Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by Max Tegmark

I have an interest in Artificial Intelligence for 4 reasons:

  1. I’m interested in when the first AI might be created
    • Expert opinion ranges from years, to decades, to a century from now
  2. What impact it will have on human jobs
    • You may have noticed that every few months you’ll see the headline in the media “The robots are taking our jobs!”
    • Some jobs we welcome robots to take (dangerous, menial, physical), and others we think are ours to keep
  3. How an AI will treat humanity once it becomes self-aware
    • Will it remove us from the surface of the earth (a popular idea in many movies)?
    • Or usher us into a period of leisure and prosperity?
  4. I’m fascinated with the idea of the AI rebuilding itself by re-writing it’s own code
    • Perhaps releasing a new improved version of itself every day, or every minute
    • Very quickly we will have no idea what it’s thinking and no understanding of its code

We humans have a fear of the unknown and we simply don’t know what the future will bring when it comes to computers being smarter than humans.

The authors purpose for this book is to acknowledge this uncertainty and prompts us to collectively make some choices now. Choices like:

  • Do we want A.I. to serve all of humanity and provide peace and prosperity for everyone?
  • Or build autonomous weapons for a select few to allow us to fight more efficiently with each other?
  • Or, is there a chance that, if we do not prepare, that the AI will squash us like ants because we are an inferior lifeform?

The beginning

The book begins with a prelude which is a story of a possible near-future. I found it so fascinating that I have copied it out in full (it’s just over 6000 words so its a 20 minute read).

Read the prelude now. Download 190Kb .pdf

Have you seen Netflix’s “Black Mirror”? The prelude reminds me of an episode of that show which explores possible technological futures which are frighteningly plausible.

The end

The book ends with a epilogue which tells the story of how the author founded the Future Of Life (FLI) foundation which held a conference where every notable AI researcher on the planet came together and co-wrote the “Asilomar AI principles” which I have included at the end of this article.

The middle

And in the middle, the author, Tegmark, provides a comprehensive discussion of the benefits and dangers of AI.

At the end of each chapter, Tegmark provides useful chapter summaries. I have provided most of those below, plus a few of my other favourite passages.

Before we get into it, I have a confession to make. I found Chapter 6 unfathomable. It got really deep into physics and I understood it not at all.  I encourage you to buy Life 3.0 and read it yourself (but don’t be afraid of just skim reading Chapter 6!).

Here are my notes on “Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence” by Max Tegmark.

 

CHAPTER 1 Welcome to the Most Important Conversation of Our Time

  • Life, defined as a process that can retain its complexity and replicate, can develop through three stages: a biological stage (1.0), where its hardware and software are evolved, a cultural stage (2.0), where it can design its software (through learning) and a technological stage (3.0), where it can design its hardware as well, becoming the master of its own destiny.
  • Artificial intelligence may enable us to launch Life 3.0 this century, and a fascinating conversation has sprung up regarding what future we should aim for and how this can be accomplished. There are three main camps in the controversy: techno-skeptics, digital utopians and the beneficial-AI movement.
  • Techno-skeptics view building superhuman AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) as so hard that it won’t happen for hundreds of years, making it silly to worry about it (and Life 3.0) now.
    • AGI is when the system can apply itself to a wide range variety of tasks, more like a human brain, instead of having narrow expertise, such as only being good at Chess or Jeopardy – Sheldon
  • Digital utopians view it as likely this century and wholeheartedly welcome Life 3.0, viewing it as the natural and desirable next step in the cosmic evolution.
  • The beneficial-AI movement also views it as likely this century, but views a good outcome not as guaranteed, but as something that needs to be ensured by hard work in the form of AI-safety research.
  • Beyond such legitimate controversies where world-leading experts disagree, there are also boring pseudo-controversies caused by misunderstandings. For example, never waste time arguing about “life,” “intelligence,” or “consciousness” before ensuring that you and your protagonist are using these words to mean the same thing! This book uses the definitions in table 1.1.
  • Also beware the common misconceptions in figure 1.5: “Superintelligence by 2100 is inevitable/impossible.” “Only Luddites worry about AI.” “The concern is about AI turning evil and/or conscious, and it’s just years away.” “Robots are the main concern.” “AI can’t control humans and can’t have goals.”
  • In chapters 2 through 6, we’ll explore the story of intelligence from its humble beginning billions of years ago to possible cosmic futures billions of years from now. We’ll first investigate near-term challenges such as jobs, AI weapons and the quest for human-level AGI, then explore possibilities for a fascinating spectrum of possible futures with intelligent machines and/or humans. I wonder which options you’ll prefer!
  • In chapters 7 through 9, we’ll switch from cold factual descriptions to an exploration of goals, consciousness and meaning, and investigate what we can do right now to help create the future we want.
  • I view this conversation about the future of life with AI as the most important one of our time—please join it!

