altucher

Re-read from last year. See notes here

29. “See you at the top” by Zig Ziglar

  • Man is tridimensional - physical, mental, and spiritual
  • The more times you are exposed to the same information, the more likely you are to take action on it
  • Any person who does not believe in himself and fully utilize his ability is literally stealing from himself, from his loved ones, and society
  • When your confidence goes up, your competence goes up at the same time. When your image improves, your performance improves
  • A strong self-image is the best possible preparation for success in life
  • A sincere compliment is one of the most effective teaching and motivational methods in existence
  • One person with a belief is equal to a force of ninety-nine who have only an interest
  • People need loving the most when they deserve it the least
  • Talking is sharing but listening is caring
  • People often complain about lack of time when lack of direction is the real problem
  • There are seven different kinds of goals - physical, mental, spiritual, personal, family, career, and financial
  • You are obligated to earn more than you need because in doing so you create job opportunities for those less talented than you
  • You measure the size of the accomplishment by the obstacles you have to overcome to reach your goals
  • Once you’ve arranged your goals in the order of their importance, you should list the obstacles that stand between you and goals
  • When you sow an action, you reap a habit; when you sow a habit, you reap a character; and when you sow a character, you reap a destiny
  • Success is measured by what you do compared to what you could have done with the ability God has given you
  • When you are moving listen, when you are seated read
  • All bad habits start slowly and gradually, and before you know you have the habit, the habit has you
  • If a job is difficult or unpleasant, do it
  • You will remember and believe almost anything if you hear it enough times
  • Hope and encouragement are the major ingredients in the solution to any problem

Prompt for reading this book: Wanted to read one of Zig’s book

30. “Kite runner” by Khaled Hosseini

Amazing book. Great story telling, full of intrigue. Gripping real life story that generates a lot of emotions. Ended up feeling totally grateful for everything I have (especially the freedom in my country)

Prompt for reading this book: Amazon recommendation

31. “Radical acceptance” by Tara Brach

  • Living in the future creates the illusion that we are managing our life and steels us against personal failure
  • Every time we hide a defeat we reinforce the fear that we are insufficient
  • Going to the root of our suffering and seeing it clearly is the beginning of freedom (Buddha)
  • Two parts of genuine acceptance - seeing clearly and holding our experience with compassion
  • While meditating - what does this emotion feel like as sensations in your body? Where do you feel it most strongly? Is it static or moving? How big is it? Are your thoughts agitated and vivid? Are they repetitive and dull? Does your mind feel contracted or open? As you pay attention notice how the emotion changes. Does it become intense or weaken? Does it change into a different state? When the emotion is no longer compelling turn your attention back to the breath
  • All our reactions to people, to situations, to thoughts in our mind - are actually reactions to the kind of sensations that are arising in our body
  • Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional
  • Emotions, a combination of physical sensations and the stories we tell ourselves, continue to cause suffering until we experience them where they live in our body
  • “Men are not free when they are doing just what they like. Men are only free when they are doing what the deepest self likes. And there is getting down to the deepest self! It takes some diving” D. H. Lawrence
  • Craving causes suffering - not our natural inclination as living beings to have wants and needs, but to our habit of clinging to an experience that must, by nature, pass away
  • It doesn’t matter what is happening. What matters is how we are relating to our experience
  • Young children make sense of abusive experiences by thinking that they caused them to happen, that they were in some way to blame
  • While physical and emotional pain is unpleasant, the pain of fear can feel unbearable. When we are gripped by fear, nothing else exists
  • Feelings and stories of unworthiness and shame are perhaps the most binding element in the trance of fear
  • The key to awakening from the bonds of fear is to move from our mental stories into immediate contact with the sensations of fear - the squeezing, pressing, burning, trembling, quaking, jittering life in our body
  • Facing fear is a lifelong training in letting go of all we cling to - it is training in how to die
  • “To pay attention means we care, which means we really love” - J. Krishnamurti
  • The word resentment means to feel again
  • “Lord, help me to see myself the way my dog sees me”
  • We try to secure our identity by nailing down our experience

