Book: Purple Cow: Transform your business by being remarkable

cow1This book is about what I perceive as marketing: creating products that really resonate with the core audience and designing / packaging them in a way that the customers cannot help themselves but to tell their friends.

Are you wondering why “purple cow?”. Because its stands out among black and white!

Trying to make stuff for „everyone” does not cut it anymore. You cannot start with mediocre product and „market” (advertise) the shit out of it. Instead, your product has to be #1 in some category, even if category is really made up.

Create remarkable products. That simple and that hard.

Here is how you may create a popular product:

  1. Create a remarkable products that people want to tell their friends about.
    1. Target a niche. Have something that is very appealing to a small audience, but make this audience fall in love with the product
    2. Explore the limits, go away with the blandness! Find out how customers could describe you
    3. Word of mouth for your product will spread differently in different niches. Some niches are more prone to share product info with friends than others
  2. Advertise it to said audience, they are your early adopters
  3. See them advertise it to their friends

This is marketing done right. Marketing where the marketer changes the product, not the ads.

My highlights

  • Too often, big companies are scared companies, and they work to minimize any variation – including the good stuff that happens when people
  • If an audience doesn’t have the money to buy what you’re selling at the price
  • If an audience doesn’t have the time to listen to and understand your pitch, you’ll be treated as if you were invisible. And if an audience takes the time to hear your pitch but decides they don’t want it … well, you’re not going to get very far.
  • The world has changed. There are far more choices, but there is less and less time to sort them out.
  • All the obvious targets are gone, so people aren’t likely to have easily solved problems.
  • Consumers are hard to reach because they ignore
  • Satisfied customers are less likely to tell their friends.
  • Little noticed over the past fifty years was a very different symbiotic relationship, one that arguably created far more wealth (with large side effects) than the military-industrial complex did. I call it the TV-industrial complex.
  • The new rule is: CREATE REMARKABLE PRODUCTS THAT THE RIGHT PEOPLE SEEK OUT.
  • TV-INDUSTRIAL AGE POST-TV AGE AVERAGE PRODUCTS REMARKABLE PRODUCTS ADVERTISE TO ANYONE ADVERTISE TO THE EARLY ADOPTER FEAR OF FAILURE FEAR OF FEAR LONG CYCLES SHORT CYCLES SMALL CHANGES BIG CHANGES
  • The leader is the leader because he did something remarkable. And that remarkable thing is now taken – it’s no longer remarkable when you do it.
  • Awareness Is Not the Point
  • Instead of trying to use your technology and expertise to make a better product for your users’ standard behavior, experiment with inviting the users to change their behavior to make the product work dramatically better.
  • If a product’s future is unlikely to be remarkable – if you can’t imagine a future in which people are once again fascinated by your product – it’s time to realize that the game has changed. Instead of investing in a dying product, take profits and reinvest them in building something new.
  • The only chance you have is to sell to people who like change, who like new stuff, who are actively looking for what it is you sell.
  • The way you break through to the mainstream is to target a niche instead of a huge market. With a niche, you can segment off a chunk of the mainstream, and create an ideavirus so focused that it overwhelms that small slice of the market that really and truly will respond to what you sell.
  • It’s not an accident that some products catch on and some don’t. When an ideavirus occurs, it’s often because all the viral pieces work together. How smooth and easy is it to spread your idea? How often will people sneeze it to their friends? How tightly knit is the group you’re targeting – do they talk much? Do they believe each other? How reputable are the people most likely to promote your idea? How persistent is it – is it a fad that has to spread fast before it dies, or will the idea have legs (and thus you can invest in spreading it over time)? Put all of your new product developments through this analysis, and you’ll discover which ones are most likely to catch on. Those are the products and ideas worth launching. The Big Misunderstanding
  • Marketing in a post-TV world is no longer about making a product attractive or interesting or pretty or funny after it’s designed and built – it’s about designing the thing to be virus-worthy in the first place.
  • Differentiate your customers. Find the group that’s most profitable. Find the group that’s most likely to sneeze. Figure out how to develop/advertise/reward either group. Ignore the rest. Your ads (and your products!) shouldn’t cater to the masses. Your ads (and products) should cater to the customers you’d choose if you could choose your customers.
  • Differentiate your customers. Find the group that’s most profitable. Find the group that’s most likely to sneeze. Figure out how to develop/advertise/reward either group. Ignore the rest. Your ads (and your products!) shouldn’t cater to the masses. Your
  • Make a list of competitors who are not trying to be everything to everyone. Are they outperforming you? If you could pick one underserved niche to target (and to dominate), what would it be? Why not launch a product to compete with your own – a product that does nothing but appeal to this market?
  • So it seems that we face two choices: to be invisible, anonymous, uncriticized, and safe, or to take a chance at greatness, uniqueness, and the Cow.
  • Criticism of the project is not criticism of you. The fact that we need to be reminded of this points to how unprepared we are for the era of the Cow. It’s people who have projects that are never criticized who ultimately fail.
  • What tactics does your firm use that involve following the leader? What if you abandoned them and did something very different instead? If you acknowledge that you’ll never catch up by being the same, make a list of ways you can catch up by being different. Case Study: The Aeron Chair Before Herman Miller, desk chairs were invisible.
  • “The best design solves problems, but if you can weld that to the cool factor, then you have a home run,”
  • What would happen if you gave the marketing budget for your next three products to the designers? Could you afford a world-class architect/designer/sculptor/director/author?
  • What could you measure? What would that cost? How fast could you get the results? If you can afford it, try it. “If you measure it, it will improve.”
  • Once you’ve managed to create something truly remarkable, the challenge is to do two things simultaneously: Milk the Cow for everything it’s worth. Figure out how to extend it and profit from it for as long as possible. Create an environment where you are likely to invent a new Purple Cow in time to replace the first one when its benefits
  • How could you modify your product or service so that you’d show up on the next episode of Saturday Night Live or in a spoof of your industry’s trade journal?
  • Do you have the email addresses of the 20 percent of your customer base that loves what you do? If not, start getting them. If you do, what could you make for these customers that would be superspecial? Visit http://www.sethgodin.com and you can sign up for my list and see what happens.
  • Sit There, Don’t Just Do Something
  • What would happen if you took one or two seasons off from the new-product grind and reintroduced wonderful classics instead? What sort of amazing thing could you offer in the first season you came back (with rested designers)?
  • This is marketing done right. Marketing where the marketer changes the product, not the ads.
  • find the market niche first, and then make the remarkable product – not the other way around.
  • slogan that accurately conveys the essence of your Purple Cow is a script. A script for the sneezer to use when she talks with her friends.
  • In almost every market, the boring slot is filled. The product designed to appeal to the largest possible audience already exists, and displacing it is awfully difficult.
  • How can you market yourself as “more bland than the leading brand”?
  • If someone in your organization is charged with creating a new Purple Cow, leave them alone! Don’t use internal reviews and usability testing to figure out if the new product is as good as what you’ve got now. Instead, pick the right maverick and get out of the way.
  • Work with the sneezers in that audience to make it easier for them to help your idea cross the chasm. Give them the tools (and the story) they’ll need to sell your idea to a wider audience.
  • Marketing was really better called “advertising.” Marketing was about communicating the values of a product after it had been developed and manufactured.
  • Is there someone (a person, an agency?) in your industry who has a track record of successfully launching remarkable products? Can you hire them away, or at least learn from their behavior? Immerse yourself in fen magazines, trade shows, design reviews – whatever it takes to feel what your fans feel.
  • prototyping new products and policies? When GM shows a concept car at the New York Auto Show, there’s more than ego involved. They’re trying to figure out what car nuts think is remarkable. I’m not pitching focus groups here (they’re a waste). I’m talking about very public releases of cheap prototypes.
  • Explore the limits. What if you’re the cheapest, the fastest, the slowest, the hottest, the coldest, the easiest, the most efficient, the loudest, the most hated, the copycat, the outsider, the hardest, the oldest, the newest, the … most! If there’s a limit, you should (must) test it.
  • Is your product more boring than salt? Unlikely. So come up with a list of ten ways to change the product (not the hype) to make it appeal to a sliver of your audience.
  • Think small. One vestige of the TV-industrial complex is a need to think mass. If it doesn’t appeal to everyone, the thinking goes, it’s not worth it. No longer. Think of the smallest conceivable market, and describe a product that overwhelms it with its remarkability. Go from there.
  • Copy. Not from your industry, but from any other industry. Find an industry more dull than yours, discover who’s remarkable (it won’t take long), and do what they did.
  • Find things that are “just not done” in your industry, and do them. JetBlue almost instituted a dress code for passengers. They’re still playing with the idea of giving a free airline ticket to the best-dressed person on the plane. A plastic surgeon could offer gift certificates. A book publisher could put a book on sale. Stew Leonard’s took the strawberries out of the little green plastic cages and let the customers pick their own – and sales doubled.
  • Ask, “Why not?” Almost everything you don’t do has no good reason for it. Almost everything you don’t do is the result of fear or inertia or a historical lack of someone asking, “Why not?”