CHAPTER 2 Matter Turns Intelligent

What is Intelligence?

Intelligence = ability to accomplish complex goals

This is broad enough to include all above-mentioned definitions, since understanding, self-awareness, problem solving, learning, etc. are all examples of complex goals that one might have.

It’s also broad enough to subsume the Oxford Dictionary definition—“the ability to acquire and apply knowledge and skills”—since one can have as a goal to apply knowledge and skills.

  • Intelligence, defined as ability to accomplish complex goals, can’t be measured by a single IQ, only by an ability spectrum across all goals.
  • Today’s artificial intelligence tends to be narrow, with each system able to accomplish only very specific goals, while human intelligence is remarkably broad.
  • Memory, computation, learning and intelligence have an abstract, intangible and ethereal feel to them because they’re substrate-independent: able to take on a life of their own that doesn’t depend on or reflect the details of their underlying material substrate.
  • Any chunk of matter can be the substrate for memory as long as it has many different stable states.
  • Any matter can be computronium, the substrate for computation, as long as it contains certain universal building blocks that can be combined to implement any function. NAND gates and neurons are two important examples of such universal “computational atoms.”
  • A neural network is a powerful substrate for learning because, simply by obeying the laws of physics, it can rearrange itself to get better and better at implementing desired computations.
  • Because of the striking simplicity of the laws of physics, we humans only care about a tiny fraction of all imaginable computational problems, and neural networks tend to be remarkably good at solving precisely this tiny fraction.
  • Once technology gets twice as powerful, it can often be used to design and build technology that’s twice as powerful in turn, triggering repeated capability doubling in the spirit of Moore’s law. The cost of information technology has now halved roughly every two years for about a century, enabling the information age.
  • If AI progress continues, then long before AI reaches human level for all skills, it will give us fascinating opportunities and challenges involving issues such as bugs, laws, weapons and jobs—which we’ll explore in the next chapter.

CHAPTER 3 The Near Future: Breakthroughs, Bugs, Laws, Weapons and Jobs

Key questions

  • How can we make future AI systems more robust than today’s, so that they do what we want without crashing, malfunctioning or getting hacked?
  • How can we update our legal systems to be more fair and efficient and to keep pace with the rapidly changing digital landscape?
  • How can we make weapons smarter and less prone to killing innocent civilians without triggering an out-of-control arms race in lethal autonomous weapons?
  • How can we grow our prosperity through automation without leaving people lacking income or purpose?