Prompt for reading this book: Olivia Fox Cabane

32. “Love yourself” by Kamal Ravikant

  • If you had a thought once, it has no power over you. Repeat it again and again, especially with emotional intensity, feeling it, and over time, you’re creating the grooves, the mental river. Then it controls you.
  • It is not just the act of recall that strengthens a memory, another factor shapes and even changes it - that state of mind you are in when remembering something
  • One has to focus on what is real. On the truth. When in darkness, don’t fight it. You can’t win. Just find the nearest switch, turn on the light

Prompt for reading this book: James Altucher

33. “The 5 elements of effective thinking” by Edward Burger, Michael Starbird

  • Extraordinary people are just ordinary people who think differently
  • When faced with a complicated and multifaceted issue - identify and ignore all the distracting features to isolate the essential core, analyze that central issue and apply those
  • We are often persuaded by authority and repetition rather than be evidence and reality
  • When you see or make a mistake - let the mistake lead you to a better attempt, or ask if the mistake is a correct answer to a different question
  • Asking yourself challenging questions can help reveal hidden assumptions, avoid bias, expose vagueness, identify errors, and consider alternatives
  • The goal of education should be to develop critical thinking and communicating skills and other such mind strengthening activities

Prompt for reading this book: Hiten Shah

34. “Smartcuts” by Shane Snow

  • Mentorship is the secret of many of the highest-profile achievers throughout history
  • Pit screw (in F1) meticulously planned out every possible scenario of what could go wrong during a handover and practiced each scenario until it became a habit
  • The best mentors help students to realize that the things that really matter are not the big and obvious
  • The key difference between those who learn more quickly than others is the ability to spot important details among noise
  • Experts vastly preferred negative feedback to positive. It spurred the most improvement. That is because criticism is generally more actionable than compliments
  • To accelerate a performer’s growth - give them rapid feedback, personalize the feedback, lower the stakes and pressure so that students take risks that force them improve
  • “It is better to know how to learn than to know” - Dr. Suess
  • Intuition is the result of non-conscious pattern thinking

Prompt for reading this book: Noah Kogan, Derek Sivers

35. “The Boron Letters” by Gary Halbert

  • A positive addiction is being addicted to something that improves the quality of your life. A negative addiction lowers the quality of your life
  • Most people in the world are nay-sayers. When it comes to accomplishing things, most people fail to even try. There is no benefit in dealing with people who have nothing but negative things to say
  • When you depend on others you give yourself an excuse for failure
  • Write down your goals and go over them every day, not just once a year
  • A fat, sloppy, skinny and weak body tends to broadcast to the world that the owner of the body is lacking self-respect
  • Rely on your own strength, instead of somebody else’s compassion
  • Gary’s main focus was on good hooks, offers, and solutions
  • When you get stuck or emotionally jammed up one of the ways to get unclogged and flowing again is to keep moving. Run. Jog. Walk. Write
  • Keep two lists. First list has all the important things you should do while you are at your best. Second list has all the important things which you can do well regardless of your moods
  • You should write start to finish in one sitting so that your different moods on different days don’t seep into your copy and make it disjointed
  • Proper time to let people know you are pitching is after you have started seriously fueling their desire
  • In the copy, tell the reader what they will get if they hurry and what they will get if they delay
  • You either hook a reader or lose him when he very first looks at your ad. Not when he reads it, but when he first looks at it
  • Read your copy out loud

Prompt for reading this book: On my reading list

36. “Predictable revenue” by Aaron Ross & Marylou Taylor

Must read for anyone building Saas products. Great advice on structuring the sales team and running a sales operation that generates results.

