Book: Four Tendencies

Upholders ask: “Should I do this?” • Questioners ask: “Does this make sense?” • Obligers ask: “Does this matter to anyone else?” • Rebels ask: “Is this the person I want to be?”

In this book, Gretchen Rubin introduces another framework to categorize people. I know, the idea of boxing in folks is flawed, but this only creates a typology based on how people respond to expectation. It does not struggle to explain all behaviors and incongruencies of human interaction. The broad strokes are:

Upholders respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations.

Questioners question all expectations; they meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified, so in effect they respond only to inner expectations

Obligers respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.

Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.

This revelation blew my mind.

I am a classical Questioner and reading about myself was like getting a manual I never knew existed. It explained why I have trouble closing cabinet doors, why I love lists and spreadsheets and deep research about product before committing to purchase.

Most of all, it made me more aware of small differences between me and other people in their strategies. Thanks to this book I am less judgmental and more sensitive about whole variety of people’s choices. It has even cast a lot of light at the relationship with my Mom. Deep stuff.




Take the four tendencies quiz to find out which one are you

Obligers

Upholders

Questioners

Rebels

respond readily to outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations.

respond readily to both outer expectations and inner expectations.

question all expectations; they meet an expectation only if they believe it’s justified, so in effect they respond only to inner expectations.

resist all expectations, outer and inner alike.

  • Good boss, responsive leader, team player

  • Feels great obligation to meet others’ expectations 

  • Responsible

  • Willing to go the extra mile

  • Responds to outer accountability

  • Self-starter

  • Self-motivated

  • Conscientious

  • Reliable Thorough Sticks to a schedule

  • Eager to understand and meet expectations 

  • Data-driven

  • Fair-minded (according to his or her judgment) Interested in creating systems that are efficient and effective

  • Willing to play devil’s advocate

  • Comfortable bucking the system if it’s warranted

  • Inner-directed

  • Unwilling to accept authority without justification

  • Independent-minded

  • Able to think outside the box

  • Unswayed by conventional wisdom

  • Willing to go his or her own way, to buck social conventions In touch with his or her authentic desires

  • Spontaneous 

  • Susceptible to overwork and burnout

  • May show the destructive pattern of Obliger-rebellion

  • Exploitable

  • May become resentful

  • Has trouble saying no or imposing limits

  • Defensive

  • Rigid

  • Often struggles when plans or schedules change

  • Can seem humorless and uptight

  • Uneasy when rules are ambiguous or undefined

  • Impatient when others need reminders, deadlines, supervision, or discussion

  • Demanding

  • May become anxious about obeying rules that don’t even exist

  • Can suffer analysis-paralysis

  • impatient with what he or she sees as others’ complacency

  • Crackpot potential

  • Unable to accept closure on matters that others consider settled if questions remain unanswered

  • May refuse to observe expectations that others find fair or at least nonoptional (e.g., traffic regulations)

  • May resist answering others’ questions

  • Likely to resist when asked or told to do something

  • Uncooperative

  • Inconsiderate

  • Has trouble accomplishing tasks that need to be done consistently, the same way, every time

  • Acts as though ordinary rules don’t apply

  • Restless; may find it difficult to settle down in a job, relationship, city

  • Struggles with routines and planning

  • May be indifferent to reputation

  • They readily meet outer expectations but struggle to meet inner expectations

  • They put a high value on meeting commitments to others

  • They succeed when given accountability, with supervision, deadlines, monitoring, and other forms of accountability, such as the duty to be a good role model

  • They may have trouble setting limits on others’ demands They may have trouble delegating, because they feel that some expectations attach to them personally They must have systems of external accountability in order to meet inner expectations

  • They may be exploited by people who take advantage of them, and because of that

  • They may feel resentful or burned out, in which case…

  • They may need managers or others to alleviate expectations, or they may rebel

  • They readily meet external and internal expectations

  • They’re self-directed, so they can meet deadlines, work on projects, and take the initiative without much supervision

  • They enjoy routine and may have trouble adjusting to a break in routine or sudden scheduling changes

  • They hate to make mistakes, and because of that…

  • They may become very angry or defensive at the suggestion that they’ve dropped the ball or made a mistake

  • They put a high value on follow-through

  • They may need to be reminded that, unlike them, others aren’t necessarily comforted or energized by getting things done

  • They may have trouble delegating responsibilities, because they suspect that others aren’t dependable

  • They question all expectations and meet them only if they believe they’re justified, with the result that they may meet only inner expectations

  • They put a high value on reason, research, and information

  • They make decisions based on information and reason; sometimes, the reason is that it’s important to someone else

  • They follow the advice of “authorities” only if they trust their expertise

  • They follow their own judgment—sometimes even when it flies in the face of experts who (allegedly) know more

  • They persistently ask questions, which may make them seem uncooperative or defiant They hate anything arbitrary—rules like “Five garments to a fitting room”

  • They dislike being questioned themselves; they consider their actions carefully so they find it tiresome or even insulting to be asked to justify their decisions

  • They may have trouble delegating decision making, because they suspect that others don’t have a sufficient basis for action

  • They resist both outer and inner expectations

  • They put a high value on freedom, choice, identity, and self-expression If someone asks or tells them to do something, they’re likely to resist.

  • They may respond to a challenge: “I’ll show you,” “Watch me,” “You can’t make me,” “You’re not the boss of me” They may choose to act out of love, a sense of mission, belief in a cause

  • They have trouble telling themselves what to do—even when it’s something they want to do

  • They meet a challenge, in their own way, in their own time

  • They don’t respond well to supervision, advice, or directions

  • They tend to be good at delegating If they’re in a long-term relationship, their partner is probably an Obliger

Obligers need accountability

Upholders want to know what should be done

Questioners want justifications

Rebels want freedom to do something their own way

My highlights

  • The simple, decisive question was: “How do you respond to expectations?” I’d found it!
  • As with all the Tendencies, arguments work better when they address that Tendency’s values.

Questioners:


  • In accepting those inner expectations, Questioners show a deep commitment to information, logic, and efficiency. They want to gather their own facts, decide for themselves, and act with good reason; they object to anything they consider arbitrary, ill-reasoned, ill-informed, or ineffective. Many, many people are Questioners; only the Obliger Tendency has more members.
  • Questioner was the Tendency most likely to agree with the statement “I do what I think makes the most sense, according to my judgment, even if that means ignoring the rules or other people’s expectations.”
  • why this task, why this way, why now?
  • Questioners have the self-direction of Upholders, the reliability of Obligers, and the authenticity of Rebels.
  • But an Upholder or an Obliger may think, “Why do you get to exempt yourself from a rule that everyone’s expected to follow?”
  • In fact, Questioners are often puzzled by others’ willingness to act without sound reasons.
  • I’ve noticed that a love of spreadsheets is very common among Questioners—they also tend to send people lots of articles.
  • Along the same lines, Questioners tend to be very interested in improving processes.
  • Similarly, for young Questioners, school can present a real challenge, because many school rules seem arbitrary or inefficient, and teachers and administrators often feel little obligation to justify them.
  • Along those same lines, the Questioners’ desire to customize, and their questioning of expert advice, can be frustrating for those to whom they turn for help, advice, or services:
  • For instance, legendary entrepreneur and business leader Steve Jobs was a Questioner, and when he was a young man he believed that eating a fruit-heavy, vegetarian diet meant that he didn’t need to worry about body odor—even though many people told him that, in fact, he did need to worry about
  • One puzzling note about Questioners: They often remark on how much they hate to wait in line. A friend told me, “I hate waiting in line so much that I can’t even carry on a conversation while waiting to be seated in a restaurant.” Perhaps it’s the inefficiency.
  • Delivery can sometimes make a big difference in whether others see a Questioner as constructive or obstructive.
  • “I’m definitely a Questioner. Although doesn’t everyone or at least most people think the same way?” Nope, they sure don’t.
  • “Have you noticed that Questioners resist being questioned themselves?”
  • A Questioner wrote to explain: We Questioners have thought about the logic behind our decision. So it’s a) exhausting to revisit something and lay out all the reasons and/or b) we feel we’re right, so we don’t feel like we have to justify it to someone else.”
  • Because Questioners make careful decisions, they’re often annoyed—even insulted—when people question them.
  • And, of course, Questioners particularly hate questions they consider a waste of their time.
  • so when I feel myself getting sucked into research mode, I ask myself, ‘Is this information actually relevant to what I’m trying to decide? Why am I spending this time and energy on this question?’ ”
  • Questioners need clarity, and to get clarity, they can ask questions.
  • Is Tony Robbins a questioner? Maybe that is why he appeals to me so much
  • Is there a better way to do this?
  • “Well, I’ll do these pointless things because they actually do have a point, which is to please my grandmother.”
  • “Don’t just focus on the first order of reason, but think about the second order of reason. You’re doing it for your reasons.
  • It’s important for Questioners to remind themselves to do what they must so that they can do what they want.
  • Their questioning ensures that an organization uses its resources most effectively.
  • My wife jokes that she knows we’re married forever, because I already did the research and made the decision. She’s actually right!”
  • Childhood can be a painful time for Questioners, because children are so often expected to do things because an adult “said so.”
  • It’s worth noting, too, that Questioners often show a strong urge to customize