AI Applications

  • AI for space exploration
  • AI for finance
  • AI for manufacturing
  • AI for transportation
    • Elon Musk envisions that future self-driving cars will not only be safer, but will also earn money for their owners while they’re not needed, by competing with Uber and Lyft.
  • AI for energy
  • AI for Healthcare
  • AI for Communication
  • Laws
  • Robojudges
    • All pending cases to be processed in parallel rather than in series, each case getting its own robojudge for as long as it takes
    • They could make it dramatically cheaper to get justice through the courts
  • Legal controversies
    • fMRI scanners to determine what a person is thinking about and, in particular, whether they’re telling the truth or lying
    • AI becomes able to generate fully realistic fake videos of you committing crimes
    • So if a self-driving car causes an accident, who should be liable—its occupants, its owner or its manufacturer? Legal scholar David Vladeck has proposed a fourth answer: the car itself! Specifically, he proposes that self-driving cars be allowed (and required) to hold car insurance.
  • Weapons
    • The Next Arms Race?
    • Should There Be an International Treaty?
    • Cyberwar
  • Jobs and Wages
  • Technology and Inequality
  • Career Advice for Kids
    • Does it require interacting with people and using social intelligence?
    • Does it involve creativity and coming up with clever solutions?
    • Does it require working in an unpredictable environment?
    • The more of these questions you can answer with a yes, the better your career choice is likely to be.
    • This means that relatively safe bets include becoming a teacher, nurse, doctor, dentist, scientist, entrepreneur, programmer, engineer, lawyer, social worker, clergy member, artist, hairdresser or massage therapist.
  • Will Humans Eventually Become Unemployable?
    • The vast majority of today’s occupations are ones that already existed a century ago, and when we sort them by the number of jobs they provide, we have to go all the way down to twenty-first place in the list until we encounter a new occupation: software developers, who make up less than 1% of the U.S. job market.
    • The main trend on the job market isn’t that we’re moving into entirely new professions. Rather, we’re crowding into those pieces of terrain in figure 2.2 that haven’t yet been submerged by the rising tide of technology!
  • Giving People Income Without Jobs
    • Technological progress can end up providing many valuable products and services for free even without government intervention.
    • For example, people used to pay for encyclopedias, atlases, sending letters and making phone calls, but now anyone with an internet connection gets access to all these things at no cost—together with free videoconferencing, photo sharing, social media, online courses and countless other new services.
  • Human-Level Intelligence?

Chapter Summary

  • Near-term AI progress has the potential to greatly improve our lives in myriad ways, from making our personal lives, power grids and financial markets more efficient to saving lives with self-driving cars, surgical bots and AI diagnosis systems.
  • When we allow real-world systems to be controlled by AI, it’s crucial that we learn to make AI more robust, doing what we want it to do. This boils down to solving tough technical problems related to verification, validation, security and control.
  • This need for improved robustness is particularly pressing for AI-controlled weapon systems, where the stakes can be huge.
  • Many leading AI researchers and roboticists have called for an international treaty banning certain kinds of autonomous weapons, to avoid an out-of-control arms race that could end up making convenient assassination machines available to everybody with a full wallet and an axe to grind.
  • AI can make our legal systems more fair and efficient if we can figure out how to make robojudges transparent and unbiased.
  • Our laws need rapid updating to keep up with AI, which poses tough legal questions involving privacy, liability and regulation.
  • Long before we need to worry about intelligent machines replacing us altogether, they may increasingly replace us on the job market.
  • This need not be a bad thing, as long as society redistributes a fraction of the AI-created wealth to make everyone better off.
  • Otherwise, many economists argue, inequality will greatly increase.
  • With advance planning, a low-employment society should be able to flourish not only financially, with people getting their sense of purpose from activities other than jobs.
  • Career advice for today’s kids: Go into professions that machines are bad at—those involving people, unpredictability and creativity.
  • There’s a non-negligible possibility that AGI progress will proceed to human levels and beyond—we’ll explore that in the next chapter!

CHAPTER 4 Intelligence Explosion?

  • If we one day succeed in building human-level AGI, this may trigger an intelligence explosion, leaving us far behind.
  • If a group of humans manage to control an intelligence explosion, they may be able to take over the world in a matter of years.
  • If humans fail to control an intelligence explosion, the AI itself may take over the world even faster.
  • Whereas a rapid intelligence explosion is likely to lead to a single world power, a slow one dragging on for years or decades may be more likely to lead to a multipolar scenario with a balance of power between a large number of rather independent entities.
  • The history of life shows it self-organizing into an ever more complex hierarchy shaped by collaboration, competition and control. Superintelligence is likely to enable coordination on ever-larger cosmic scales, but it’s unclear whether it will ultimately lead to more totalitarian top-down control or more individual empowerment.
  • Cyborgs and uploads are plausible, but arguably not the fastest route to advanced machine intelligence.
  • The climax of our current race toward AI may be either the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity, with a fascinating spectrum of possible outcomes that we’ll explore in the next chapter.
  • We need to start thinking hard about which outcome we prefer and how to steer in that direction, because if we don’t know what we want, we’re unlikely to get it.