  • Email high level executives to ask for referrals to the best person in their organization for a first conversation
  • Email response rates - 7–10% (excluding bounces). This rate includes all responses - positive, negative, and neutral. Send emails before 9 AM and after 5 PM. Avoid Mondays and Fridays (Sundays are ok)
  • For every 400 leads per month that require human attention, a company needs one market response representative
  • Predictable revenue comes from predictable lead generation
  • Rep should send 50–100 targeted emails with a goal of having 5–10 responses a day
  • The goal of every mass email should be to establish and close a prospect on a next step
  • Pull prospects through a buying cycle, rather than pushing them through a sales cycle
  • The decision making process is more important than the decision maker. How have you evaluated similar products? What is the decision making process? Who is involved in making the decision? How will the decision be made? What are the steps to have a check cut or funds released?
  • Best question to use to open calls - did I catch you at a bad time?
  • You can’t have predictability without having a repeatable process. You can’t make what counts repeatable if you are not regularly measuring what matters
  • Sales report: what decision will this report help you make better?

Prompt for reading this book: Tomasz Tunguz

37. “Buddha’s brain” by Rich Hanson

  • Virtue, mindfulness, and wisdom are the three pillars of - well being, psychological growth, and spiritual realization. Virtue involves regulating your actions, words, and thoughts to create benefits rather than harms for yourself and others. Mindfulness involves the skillful use of attention to both your inner and outer worlds. Wisdom is applied common sense (you understand what hurts and what helps)
  • Virtue, mindfulness, and wisdom are supported by the three fundamental functions of the brain: regulation, learning, and selection
  • A full exhalation activates the calming parasympathetic nervous system
  • Suffering is the result of craving expressed through the three poisons - greed, hatred, and delusion. Greed is grasping after carrots, while hatred is aversion to sticks, delusion is a holding onto ignorance about the way things really are
  • Much as your body is built from the foods you eat, your mind is built from experiences you have
  • Positive experiences can be used to soothe, balance, and replace negative ones. When two things are held in the mind at the same time, they start to connect with each other
  • Emotion arousal facilitates learning by increasing neural excitation and consolidating synaptic change
  • Parasympathetic fibers are spread throughout your lips; thus touching your lips stimulates the PNS
  • Imagery activates the right hemisphere of the brain and quiets internal verbal chatter that could be stressful
  • Your heart speeds up when you inhale (SNS activation) and slows down when you exhale (PNS arousal)
  • Strength has two primary aspects: energy and determination
  • If compassion is the wish that beings not suffer, kindness is the wish that they be happy
  • Resentment is when I take poison and wait for you to die
  • Attention is perhaps the single most powerful way to reshape your brain and thus your mind
  • Brain manages the flow of attention by balancing three needs - keeping information in mind, changing the contents of awareness, and finding the right amount stimulation
  • Deepening the sense of connection with the world will reduce the sense of self

Prompt for reading this book: Listened to Rich on the James Altucher podcast

38. “Benjamin Franklin: An American Life” by Walter Isaacson (audio book)

  • Contribution made by Franklin to many different fields is astounding
  • Founding of America - right from the fight for independence, alliance with France, to securing freedom, and drafting of the constitution
  • Science - especially his experiments with electricity. Believed in pursuing experiments in areas of interest, and then using the results of those experiments to solve everyday problems (example: lightening rods, using warm currents in the ocean to travel faster). He never patented any of his work or commercialized any of his “inventions”
  • Organizing for public good - instrumental in levy of taxes for maintaining a military (to ensure peace and security), creating organizations like the fire department,public libraries, colleges, and creating associations and institutions around specific professions
  • Self-improvement / development: Keeping track of his virtues
  • His business acumen helped him handover his printing business to a confidant in his early forties - this ensured that he had complete control of his time (took no active part in running operations) and got 50% of the profits from the business
  • Extremely high social intelligence (or anticipating how others will react) as evidenced by initially writing under a pen-name for his brother’s printing press, writing letters under different pen-names to target his competitors, borrowing a book from someone hostile to him and converting him to a friend, how he adapted his life when he moved to France
  • Adept at nurturing and maintaining a network of friends across two continents