Obligers:


  • How does an Obliger meet an inner expectation? By creating outer accountability.
  • When what others expect from Obligers is what they expect from themselves, they have the life they want.
  • Obligers vary dramatically in what makes them feel accountable.
  • Also, for some Obligers, accountability works better when it’s positive. Reminders and oversight feel like nagging, and nagging may trigger Obliger-rebellion.
  • But now I realize that this doing-it-for-my-kids strategy can help Obligers accomplish something worthwhile.
  • For instance, many Obligers characterize their behavior as “client first”—a reason for pride.
  • The Obliger pattern is not an issue of self-sacrifice, self-esteem, boundaries, motivation, people-pleasing, or discipline, but rather—and I repeat it yet again—an issue of external accountability.
  • For instance, for many Obligers, spouses or family count as part of themselves, so their spouses’ expectations become “inner” expectations and are therefore ignored.
  • the Obliger expects others to know to stop imposing their expectations, without prompting, to provide relief for the Obliger
  • “I work out every day by getting my husband to ask me about it when he gets home.
  • People who ask for accountability know they need it.

Rebels


  • Rebellion is the opposite of compliance, but rebellion is not freedom.
  • want other people to do what I want, just like I want me to be able to do what I want.”
  • Just as they often pair with Obligers, Rebels often pair with family members as work partners—perhaps because a relative has more understanding, experience, and tolerance for the Rebel.
  • information, consequences, choice—with no nagging or badgering.
  • If he thinks you’re not watching, he won’t need to rebel against your expectations.”

Pairs


  • One Obliger gave a small but telling example: “I use crosswalks and follow the walk signals, while my Questioner husband doesn’t find it important to use crosswalks or signals, so he jaywalks.”
  • An Obliger parent can get very impatient with a Questioner child, whose questions can seem tiresome or cheeky.
  • Similarly, when Obligers complain about something they “have” to do, Questioners don’t have much sympathy, because they think, “If you don’t want to do it, don’t do it” or “Why did you say you’d do it, if you don’t want to?”
  • We may think we know the “best” way, or the way others “should” work, but whether at home or at work, as long as the tasks are getting done, we should let other people suit themselves.
  • It’s all too easy to assume that what persuades us will persuade others—which isn’t true.
  • One of my Secrets of Adulthood is that we’re more like other people than we suppose and less like other people than we suppose. And it’s very hard to keep that in mind.
  • Upholders value self-command and performance • Questioners value justification and purpose • Obligers value teamwork and duty • Rebels value freedom and self-
  • And one of the worst, most common mistakes when we’re trying to help someone change a habit? Invoking the dreaded “You should be able to…”
  • To craft a sign that works well for all Four Tendencies, we should provide information, consequences, and choice.
  • The happiest and most successful people are those who have figured out ways to exploit their Tendency to their benefit and, just as important, found ways to counterbalance its limitations.
  • “How do you feel about New Year’s resolutions?”
  • Upholders ask: “Should I do this?” • Questioners ask: “Does this make sense?” • Obligers ask: “Does this matter to anyone else?” • Rebels ask: “Is this the person I want to be?”

Book: Power of full engagement

“Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.”

the-power-of-full-engagement

The core tenet of the book is that you have to manage your energy if you want to achieve anything. The best way to manage your energy is to balance spending with replenishing. This is in line with what Tony Robbins is saying.

The book is a result of years of consulting work by the authors. They worked with CEOs, athletes and other high performers to increase their output.

 

 

In the book, there are 4 sources of energy described:

  • physical
  • emotional
  • mental
  • spiritual

As at Tony Robbin UPW – the „bigggest bang for the buck” is at the physical level, since it is often overlooked / ignored. Drinking water, avoiding sugars and getting exercise will prime everything else. But people often forget that and everything else gets outta whack.

My takeaways:

  • Capitalize on morning energy, Post-lunch will always be slump.
  • DRINK MORE WATER
  • Take breaks. – for a walk etc, instead of sitting in front of Facebook
  • DO NOT skip workouts when overworked – they are what will keep you going