CHAPTER 5 Aftermath: The Next 10,000 Years

  • The current race toward AGI can end in a fascinatingly broad range of aftermath scenarios for upcoming millennia.
  • Superintelligence can peacefully coexist with humans either because it’s forced to (enslaved-god scenario) or because it’s “friendly AI” that wants to (libertarian-utopia, protector-god, benevolent-dictator and zookeeper scenarios).
  • Superintelligence can be prevented by an AI (gatekeeper scenario) or by humans (1984 scenario), by deliberately forgetting the technology (reversion scenario) or by lack of incentives to build it (egalitarian-utopia scenario).
  • Humanity can go extinct and get replaced by AIs (conqueror and descendant scenarios) or by nothing (self-destruction scenario).
  • There’s absolutely no consensus on which, if any, of these scenarios are desirable, and all involve objectionable elements. This makes it all the more important to continue and deepen the conversation around our future goals, so that we don’t inadvertently drift or steer in an unfortunate direction.

CHAPTER 6 Our Cosmic Endowment: The Next Billion Years and Beyond

Here’s where the book got deep into physics. I understood very little of this chapter so no notes from me – Sheldon.

CHAPTER 7 Goals

Figuring out how to align the goals of a superintelligent AI with our goals isn’t just important, but also hard. In fact, it’s currently an unsolved problem. It splits into three tough subproblems, each of which is the subject of active research by computer scientists and other thinkers:

  1. Making AI learn our goals
  2. Making AI adopt our goals
  3. Making AI retain our goals

To learn our goals, an AI must figure out not what we do, but why we do it. We humans accomplish this so effortlessly that it’s easy to forget how hard the task is for a computer, and how easy it is to misunderstand. If you ask a future self-driving car to take you to the airport as fast as possible and it takes you literally, you’ll get there chased by helicopters and covered in vomit. If you exclaim, “That’s not what I wanted!,” it can justifiably answer, “That’s what you asked for.”

For example, suppose a bunch of ants create you to be a recursively self-improving robot, much smarter than them, who shares their goals and helps them build bigger and better anthills, and that you eventually attain the human-level intelligence and understanding that you have now.

Do you think you’ll spend the rest of your days just optimizing anthills, or do you think you might develop a taste for more sophisticated questions and pursuits that the ants have no ability to comprehend?

If so, do you think you’ll find a way to override the ant-protection urge that your formicine creators endowed you with in much the same way that the real you overrides some of the urges your genes have given you? And in that case, might a superintelligent friendly AI find our current human goals as uninspiring and vapid as you find those of the ants, and evolve new goals different from those it learned and adopted from us?

CHAPTER 8 Consciousness

  • There’s no undisputed definition of “consciousness.” I use the broad and non-anthropocentric definition consciousness = subjective experience.
  • Whether AIs are conscious in that sense is what matters for the thorniest ethical and philosophical problems posed by the rise of AI: Can AIs suffer? Should they have rights? Is uploading a subjective suicide? Could a future cosmos teeming with AIs be the ultimate zombie apocalypse?
  • The problem of understanding intelligence shouldn’t be conflated with three separate problems of consciousness: the “pretty hard problem” of predicting which physical systems are conscious, the “even harder problem” of predicting qualia, and the “ really hard problem” of why anything at all is conscious.
  • The “pretty hard problem” of consciousness is scientific, since a theory that predicts which of your brain processes are conscious is experimentally testable and falsifiable, while it’s currently unclear how science could fully resolve the two harder problems.
  • Neuroscience experiments suggest that many behaviors and brain regions are unconscious, with much of our conscious experience representing an after-the-fact summary of vastly larger amounts of unconscious information.
  • Generalizing consciousness predictions from brains to machines requires a theory. Consciousness appears to require not a particular kind of particle or field, but a particular kind of information processing that’s fairly autonomous and integrated, so that the whole system is rather autonomous but its parts aren’t.
  • Consciousness might feel so non-physical because it’s doubly substrate-independent: if consciousness is the way information feels when being processed in certain complex ways, then it’s merely the structure of the information processing that matters, not the structure of the matter doing the information processing.
  • If artificial consciousness is possible, then the space of possible AI experiences is likely to be huge compared to what we humans can experience, spanning a vast spectrum of qualia and timescales—all sharing a feeling of having free will.
  • Since there can be no meaning without consciousness, it’s not our Universe giving meaning to conscious beings, but conscious beings giving meaning to our Universe.
  • This suggests that as we humans prepare to be humbled by ever smarter machines, we take comfort mainly in being Homo sentiens, not Homo sapiens.