Prompt for reading this book: On a my reading list

39. “Waking up” by Sam Harris (audio book)

Nice overview of the “self” and “consciousness”. Looks at how different schools of thought (or religions) view these topics and highlights the implications of these views

Prompt for reading this book: Listened to him on the Tim Ferriss podcast

40. “The book in a box method” by Tucker Max, Zach Obront

  • Wisdom = information + experience + context
  • A book takes information adds contextualization, explanation, and application, and turns it into usable wisdom for people
  • The actual purpose of a good introduction is to engage the reader and make them want to read the book
  • Start with an attention grabber - a short story, example, statistic, or historical context that introduces the subject in a way that is interesting and exciting will engage the reader and compel them to read more
  • People pay attention to stories, especially stories that resonate with their personal pain and conflicts, and solutions that provide relief and pleasure
  • When people tell you something’s wrong or doesn’t work for them, they are almost always right. When they tell you exactly what they think is wrong and how to fix it, they are almost always wrong

Prompt for reading this book: Kindle unlimited recommendation

41. “Poke the box” by Seth Godin

  • Imperatives of starting - aware of the market, the opportunities, and who you are; educated to understand what’s around you; connected so you can be trusted as you engage; consistent so the system knows what to expect; build an asset so that you have something to sell; productive so that you are well priced; have the guts, heart, and passion to ship
  • Ownership comes from understanding and from having the power to make things happen
  • Anxiety is experiencing failure in advance
  • Excellence isn’t about working hard, it’s about taking the initiative to do work you decide is worth doing
  • Try is the opposite of hiding
  • Starting means you are going to finish. If it doesn’t ship you have failed. Keep starting till you finish

Prompt for reading this book: On my reading list

42. “Your deceptive mind” by Steven Novella (audio book)

Great overview of different biases and common pitfalls in our thinking. I liked the way the solution to the monty hall problem is described.

Prompt for reading this book: Most reviewed on Audible

43. “59 seconds” by Richard Wiseman

  • Expressing gratitude, thinking about a prefect future, and affectionate writing - make you happy
  • Get people to behave in a certain way and you cause them to feel certain emotions and have certain thoughts
  • When you offer rewards to a kid, the kid thinks - adults usually offer me rewards when they want me to do something I don’t like doing. Therefore, I must not like what they want me to do
  • Presenting weakness early is seen as a sign of openness
  • To increase the likelihood of someone liking you, get them to do you a favor
  • Favors have their strongest effect when they occur between people who don’t know each other very well, and when they are small but thoughtful
  • Starting the meal at a normal rate of eating then dropping to the slower rate, causes a large reduction in appetite
  • Genuine creativity can come from spending just a few moments occupying your conscious mind, thus preventing it from interfering with the important and innovative thoughts in your unconscious
  • People who spent less than the magic half-hour in the sun were actually in a poorer mood than usual
  • Laugh for at least 15 minutes each day
  • To help reduce your heart rate and blood pressure in less than a minute, go online and watch a video of a cute animal
  • Rational decision making requires thorough understanding of probability and logic
  • The saddest words: It might have been

Prompt for reading this book: Reference to Richard’s work in other books

44. “Maximum willpower” by Kelly McGonigal

Must read. Probably the most practical book I read this year.