I found this video review if you are up to that sort of thing 😀

My kindle highlights

  • Energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance.
  • Performance, health and happiness are grounded in the skillful management of energy.
  • The more we take responsibility for the energy we bring to the world, the more empowered and productive we become. The more we blame others or external circumstances, the more negative and compromised our energy is likely to be.
  • To be fully engaged, we must be physically energized, emotionally connected, mentally focused and spiritually aligned with a purpose beyond our immediate self-interest.
  • has a unique transformative power, both individually and organizationally.
  • Full engagement requires drawing on four separate but related sources of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
  • Because energy capacity diminishes both with overuse and with underuse, we must balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.
  • The richest, happiest and most productive lives are characterized by the ability to fully engage in the challenge at hand, but also to disengage periodically and seek renewal.
  • We, too, must learn to live our own lives as a series of sprints—fully engaging for periods of time, and then fully disengaging and seeking renewal before jumping back into the fray to face whatever challenges confront us.
  • To build capacity, we must push beyond our normal limits, training in the same systematic way that elite athletes do.
  • Positive energy rituals—highly specific routines for managing energy—are the key to full engagement and sustained high performance.
  • Creating positive rituals is the most powerful means we have found to effectively manage energy in the service of full engagement.
  • “How should I spend my energy in a way that is consistent with my deepest values?”
  • Managing energy, not time, is the fundamental currency of high performance. Performance is grounded in the skillful management of energy.
  • By building highly efficient and focused recovery routines, these players had found a way to derive extraordinary energy renewal in a very short period of time.
  • At the heart of the problem is a fundamental conflict between the demands of our man-made civilization and the very design of the human brain and body. .
  • We are machine-centered in our thinking—focused on the optimization of technology and equipment—rather than human-centered—focused on the optimization of human alertness and performance.
  • I find myself feeling guilty if I’m not working.
  • “More and more what I find is that you don’t really live in the present anymore,”
  • • Our most fundamental need as human beings is to spend and recover energy. We call this oscillation.
  • • The opposite of oscillation is linearity: too much energy expenditure without recovery or too much recovery without sufficient energy expenditure.
  • Balancing stress and recovery is critical to high performance both individually and organizationally.
  • • Expanding capacity requires a willingness to endure short-term discomfort in the service of long-term reward.
  • In practical terms, the size of our energy reservoir depends on the patterns of our breathing, the foods that we eat and when we eat them, the quantity and quality of our sleep, the degree to which we get intermittent recovery during the day, and the level of our fitness.
  • Drinking water, we have found, is perhaps the most undervalued source of physical energy renewal.
  • The longer, more continuously, and later at night you work, the less efficient and more mistake-prone you become.
  • the first thing we had her do was to open the journal that she had purchased and half-jokingly named “Catharsis.”
  • This is a note i want to haave
  • Somewhere around 3:00 or 4:00 P.M. we reach the lowest phase of both our ultradian and our circadian rhythms.
  • This explains why, over the centuries, so many cultures intuitively institutionalized the sort of midafternoon nap that is increasingly disappearing in our 24/7 world.
  • The concept of stress inoculation is very much like the concept of preventing a particular disease through vaccination.
  • Physical energy is the fundamental source of fuel in life.
  • Physical energy is derived from the interaction between oxygen and glucose.
  • The two most important regulators of physical energy are breathing and eating.
  • Eating five to six low-calorie, highly nutritious meals a day ensures a steady resupply of glucose and essential nutrients.
  • Drinking sixty-four ounces of water daily is a key factor in the effective management of physical energy.
  • Most human beings require seven to eight hours of sleep per night to function optimally.
  • Going to bed early and waking up early help to optimize performance.
  • Interval training is more effective than steady-state exercise in building physical capacity and in teaching people how to recover more efficiently.
  • To sustain full engagement, we must take a recovery break every 90 to 120 minutes.
  • Snowden discovered that those nuns whose writing expressed a preponderance of positive emotions (happiness, love, hope, gratitude and contentment) tended to live longer and more productive lives. Nuns with the highest number of positive-emotion sentences had half the risk of death at any age as those with the lowest number of such sentences.
  • After interviewing a large sample of managers and their employees, the Gallup Organization found that no single factor more clearly predicts the productivity of an employee than his relationship with his direct superior.
  • Gallup found that one of the key factors in sustained performance is having at least one good friend at work.
  • she built a reservoir of positive emotional energy that she could draw from at her job.
  • Next, he framed his critical feedback not as a lecture but as a discussion, allowing for the possibility that his perception might not be entirely accurate.
  • We may overvalue toughness and undervalue tenderness, for example, or do just the reverse, when in fact both represent important emotional muscles in our lives. The same is true of many other opposites: self-control and spontaneity, honesty and compassion, generosity and thriftiness, openness and discretion, passion and detachment, patience and urgency, caution and boldness, confidence and humility.
  • In order to perform at our best, we must access pleasant and positive emotions: the experience of enjoyment, challenge, adventure and opportunity.
  • The key muscles fueling positive emotional energy are self-confidence, self-control, interpersonal effectiveness and empathy.
  • Negative emotions serve survival but they are very costly and energy inefficient in the context of performance.
  • The ability to summon positive emotions during periods of intense stress lies at the heart of effective leadership.
  • Access to the emotional muscles that serve performance depends on creating a balance between exercising them regularly and intermittently seeking recovery.
  • Any activity that is enjoyable, fulfilling and affirming serves as a source of emotional renewal and recovery.
  • Emotional muscles such as patience, empathy and confidence can be strengthened in the same way that we strengthen a bicep or a tricep: pushing past our current limits followed by recovery.
  • We also need access to realistic optimism, a paradoxical notion that implies seeing the world as it is, but always working positively toward a desired outcome or solution.
  • The capacity to stay appropriately focused and realistically optimistic depends on intermittently changing mental channels in order to rest and rejuvenate.
  • Beginning with the German physiologist and physicist Hermann Helmholtz in the late nineteenth century, many thinkers have sought to define the sequential steps of the creative process. Five stages are now widely recognized:
    • first insight,
    • saturation,
    • incubation,
    • illumination
    • and verification.
  • two “yoga” breaks
  • Time management, we tell our clients, is not an end in itself. Rather it serves the higher goal of effective energy management.
  • Some activities generate considerable spiritual renewal without demanding significant energy expenditure. These include walking in nature, reading an inspirational book, listening to music, or hearing a great speaker.
  • We define integrity—a key ingredient in character and a primary spiritual muscle—as doing what you say you are going to do when you say you are going to do it.
  • Spiritual energy provides the force for action in all dimensions of our lives. It fuels passion, perseverance and commitment.
  • Spiritual energy is derived from a connection to deeply held values and a purpose beyond our self-interest.
  • Character—the courage and conviction to live by our deepest values—is the key muscle that serves spiritual energy.
  • The key supportive spiritual muscles are passion, commitment, integrity and honesty.
  • Spiritual energy expenditure and energy renewal are deeply interconnected.
  • Spiritual energy is sustained by balancing a commitment to a purpose beyond ourselves with adequate self-care.
  • Spiritual work can be demanding and renewing at the same time.
  • Expanding spiritual capacity involves pushing past our comfort zone in precisely the same way that expanding physical capacity does.
  • The energy of the human spirit can override even severe limitations of physical energy.
  • So long as we skim across the surface of our lives at high speeds, it is impossible to dig down more deeply.
  • Jump ahead to the end of your life. What are the three most important lessons you have learned and why are they so critical?
  • Think of someone that you deeply respect. Describe three qualities in this person that you most admire.
  • Who are you at your best?
  • What one-sentence inscription would you like to see on your tombstone that would capture who you really were in your life?
  • A value in action is a virtue.
  • Values hold us to a different standard for managing energy.
  • Next, she got more specific about what these values meant to her in practical, everyday terms.
  • A vision statement is a declaration of intent about how to invest one’s energy. Regularly revisited, it serves as a source of sustaining direction and a fuel for action.
  • The search for meaning is among the most powerful and enduring themes in every culture since the origin of recorded history.
  • The “hero’s journey” is grounded in mobilizing, nurturing and regularly renewing our most precious resource—energy—in the service of what matters most.
  • When we lack a strong sense of purpose we are easily buffeted by life’s inevitable storms.
  • Purpose becomes a more powerful and enduring source of energy when its source moves from negative to positive, external to internal and self to others.
  • A negative source of purpose is defensive and deficit-based.
  • Intrinsic motivation grows out of the desire to engage in an activity because we value it for the inherent satisfaction it provides.
  • Values fuel the energy on which purpose is built. They hold us to a different standard for managing our energy.
  • A virtue is a value in action.
  • A vision statement, grounded in values that are meaningful and compelling, creates a blueprint for how to invest our energy.
  • To be effective in the world, we must find a balance between looking honestly at the most painful truths and contradictions in our lives and engaging in the world with hope and positive energy.
  • Intellectualizing is a means of acknowledging a truth cognitively without experiencing its impact emotionally.
  • A graphic example is the leader who charismatically makes the case for honesty, or decency, or teamwork to his gathered troops, only to flagrantly violate his professed principles in his everyday conduct.
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how fully engaged are you in your work? What is standing in your way?
  • How closely does your everyday behavior match your values and serve your mission? Where are the disconnects?
  • How fully are you embodying your values and vision for yourself at work? At home? In your community? Where you are falling short?
  • How effectively are the choices that you are making physically—your habits of nutrition, exercise, sleep and the balance of stress and recovery—serving your key values?
  • How consistent with your values is your emotional response in any given situation? Is it different at work than it is at home, and if so, how?
  • To what degree do you establish clear priorities and sustain attention to tasks? How consistent are those priorities with what you say is most important to you?
  • Without realizing it, we often create stories around a set of facts and then take our stories to be the truth.
  • As the psychologist Martin Seligman puts it: “When our explanatory beliefs take the form of personal, permanent and pervasive factors (It’s my fault . . . it’s always going to be like this . . . it’s going to affect everything I do”), we give up and become paralyzed. When our explanations take the opposite form, we become energized.”
  • “How might the opposite of what I’m thinking or feeling also be true?”
  • Facing the most difficult truths in our lives is challenging but also liberating. When we have nothing left to hide, we no longer fear exposure. Vast energy is freed up to fully engage in our lives.
  • • Facing the truth frees up energy and is the second stage, after defining purpose, in becoming more fully engaged.
  • Avoiding the truth consumes great effort and energy.
  • At the most basic level, we deceive ourselves in order to protect our self-esteem.
  • Some truths are too unbearable to be absorbed all at once. Emotions such as grief are best metabolized in waves.
  • Truth without compassion is cruelty—to others and to ourselves.
  • What we fail to acknowledge about ourselves we often continue to act out unconsciously.
  • A common form of self-deception is assuming that our view represents the truth, when it is really just a lens through which we choose to view the world.
  • Facing the truth requires that we retain an ongoing openness to the possibility that we may not be seeing ourselves—or others—accurately.
  • It is both a danger and a delusion when we become too identified with any singular view of ourselves. We are all a blend of light and shadow, virtues and vices.
  • Accepting our limitations reduces our defensiveness and increases the amount of positive energy available to us.
  • disengaging—conserving energy by not investing too much of it in anything or allowing himself to think too deeply about the choices that he was making.
  • The bigger the storm, the more inclined we are to revert to our survival habits, and the more important positive rituals become.
  • Rituals for Our Times.
  • “Families who sit down to dinner together every night are saying without words that they believe in the need for families to have shared time together. . . .
  • Participants proved far more likely to eat healthy, low calorie foods when they were asked in advance to specify precisely what they intended to eat for each of their meals during the day, rather than using their energy to resist eating certain foods all day long.
  • When intentions are framed negatively—“I won’t overeat” or “I will not get angry”—they rapidly deplete our limited stores of will and discipline
  • Considerable evidence suggests that smiling literally reduces arousal and short-circuits the “fight-or-flight” response. It is nearly impossible to smile and to feel angry at the same time.
  • • Rituals serve as tools through which we effectively manage energy in the service of whatever mission we are on.
  • Rituals create a means by which to translate our values and priorities into action in all dimensions of our life.
  • All great performers rely on positive rituals to manage their energy and regulate their behavior.
  • The limitations of conscious will and discipline are rooted in the fact that every demand on our self-control draws on the same limited resource.
  • We can offset our limited will and discipline by building rituals that become automatic as quickly as possible, fueled by our deepest values.
  • The most important role of rituals is to insure effective balance between energy expenditure and energy renewal in the service of full engagement.
  • The more exacting the challenge and the greater the pressure, the more rigorous our rituals need to be.
  • Precision and specificity are critical dimensions of building rituals during the thirty-to sixty-day acquisition period.
  • Trying not to do something rapidly depletes our limited stores of will and discipline.
  • To make lasting change, we must build serial rituals, focusing on one significant change at a time.
  • Because he left each morning before they awoke, he decided to write each of them a note each day and slip it under their doors.
  • Managing energy, not time, is the key to high performance.
  • we must learn to balance energy expenditure with intermittent energy renewal.
  • Most of us are undertrained physically and spiritually (not enough stress) and overtrained mentally and emotionally (not enough recovery).
  • A corporation or organization is simply a reservoir of potential energy that can be recruited in the service of an intended mission.
  • 1. Go to bed early and wake up early
  • 2. Go to sleep and wake up consistently at the same times
  • 3. Eat five to six small meals daily
  • 4. Eat breakfast every day
  • 5. Eat a balanced, healthy diet
  • 6. Minimize simple sugars
  • 7. Drink 48 to 64 ounces of water daily
  • 8. Take breaks every ninety minutes during work
  • 9. Get some physical activity daily
  • 10. Do at least two cardiovascular interval workouts and two strength training workouts a week