 

Book: Remote – Office not required

remote-cover-aadeb20bf72bc28d49a49d2433e731d36c8a255f9d496880a5224e1ce0006577„Remote” by David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH) and Jason Fried is a book about (you guessed it) remote work. Both DHH and Jason are huge advocates of the distributed setup as they should – they run a company called Basecamp that hires remotely.

And so am I – I work in one of the biggest distributed companies ( Automattic ) and I help to run a foundation in Poland called Remote Ninja. The focus of the initiative is to promote and help set up remote companies and lifestyle so that people in the most remote parts of Poland can participate in the global economy without leaving their families.

Since remote work is weaved into every part of my life, it is hard for me to learn something new from the book. I can swear by everything that they have written there and I would highly recommend it to anyone wanting to know more about remote work.

 

Benefits of remote work

  • As a company, your talent pool is much wider
  • Employees are much more loyal, since they can fit work intoo their lifestyles with ease
  • They can fit the work into their chronotypes easily
  • If you work remotely you dont have to wait for retirement to travel the world

 

Stuff I wholeheartedly agree on with the authors

  • Office is much more distracting environment than home
  • Remote work puts work first, hours spent last
  • I am much more productive when I can work when I feel like it, not when my ‚office hours’ are
  • Asychronous communication is the only way to do the work in a sane manner
  • Urgency is overrated

 

My highlights

  • If they do say the office, they’ll include a qualifier such as “super early in the morning before anyone gets in”
  • We traded the freedom and splendor of country land and fresh air for convenience and excitement.
  • That’s a much more realistic goal than buying lottery tickets, either the literal or figurative ones. As an example of the latter: pursuing a career-ladder or stock-
  • But why wait? If what you really love doing is skiing, why wait until your hips are too old to take a hard fall and then move to Colorado?
  • In this world very few leaps of progress arrive exclusively as benefits. Maybe the invention of the sandwich, but that’s it.
  • People have an amazing ability to live down to low expectations.
  • And let’s not forget the ergonomics of sweatpants!

 

 

Book: Born to run

9780307279187This book is not a manual how to run. It is however, a gripping tale of how a group of western world’s best endurance athletes came together to race an ultra marathon with fabled Mexican tribesmen called Tarahumara.

If it was was fiction, it would not be believable.

Yeah, but what about actual running?

The book is pretty bullish on Nike. The company invented the modern running shoe and (according to the author and his research) that was the worst thing that could happen to runners. Modern running shoe cushions the foot and it promotes landing on the heel. The impact caused by full weight being amortized only my the shoe heel is very detrimental to knee, hip and the foot itself.

The alternative would be landing on the side of the foot and using foot’s many muscles and bones to in a process called pronation to slowly absorb the impact.

Human beings are perfect runners. The ability to keep head on top of the center of the mass, ability to perspire, ability to breathe independently of running pace and achilles tendons make them the best long – distance runners in the animal kingdom. Some scientists theorize that the running was what gave us the edge over Neanderthals.

With this construction optimized for running, any high-tech additions that are modifying running style are throwing the complex machine out of balance and in turn cause injuries.

How to run Tarahumara style

  • Have thin-sole shoes
  • Straighten up
  • While running, place your feet under your center of gravity, push back
  • Flick your feet to your ass
  • Move feet in smaller contractions ( ideally 180 steps per minute )
  • Your upper body should flow through space, move vertically as little as possible
  • Run like kindergarteners
  • SMILE and love running

Memorable stuff for me

  • Thats another place I’ve seen the benefits of Chia. I’ll try to eat more
  • Keep heartbeat in cardio range – the same thing they told me in Unleash the Power Within
  • Another insight congruent with UPW – vegetarian diet is best for runners
  • I need to run more

My clippings

  • iskiate is otherwise known as chia fresca—“chilly chia.” It’s brewed up by dissolving chia seeds in water with a little sugar and a squirt of lime.
  • If you have a choice between one step or two between rocks, take three.”
  • “Lesson two,” Caballo called. “Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t give a shit how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one—you get those three, and you’ll be fast.”
  • PAINFUL TRUTH No. 1: The Best Shoes Are the Worst
  • PAINFUL TRUTH No. 2: Feet Like a Good Beating
  • Their feet land right under them, and they push back,”
  • “Set it for one hundred eighty beats a minute, then run to the beat.”
  • Evolution Running.
  • The way to activate your fat-burning furnace is by staying below your aerobic threshold—your hard-breathing point—during your endurance runs.
  • “Anything the Tarahumara eat, you can get very easily,” Tony told me. “It’s mostly pinto beans, squash, chili peppers, wild greens, pinole, and lots of chia.
  • Back straight? Check. Knees bent and driving forward? Check. Heels flicking back?
  • So how long would it take to actually run an animal to death?

 

Book: Tribe of Mentors

71gfznfhxil“Short life advice from the best in the world” is a very fitting subtitle. Tim Ferriss has indeed contacted best in the world and asked them a roster of specially designed questions. They came back with surprising, wise and quirky answers.

The array of personalities presented on these pages is immensely diverse and that makes it so much easier to find gold nuggets for every stage of life and every field. I would definitely recommend the book to a motivated college graduate about to enter a „real world”. Especially because Tim asked specifically for advice for those folks!

Contrary to Tools of Titans, it is hard for me to tease out common themes. Let my highlights speak for themselves.

 

Ah, one very common theme:

There are many definitions of success. Don’t let someone else’s ambition guide you through life.