  • Self-knowledge - especially of how we find ourselves in willpower trouble is the foundation of self-control. We usually fail to predict when, where, and why we will give in
  • To say no when you want to say no, and say yes when you want to say yes, you need a third power: the ability to remember what you really want
  • Willpower has gone from being the thing that distinguishes us humans from the other animals to the thing that distinguishes us from each other
  • Without desires we would become depressed, and without fear we’d fail to protect ourselves from future danger
  • To have more self-control you need to have more self-awareness
  • Self-control is a matter of physiology not just psychology
  • One way to immediately boost willpower: slow your breathing down to four to six breaths per minute
  • Exercise boosts self-control. Exercise makes your brain bigger and faster, and the prefrontal cortex shows the largest training effect. Biggest mood boosting, stress-busting effects came from five minute doses of exercise
  • Sleep deprivation impairs how the body and the brain use glucose their main form of energy. When you are tired your cells have trouble absorbing glucose from the bloodstream
  • Fatigue should no longer be considered a physical event but rather a sensation or emotion
  • If you tell yourself you are good when you exercise and bad when you don’t, then you’re more likely to skip the gym tomorrow if you work out today
  • A willpower challenge involves two conflicting goals - your long-term interests, and immediate gratification
  • We wrongly but persistently expect to make different decisions tomorrow than we do today
  • When you want to change a behavior, aim to reduce variability in your behavior, not the behavior itself
  • Moral licensing at its core is an identity crisis
  • When your reward center releases dopamine, it also sends a message to the stress center of the brain, that causes the release of stress hormone - you feel anxious as you anticipate your object of desire
  • We may think that guilt motivates us to correct our mistakes, but it is just one more way that feeling bad leads to giving in
  • Self-criticism is consistently associated with less motivation and worse self-control. Forgiveness, not guilt helped them get back on track
  • Unrealistic optimism may make us feel good in the moment, but it sets us up to feel much worse later on. The decision to change is the ultimate in instant gratification - you get a good feeling before anything has been done
  • Have a mandatory ten minute wait for any temptation. To overcome temptation to procrastinate - do ten minutes then you can stop
  • Behaviors we typically view as being under self control are in important ways under social control as well. Both bad habits and positive change can spread from person to person like germs and nobody is completely immune

Prompt for reading this book: Derek Sivers (his notes are amazing, check them out)

45. “Zero to one” by Peter Thiel

Great read. Questions in the book are as valuable as the contents. Zero fluff.

  • In business money is either an important thing or it is everything
  • Creative monopoly means new products that benefit everybody and sustainable profits for the creator
  • Rivalry causes us to over emphasize old opportunities and slavishly copy what has worked in the past
  • The clearest way to make a 10x improvement is to invent something completely new
  • It is much easier to reach a few thousand people who really need your product than millions of scattered individuals. Perfect target market - people concentrated together and served by few or no competitors
  • Sequencing markets correctly is underrated, and it takes discipline to expand gradually
  • As you craft a plan to expand to adjacent markets, don’t disrupt; avoid competition as much as possible
  • “To succeed you must study the endgame before everything else” - Jose Raul
  • Competition and capitalism are opposites
  • It’s rarely a good idea to tell everybody everything you know
  • Internal conflict is like an autoimmune disease
  • All salesman are actors: their priority is persuasion, not sincerity
  • Superior sales and distribution by itself can create a monopoly, even with no product differentiation
  • Businesses with complex sales models succeed if they achieve 50–100% year-over-year growth over the course of a decade
  • When you can only afford to spend dozens of dollars acquiring a new customer, you need the biggest megaphone that you can find

Questions: what important truth do very few people agree with you on? how much of what you know about business is shaped by mistaken reactions to past mistakes? what valuable company is nobody building?

Prompt for reading this book: On my reading list

46. “The binman’s guide to selling” by Oisin Browne

  • When people are relaxed they are more open to suggestion (they also listen to you). When they are focused they will make decisions, and when they are connected with you rapport is built and the opportunity to do business is born
  • Instead of saying the system is easy to operate, I have tested it myself say - You will be surprised how safe and easy this system is to operate
  • Find a positive emotional association between purchases your prospect made in the past and the purchase of your product now
  • Don’t use the word try. It is not direct and it doesn’t encourage the sale
  • Now is a very powerful word, leave it out and you lose control
  • If our product was cheap as theirs, we would be telling you that our product is only as good as their product and only has the same value as theirs
  • If you want to succeed in selling, you need to deliver a pitch that appeals to your prospects emotions
  • Options create choices and choices help the prospect close the sale themselves
  • When price is an objection break the year down to the day
  • Present your product, overcome objections, and gain commitment
  • Questions: what aspects of the product most interest you? do you know anyone else who might benefit from using these products? tell me more? can you give me a little background on what you do here?