Epilogue: The Tale of the FLI Team

The book finishes with the authors creation of the foundation “FutureOfLife.org” which began with a conference where every notable AI researcher on the planet came together and co-wrote the “Asilomar AI principles”.

Artificial intelligence has already provided beneficial tools that are used every day by people around the world. Its continued development, guided by the following principles, will offer amazing opportunities to help and empower people in the decades and centuries ahead.

Research Issues

1) Research Goal: The goal of AI research should be to create not undirected intelligence, but beneficial intelligence.

2) Research Funding: Investments in AI should be accompanied by funding for research on ensuring its beneficial use, including thorny questions in computer science, economics, law, ethics, and social studies, such as:

  • How can we make future AI systems highly robust, so that they do what we want without malfunctioning or getting hacked?
  • How can we grow our prosperity through automation while maintaining people’s resources and purpose?
  • How can we update our legal systems to be more fair and efficient, to keep pace with AI, and to manage the risks associated with AI?
  • What set of values should AI be aligned with, and what legal and ethical status should it have?

3) Science-Policy Link: There should be constructive and healthy exchange between AI researchers and policy-makers.

4) Research Culture: A culture of cooperation, trust, and transparency should be fostered among researchers and developers of AI.

5) Race Avoidance: Teams developing AI systems should actively cooperate to avoid corner-cutting on safety standards.

Ethics and Values

6) Safety: AI systems should be safe and secure throughout their operational lifetime, and verifiably so where applicable and feasible.

7) Failure Transparency: If an AI system causes harm, it should be possible to ascertain why.

8) Judicial Transparency: Any involvement by an autonomous system in judicial decision-making should provide a satisfactory explanation auditable by a competent human authority.

9) Responsibility: Designers and builders of advanced AI systems are stakeholders in the moral implications of their use, misuse, and actions, with a responsibility and opportunity to shape those implications.

10) Value Alignment: Highly autonomous AI systems should be designed so that their goals and behaviors can be assured to align with human values throughout their operation.

11) Human Values: AI systems should be designed and operated so as to be compatible with ideals of human dignity, rights, freedoms, and cultural diversity.

12) Personal Privacy: People should have the right to access, manage and control the data they generate, given AI systems’ power to analyze and utilize that data.

13) Liberty and Privacy: The application of AI to personal data must not unreasonably curtail people’s real or perceived liberty.

14) Shared Benefit: AI technologies should benefit and empower as many people as possible.

15) Shared Prosperity: The economic prosperity created by AI should be shared broadly, to benefit all of humanity.

16) Human Control: Humans should choose how and whether to delegate decisions to AI systems, to accomplish human-chosen objectives.

17) Non-subversion: The power conferred by control of highly advanced AI systems should respect and improve, rather than subvert, the social and civic processes on which the health of society depends.

18) AI Arms Race: An arms race in lethal autonomous weapons should be avoided.

Longer-term Issues

19) Capability Caution: There being no consensus, we should avoid strong assumptions regarding upper limits on future AI capabilities.

20) Importance: Advanced AI could represent a profound change in the history of life on Earth, and should be planned for and managed with commensurate care and resources.

21) Risks: Risks posed by AI systems, especially catastrophic or existential risks, must be subject to planning and mitigation efforts commensurate with their expected impact.

22) Recursive Self-Improvement: AI systems designed to recursively self-improve or self-replicate in a manner that could lead to rapidly increasing quality or quantity must be subject to strict safety and control measures.

23) Common Good: Superintelligence should only be developed in the service of widely shared ethical ideals, and for the benefit of all humanity rather than one state or organization.

To date, the Principles have been signed by 1273 AI/Robotics researchers and 2541 others.

Your Thoughts?

Do you have an interest in AI? Have you read this book? Have your say in the comment section below.

What 87 of the Best Business Books in the World Have to Teach You

I read a lot of business books.

It all started when I had an interest in doing an MBA course.