 

Book: Hard Thing about Hard Things

“Do you know the best thing about startups?” Ben: “What?” Marc: “You only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find that lack of sleep enhances them both.”

the-hard-thing

Some people call this book the most important book about startups.

Shane Parish from Farnam Street Blog has been singing praises about this book as well. If you are interested in comprehensive opinion/summary, you should definitely check his out.

Amazon link

 

My key takeaways

  • Struggle is core to being a CEO
  • The biggest problem is the one that blindsides you – when everybody is reporting great success, but problem is brewing
  • Be honest – sharing bad news is good
  • Fire people fast, let them know you are firing them and let the keep respect
  • Company is a completely different place at different size levels
  • Most incompetent person holding a title defines the value of the title
  • Peacetime CEO is different than wartime CEO

 

My highlights

  • Following conventional wisdom and relying on shortcuts can be worse than knowing nothing at
  • Former secretary of state Colin Powell says that leadership is the ability to get someone to follow you even if only out of curiosity.
  • The simple existence of an alternate, plausible scenario is often all that’s needed to keep hope alive among a worried workforce.
  • My father turned to me and said, “Son, do you know what’s cheap?” Since I had absolutely no idea what he was talking about, I replied, “No, what?” “Flowers. Flowers are really cheap. But do you know what’s expensive?” he asked. Again, I replied, “No, what?” He said, “Divorce.”
  • Marc: “Do you know the best thing about startups?” Ben: “What?” Marc: “You only ever experience two emotions: euphoria and terror. And I find that lack of sleep enhances them both.”
  • You need someone who will actually be more excited for you than he would be if it had happened to him. The second kind of friend is somebody you can call when things go horribly wrong—when your life is on the line and you only have one phone call. Who is it going to be?
  • If you are going to eat shit, don’t nibble.”
  • what I’d like you to do. First, reach up to your face and take off your rose-colored glasses. Then get a Q-tip and clean the wax out of your ears.
  • “What Are We Not Doing?”
  • If a warrior keeps death in mind at all times and lives as though each day might be his last, he will conduct himself properly in all his actions.
  • The Struggle is the land of broken promises and crushed dreams. The Struggle is a cold sweat. The Struggle is where your guts boil so much that you feel like you are going to spit blood.
  • My single biggest personal improvement as CEO occurred on the day when I stopped being too positive.
  • A much better idea would have been to give the problem to the people who could not only fix it, but who would also be personally excited and motivated to do so.
  • In any human interaction, the required amount of communication is inversely proportional to the level of trust.
  • individuals should not be “This is great, we are cleaning up performance.” The message must be “The company failed and in order to move forward, we will have to lose some excellent people.”
  • “Ben, you cannot let him keep his job, but you absolutely can let him keep his respect.”
  • 1. People who quit 2. People who got fired 3. People who quit, but it’s okay because the company didn’t want them anyway
  • Fascinatingly, as companies begin to struggle, the third category always seems to grow much faster than the
  • The customers were buying; they just weren’t buying our product. This was not a time to pivot. So I said the same thing to every one of them: “There are no silver bullets for this, only lead bullets.”
  • The customers were buying; they just weren’t buying our product. This was not a time to pivot. So I said the same thing to every one of them: “There are no silver bullets for this, only lead bullets.” They did not want to hear that, but it made things clear: We had to build a better product. There
  • “Bill, nobody cares, just coach your team.”
  • All the mental energy you use to elaborate your misery would be far better used trying to find the one seemingly impossible way out of your current mess. Spend zero time on what you could have done, and devote all of your time on what you might do. Because in the end, nobody cares; just run your company.
  • “We take care of the people, the products, and the profits—in that order.”
  • In good organizations, people can focus on their work and have confidence that if they get their work done, good things will happen for both the company and them personally. It is a true pleasure to work in an organization such as this. Every person can wake up knowing that the work they do will be efficient, effective, and make a difference for the organization and themselves. These things make their jobs both motivating and fulfilling.
  • “Good Product Manager/Bad Product Manager
  • which I used to train the team on my basic expectations. I was shocked by what happened next. The performance of my team instantly improved. Product managers whom I had almost written off as hopeless became effective.
  • What will you do in your first month on the job?
  • How will your new job differ from your current
  • Write down the strengths you want and the weaknesses that you are willing to tolerate.
  • Early on at Loudcloud, many people would do crazy things backed up by “Ben said.” Often I didn’t say any of it, but I definitely didn’t say it in the way they used it. The management principles I share here are connected to many of those experiences.
  • In all three cases, managers got what we asked for, but not what we wanted. How did this happen? Let’s take a look.
  • Sun Tzu, in his classic work The Art of War, warns that giving the team a task that it cannot possibly perform is called crippling the army.
  • Unfortunately, the metrics that I set did not capture those priorities. At a basic level, metrics are incentives. By measuring quality, features, and schedule and discussing them at every staff meeting, my people focused intensely on those metrics to the exclusion of other goals. The metrics did not describe the real goals and I distracted the team as a result.
  • Some things that you want to encourage will be quantifiable, and some will not. If you report on the quantitative goals and ignore the qualitative ones, you won’t get the qualitative goals, which may be the most important ones.
  • Management purely by numbers is sort of like painting by numbers—it’s strictly for amateurs.
  • Was customer satisfaction rising or falling?
  • What did our own engineers think of the products?
  • Every really good, really experienced CEO I know shares one important characteristic: They tend to opt for the hard answer to organizational issues.
  • Sometimes an organization doesn’t need a solution; it just needs clarity.
  • In all my years in business, I have yet to hear someone say, “I love corporate politics.”
  • What do I mean by politics? I mean people advancing their careers or agendas by means other than merit and contribution.
  • At a macro level, a company will be most successful if the senior managers optimize for the company’s success (think of this as a global optimization) as opposed to their own personal success (local optimization).
  • No matter how well the CEO designs the personal incentive programs, they will never be perfect.
  • Dr. Seuss’s management masterpiece Yertle the Turtle.
  • What’s not fun about working here?
  • If we could improve in any way, how would we do it?
  •   What’s the number-one problem with our organization? Why?   What’s not fun about working here?   Who is really kicking ass in the company? Whom do you admire?   If you were me, what changes would you make?   What don’t you like about the product?   What’s the biggest opportunity that we’re missing out on?   What are we not doing that we
  • should be doing?   Are you happy working here?
  • The primary thing that any technology startup must do is build a product that’s at least ten times better at doing something than the current prevailing way of doing that thing.
  • In his bestselling book Built to Last, Jim Collins wrote that one of the things that long-lasting companies he studied have in common is a “cult-like culture.”
  • them. These door desks are not great ergonomically, nor do they fit with Amazon.com’s $150 billion–plus market capitalization, but when a shocked new employee asks why she must work on a makeshift desk constructed out of random Home Depot parts, the answer comes back with withering consistency: “We look for every opportunity to save money so that we can deliver the best products for the lowest cost.”
  • The first rule of organizational design is that all organizational designs are bad. With any design, you will optimize communication among some parts of the organization at the expense of other parts.
  • Figure out what needs to be communicated.
  • Figure out what needs to be decided. Consider
  • Prioritize the most important communication and decision paths.
  • Decide who’s going to run each group.
  • Identify the paths that you did not optimize.
  • Build a plan for mitigating the issues identified in step five.
  • By far the most difficult skill I learned as CEO was the ability to manage my own psychology.
  • Ideally, the CEO will be urgent yet not insane.
  • Tip to aspiring entrepreneurs: If you don’t like choosing between horrible and cataclysmic, don’t become CEO.
  • Be aware that management books tend to be written by management consultants who study successful companies during their times of peace. As a result, the resulting books describe the methods of peacetime CEOs. In fact, other than the books written by Andy Grove, I don’t know of any management books that teach you how to manage in wartime
  • If you really want someone to succeed, then make her feel it. Make her feel you. If she feels you and you are in her corner, then she will listen to you.
  • The very next day I informed the head of Sales Engineering and the head of Customer Support that they would be switching jobs.
  • There are two kinds of cultures in this world: cultures where what you do matters and cultures where all that matters is who you are. You can be the former or you can suck.
  • The answer is that your loyalty must go to your employees—the people who report to your executives. Your engineers, marketing people, salespeople, and finance and HR people who are doing the work. You owe them a world-class management team. That’s the priority.