Prompt for reading this book: Nathalie Nahai

47. “Superhuman social skills” by Tynan

  • Four main channels being communicated on at all time - content, meta, emotion, and status. Meta - the meaning behind the meaning - the implication
  • Master of communication must be able to have two major conversations (content and meta) while maintaining two minor conversations (emotion and status)
  • Meta channel should be used so that neither person is made to feel bad
  • Default outgoing communication on the status channel with someone new should usually be that you deserve respect and are worth getting to know
  • Direct eye contact conveys high status universally. Taking up a lot of space with your body also conveys high status
  • When you are introduced to someone who does not know you, your first goal should be to convey as quickly as possible what makes you interesting and worth knowing
  • When someone is getting to know you, they are trying to understand your character and your status
  • When disagreeing, consider saying - I’ve always thought the opposite, actually, that’s really interesting
  • When you want to convey an opinion that others may not share, consider saying - I know not everyone agrees, but I’ve always thought _____. Who knows if I’m right or not, but it makes sense to me

Prompt for reading this book: Stumbled on it on Amazon

48. “Daily inspiration” by Robin Sharma

  • Happiness is not a place you reach but a state you create
  • Discipline is the antidote to regret
  • Balance chasing dreams and making things happen with letting things happen
  • Clarity precedes mastery. Writing promotes clarity
  • Principles of excellence - treating people well, working hard, refusing to give up, seeing opportunity where others see failure, and staying true to you
  • Money is a byproduct of adding value and doing good for others
  • Focus is central to success. “The person who chases two rabbits catches neither”
  • The quality of success you will experience in your life ultimately depends upon the tiny choices you make every minute of every hour of every day

Prompt for reading this book: Kindle unlimited recommendation

49. “Robert Colliers Letter Book” by Robert Collier

  • Six essentials of a letter — the opening which gets the reader’s attention by fitting in with his train of thoughts and establishes a point of contact with his interests; a description which pictures your proposition to the reader; motive or reason why; proof of guarantee; penalty for not acting; close that tells the reader what to do, and how to do it, and makes it easy for him to act at once
  • Talk not about your product, but the pleasure or profit your customers will get out of it
  • The margin between success and failure is often small (however the difference in returns is disproportionately large)
  • Give the buyer as many excuses for buying, provide a reason why they must buy right now, and make it easy to buy
  • The man we feel most kindly toward is the one for whom we have just done a favor
  • Give a convincing reason as to why you are able to offer a lower price than your competitor. This is one of the most important essentials of selling
  • How is a very powerful word. For instance, a book would sell twice as much if it’s title were “How to win success” instead of “Rules of success”
  • It is not merchandise that you are selling, but human nature, human reactions
  • The start of a letter makes or breaks a letter, if the start does not interest your reader, she will never get down to the rest of your letter. When you have won the reader’s attention, the strongest motive to appeal to is vanity. The strongest traits in human nature is the desire to be somebody, to feel important, to be necessary to the community and those around us