 

My Kindle Highlights

  • In my experience, going from 1x to 10x, from 10x to 100x, and from 100x to (when Lady Luck really smiles) 1000x returns in various areas has been a product of better questions.
  • Often, all that stands between you and what you want is a better set of questions.
  • an easier search query (easier to recall),
  • success can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations we are willing to have, and by the number of uncomfortable actions we are willing to take.
  • What would it look like if it were easy?
  • If I were the security professional tasked with protecting me from bogus, sociopathic, and clueless asks, which ones would I screen and dump into the trash? That has helped a lot.
  • I do not believe in work-life balance. I believe that if you view your work as a calling, it is a labor of love rather than laborious.
  • If you are doing something you love, you don’t want work-life balance.
  • Suffering is a moment of clarity, when you can no longer deny the truth of a situation and are forced into uncomfortable change.
  • say and why? “Desire is a contract that you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.”
  • The Rational Optimist
  • FINIS swim paddles (under $20; hat
  • The best advice is more like, “I can’t answer your question, but this might be a good way for you to think about it.”
  • “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”
  • Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg.
  • The Making of the Atomic Bomb by Richard Rhodes
  • The Baroque Cycle
  • The best skill is to be able to communicate efficiently both in writing and speaking.
  • But my favorite concoction, which I created three years ago, is a medley of cabbage, onion, avocado, and pear. It’s incredibly delicious, extremely healthy, and fast to prepare.
  • The first sign of negativity, for me, is irritation. When I recognize it, right away I save myself and my loved ones a lot of emotional pain by taking time alone. Breathing deeply helps. In between breaths, I have time to slow down and see the thoughts running through my mind as well as see the other person in front of me. I say no to blame, no to complaints, and no to gossip. I also teach my daughter these three rules. If I have nothing positive to say, I don’t say anything. It makes my life easier and happier.
  • backpack [Incase City Collection].
  • Hearos Xtreme Protection NRR 33 work best and are the most comfortable. If you really want to go to extremes to also control light, Lonfrote Deep Molded Sleep Mask is the best for airplanes or anywhere else.
  • I think moving away from my hometown was one of the most fruitful things I ever did. We can’t help but define ourselves in terms of how others see us. So being around nothing but new people allowed me to define myself anew. I’ve since moved back, but the growth I got out of living away was huge.
  • probably understanding how to interpret things that other people are saying in situations where their goals do not fully align with yours. A
  • “What policy was I following that produced this bad outcome, and do I still expect that policy to give the best results overall, occasional bad outcomes notwithstanding?” If yes, then carry on!
  • Thinking in Bets: Making Smarter Decisions When You Don’t Have All the Facts, focuses on strategies for great decision-making.
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.
  • Always take the time to acknowledge people—and not just when you know you have something to gain. If you show interest in them, they will be interested in you. People react to kindness with kindness, to respect with respect. Relationships
  • “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.”—Harry Truman
  • Whenever I am trying to decide whether to accept an invitation, I just pretend it is going to happen tomorrow morning. It is easy to say yes to something happening six months from now, but it has to be super fantastic to get me to go tomorrow morning.
  • The Happiest Baby on the Block by Harvey Karp. If you want to be a hands-on parent and also have some version of a career, this book is gold.
  • I decided that I was going to live my life in three parts—one-third for my business, one-third for my family, one-third for myself.
  • The Scientist in the Crib by Alison Gopnik. I give this to any fellow geek about to have their first child.
  • Raising for Effective Giving, a fundraising organization that raises money for the world’s most cost-effective and globally impactful charities.
  • Map and Territory
  • I write down my goals on my bathroom mirror. I’ve done it with my target body weight, to how much I want to bench, etc. By writing it down every single day, it turns those dreams into obtainable goals.
  • disagreements, and recording all meetings. His estimated net worth is nearly $17 billion. Along with Bill Gates and
  • “Is what I am doing right now aligned with my life’s calling?”
  • Don’t be afraid to ask a question, don’t be afraid to sound stupid.
  • I’ve gotten better at telling my brain “no” when it wants to relate to conversation with a “bigger” story. What I mean is, somebody might be telling me a story about an experience they had, while I have a related story that sounds even bigger or more dramatic than theirs. Rather than wait for a moment to jump in with mine, I’ll just let that desire go and ask them more questions about their experience. What I’ve discovered is incredible: the loss of the opportunity to possibly impress someone is far outweighed by what I learn when I ask more questions.
  • “It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”
  • task, you must do something extraordinary. I have found that my absolute best is the best possible outcome. That is a “win.” To do your best may sound easy, but it is anything but. It requires everything you’ve got . . . and no less. The beauty of it is that it is totally within your control. You can always give your absolute best effort regardless of physical state or circumstances. That, to me, is always a win.
  • Imago Dialogue, created by Dr. Harville Hendrix and Dr. Helen LaKelly Hunt. It’s a structured way to talk with your spouse or significant other,
  • I aim for six to ten reps ranging from 70 to 85 percent of my one-rep max. Then, I’ll do three or four supersets of either (a) 15 to 20 reps of pull-ups and dips, (b) ten reps of bicep curls and tricep extensions, or (c) ten reps of shoulder presses, lateral raises, and front raises. Last, I’ll do my core workout, which includes either (a) four sets of one-minute planks alternated with four sets of sit-ups, leg raises, suitcases, and bicycles or (b) one set each of sit-ups, planks, side planks, and ball knee tucks followed by three sets of side bends.
  • In 2016, I started doing New Month Resolutions [as opposed to New Year Resolutions]. Here’s some of what I did:
  • “If you only engage with people about problems, pretty soon, you’ll become the problem for them,”
  • But I do want to get that culty Japanese journal that all the designers use, a Hobonichi Techo.
  • Bucky neck pillow
  • up saying the same things over and over. Thinking of things that made me happy helps me put aside all the baggage I’ve packed throughout the day,
  • The culture at WWE is a “can do” or “yes” environment.
  • iMask Sleep Eye Mask
  • Being on the road, you deal with lots of traveling that can bog you down, and a lot of bad food options, which means you can’t control all the variables around you. At home, you would have your juice spot, your gym, and your market where you can shop every day, so you can eat the right foods and keep your life in balance. One thing that I do on the road is “Aoki Bootcamp,” which utilizes accountability between the people I travel with to meet a certain goal every single day. We set a certain number of repetitions to complete each day, such as push-ups, sit-ups, etc., and even have a WhatsApp group chat to show evidence that we did the workouts. Beyond exercise, it also crosses into food, because it is not just about the workout you do but also about your diet. We have a list of foods that we can’t eat, and if you eat them, then you have to add 15 more repetitions to your workout to account for it. So, each day, we do our best to eat properly and exercise and meet these goals. That’s the underlying philosophy of Aoki Bootcamp: to use group accountability to meet these goals for food, nutrition, and workouts.
  • Writing out the distractions list was a real game changer and what finally made the concept of a Premack work for me. Makes it all so fácil.
  • I’m rarely too busy, if you can keep the right attitude about it, which is, “I can definitely say I am living my life to the fullest.”
  • It was called Nine Gates Mystery School.
  • The Wisdom of the Enneagram
  • Honor your moods not by forcing a different reality, but by just letting them be.
  • Then I have a one- to two-minute, three-step process: I spend about 15 to 30 seconds affirming that it’s natural to feel this discomfort. I may have a big talk coming up or a deadline. You are supposed to be scared when you’re doing big things—okay? Acknowledging this can be life-changing. I spend the next 15 to 30 seconds being curious about what my current relationship is with that discomfort. If the anxiety seems out of proportion to the situation, or if it seems irrational in any way, that means I’ve been ignoring fear and thus it’s starting to speak louder or act out. If this is the case, I give it my full attention then, and ask what it’s been trying to say to me that I haven’t acknowledged (e.g., “Write a new speech; the one you have sucks.” Or, “You forgot to call your mother”). Being such a great advisor, I use this time with fear to juice its knowledge like you would juice an orange. Then, I spend as long as it takes to feel it. Now, this is important: I don’t try to get rid of it. That is not what this is about, because that would be disrespectful to fear. The key is to feel the feeling by spending some time with it, like you would with your dog, friend, or lover. I usually do this for about 30 to 60 seconds. After which, fear, feeling acknowledged and heard, often dissipates.
  • The power broker in your life is the voice that no one ever hears. How well you revisit the tone and content of your private voice is what determines the quality of your life. It is the master storyteller, and the stories we tell ourselves are our reality.
  • focus on what’s in front of you, design great days to create a great life, and try not to make the same mistake twice.
  • What would this look like if it were easy?
  • tim.blog/booklist
  • tim.blog/spin

 

 

Book: Life Principles

9781501124020_p1_v3_s550x406Ray Dalio is one of the most successful investors in the world. Tony Robbins and Tim Ferris call him the Steve Jobs of investing.

