Grant Gochnauer: Awesome Humans — Issue #75

“Awesome Humans” is a weekly curated newsletter highlighting content at the intersection of becoming extraordinary individuals, building extraordinary teams, and the future.

Awesome Human

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How to create new good habits, according to Stanford psychologist B.J. Fogg —

If you hate the monotony of running on the treadmill, but drag yourself to the cardio room daily, believing self-torture will eventually become a habit — that’s not heroic; it’s bad design.

According to B.J. Fogg, a psychologist and researcher at Stanford University who has studied behavior change for more than 20 years, doing something you don’t enjoy and subsequently failing to make it habitual is actually more detrimental to a mission for change than doing nothing at all.

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How the Human Brain Decides What Is Important and What’s Not —

A new Princeton University study sheds light on how people learn and make decisions in real-world situations. The findings could eventually contribute to improved teaching and learning and the treatment of mental and addiction disorders in which people’s perspectives are dysfunctional or fractured


If You Forget As Fast As You Read, This Is For You —

If you read a lot, but seem to forget most of the information you so eagerly soak up, this is for you. I’d like to give you 3 things today.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Deliberate Practice — 
 Deliberate practice refers to a special type of practice that is purposeful and systematic. While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.

Healthy Human

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New Study Supports the Link Between Autism and Gut Microbes — 
 A study in which autistic children were given daily fecal microbial transplants yielded improvements in gastrointestinal symptoms by 80% and behavioral symptoms by 20–25%. Though promising, the treatment has a long way to go before it could be brought to market to help the approximately 1 in 68 children on the autism spectrum.

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In Primates, Calorie Restricted Diets Prevent Disease, Improve Longevity — 
 Understanding the biology of aging can help us develop strategies to slow or even overcome it.

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Sitting Too Much Ages You By 8 Years —

In the new study, scientists led by Aladdin Shadyab, a post-doctoral fellow in family medicine and public health at the University of California San Diego, traced sitting’s impact on the chromosomes. They took blood samples from nearly 1,500 older women enrolled in the Women’s Health Initiative, a long-term study of chronic diseases in post-menopausal women, and focused on the telomeres: the tips of the tightly packed DNA in every cell. Previous studies have found that as cells divide and age, they lose bits of the telomeres, so the length of this region can be a marker for how old a cell (and indirectly the person the cells belong to) is. The researchers compared telomere length to how much the women exercised, to see if physical activity affected aging.

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Naughty or Nice? Personality Traits Linked to Differences in Brain Structure —

Our personality may be shaped by how our brain works, but in fact the shape of our brain can itself provide surprising clues about how we behave — and our risk of developing mental health disorders. According to psychologists, the extraordinary variety of human personality can be broken down into the so-called ‘Big Five’ personality traits, namely neuroticism (how moody a person is), extraversion (how enthusiastic a person is), openness (how open-minded a person is), agreeableness (a measure of altruism), and conscientiousness (a measure of self-control). In particular, the researchers looked at differences in the brain cortical anatomy (the structure of the outer layer of the brain) as indexed by three measures — the thickness, area, and amount of folding in the cortex — and how these measures related to the Big Five personality traits.

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The brain uses REM sleep to cut unneeded connections — 
 REM sleep is known to help solidify memories, but the mechanism for making memories more permanent is not well-understood. A recent study published in Nature Neuroscience shows that, during REM sleep, some of the structures neurons use to make connections with each other are pruned, while others are maintained and strengthened. The findings indicate that sleep’s role in solidifying memories comes through allowing the brain time to selectively eliminate or maintain newly formed neural connections.

Human Builders

The 30 Best Pieces of Advice for Entrepreneurs in 2016

Fantastic Reference Guide: The 30 Best Pieces of Advice for Entrepreneurs in 2016

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Three Mathematical Models for Building a More Valuable Company · Coding VC — 
 It’s very hard, maybe impossible, to create a mathematical model that describes how to build a successful company. Still, there’s value in trying to come up with different models and thinking about their implications. This post describe three possible models for calculating a startup’s value and the lessons that each model offers.

Make Operations your secret weapon — Here’s how

“Kozlowski is part of a new crop of COOs who are harnessing know-how from a range of roles to create systems that elevate the entire company…..“We’re all familiar with tech operations, but what COO really means, is business operations: how you operate your business, think about strategy, and move the business forward in growth,” Kozlowski says. “The COO role is custom to every company and requires deep self-awareness from the CEO and founder to outline the specific skills and qualities they need in a partner.”

Future Humans

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IBM 5 in 5 — IBM Research — 
 IBM presents five innovations that will help change our lives within five years

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Technological Tipping Points —

The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting occurred last week in Davos with a theme of responsive and responsible leadership. The session had me thinking back to research conducted by their Global Agenda Council in March 2015 on the Future of Software & Society. The research focused on technological tipping points and the perception of when these tipping points would occur.

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5G internet is the ‘beginning of the fourth industrial revolution: Telecoms CEO — 
 5G will be the platform linking “billions” of internet-connected devices, Kaan Terzioğlu, the chief executive of Turkcell, told CNBC on Thursday.

16 Questions About Self-Driving Cars

Awesome: Everything that moves, says a16z partner Frank Chen, will go autonomous. But what does that really mean? In this presentation from our a16z Summit, Chen goes over the 16 most commonly asked questions about autonomous cars, and what their answers might be: Will we progress level by level, or go straight to Level 5, i.e. full automation? Will they use LIDAR or not? What blend of software techniques will be used? What rules of the road (traffic lights!) will become a thing of the past, and how will insurance be affected? You can’t understand autonomous vehicles without understanding these 16 basic and essential questions — and the issues at stake tied to them — in this concise overview that covers everything you’re wondering about autonomous vehicles in a nutshell.

2017’s big ideas — part one: from driverless cars to interstellar travel

How will transport, nutrition science, astronomy, environment, neuroscience, the arts, and architecture evolve in 2017 and beyond?

One More Thing

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Analysis of 100 Million Taxi Trips in Chicago Shows Usage Declining 35% Per Year —

The City of Chicago has released a public dataset containing over 100 million taxi rides since 2013. I adapted my analysis of the similar New York City dataset to process the Chicago data, and created a GitHub repository with the relevant code.

The Chicago dataset does not include data from ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft, but the data makes clear that taxi usage in Chicago has declined dramatically since 2014. As of November 2016, Chicago taxi usage was declining at a 35% annual rate, and had fallen a cumulative 55% since peaking in June 2014.