I came across a website by Josh Kaufman who said “don’t bother spending $100k+ on an MBA, you can learn everything you need to know from my list of 99 business books”.

I read through his list (at a rate of 1.5 business books per week) and just kept going!

I’ve now read over 200 business books since August 2008.

For a few dollars we get to reach into the minds of the greatest business people and steal their ideas, what a privilege!

I highlight my favourite parts from these books and turn these business book summaries into articles for my website.

A few years ago I compiled 67 summaries from my favourite business books into an ebook, and just this week I updated this ebook with an additional 20 summaries, bringing the total to 87.

I’ve called it “What 87 of the Best Business Books in the World Have to Teach You”.

Can you answer “YES!” to the following questions?:

  1. Do you like the idea of feeding your mind with high quality business books but have trouble finding the time?
  2. Would you like some of the best business books on the planet summarised into easily digestible chunks?
  3. Would you like to have the important lessons highlighted for you and for it to be easy for you to identify the best books that you’d like to read in their entirety?

If you answered “YES!” to those questions, then my ebook “What 87 of the Best Business Books in the World Have to Teach You” is for you.

Buy this ebook now for US$7

  • You get a pdf version, plus .epub and .mobi versions for reading on your favourite mobile device
  • 100% money back guarantee. If you are not happy with your purchase, just email me and I’ll refund you within 24 hours.

Your 458 page ebook includes these 87 chapters:

  1. Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built, by Duncan Clark
  2. Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferriss
  3. The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly
  4. Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future by Ashlee Vance
  5. Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail
  6. Ask by Ryan Levesque
  7. Launch by Jeff Walker
  8. The 4-Hour Work Week (Timothy Ferris): What I Learned The Second Time Through
  9. Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler
  10. Money, Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins
  11. Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek
  12. Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier by Ari Meisel
  13. Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh
  14. Flash Foresight: See The Invisible To Do The Impossible by Daniel Burrus
  15. How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams
  16. Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk
  17. The Power of Less: The 6 Essential Productivity Principles That Will Change Your Life by Leo Babauta
  18. Value-Based Fees: How to Charge, and Get, What You’re Worth by Alan Weiss
  19. Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson
  20. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
  21. The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout
  22. Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler
  23. Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff
  24. Startup Communities – Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City by Brad Feld
  25. Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  26. The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries
  27. The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz
  28. Rework by Jason Fried
  29. The Brain Audit by Sean D’Souza
  30. Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath
  31. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  32. How To Make Millions With Your Ideas by Dan S. Kennedy
  33. The Unwritten Laws of Business by J. King and James G. Skakoon
  34. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  35. Purple Cow by Seth Godin
  36. Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
  37. Game-based Marketing by Gabe Zichermann
  38. Real-Time Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott
  39. Hit The Ground Running: A Manual For New Leaders by Jason Jennings
  40. Why Now Is The Time To Crush It! Cash In On Your Passion by Gary Vaynerchuk
  41. Poke The Box by Seth Godin
  42. Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead
  43. Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business by Erik Qualman
  44. Social Media 101 by Chris Brogan
  45. Social Media Marketing for Dummies by Shiv Singh
  46. The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani
  47. Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days by Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager
  48. Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future By Seth Godin
  49. Marketing Without Money – How 20 Top Australian Entrepreneurs Crack Markets With Their Minds by John C Lyons and Edward de Bono
  50. Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths For Winning At Business Without Losing Your Self by Alan M. Webber
  51. The Knack – How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn To Handle Whatever Comes Up by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham
  52. Getting Real: The Smarter, Faster, Easier Way to Build a Successful Web Application by 37Signals
  53. Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business by Jeff Howe
  54. 1001 Ways To Make More Money As A Speaker, Consultant or Trainer by Lilly Walters
  55. How To Succeed As An Independent Consultant by Timothy R V Foster
  56. How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer
  57. Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson
  58. Outrageous Advertising That’s Outrageously Successful by Bill Glazer
  59. The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J Stanley and William D Danko
  60. Toughen Up by Michael Hill
  61. Permission Marketing by Seth Godin – Have your customers given YOU permission?
  62. The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun
  63. Making Things Happen – Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun
  64. Driven – How Human Nature Shapes Our Choices by Paul R. Lawrence & Nitin Nohria
  65. The five most important questions you will ever ask about your organisation by Peter F. Drucker, Jim Collins, Philip Kotler
  66. Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne
  67. Brain Rules by John Medina
  68. Tribes – We Need You To Lead Us by Seth Godin
  69. The Secrets of Consulting by Gerald M. Weinberg
  70. All Marketers are Liars by Seth Godin
  71. Getting Started in Consulting by Alan Weiss
  72. SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham
  73. The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes
  74. The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More With Less by Richard Koch
  75. The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris
  76. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
  77. Indispensable by Joe Calloway
  78. The Sales Bible – The Ultimate Sales Resource by Jeffrey Gitomer
  79. The Complete Idiots Guide to Consulting by Robert Bacal
  80. Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got by Jay Abraham
  81. 12: The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter
  82. Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
  83. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith
  84. Crucial Conversations, Tools For Talking When The Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson
  85. Bargaining for Advantage by G. Richard Shell
  86. Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin
  87. 10 Days To Faster Reading by Abby Marks-Beale