He argues that there most of the hard problems in life are „another one of those”. Situation is somewhat similar to a pattern recognized before and the real trick is to correctly identify the pattern and auto play the correct behavior.

By using the same tactic in his investment work, he analyzed how asset classes perform in certain situations and what usually leads to an economic downturn.

By properly recognizing the signs and probable outcomes, his firm has become a worlds largest hedge fund – Bridgewater Associates.

He calls his learnings „principles” and when he cans, he tries to make them into computer algorithms because computers are so much better than people at avoiding cognitive biases.

The methaphors used thought this book speak to me very strongly. He uses the metaphor „machine” for life circumstantces and argues that you can either be a cog or look at it from a higher level and design it. You are a worker in the machine, but you always have the power to zoom out and design the machine itself.

Amazon link

The book has 2 parts: Life principles and Work principles. This post is about the first one – life.

Small notes:

  • I really need to write my own principles and playbooks for different scenarios that occur often in life
  • Biggest motivator to change is the pain you feel after the mistake. That is why it is very crucial not to run away from it, but use it as a cue to change behavior.
  • Kindness instead of truth is sometimes tricky because it leads to dishonesty and that – to poor communication

Habits, again.

This comes over and over again. The key to success is helpful habits.

Every habit consists of Cue, Behaviour and reward. Identyfying proper cues and rewarding behavior gets you there.

 

This book is essentially a goldmine. I truly can have no hope of summarizing it. Highlights speak for themselves.

 

My highlights

  • Whatever success I’ve had in life has had more to do with my knowing how to deal with my not knowing than anything I know.
  • reflect on and write down my decision-making criteria whenever I made a decision,
  • My most obvious weakness was my bad rote memory. I couldn’t, and still can’t, remember facts that don’t have reasons for being what they are
  • great is better than terrible, and terrible is better than mediocre, because terrible at least gives life flavor.
  • My business has always been a way to get me into exotic places and allow me to meet interesting people. If I make any money from those trips, that’s just icing on the cake.
  • I believe one of the most valuable things you can do to improve your decision making is to think through your principles for making decisions, write them out in both words and computer algorithms, back-test them if possible, and use them on a real-time basis to run in parallel with your brain’s decision making.
  • I never valued more traditional, antiseptic relationships where people put on a façade of politeness and don’t say what they really think.
  • believe that all organizations basically have two types of people: those who work to be part of a mission, and those who work for a paycheck.
  • Moreover, I recognized that managers who do not understand people’s different thinking styles cannot understand how the people working for them will handle different situations,
  • matching the right types of people to the right types of situations is key.
  • “Capable people are those who sit there worrying about the future. The unwise are those who worry about nothing.
  • a. Dreams + Reality + Determination = A Successful Life.
  • 1.2 Truth—or, more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality—is the essential foundation for any good outcome.
  • Besides giving me the freedom to be me, it has allowed me to understand others and for them to understand me, which is much more efficient and much more enjoyable than not having this understanding.
  • Don’t get hung up on your views of how things “should” be because you will miss out on learning how they really are.
  • Whenever I observe something in nature that I (or mankind) think is wrong, I assume that I’m wrong and try to figure out why what nature is doing makes sense.
  • now realize that nature optimizes for the whole, not for the individual, but most people judge good and bad based only on how it affects them.
  • To be “good” something must operate consistently with the laws of reality and contribute to the evolution of the whole; that is what is most rewarded.
  • So rather than getting stuck hiding our mistakes and pretending we’re perfect, it makes sense to find our imperfections and deal with them. You will either learn valuable lessons from your mistakes and press on, better equipped to succeed—or you won’t and you will fail.
  • The individual’s incentives must be aligned with the group’s goals.
  • Contribute to the whole and you will likely be rewarded.
  • It is a great paradox that individually we are simultaneously everything and nothing.
  • I realized that most everything that at first seemed “bad” to me—like rainy days, weaknesses, and even death—was because I held preconceived notions of what I personally wanted.
  • But if you can remember to reflect after it passes, that’s valuable too. (I created a Pain Button app to help people do this, which I describe in the appendix.)
  • If you don’t let up on yourself and instead become comfortable always operating with some level of pain, you will evolve at a faster pace.
  • you have the opportunity to choose healthy and painful truth or
  • At some point in your life you will crash in a big way.
  • Look at the machine from the higher level.
  • One of the hardest things for people to do is to objectively look down on themselves within their circumstances (i.e., their machine) so that they can act as the machine’s designer and manager.
  • You shouldn’t be upset if you find out that you’re bad at something—you should be happy that you found out, because knowing that and dealing with it will improve your chances of getting what you want.
  • Don’t confuse what you wish were true with what is really true.
  • Don’t overweight first-order consequences relative to second- and third-order ones.
  • Dawkins’s River Out of Eden.
  • Achieving goals
    • 1. Have clear goals.
    • 2. Identify and don’t tolerate the problems that stand in the way of your achieving those goals.
    • 3. Accurately diagnose the problems to get at their root causes.
    • 4. Design plans that will get you around them.
    • 5. Do what’s necessary to push these designs through to results.
  • For example, when setting goals, just set goals.
  • Decide what you really want in life by reconciling your goals and your desires.
  • Remember that great expectations create great capabilities.
  • Focus on the “what is” before deciding “what to do about it.”
  • Everyone has at least one big thing that stands in the way of their success; find yours and deal with
  • The two biggest barriers to good decision making are your ego and your blind spots.
  • Sincerely believe that you might not know the best possible path and recognize that your ability to deal well with “not knowing” is more important than whatever it is you do know.
  • Radically open-minded people know that coming up with the right questions and asking other smart people what they think is as important as having all the answers.
  • Don’t worry about looking good; worry about achieving your goal.
  • That is because what exists within the area of “not knowing” is so much greater and more exciting than anything any one of us knows.
  • Be clear on whether you are arguing or seeking to understand, and think about which is most appropriate based on your and others’ believability.
  • you should make it clear that you are asking questions because you are seeking to understand their perspective.
  • also recommend that both parties observe a “two-minute rule” in which neither interrupts the other, so they both have time to get all their thoughts out.
  • a. Plan for the worst-case scenario to make it as good as possible.
  • right then and there I called the other doctor to see what each would say about the other’s views.
  • Recognize the signs of closed-mindedness and open-mindedness that you should watch out for.
  • circumstances, truly open-minded people, even the most believable people I know, always ask a lot of questions.
  • Nonbelievable people often tell me that their statements are actually implicit questions, though they’re phrased as low-confidence statements. While that’s sometimes true, in my experience it’s more often not.
  • 3. Closed-minded people focus much more on being understood than on understanding others.
  • 4. Closed-minded people say things like “I could be wrong . . . but here’s my opinion.” This is a classic cue I hear all the time. It’s often a perfunctory gesture that allows people to hold their own opinion while convincing themselves that they are being open-minded.
  • Mental pain often comes from being too attached to an idea when a person or an event comes along to challenge it.
  • Make being open-minded a habit.
  • If you consistently use feelings of anger/frustration as cues to calm down, slow down, and approach the subject at hand thoughtfully,
  • Get to know your blind spots. When you are closed-minded and form an opinion in an area where you have a blind spot, it can be deadly. So take some time to record the circumstances in which you’ve consistently made bad decisions because you failed to see what others saw.
  • This led to one of my most valuable management tools: Baseball Cards,
  • like “conceptual,” “reliable,” “creative,” and “determined”; the
  • while many people have an instinctual fear of snakes, no one has an instinctual fear of flowers.
  • The Spiritual Brain
  • Beyond Religion,
  • Choose your habits well.
  • The most valuable habit I’ve acquired is using pain to trigger quality reflections.
  • Our experience has been that left-brained folks tend to see right-brained folks as “spacey” or “abstract,” while right-brained thinkers tend to find left-brained thinkers “literal” or “narrow.”
  • barry bassbal cards
  • Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), the Workplace Personality Inventory, the Team Dimensions Profile, and Stratified Systems Theory.
  • Introversion vs. extroversion. Introverts
  • Intuiting vs. sensing.
  • Thinking vs. feeling.
  • Planning vs. perceiving.
  • Creators vs. refiners vs. advancers vs. executors vs. flexors.
  • Never seize on the first available option, no matter how good it seems, before you’ve asked questions and explored.
  • Everything looks bigger up close.
  • it is smarter to choose the great over the new.
  • Be an imperfectionist.
  • When a line of reasoning is jumbled and confusing, it’s often because the speaker has gotten caught up in below-the-line details without connecting them back to the major points.
  • “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
  • 5.6 Make your decisions as expected value calculations.
  • Let’s say the reward for being right is $100 and its probability is 60 percent, while the penalty for being wrong is also $100. If you multiply the reward by the probability of being right you get $60 and if you multiply the penalty by the probability of being wrong (40 percent) you get $40. If you subtract the penalty from the reward, the difference is the expected value, which in this case is positive (+$20).
  • Convert your principles into algorithms and have the computer make decisions alongside you.
  • setting goals, identifying and not tolerating problems, diagnosing problems, coming up with designs to get around them, and then doing the tasks required.