 

 

Book: Factfulness by Hans Rosling

00112122-400x400Oh my, how I do love Hans Rosling! His “magic washing machine” TED talk may be my favorite of all time.

„Factfulness” is a culmination of his life work. He literally wrote the book on his deathbed. It provides a framework for thinking about wealth distribution around the world, thinking about help and differentiating fact from fiction.

His big beef was with the supposed gap between „developed” and „developing” world, which existed 50 years ago, but not any more. They key message of the book is that most people live in the middle and everywhere around the world, life is getting better.

 

Over the past twenty years, the proportion of the global population living in extreme poverty has halved.

Amazon link

  • One billion people live on level 1. This is what we think of as extreme poverty. If you’re on level 1, you survive on less than $2 a day and get around by walking barefoot. Your food is cooked over an open fire, and you spend most of your day traveling to fetch water. At night, you and your children sleep on a dirt floor.
  • Three billion people live on level 2, between $2 and $8 a day. Level 2 means that you can buy shoes and maybe a bike, so it doesn’t take so long to get water. Your kids go to school instead of working all day. Dinner is made over a gas stove, and your family sleeps on mattresses instead of the floor.
  • Two billion people live on level 3, between $8 and $32 a day. You have running water and a fridge in your home. You can also afford a motorbike to make getting around easier. Some of your kids start (and even finish) high school.
  • One billion people live on level 4. If you spend more than $32 a day, you’re on level 4. You have at least a high school education and can probably afford to buy a car and take a vacation once in a while.

 

Bill Gates – long time friend of Rosling’s has covered the book as well.

 

One thing you may want to check out is the „Dollar Street” – a project showing how people live at different income levels around the world. It is a visual way to convey learnings from Factfulness and I highly recommend it.

And  – last but not least – the magical washing machine 🙂

 

 

My most important takeaways:

  • There is no developing vs developed any more. Most people live in the middle
  • Population growth is slowing down and is expected to level at about 11 billion or so. We know, because we that birthrates have dropped around the world thanks to birth control, education and less poverty. Malthusian crisis will not come.
  • Nothing is as dramatic as it sounds

 

My Kindle Highlights

 

  • Over the past twenty years, the proportion of the global population living in extreme poverty has halved.
  • Every group of people I ask thinks the world is more frightening, more violent, and more hopeless—in short, more dramatic—than it really is.
  • Only actively wrong “knowledge” can make us score so badly.
  • I call it the overdramatic worldview. It’s stressful and misleading.
  • But we need to learn to control our drama intake.
  • the world is not as dramatic as it seems.
  • The world has completely changed. Today, families are small and child deaths are rare in the vast majority of countries, including the largest: China and India.
  • A: Low-income countries
  • Afterward, people ask me, “So what should we call them instead?” But listen carefully. It’s the same misconception: we and them. What should “we” call “them” instead? What we should do is stop dividing countries into two groups. It doesn’t make sense anymore.
  • Only, it’s a very strange computer game, because Level 1 is the hardest. Let’s play.
  • People on Level 4 must struggle hard not to misunderstand the reality of the other 6 billion people in the world. (Roughly 1 billion people live like this today.)
  • Just 200 years ago, 85 percent of the world population was still on Level 1, in extreme poverty. Today the vast majority of people are spread out in the middle, across Levels 2 and 3, with the same range of standards of living as people had in Western Europe and North America in the 1950s. And this has been the case for many years. The Gap Instinct The gap instinct is very strong. The first time I lectured to the staff of the World Bank was in 1999. I told
  • Just 200 years ago, 85 percent of the world population was still on Level 1, in extreme poverty.
  • Today the vast majority of people are spread out in the middle, across Levels 2 and 3, with the same range of standards of living as people had in Western Europe and North America in the 1950s.
  • It took the World Bank 17 years and 14 more of my lectures before it finally announced publicly that it was dropping the terms “developing” and “developed” and would from now on divide the world into four income groups.
  • In reality, even in one of the world’s most unequal countries, there is no gap. Most people are in the middle.
  • To control the gap instinct, look for the majority.
  • Beware comparisons of averages. If you could check the spreads you would probably find they overlap. There is probably no gap at all.
  • Instead, we are gloomy. On our Level 4
  • gloomy. On our Level 4 TVs, we still see people in extreme poverty and it seems that nothing has changed.
  • I’m a very serious “possibilist.” That’s something I made up. It means someone who neither hopes without reason, nor fears without reason, someone who constantly resists the overdramatic worldview.
  • There was a balance. It wasn’t because humans lived in balance with nature. Humans died in balance with nature. It was utterly brutal and tragic.
  • Once parents see children survive, once the children are no longer needed for child labor, and once the women are educated and have information about and access to contraceptives, across cultures and religions both the men and the women instead start dreaming of having fewer, well-educated children.
  • We should do everything we can to reduce child mortality, not only as an act of humanity for living suffering children but to benefit the whole world now and in the future.
  • Just as we will buy ourselves a fridge and a cell phone as soon as we can afford them, countries will invest in primary education and vaccination as soon as they can afford them.
  • When the journalist says with a sad face, “in times like these,” will you smile and think that she is referring to the first time in history when disaster victims get immediate global attention and foreigners send their best helicopters? Will you feel fact-based hope that humanity will be able to prevent even more horrific deaths in the future? I don’t think so. Not if you function like me. Because when that camera pans to bodies of dead children being pulled out of the debris, my intellectual capacity is blocked by fear and sorrow. At that moment, no line chart in the world can influence my feelings, no facts can comfort me. Claiming in that moment that things are getting better would be to trivialize the immense suffering of those victims and their families. It would
  • When the journalist says with a sad face, “in times like these,” will you smile and think that she is referring to the first time in history when disaster victims get immediate global attention and foreigners send their best helicopters?
  • In 1944 they all met in Chicago to agree on common rules and signed a contract with a very important Annex 13: a common form for incident reports, which they agreed to share, so they could all learn from each other’s mistakes.
  • DDT’s creator won a Nobel Prize.
  • Second, ask yourself, “What kind of evidence would convince me to change my mind?” If the answer is “no evidence could ever change my mind about vaccination,” then you are putting yourself outside evidence-based rationality,
  • Chemophobia also means that every six months there is a “new scientific finding” about a synthetic chemical found in regular food in very low quantities that, if you ate a cargo ship or two of it every day for three years, could kill you.
  • In fact, it is hard to think of a cause of death that kills fewer people in countries on Level 4 than terrorism.
  • Fear can be useful, but only if it is directed at the right things.
  • I would like my fear to be focused on the mega dangers of today, and not the dangers from our evolutionary past.
  • Risk = danger × exposure. The risk something poses to you depends not on how scared it makes you feel, but on a combination of two things. How dangerous is it? And how much are you exposed to it?
  • “In the deepest poverty you should never do anything perfectly. If you do you are stealing resources from where they can be better used.”
  • Never, ever leave a number all by itself. Never believe that one number on its own can be meaningful. If you are offered one number, always ask for at least one more. Something to compare it with.
  • People in North America and Europe need to understand that most of the world population lives in Asia.
  • had for some time been appalled by the systematic blaming of climate change on China and India based on total emissions per nation.
  • It’s a bit strange, isn’t it? Such terrifying things rarely happen “here,” in this safe place where we live. But out there, they seem to happen every day.
  • Strategic business planners need a fact-based worldview to find their future customers.
  • Flaking walls keep away the richer patients and their time-consuming demands for costly treatments,
  • “Hmmm. So your country has become so safe that when you go abroad the world is dangerous for you.”
  • If you are happy to conclude that all chemicals are unsafe on the basis of one unsafe chemical, would you be prepared to conclude that all chemicals are safe on the basis of one safe chemical?
  • Many of my fellow Europeans have a snobbish self-regard built on an illusion of a European culture that is superior, not only to African and Asian cultures, but also to American consumer culture.
  • Today, Muslim women have on average 3.1 children. Christian women have 2.7. There is no major difference between the birth rates of the great world religions.
  • student in the 1960s. Abortion in Sweden was still, except on very limited grounds, illegal. At the university, we ran a secret fund to pay for women to travel abroad to get safe abortions. Jaws drop even further when I tell the students where these young pregnant students traveled to: Poland. Catholic Poland. Five years later, Poland banned abortion and Sweden legalized it. The flow of young women started to go the other way.
  • wrong about the world so many times. Sometimes, coming up against reality is what helps me see my mistakes, but often it is talking to, and trying to understand, someone with different ideas. If this means you don’t have time to form so many opinions, so what? Wouldn’t you rather have few opinions that are right than many that are wrong?
  • Great knowledge can interfere with an expert’s ability to see what actually works.
  • The world cannot be understood without numbers. But the world cannot be understood with numbers alone.
  • Neither the public sector nor the private sector is always the answer. No single measure of a good society can drive every other aspect of its development. It’s not either/or. It’s both and it’s case-by-case.
  • We like to believe that things happen because someone wanted them to, that individuals have power and agency: otherwise, the world feels unpredictable, confusing, and frightening
  • You should not expect the media to provide you with a fact-based worldview any more than you would think it reasonable to use a set of holiday snaps of Berlin as your GPS system to help you navigate around the city.
  • Two billion people today have enough money to use a washing machine and enough time for mothers to read books—because it is almost always the mothers who do the laundry
  • Why did I have to say to the mayor, “You must do something”?
  • When we are afraid and under time pressure and thinking of worst-case scenarios, we tend to make really stupid decisions. Our ability to think analytically can be overwhelmed by an urge to make quick decisions and take immediate action.
  • Learn to Control the Urgency Instinct. Special Offer! Today Only!
  • We had hundreds of health-care workers from across the world flying in to take action, and software developers constantly coming up with new, pointless Ebola apps (apps were their hammers and they were desperate for Ebola to be a nail).
  • When a problem seems urgent the first thing to do is not to cry wolf, but to organize the data.
  • The urgent “now or never” feelings it creates lead to stress or apathy: “We must do something drastic. Let’s not analyze. Let’s do something.” Or, “It’s all hopeless. There’s nothing we can do. Time to give up.”
  • It’s a huge diplomatic challenge to prevent the proud and nostalgic nations with a violent track record from attacking others now that they are losing their grip on the world market.
  • The richest countries emit by far the most CO2 and must start improving first before wasting time pressuring others.
  • The other thought was something that a wise governor of Tanzania had told me: “When someone threatens you with a machete, never turn your back. Stand still. Look him straight in the eye and ask him what the problem is.”
  • Those people are not stupid, so why are they using that solution?”
  • But the world will keep changing, and the problem of ignorant grown-ups will not be solved by teaching the next generation.
  • If you are a teacher, send your class “traveling” on dollarstreet.org
  • When I present to European corporations, I always tell them to tune down their European branding (“remove the Alps from your logo”)
  • We concluded with Frank Sinatra’s anthem “My Way.”