Buy this ebook now for US$7

  • You get a pdf version, plus .epub and .mobi versions for reading on your favourite mobile device
  • 100% money back guarantee. If you are not happy with your purchase, just email me and I’ll refund you within 24 hours.

What should I read next?

I’m always on the look out for business books to add to my reading queue, so let me know what I should read next.

Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built, by Duncan Clark

I am somewhat addicted to AliExpress app on my phone. Just about every week we’ll have a tiny package arrive all the way from China. It feels like receiving a mystery gift every time because it’s been 4 weeks since I ordered the item so I’m not sure what’s inside.

The items are of such high quality, so cheap and the free shipping is irresistible.

I’ve known about Alibaba for a few years but hadn’t made a purchase until AliExpress.

There were 3 big surprises in the book:

  1. Alibaba wasn’t the “overnight success” that I thought it was
    • In fact, it’s 20 years old
  2. China is big. Really big.
    • Yes, we all know that China has more than 1.2 Billion people but I little human brains have trouble processing the shear scale of a number that big
    • Alibaba sends out 30 million packages per day
  3. Jack Ma built one of the first websites for China, and co-founded one of the first China-based companies that built websites for clients in 1995

My notes on “Alibaba: The House That Jack Ma Built” by Duncan Clark.

Chapter One

Jack likes to say that his company’s success was an accident: “Alibaba might as well be known as ‘one thousand and one mistakes.’”

In its early years, he gave three explanations as to why the company survived: “We didn’t have any money, we didn’t have any technology, and we didn’t have a plan.”

But let’s look at the three real factors that underpin Alibaba’s success today: the company’s competitive edge in e-commerce, logistics, and finance, what Jack describes as Alibaba’s “iron triangle”.

The E-commerce Edge

Unlike Amazon, Alibaba’s consumer websites Taobao and Tmall carry no inventory. They serve as platforms for other merchants to sell their wares.

Taobao consists of nine million storefronts run by small traders or individuals.

Attracted by the site’s huge user base, these “micro merchants” choose to set up their stalls on Taobao in part because it costs them nothing to do so.

Alibaba charges them no fees. But Taobao makes money—a lot of it—from selling advertising space, helping promote those merchants who want to stand out from the crowd.

The Logistics Edge

On Singles’ Day 2015, orders placed on Alibaba’s websites generated 467 million packages, requiring more than 1.7 million couriers and four hundred thousand vehicles to deliver the goods.

China today has a veritable army of couriers. On foot, bicycles, electronic bikes, trucks, and trains they are the unsung heroes of the country’s e-commerce revolution.

Chinese consumers spent more than $32 billion on package deliveries in 2014. The number increased by more than 40 percent in a year.

Without the low-cost delivery that the courier services provide, Alibaba would not be the giant it is today. To survive in a cutthroat industry, some of the courier firms have adopted clever methods to keep costs at rock bottom. In Shanghai, for instance, couriers shuttle back and forth on the subway, passing packages over the barriers to one another to avoid buying multiple tickets.

In response to the inefficiency of what was then the United States Post Office. In China, the e-commerce gold rush has stimulated the rise of more than eight thousand private courier firms, of which twenty major companies stand out.