 

SUMMARY AND TABLE OF LIFE PRINCIPLES

  • Think for yourself to decide
    • 1) what you want,
    • 2) what is true, and
    • 3) what you should do to achieve #1 in light of #2, and do that with humility and open-mindedness so that you consider the best thinking available to you.
  • LIFE PRINCIPLES INTRODUCTION
    • • Look to the patterns of those things that affect you in order to understand the cause-effect relationships that drive them and to learn principles for dealing with them effectively.

PART II: LIFE PRINCIPLES

  • 1 Embrace Reality and Deal with It
    • 1.1 Be a hyperrealist.
      • a. Dreams + Reality + Determination = A Successful Life.
    • 1.2 Truth—or, more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality—is the essential foundation for any good outcome.
    • 1.3 Be radically open-minded and radically transparent.
      • a. Radical open-mindedness and radical transparency are invaluable for rapid learning and effective change.
      • b. Don’t let fears of what others think of you stand in your way.
      • c. Embracing radical truth and radical transparency will bring more meaningful work and more meaningful relationships
    • 1.4 Look to nature to learn how reality works.
      • a. Don’t get hung up on your views of how things “should” be because you will miss out on learning how they really are.
      • b. To be “good,” something must operate consistently with the laws of reality and contribute to the evolution of the whole; that is what is most rewarded.
      • c. Evolution is the single greatest force in the universe; it is the only thing that is permanent and it drives everything.
      • d. Evolve or die.
    • 1.5 Evolving is life’s greatest accomplishment and its greatest reward.
      • a. The individual’s incentives must be aligned with the group’s goals.
      • b. Reality is optimizing for the whole—not for you.
      • c. Adaptation through rapid trial and error is invaluable.
      • d. Realize that you are simultaneously everything and nothing—and decide what you want to be.
      • e. What you will be will depend on the perspective you have.
    • 1.6 Understand nature’s practical lessons.
      • a. Maximize your evolution.
      • b. Remember “no pain, no gain.”
      • c. It is a fundamental law of nature that in order to gain strength one has to push one’s limits, which is painful.
    • 1.7 Pain + Reflection = Progress.
      • a. Go to the pain rather than avoid it.
      • b. Embrace tough love.
    • 1.8 Weigh second- and third-order consequences.
    • 1.9 Own your outcomes.
    • 1.10 Look at the machine from the higher level.
      • a. Think of yourself as a machine operating within a machine and know that you have the ability to alter your machines to produce better outcomes.
      • b. By comparing your outcomes with your goals, you can determine how to modify your machine.
      • c. Distinguish between you as the designer of your machine and you as a worker with your machine.
      • d. The biggest mistake most people make is to not see themselves and others objectively, which leads them to bump into their own and others’ weaknesses again and again.
      • e. Successful people are those who can go above themselves to see things objectively and manage those things to shape change.
      • f. Asking others who are strong in areas where you are weak to help you is a great skill that you should develop no matter what, as it will help you develop guardrails that will prevent you from doing what you shouldn’t be doing.
      • g. Because it is difficult to see oneself objectively, you need to rely on the input of others and the whole body of evidence.
      • h. If you are open-minded enough and determined, you can get virtually anything you want.
  •  2 Use the 5-Step Process to Get What You Want Out of Life
    • 2.1 Have clear goals.
      • a. Prioritize: While you can have virtually anything you want, you can’t have everything you want.
      • b. Don’t confuse goals with desires.
      • c. Decide what you really want in life by reconciling your goals and your desires.
      • d. Don’t mistake the trappings of success for success itself.
      • e. Never rule out a goal because you think it’s unattainable.
      • f. Remember that great expectations create great capabilities.
      • g. Almost nothing can stop you from succeeding if you have
        • a) flexibility and
        • b) self-accountability.
      • h. Knowing how to deal well with your setbacks is as important as knowing how to move forward.
    • 2.2 Identify and don’t tolerate problems.
      • a. View painful problems as potential improvements that are screaming at you.
      • b. Don’t avoid confronting problems because they are rooted in harsh realities that are unpleasant to look at.
      • c. Be specific in identifying your problems.
      • d. Don’t mistake a cause of a problem with the real problem.
      • e. Distinguish big problems from small ones.
      • f. Once you identify a problem, don’t tolerate it.
    • 2.3 Diagnose problems to get at their root causes.
      • a. Focus on the “what is” before deciding “what to do about it.”
      • b. Distinguish proximate causes from root causes.
      • c. Recognize that knowing what someone (including you) is like will tell you what you can expect from them.
    • 2.4 Design a plan.
      •  a. Go back before you go forward.
      • b. Think about your problem as a set of outcomes produced by a machine.
      • c. Remember that there are typically many paths to achieving your goals.
      • d. Think of your plan as being like a movie script in that you visualize who will do what through time.
      • e. Write down your plan for everyone to see and to measure your progress against.
      • f. Recognize that it doesn’t take a lot of time to design a good plan.
    • 2.5 Push through to completion.
      • a. Great planners who don’t execute their plans go nowhere.
      • b. Good work habits are vastly underrated.
      • c. Establish clear metrics to make certain that you are following your plan.
    • 2.6 Remember that weaknesses don’t matter if you find solutions.
      • a. Look at the patterns of your mistakes and identify at which step in the 5-Step Process you typically fail.
      • b. Everyone has at least one big thing that stands in the way of their success; find yours and deal with it.
    • 2.7 Understand your own and others’ mental maps and humility.
  • 3 Be Radically Open-Minded
    • 3.1 Recognize your two barriers.
      • a. Understand your ego barrier.
      • b. Your two “yous” fight to control you.
      • c. Understand your blind spot barrier.
    • 3.2 Practice radical open-mindedness.
      • a. Sincerely believe that you might not know the best possible path and recognize that your ability to deal well with “not knowing” is more important than whatever it is you do know.
      • b. Recognize that decision making is a two-step process: First take in all the relevant information, then decide.
      • c. Don’t worry about looking good; worry about achieving your goal.
      • d. Realize that you can’t put out without taking in.
      • e. Recognize that to gain the perspective that comes from seeing things through another’s eyes, you must suspend judgment for a time—only by empathizing can you properly evaluate another point of view.
      • f. Remember that you’re looking for the best answer, not simply the best answer that you can come up with yourself.
      • g. Be clear on whether you are arguing or seeking to understand, and think about which is most appropriate based on your and others’ believability.
    • 3.3  Appreciate the art of thoughtful disagreement.
    • 3.4 Triangulate your view with believable people who are willing to disagree.
      • a. Plan for the worst-case scenario to make it as good as possible.
    • 3.5 Recognize the signs of closed-mindedness and open-mindedness that you should watch out for.
    • 3.6 Understand how you can become radically open-minded.
      • a. Regularly use pain as your guide toward quality reflection.
      • b. Make being open-minded a habit.
      • c. Get to know your blind spots.
      • d. If a number of different believable people say you are doing something wrong and you are the only one who doesn’t see it that way, assume that you are probably biased.
      • e. Meditate.
      • f. Be evidence-based and encourage others to be the same.
      • g. Do everything in your power to help others also be open-minded.
      • h. Use evidence-based decision-making tools.
      • i. Know when it’s best to stop fighting and have faith in your decision-making process.
  • 4 Understand That People Are Wired Very Differently
    • 4.1 Understand the power that comes from knowing how you and others are wired.
      • a. We are born with attributes that can both help us and hurt us, depending on their application.
    • 4.2 Meaningful work and meaningful relationships aren’t just nice things we chose for ourselves—they are genetically programmed into us.
    • 4.3 Understand the great brain battles and how to control them to get what “you” want.
      • a. Realize that the conscious mind is in a battle with the subconscious mind.
      • b. Know that the most constant struggle is between feeling and thinking.
      • c. Reconcile your feelings and your thinking.
      • d. Choose your habits well.
      •  e. Train your “lower-level you” with kindness and persistence to build the right habits.
      • f. Understand the differences between right-brained and left-brained thinking.
      • g. Understand how much the brain can and cannot change.
    • 4.4 Find out what you and others are like.
      • a. Introversion vs. extroversion.
      • b. Intuiting vs. sensing.
      • c. Thinking vs. feeling.
      • d. Planning vs. perceiving.
      • e. Creators vs. refiners vs. advancers vs. executors vs. flexors.
      • f. Focusing on tasks vs. focusing on goals.
      • g. Workplace Personality Inventory.
      • h. Shapers are people who can go from visualization to actualization.
    • 4.5 Getting the right people in the right roles in support of your goal is the key to succeeding at whatever you choose to accomplish.
      • a. Manage yourself and orchestrate others to get what you want.
  • 5 Learn How to Make Decisions Effectively
    • 5.1 Recognize that
      • 1) the biggest threat to good decision making is harmful emotions, and
      • 2) decision making is a two-step process (first learning and then deciding).
    • 5.2 Synthesize the situation at hand.
      • a. One of the most important decisions you can make is who you ask questions of.
      • b. Don’t believe everything you hear.
      • c. Everything looks bigger up close.
      • d. New is overvalued relative to great.
      • e. Don’t oversqueeze dots.
    • 5.3 Synthesize the situation through time.
      • a. Keep in mind both the rates of change and the levels of things, and the relationships between them.
      • b. Be imprecise.
      • c. Remember the 80/20 Rule and know what the key 20 percent is.
      • d. Be an imperfectionist.
    • 5.4 Navigate levels effectively.
      • a. Use the terms “above the line” and “below the line” to establish which level a conversation is on.
      • b. Remember that decisions need to be made at the appropriate level, but they should also be consistent across levels.
    • 5.5 Logic, reason, and common sense are your best tools for synthesizing reality and understanding what to do about it.
    • 5.6 Make your decisions as expected value calculations.
      • a. Raising the probability of being right is valuable no matter what your probability of being right already is.
      • b. Knowing when not to bet is as important as knowing what bets are probably worth making.
      • c. The best choices are the ones that have more pros than cons, not those that don’t have any cons at all.
    • 5.7 Prioritize by weighing the value of additional information against the cost of not deciding.
      • a. All of your “must-dos” must be above the bar before you do your “like-to-dos.”
      • b. Chances are you won’t have time to deal with the unimportant things, which is better than not having time to deal with the important things.
      • c. Don’t mistake possibilities for probabilities.
    • 5.8 Simplify!
    • 5.9 Use principles.
    • 5.10 Believability weight your decision making.
    • 5.11 Convert your principles into algorithms and have the computer make decisions alongside you.
    • 5.12 Be cautious about trusting AI without having deep understanding.