 

 

Book: Unshakeable by Tony Robbins

book-imageThis book is an excerpt and a summary of „Money: Master the game” also by Tony Robbins.

I highly recommend any Tony Robbins book and this one is no exception.

This one may be better for you than „Money”, since that is a tough one to read – but very valuable.

Seemingly a book about finances – sneaks in some Tony Robbins knowledge about centering your state.

 

Amazon link

Some takeaways:

  • Invest in ETFs
  • Diversify in everything humanly possible
    • Across markets
    • Across time
    • Classes
    • Companies
    •  
  • Dont loose money / protect the downside – similar what Branson is obsessed about
  • Search for asymmetric risk / reward. -Paul Tudor Jones calls it 5:1 rule – for every dollar he risks, he expects 5
  • Know your taxes
    • Frequent trading kills you with trading fees and taxes. That extends to funds as well – when funds trade frequently, they can generate lotsa fees
    • That also extends to reballancing portfolio – better to slower bring it to target distribution

 

My Kindle Highlights

  • investors in 403(b) and 401(k) retirement plans.
  • Freedom Fact 1: On Average, Corrections Have Occurred About Once a Year Since 1900
  • Meanwhile, a study by JPMorgan found that 6 of the 10 best days in the market over the last 20 years occurred within two weeks of the 10 worst days.
  • performed well and sell the ones that have
  • “The four most expensive words in investing are ‘This time it’s different.’
  • you pay a high price for certainty.
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts.
  • publicly traded real estate investment trusts (REITs).
  • Master Limited Partnerships.
  • Asset Allocation Drives Returns.
  • 3. Always Have a Cushion.
  • The single biggest threat to your financial well-being is your own brain.
  • Mistaking Recent Events for Ongoing Trends Why Most Investors Buy the Wrong Thing at Exactly the Wrong Moment
  • as Warren Buffett says, “The stock market is a device for transferring money from the impatient to the patient.”
  • all this suffering is really just the result of an undirected mind that’s hell-bent on looking for problems!
  • Suffering trigger is “Less.”
  • 1. Suffering trigger is “Loss.”
  • 2. Suffering trigger is “Less.”
  • 3. Suffering trigger is “Never.”
  • Notice, too, that most, if not all, of our suffering is caused by focusing or obsessing about ourselves and what we might lose, have less of, or never have.
  • So what’s the biggest decision you can make in your life right now?
  • Are you committed to being happy, no matter what happens to you?
  • “I’m done with suffering. I’m going to live every day to the fullest and find juice in every moment, including the ones I don’t like, BECAUSE LIFE IS JUST TOO SHORT TO SUFFER.”
  • Whenever I start to suffer, I give myself 90 seconds to stop it so that I can return to living in a beautiful state.
  • But here’s what I do now. As soon as I feel the tension rising in my body, I catch myself. And the way that I catch myself is really simple: I gently breathe and slow things down.
  • “What’s wrong is always available . . . but so is what’s right!”
  • I’ve recorded this meditation and made it available online at http://www.unshakeable.com and on the Unshakeable mobile app, so you can listen to the audio with your eyes closed.
  • What struck me most was that everything seemed beautiful to her.
  • you can start giving even when you have very little.

 

 

Book: Essentialism – the disciplined pursuit of less

0000039082This is such an easy concept to grasp, but so hard to implement. The core premise is

„You must do and only do what is essential”.

Intuitively we all know it – we have to focus our efforts and do important stuff instead of paddling on the river of constant unimportant thingies.

But interruptions are sneaky and try to redirect us from the way of essentialism.

Be it politeness, doing things „while we’re at it” or just lack of focus.

Doing only essential things is key to achieving anything.

Amazon link

This mindset – for me – is key to productivity. Instead of another productivity app and great todo-list system – we need to filter our todos and try to get rid of the non-essential. Much of productivity advice seems like majoring in minor things. people get better at managing lots of unessential tasks and then take on busywork because it makes them feel productive.

The main points of essentialism are:

  1. Do less, but better
  2. Instead of accomplishing everything, choose specific directions
  3. The process of choosing what is important and what is not is ongoing

Tim Ferriss actually touched upon many of these ideas in „Four Hour Workweek”. He calls this „choosing a lead domino” – doing the thing that if done correctly can render others obsolete or unimportant.

Essentialism is especially lacking in business, where agendas keep creeping in and growing out of proportion. People have great ideas and other people include them not to offend anyone. Doing things to please others is the biggest contributor to amassing non-essential todo list.