Prompt for reading this book: Ramit Sethi

50. “Don’t shoot the dog” by Karen Pryor

  • A reinforcer is anything that occurring in conjunction with an act, tends to increase the probability that the act will occur again
  • Two aspects of shaping — the behaviors that are to be developed and the sequence of steps used to develop them, and the principles or rules governing how, when, and why those behaviors are reinforced
  • If you are interested in learning a particular skill, find out as much as possible about the established methods of accomplishing the behaviors that that skill involves, through books, teachers, coaches and through watching or studying others
  • When we seem to show no progress in a skill, no matter how much we practice, it is because we are trying to improve two or more things at once
  • When teaching a behavior use a fixed schedule of reinforcement, that is reinforce every adequate behavior. When we just maintaining behavior, we reinforce very occasionally, using a sporadic or intermittent schedule
  • What is once learned is not forgotten, but under the pressure of assimilating new skills, old well learned behavior sometimes falls apart temporarily. Berating yourself or others for mistakes in past learned behavior under new circumstances is bad training
  • While training, attention is a very powerful tool. Don’t remove attention carelessly or unfairly
  • The single most useful device in self-reinforcement is record keeping
  • Obedience — behavior guaranteed to be executed when the signal is given
  • When trying to train a behavior chain, start from the last behavior in the chain
  • If motivation for doing the behavior is small, if the fear of future punishment is large, and the subject can control behavior — the punished behavior stops
  • To get rid of a bad behavior train an incompatible behavior

Prompt for reading this book: David Ngo

51. “Manage your day-to-day” edited by Jocelyn K. Glei

  • When planning your work day schedule creative work first, reactive work second
  • We tend to overestimate what we can do in a short period, and underestimate what we can do over a long period, provided we work slowly and consistently
  • We are designed to move rhythmically between spending and renewing our energy
  • The more deeply you exhale, the calmer and more capable you become. Breath-holding contributed significantly to stress-related diseases
  • Sleep is more important than food
  • The immune system uses nitric oxide in fighting viral, bacterial and parasitic infections, and tumors. Nitric oxide transmits messages between nerve cells and is associated with the process of learning, memory, sleeping, and feeling pain, and probably depression
  • Our bodies are tuned to be impulsive and compulsive when were in fight-or-flight. In this state we also become tuned to over-consume
  • When we are under chronic stress brain regions associated with decision making and goal-directed behaviors shrink and the brain regions associated with habit formation grow

Prompt for reading this book: Kindle unlimited recommendation

52. “How Google Works” by Eric Schmidt, Jonathan Rosenberg

  • Radically better products stands on lots of iteration. The basis for continual product excellence and success is speed
  • Primary objective of any business today must be to increase the speed of the product development process and the quality of its output
  • Minimum skills that you need to bring to the table as a smart creative - business savvy, technical knowledge, creative energy, and a hands-on approach to getting things done
  • Questions when starting a company - what do we care about, what do we believe, who do we want to be, how do we want our company to act and make decisions
  • Offices should be designed to maximize energy and interactions (not for isolation and status)
  • Dealing with knaves: reduce their responsibility and appoint a knight to assume it
  • Burnout is caused by resentment at having to give up what really matters to you
  • Bet on technical insights that help solve a big problem in a novel way, optimize for scale not revenue. A technical insight is a new way of applying technology or design that either drives down the cost or increases the functions and usability of the product by a significant factor
  • Giving a customer what he wants is less important than giving him what he doesn’t yet know he wants
  • When starting a career: pick industry first, then company. Most interesting industries are those where product cycle times are accelerating. Sexiest jobs in the internet century will involve statistics
  • The process by which you reach a decision, the timing of when you reach it, and the way it is implemented is as important as the decision itself
  • When making financial decisions focus on cash and revenue
  • Consensus (to think or feel together) is not about getting everyone to agree. It is about debating all choices that are available. Disagree and commit, or escalate publicly
  • Do your best to surface all potential dissent early in the decision making process
  • Meetings should be manageable in size - no more than eight people, ten at a stretch
  • “Real artists ship” - Steve Jobs
  • Plan for a “wow” feature reasonably soon after launch
  • Management’s job is not to mitigate risks or prevent failures, but to create an environment resilient enough to take on those risks and tolerate the inevitable missteps
  • George Gilder - every economic era is based on a key abundance and a key scarcity

Prompt for reading this book: Amazon recommendation

If you read this far, thanks!