 

Work Principles

I did start on “Work principles” part, but I had to stop to take a breathe 🙂

  • Don’t let loyalty to people stand in the way of truth and the well-being of the organization
  • Speak up, own it, or get out
  • Distinguish between idle complaints and complaints meant to lead to improvement
  • but I often hear people complaining about the style or tone of a criticism in order to deflect from its substance. If you think someone’s style is an issue, box it as a separate issue to get in sync on.
  • Use “double-do” rather than “double-check” to make sure mission-critical tasks are done correctly.

 

 

 

#171 Ride Royal Enfield in India

Royal Enfield just…. Looks how a bike should look like. I don’t know how to explain it better. Also, it is the Harley Davidson of India. First Royal Enfields were bikes used by British army to move around. They are an institution.

This is my Bucketlist item 171.

My friend Rahul rented one and went with me for a ride in Udaipur – an amazing city in Rajasthan.  The cold morning air. Rajasthani sun, Indian traffic and herds of 🐮 in the streets were all an amazing experience. Also, it was the first time I rode an actual bike with the clutch!

 

 

 

 

 

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Did I mention that I had a chance to present in Mumbai?

 

Leonardo Da Vinci

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Leonardo Da Vinci has an Uberman fame. He painted the most acclaimed painting in history, designed war machines, perfect cities, airplanes, submarines and bridges. He discovered how human aortic valve really worked, authored one of the best medical illustrations in history, fathered modern map making… The list goes on and introducing him is not really necessary.

Amazon Link

Leonardo’s history

Leonardo was a son of a notary. Because he was illegitimate, he was never sent to actual notary school and that seemed to work out in his favor. He was able to pursue his own interests and discover the world on his own terms. His father, Piero could have legitimized him and there are theories why he didn’t. One of them is that Leonardo would be a terrible notary.

At age 14, Leonardo was an apprentice in Andrea del Verocchio’s workshop, where he painted, helped create fabulous shows that dazzled whole of Florence and dabbled in many other arts.

One of the common exercises in Verocchio’s workshop was painting draperies over object – something Leonardo became very proficient at and in every painting there are curls, fabrics and curved surfaces.

Many of the mechanical designs that he created could have been destined for theatrical shows. Something that was very popular both in Florence and in Milan, where Leonardo later moved. His move to Milan was in part motivated by his search of a benevolent patron. In Milan, Ludovico Sforza wanted to cement his grip on the throne and kept a substantial court. With the move, Leonardo was seeking to reinvent himself. He presented his abilities as an engineer first and painter last.

In Milan, he met Luca Pacioli – a matematician – and a wider circle of collaborators. That circle became interested in works of Vitruvius – Roman military engineer who wrote treaties on architecture.

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Vitruvius argued, that buildings should keep the proportions of a human body.

That idea captivated Leonardo.  He started measuring tens of subjects and wrote a detailed stock of human proportion. When he was done with analysis, he draw a Vitruvian Man – one of the most incredible drawings in history.

In Vitruvian Man, there are hints of Leonardo’s another obsession – squaring the circle. Pi haven’t been discovered yet and Leonardo tried to find a square that has the same surface as the circle and failed.