Tricks to avoid offending people

  • Seperate decision from the relationship
  • The awkward pause. Instead of being controlled by the threat of an awkward silence, own it. Use it as a tool. When a request comes to you (obviously this works only in person), just pause for a moment. Count to three before delivering your verdict. Or if you get a bit more bold, simply wait for the other person to fill the void.
  • The soft “no” (or the “no but”).
  • Say, “Yes. What should I deprioritise?”
  • Say it with humour.
  • “You are welcome to X. I am willing to Y.”
  • “I can’t do it, but X might be interested

 

My Kindle highlights

  • “Can I actually fulfil this request, given the time and resources I have?”
  • “Is this the very most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources right now?”
  • “Just because I was invited didn’t seem a good enough reason to attend.”
  • In this example is the basic value proposition of Essentialism: only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.
  • Dieter Rams was the lead designer at Braun for many years. He is driven by the idea that almost everything is noise.
  • Weniger aber besser.
  • The word priority came into the English language in the 1400s. It was singular. It meant the very first or prior thing.
  • Only in the 1900s did we pluralise the term and start talking about priorities.
  • 1. EXPLORE AND EVALUATE
  • “Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution towards my goal?”
  • 2. ELIMINATE
  • What if schools eliminated busywork and replaced it with important projects that made a difference to the whole community?
  • What if businesses eliminated meaningless meetings and replaced them with space for people to think and work on their most important projects?
  • “If you could do only one thing with your life right now, what would you do?”
  • a choice is an action.
  • “You cannot overestimate the unimportance of practically everything.
  • we live in a world where almost everything is worthless and a very few things are exceptionally valuable.
  • According to Porter, “A strategic position is not sustainable unless there are trade-offs with other positions.”3 By
  • “Which problem do I want?”
  • Instead of asking, “What do I have to give up?” they ask, “What do I want to go big on?”
  • To discern what is truly essential we need space to think, time to look and listen, permission to play, wisdom to sleep, and the discipline to apply highly selective criteria to the choices we make.
  • When I say focus, I don’t mean simply picking a question or possibility and thinking about it obsessively. I mean creating the space to explore one hundred questions and possibilities. An Essentialist focuses the way our eyes focus; not by fixating on something but by constantly adjusting and adapting to the field of vision.
  • Today he still takes the time away from the daily distractions of running his foundation to simply think.
  • One practice I’ve found useful is simply to read something from classic literature (not a blog, or the newspaper, or the latest beach novel) for the first twenty minutes of the day.
  • WHERE IS THE KNOWLEDGE WE HAVE LOST IN INFORMATION?– T. S. Eliot
  • “I realised that journalism was not just about regurgitating the facts but about figuring out the point.
  • I have seen play reverse these effects in my own children. When they are stressed and things feel out of control, I get them to draw.
  • Our highest priority is to protect our ability to prioritise.
  • “If the answer isn’t a definite yes then it should be a no.”
  • If you rate it any lower than 90 per cent, then automatically change the rating to 0 and simply reject it. This way you avoid getting caught up in indecision, or worse, getting stuck with the 60s or 70s.
  • First, write down the opportunity. Second, write down a list of three “minimum criteria” the options would need to “pass” in order to be considered. Third, write down a list of three ideal or “extreme criteria” the options would need to “pass” in order to be considered.
  • The largely indistinguishable statements make the task almost impossible.
  • “What do you really want out of your career over the next five years?”
  • when people don’t know what the end game is, they are unclear about how to win, and as a result they make up their own game and their own rules as they vie for the manager’s favour.
  • An essential intent, on the other hand, is both inspirational and concrete, both meaningful and measurable
  • “If we could be truly excellent at only one thing, what would it be?”
  • ASK, “HOW WILL WE KNOW WHEN WE’RE DONE?”
  • they noticed that some of the most grandiose were actually the least inspiring.
  • It takes asking tough questions, making real trade-offs, and exercising serious discipline to cut out the competing priorities that distract us from our true intention.
  • COURAGE IS GRACE UNDER PRESSURE.
  • The right “no” spoken at the right time can change the course of history
  • A true Essentialist, Peter Drucker believed that “people are effective because they say no.”
  • SEPARATE THE DECISION FROM THE RELATIONSHIP
  • SAYING “NO” GRACEFULLY DOESN’T HAVE TO MEAN USING THE WORD
  • there are a variety of ways of refusing someone clearly and politely without actually using the word no.
  • REMEMBER THAT A CLEAR “NO” CAN BE MORE GRACEFUL THAN A VAGUE OR NONCOMMITTAL “YES”
  • a clear “I am going to pass on this” is far better than not getting back to someone or stringing them along with some noncommittal answer like “I will try to make this work”
  • Sunk-cost bias
  • “the endowment effect,” our tendency to undervalue things that aren’t ours and to overvalue things because we already own them.
  • PRETEND YOU DON’T OWN IT YET
  • Instead of asking, “How much do I value this item?” we should ask, “If I did not own this item, how much would I pay to obtain it?”
  • APPLY ZERO-BASED BUDGETING
  • In a reverse pilot you test whether removing an initiative or activity will have any negative consequences.
  • he said he thinks of the role of CEO as being the chief editor of the company.
  • as Stephen King has said, “kill your darlings, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.”
  • “To write is human, to edit is divine.”
  • When sitting in a meeting, we can resist the urge to add our two cents. We can wait. We can observe. We can see how things develop.
  • NO IS A COMPLETE SENTENCE.—Anne Lamott
  • Jin-Yung1 was an employee of a technology company in Korea who found herself planning her wedding while simultaneously preparing for a board meeting that was to take place three weeks prior to her big day.
  • DON’T ROB PEOPLE OF THEIR PROBLEMS
  • The question is this: What is the “slowest hiker” in your job or your life?
  • BE CLEAR ABOUT THE ESSENTIAL INTENT
  • IDENTIFY THE “SLOWEST HIKER”
  • “What is the obstacle that, if removed, would make the majority of other obstacles disappear?”
  • As John Lasseter, the chief creative officer at Pixar and now Disney, said, “We don’t actually finish our films, we release them.”
  • DO THE MINIMAL VIABLE PREPARATION
  • “What is the minimal amount I could do right now to prepare?”
  • VISUALLY REWARD PROGRESS
  • With repetition, the connections strengthen and it becomes easier for the brain to activate them.
  • embedding our decisions into our routine allows us to channel that discipline towards some other essential activity.
  • “Focus on the hardest thing first.”
  • to operate at your highest level of contribution requires that you deliberately tune in to what is important in the here and now.
  • What we can’t do is concentrate on two things at the same time.
  • Multi-tasking itself is not the enemy of Essentialism; pretending we can “multi-focus”
  • After a moment of reflection I realised that until I knew what was important right now, what was important right now was to figure out what was important right now!
  • GET THE FUTURE OUT OF YOUR HEAD
  • “What might you want to do someday as a result of today?”
  • He spent three years not reading any newspapers because he found that their contents added only non-essential confusion to his life.
  • when he died he owned fewer than ten items.
  • on my worst days I have wondered if my tombstone will read, “He checked e-mail.”
  • continue to discover almost daily that I can do less and less – in order to contribute more.
  • Choosing to set aside a day each week where I don’t check any social media so I can be fully present at home
  • “fewer things done better”
  • “Clarity equals success.”
  • DEBATE UNTIL YOU HAVE ESTABLISHED A REALLY CLEAR (NOT PRETTY CLEAR) ESSENTIAL INTENT
  • Essentialist leaders speak succinctly, opting for restraint in their communication to keep the team focused

 

Book: Skin in the Game

livro-skin-in-the-game-hidden-asymmetries-in-daily-life-d_nq_np_621538-mlb27088732212_032018-oOnly those, who have skin in the game know what they are talking about, because they cannot afford cheap talk.

In the modern world, very often we have situation where one side has much more risk than the other. It is baffling that usually the side that has almost no risk advises the side that gets the consequences.

 

 

 

Examples would be:

  • Financial advisors offloading risk on the clients
  • Corporations with their rules
  • Academics and economy professors
  • Real – estate salespeople

Amazon link

They all can theorize and they will not suffer any consequences if their theories are wrong. Naturally, that makes them create situation where they are more and more isolated from the real world and practical applicability of their suggestions.

In history, there were laws protecting people against this kind of situation – for example – Sharia law protects against information asymmetry (I know the car Im selling is broken).

“True equality is equality in probability.”

Taleb states that „The knowledge we get by tinkering, via trial and error, experience, and the workings of time, in other words, contact with the earth, is vastly superior to that obtained through reasoning,”.