In Milan he also painted „Lady with an Ermine” – one of the most expressive paintings of the era implementing a unique concept of subjects showing emotion.

Cecilia Gallerani – lady in painting was Ludovico Sforza’s lover and the piece is hanging in Cracow, Poland.

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The Last supper was another masterpiece he created at that time. The painting through clever tricks of perspective and his acute eye is telling a story of the moment Jesus prophecies his betrayal.

Renaissance in Italy was a tumultuous time and Leonardo found himself under the wing of Cesare Borgia and Niccolo Machiavelli. Cesare was incredibly powerful, cruel and effective politician. Macchiavelli’s prince is based on him. With Borgia’s conquests, Leonardo hoped to realize his dreams of military projects. His big contribution were extremely detailed and easy to read maps. Before Leonardo, maps weren’t drawn from a bird perspective.

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But Borgia’s cruelty was too much for Leonardo so he went back to Florence, where Michelangelo was a rising star. The had a competition to paint „Battle of Anghiari”, but neither one of them finished the mural.

After Florence, he went back to Milan and later he joined the court of the French King – Francis I. He was a real admirer of Leonardo, gave him estate in Clos-Luce, close to Amboise and a title “First Painter, Engineer, and Architect to the King,”.

I had a chance to visit Clos-Luce and Amboise

Relentless curiosity

The relentless of his curiosity was impressive and hard to pull off, but he didn’t posses some god-like superpowers. He was a smart, curious man that worked hard on improving his understanding of the world.

But how being curious has led to Mona Lisa, it had to be talent, right?

You seem to underestimate the power of curiosity.687px-mona_lisa2c_by_leonardo_da_vinci2c_from_c2rmf_retouched

  • He was deeply interested in motion and emotion. His paintings were an exercise in showing emotions through body,
  • In his dissections he discovered that eye has 2 different light receptors, so he engineered a smile that is visible only while looking indirectly. Once you focus on Mona Lisa’s mouth, the upturned corners disappear and she is no longer smiling,
  • He studied light and reflection and stumbled upon lead white undercoating that can reflect light through translucent layers of paintings. His art not only looks 3d, it really is.
  • His sfumato technique of blurring edges comes from observation that the eye has no single point of focus. With wide surface area it is impossible to hold 1 exact point in focus, so every edge we see has to be blurred,

All the little tricks that come together in this masterpiece are a result of a passionately curious mind who worked to discover inner working of the world and applied the findings in this painting.

Businessman vs Inventor

He left impressive amount of things unfinished. Battle of Anghiari, treaties on architecture, perfect city, anatomy and water.

Once he understood how something worked, he moved on instead of investing effort into disseminating his findings. World could have been much further along if he were to share his understanding of it.

Many think he was wasting time. That the tangents he went on were hurting his productiivity. Like Thomas edison, Leonardo’s biggest drive was curiosity. Once that was satisfied, he had no big desire to make business work, fulfill commissions on his masterpieces or to deal with uninteresting minutiae.

My immediate takeaway on this is that Inventor can’t be a businessman. It’s just an issue of optimizing function. If you prioritize curiosity over business workings, you will understandably let go of the „good deal” in favor of „interesting thing”.

But what about Elon Musk? Surely he is an inventor!

Ahh, the good ol’ halo effect. Elon Musk deals with technology and is immensely successful, hence he is an inventor!

No, he is not. Elon is VERY impressive person, but his impressive track record and what he is doing right now comes from focus and making it a great business. For Elon, everything is means to an end – that end being saving human race. I would say Elon is more impressive than Leonardo, but that is a topic for another post.

Elon is businessman, hustler, manager. He makes things work and he is good at it.

Leonardo was an observator, recipient, he found ways to marry different branches of knowledge and gain insights. But once he found out, he had no desire to apply it. He moved on because world has so much more to offer.

My highlights

  • ability to make connections across disciplines—arts and sciences, humanities and technology—is a key to innovation, imagination, and genius.
  • “the most relentlessly curious man in history.”
  • One of them, dating from the 1490s in Milan, is that day’s
  • “Observe the goose’s foot:
  • “Inflate the lungs of a pig and observe whether they increase in width and in length, or only in width.”
  • That remnds me of 10 weird things eritten by altucher
  • I did learn from Leonardo how a desire to marvel about the world that we encounter each day can make each moment of our lives richer.
  • He went off on tangents, literally, pursuing math problems that became time-sucking diversions. Notoriously, he left many of his paintings unfinished, most
  • Leonardo’s relentless curiosity and experimentation should remind us of the importance of instilling, in both ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it—to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different. The town of Vinci and the church where Leonardo was baptized.
  • This was fortunate. He would have made a poor notary: he got bored and distracted too easily, especially when a project became routine rather than creative.14
  • His lack of reverence for authority and his willingness to challenge received wisdom would lead him to craft an empirical approach for understanding nature that foreshadowed the scientific method developed more than a century later by Bacon and Galileo.
  • Verrocchio’s
  • The painted scenery and backdrops had to be unified with the three-dimensional stage settings, props, moving objects, and actors.
  • He was a genius undisciplined by diligence.
  • Leonardo was following a practice that had become popular in Renaissance Italy of keeping a commonplace and sketch book, known as a zibaldone. But
  • His notebooks have been rightly called “the most astonishing testament to the powers of human observation and imagination ever set down on paper.”
  • Leonardo da Vinci’s entrée into the court of Ludovico Sforza came not as an architect or engineer but as a producer of pageants.
  • He would walk the streets with a notebook dangling from his belt, find a group of people with exaggerated features who would make good models, and invite them over for supper. “Sitting close to them,” his early biographer Lomazzo recounted, “Leonardo then proceeded to tell the maddest and most ridiculous tales imaginable, making them laugh uproariously. He observed all their gestures very attentively and those ridiculous things they were doing, and impressed them on his mind; and after they had left, he retired to his room and there made a perfect drawing.” Lomazzo
  • Applying this analogy to the design of temples, Vitruvius decreed that the layout should reflect the proportions of a human body, as if the body were laid out flat on its back upon the geometric forms of the floor plan.
  • After detailing human proportions, Vitruvius went on to describe, in a memorable visualization, a way to put a man in a circle and square in order to determine the ideal proportion of a church:
  • Ideas are often generated in physical gathering places where people with diverse interests encounter one another serendipitously. That is why Steve Jobs liked his buildings to have a central atrium and why the young Benjamin Franklin founded a club where the most interesting people of Philadelphia would gather every Friday. At
  • Even though it was typical of him, we still should marvel that he would decide that before sculpting a horse he had to dissect one.
  • The cannons would end up doing little good, for the French would easily conquer Milan in 1499. And when they did, the French archers used Leonardo’s huge clay model for target practice, destroying it.
  • “He who has access to the fountain does not go to the water-jar,” he wrote.
  • in the middle of one notebook page where he copied 130 words, he drew his nutcracker man scowling and grimacing more than usual
  • He was constantly peppering acquaintances with the type of questions we should all learn to pose more often. “Ask Benedetto Portinari how they walk on ice in Flanders,” reads one
  • He preferred to induce from experiments rather than deduce from theoretical principles. “My intention is to consult experience first, and then with reasoning show why such experience is bound to operate in such a way,”
  • assure their validity: “Before you make
  • his uncanny abilities to engage in the dialogue between experience and theory made him a prime example of how acute observations, fanatic curiosity, experimental testing, a willingness to question dogma, and the ability to discern patterns across disciplines can lead to great leaps in human understanding.
  • Let’s pause to marvel at Leonardo walking out in the evening, no doubt dandily dressed, standing at the edge of a moat, intensely watching the motions of each of the four wings of a dragonfly.
  • He compared it to looking at the page of a book, which is meaningless when taken in as a whole and instead needs to be looked at word by word.
  • But for all the beauty of his art and all the ingenuity of his designs, he was never able to create a self-propelled human flying machine. To be fair, after five hundred years nobody else has either.
  • A major enterprise of the late Renaissance was finding a way to equalize the power of an unwinding spring.
  • Leonardo also invented a machine designed to grind needles, which would have been a valuable contribution to the textile industries of Italy.
  • Coming up with the conception was enough for him.
  • “Among the impossible delusions of man is the search for continuous motion, called by some perpetual wheel,” he wrote in the introduction to his Codex Madrid I. “Speculators on perpetual motion, how many vain chimeras you have created in this quest!”
  • All movements in the universe—of human limbs and of cogs in machines, of blood in our veins and of water in rivers—operate according to the same laws, he concluded. These laws are analogous; the motions in one realm can be compared to those in another realm,
  • “Man is a machine, a bird is a machine, the whole universe is a machine,” wrote Marco Cianchi in an analysis of Leonardo’s devices.18
  • Not having access to algebra, he instead used geometry to describe the rate of change caused by a variable. For example, he used triangles and pyramids to represent rates of change in the velocity of falling objects, the volume of sounds, and the perspective view of distant objects. “Proportion
  • His sixty illustrations for Pacioli were the only drawings he published during his lifetime.
  • In popular lore, including in Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, the golden ratio is found throughout Leonardo’s art.11 If so, it is doubtful it was intentional.
  • These obsessions led Leonardo to an ancient riddle described by Vitruvius, Euripides, and others. Faced with a plague in the fifth century BC, the citizens of Delos consulted the oracle of Delphi. They were told that the plague would end if they found a mathematical way to precisely double the size of the altar to Apollo, which was shaped as a cube.
  • lifelong association with Florence’s hospital of Santa Maria Nuova.3
  • When he moved to Milan, he discovered that the study of anatomy there was pursued primarily by medical scholars rather than by artists.
  • If there were not so much else to remember him for, Leonardo could have been celebrated as a pioneer of dentistry.
  • he became the first person in history to describe fully the human dental elements, including a depiction of the roots that is almost perfect.
  • Appended is a note about his experience pithing a frog, the first scientist to record doing what is now a staple of biology classes.
  • Such obsession is a component of genius
  • An object will display the greatest difference of light and shade when it is seen in the strongest light. . .
  • But this should not be much used in painting, because the works would be crude and ungraceful.
  • “first modern portrait” and “the first painting in European art to introduce the idea that a portrait may express the sitter’s thoughts through posture and gestures.”
  • Lady with an Ermine, Cecilia Gallerani.
  • because the mind is stimulated to new inventions by obscure things.9
  • Leonardo had a higher standard for using the word finished,
  • He came to understand that the use of shadows, not lines, was the secret to modeling three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface.
  • “The line forming the boundary of a surface is of invisible thickness. Therefore, O painter, do not surround your bodies with lines.”
  • Leonardo’s insistence that all boundaries, both in nature and in art, are blurred led him to become the pioneer of sfumato, the technique of using hazy and smoky outlines such as those so notable in the Mona Lisa.
  • One experiment he did, which was drawn from the work of the eleventh-century Arab mathematician Alhazen, was to move a needle closer and closer to one eye. As it gets near, it does not completely block the vision from the eye, as it would if sight were processed in only a single point on the retina.
  • A wall-size painting, as he would soon show, requires a mix of natural perspective with “artificial perspective.”
  • Italy was then, as now, a nation of hand-gesture enthusiasts,
  • and Leonardo in his notebooks recorded a variety of them.
  • He had learned how much could be communicated by gestures by watching Cristoforo de’ Predis, the deaf brother of his painting partners in Milan.
  • Gestures were also important to the monks who ate in the Santa Maria delle Grazie dining hall because they were obliged to observe silence many hours of the day, including at most meals.
  • The day after his arrival, the king went to see The Last Supper, and he even asked whether it might be possible to cart it back to France.
  • town. It is a delightful image: Leonardo in an Arab hooded cloak or strolling in purple and pink garb, heavy on the satin and velvet. He was tailor-made for a Florence
  • It’s reassuring to discover that Leonardo spent as much on books as he did on clothes.
  • the notoriously beautiful and evil Lucrezia Borgia, who was married to Isabella’s brother.
  • Painting a conventional portrait for a pushy patron did not interest him. Nor did money motivate him. He painted portraits if the subject struck his fancy, such
  • “Leonardo da Vinci’s ultimate masterpiece” (l’ultime chef d’oeuvre) in the title of the catalogue published by the Louvre for a 2012 exhibition celebrating its restoration—this from the museum that also owns the Mona Lisa.2
  • Ideas for building better wheelbarrows was a topic he had covered in one of his draft treatises on mechanics.
  • For three months during the winter of 1502–3, as if in a historical fantasy movie, three of the most fascinating figures of the Renaissance—a brutal and power-crazed son of a pope, a sly and amoral writer-diplomat, and a dazzling painter yearning to be an engineer—were holed up in a tiny fortified walled town that was approximately five blocks wide and eight blocks long.
  • Leonardo dutifully placed the account in his notebook (using a spare bit of the page to draw a new idea for hinged wings of a flying machine), and then proceeded to ignore it.2
  • And the foremost patron there was the one who loved Leonardo the most, Charles d’Amboise, the French royal governor who had written a flowery letter reminding the Florentines how brilliant their native son was.
  • “It was a variety of employment which Leonardo enjoyed, but which has left posterity the poorer.”21
  • describe “the jaw of the crocodile.” Once again, if we follow his curiosity, rather than merely be amused by it, we can see that he was on to an important topic.
  • So here is another secret to Leonardo’s unique ability to paint a facial expression: he is probably the only artist in history ever to dissect with his own hands the face of a human and that of a horse to see if the muscles that move human lips are the same ones that can raise the nostrils of the nose.
  • The aortic valve.
  • His genius and creativity had always come from proceeding without preconceptions.
  • He was able to avoid pedantry by regularly bringing his theories down to earth, so to speak, and tying them to practical applications. As
  • “When you put together the science of the motions of water, remember to include under each proposition its application, in order that this science may not be useless.”15
  • even though calculus had not yet been invented, he seemed to sense the need for such a mathematics of continuous quantities.
  • That willingness to surrender preconceptions was key to his creativity.
  • Il sole nó si muóve. The sun does not move. These words of Leonardo are written in unusually large letters on the top left of one of his notebook pages that is filled with geometric sketches, mathematical transformations, a cross section of the brain, a drawing of the male urinary tract, and doodles of his old warrior.
  • “Leonardo made some wings of the scales of other lizards and fastened them on its back with a mixture of quicksilver, so that they trembled when it walked,”
  • philosophy [meaning the sciences].”18
  • Understanding that light hits multiple points on the retina, he wrote that humans perceive reality as lacking razor-sharp edges and lines;
  • When the British needed to contact their allies in the French Resistance during World War II, they used a code phrase: La Joconde garde un sourire. The Mona Lisa keeps her smile.
  • Like Vitruvian Man standing in the square of the earth and the circle of the heavens, Lisa sitting on her balcony against the backdrop of geological eons is Leonardo’s profound meditation on what it means to be human.
  • And what about all of the scholars and critics over the years who despaired that Leonardo squandered too much time immersed in studying optics and anatomy and the patterns of the cosmos? The Mona Lisa answers them with a smile.
  • “First Painter, Engineer, and Architect to the King,”
  • As he knew, the outlines of reality are inherently blurry, leaving a hint of uncertainty that we should embrace.
  • “I have no special talents,” Einstein once wrote to a friend. “I am just passionately curious.”4 Leonardo
  • He drilled down for the pure joy of geeking out.