He calls this practical approach to life „Being Roman” – as opposed to „Being Greek” and focusing on theories.

In a typical Taleb manner, he introduced the notion of a „Intellectual Yet Idiot”. Intellectualism is separating theory from practice and naive perception that everything can be solved in a typical top-down manner.

I dont know what it has to do with the skin in the game, but Taleb suggests there is something like „Minority Rule”. Small, but inflexible minority will convert the flexible majority. Every time member of majority comes in contact with the member of minority – a small convert is born. Slowly, but surely, the conversion spreads. He suggests GMO crops are such example where minority of non-GMO eaters converted the rest.

All in all – this book is very entartaining, but a bit full of Taleb’s ego. Still, very much worth a read.

My highlights

  • in academia there is no difference between academia and the real world; in the real world, there is.
  • For I just don’t like reading books that inform me of the obvious.
  • one debases a principle by endlessly justifying it.
  • The abrasions of your skin guide your learning and discovery, a mechanism of organic signaling,
  • The knowledge we get by tinkering, via trial and error, experience, and the workings of time, in other words, contact with the earth, is vastly superior to that obtained through reasoning,
  • buzzword-laden discourse. Their three flaws: 1) they think in statics not dynamics, 2) they think in low, not high, dimensions, 3) they think in terms of actions, never interactions.
  • should avoid engaging in an action with a big downside if one has no idea of the outcomes.
  • In general, when you hear someone invoking abstract modernistic notions, you can assume that they got some education (but not enough, or in the wrong discipline) and have too little accountability.
  • The principle of intervention, like that of healers, is first do no harm (primum non nocere); even more, we will argue, those who don’t take risks should never be involved in making decisions.
  • Bureaucracy is a construction by which a person is conveniently separated from the consequences of his or her actions.
  • You will never fully convince someone that he is wrong; only reality can.
  • The curse of modernity is that we are increasingly populated by a class of people who are better at explaining than understanding,
  • In general, the more people worship the sacrosanct state (or, equivalently, large corporations),
  • The more they wear suits and ties, the more they hate skin in the game.
  • Effectively, there is no democracy without such an unconditional symmetry in the rights to express yourself, and the gravest threat is the slippery slope in the attempts to limit speech on grounds that some of it may hurt some people’s feelings.
  • Such restrictions do not necessarily come from the state itself, rather from the forceful establishment of an intellectual monoculture by an overactive thought police in
  • Immanuel Kant’s categorical imperative, which I summarize as: Behave as if your action can be generalized to the behavior of everyone in all places, under all conditions.
  • Even worse: the general and the abstract tend to attract self-righteous psychopaths similar to the interventionistas of Part 1 of the Prologue.
  • Start by being nice to every person you meet. But if someone tries to exercise power over you, exercise power over him.
  • Avoid taking advice from someone who gives advice for a living, unless there is a penalty for their advice.
  • You do not want to win an argument. You want to win.
  • “natural” rational; to the contrary. By definition, what works cannot be irrational;
  • By definition, what works cannot be irrational;
  • Intellectualism is the belief that one can separate an action from the results of such action, that one can separate theory from practice, and that one can always fix a complex system by hierarchical approaches, that is, in a (ceremonial) top-down manner.
  • Those who talk should do and only those who do should talk
  • This explains the more severe problems of landscaping and architecture: architects today build to impress other architects, and we end up with strange—irreversible—structures that do not satisfy the well-being of their residents;
  • Specialization, as I will keep insisting, comes with side effects, one of which is separating labor from the fruits of labor.
  • Things designed by people without skin in the game tend to grow in complication (before their final collapse).
  • when you are rewarded for perception, not results, you need to show sophistication. Anyone
  • Many kids would learn to love mathematics if they had some investment in it, and, more crucially, they would build an instinct to spot its misapplications.
  • Being somewhat tribal is not a bad thing—and we have to work in a fractal way in the organized harmonious relations between tribes, rather than merge all tribes in one large soup. In that sense, an American-style federalism is the ideal system.
  • What Ostrom found empirically is that there exists a certain community size below which people act as collectivists, protecting the commons, as if the entire unit became rational. Such a commons cannot be too large. It is like a club.
  • I am, at the Fed level, libertarian; at the state level, Republican; at the local level, Democrat; and at the family and friends level, a socialist.
  • French was supposed to be the language of diplomacy, as civil servants coming from aristocratic backgrounds used it, while their more vulgar compatriots involved in commerce relied on English. In the rivalry between the two languages, English won as commerce grew to dominate modern life;
  • So all Islam did was out-stubborn Christianity, which itself won thanks to its own stubbornness.
  • it is the most intolerant person who imposes virtue on others precisely because of that intolerance.
  • The best slave is someone you overpay and who knows it, terrified of losing his status.
  • There is a category of employees who aren’t slaves, but these represent a very small proportion of the pool. You can identify them as follows: they don’t give a f*** about their reputation, at least not their corporate reputation.
  • traders cursed like sailors, and I have kept the habit of strategic foul language, used only outside of my writings and family life.
  • dogs. Ironically the highest status, that of a free man, is usually indicated by voluntarily adopting the mores of the lowest class.
  • Consider that English “manners” were imposed on the middle class as a way of domesticating them, along with instilling in them the fear of breaking rules and violating social norms.
  • What matters isn’t what a person has or doesn’t have; it is what he or she is afraid of losing.
  • People whose survival depends on qualitative “job assessments” by someone of higher rank in an organization cannot be trusted for critical decisions.
  • If you do not undertake a risk of real harm, reparable or even potentially irreparable, from an adventure, it is not an adventure.
  • What we saw worldwide from 2014 to 2018, from India to the U.K. to the U.S., was a rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy League, Oxford-Cambridge or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think, and … 5) whom to vote for.
  • The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited.
  • They are what Nietzsche called Bildungsphilisters—educated
  • The IYI has been wrong, historically, about Stalinism, Maoism, GMOs, Iraq, Libya, Syria, lobotomies, urban planning, low carbohydrate diets, gym machines, behaviorism, trans-fats, Freudianism, portfolio theory, linear regression, HFCS (High-Fructose Corn Syrup), Gaussianism, Salafism, dynamic stochastic equilibrium modeling, housing projects, marathon running, selfish genes, election-forecasting models, Bernie Madoff (pre-blowup), and p-values. But he is still convinced that his current position is right.
  • True equality is equality in probability.
  • The way to make society more equal is by forcing (through skin in the game) the rich to be subjected to the risk of exiting from the 1 percent.
  • So class envy doesn’t originate from a truck driver in South Alabama, but from a New York or Washington, D.C., Ivy League–educated IYI (say Paul Krugman or Joseph Stiglitz) with a sense of entitlement, upset some “less smart” persons are much richer.
  • Traders, when they make profits, have short communications; when they lose they drown you in details, theories, and charts.
  • That which is “Lindy” is what ages in reverse, i.e., its life expectancy lengthens with time, conditional on survival.
  • You can define a free person precisely as someone whose fate is not centrally or directly dependent on peer assessment.
  • the people you understand most easily were necessarily the bull***tters.
  • the class of intellectuals is all about rituals: without pomp and ceremony, the intellectual is just a talker, that is, pretty much nothing.
  • Poison is drunk in golden cups (Venenum in auro bibitur).
  • If you understand nothing about the problem (like D.C. pundits) and have no skin in the game, then everything is seen through the prism of geopolitics.
  • But it remains that nobody in the Vatican seems to ever take chances by going first to the Lord, subsequently to the doctor,
  • So when we look at religion, and, to some extent, ancestral superstitions, we should consider what purpose they serve, rather than focusing on the notion of “belief,” epistemic belief in its strict scientific definition.
  • Survival comes first, truth, understanding, and science later.
  • There is nothing particularly irrational in beliefs per se (given that they can be shortcuts and instrumental to something else):
  • It is therefore my opinion that religion exists to enforce tail risk management across generations,
  •  If one claimed that there is “statistical evidence that a plane is safe,” with a 98 percent confidence level (statistics are meaningless without such confidence bands), and acted on it, practically no experienced pilot would be alive today.
  • It doesn’t cost me much to go with my “refined paranoia,” even if wrong. For all it takes is for my paranoia to be right once, and it saves my life.
  • Never compare a multiplicative, systemic, and fat-tailed risk to a non-multiplicative, idiosyncratic, and thin-tailed one.
  • In a strategy that entails ruin, benefits never offset risks of ruin.