Together they handle more than 30 million packages a day and employ more than 1.5 million people across six hundred cities.

Cainiao is building a propriety information platform that knits together logistics providers, warehouses, and distribution centers across the country. Alibaba owns 48 percent of Cainiao,

Yet with Cainiao Alibaba has shored up the most important asset of all: trust. Customers and merchants know they can count on the products getting where they need to be, on time.

The Finance Edge

In financial services, Alibaba’s most important asset is Alipay, its answer to PayPal.

Alipay handles more than three-quarters of a trillion dollars a year in online transactions, three times the volume of PayPal and one-third of the $2.5 trillion global online payments market.

As a form of escrow, Alipay diffuses trust throughout Alibaba’s e-commerce empire.

Twenty percent of all Alipay transactions involve paying for utilities, such as water, electricity , and gas bills. Customers can also buy train tickets, pay traffic fines, or purchase insurance using Alipay, making it the de facto currency of an increasingly digital China.

Chapter Two Jack Magic

Jack once explained that he loves the lead character of the movie Forrest Gump because “people think he is dumb, but he knows what he is doing.”

Jack’s speaking style is so effective because his message is so easy to agree with, remember, and digest.

Jack always speaks without notes.

A close inspection of all of his speeches reveals he has essentially been giving the same speech for the last seventeen years. Yet by subtly tweaking his message to match the mood and expectations of the crowd, he somehow manages to make each speech sound fresh.

Jack is a master at appealing to people’s emotions, Humor is a big part of it.

Jack’s set pieces, his one-liners and anecdotes, and the way he combines them are essentially the same as the “bits” that comedians use to make up their routines.

With his tales of overcoming challenges and defying the odds, Jack regularly drives some in his audience to tears, even hardened business executives.

Jack’s Mantra: “Customers first, employees second, and shareholders third.” Jack describes this as Alibaba’s philosophy.

Employees are discouraged from ever complaining—a pet peeve of Jack’s—and encouraged instead to shoulder personal responsibility, carrying out or delegating tasks rather than waiting for orders from on high.

The “Six Veins” of Alibaba’s “Spirit Sword” are “customer first, teamwork, embrace change, integrity, passion, and commitment.”

Chapter Four Hope and Coming to America

These single-product towns can represent 80 percent or more of the production of individual commodities—not just in China but worldwide. Shaoxing is “textile city” and Yongkang is “hardware city,” churning out 30,000 steel doors and 150,000 motor scooters every day.

Taizhou is known as “sewing machine city” and Shenzhou as “necktie city.” Haining calls itself “leather city.” There is even a “toothbrush city”.

Yiwu itself claims to be China’s “sock city,” producing annually more than three billion pairs of socks for companies like Walmart and Disney, although Datang, near Hangzhou, also claims to be “sock city,” producing more than eight billion pairs each year.

Jack recalled his first online session: “My friend Stuart . . . said, ‘Jack, this is Internet. You can find whatever you can find through the Internet.’ I say really? So I searched the word beer. Very simple word. I don’t know why I searched for beer. But I found American beer, Germany [sic] beer and no Chinese beer. . . . I was curious, so I searched ‘China,’ and no ‘China,’ no data.”

Intrigued, Jack asked Stuart for help. “I talked to my friend, ‘Why don’t I make something about China?’ So we made a small, very ugly-looking page . . . [for the] translation agency I listed on there.”

The site for Hope Translation was just text, without any images, plus a telephone number and the price for translation work.

Jack later recalled to the journalist Charlie Rose: “It was so shocking, we launched it nine forty in the morning, twelve thirty I got a phone call from my friend. ‘Jack, you’ve got five emails.’ I said, ‘What is email?’” Three emails came from the United States, one from Japan, and one from Germany.

Jack set about formulating the idea for a new business—helping Chinese companies find export channels online—and pitched the idea of a partnership with VBN.

Chapter Five China Is Coming On

China Pages

As sales pitches go, asking people who had never heard of the Internet to fork over 20,000 renminbi ($2,400) up front to create, design, and host a website they could never see was a challenging one. Jack worried that people thought he was defrauding them. “I was treated like a con man for three years,” he said.

“It took three and a half hours to download the front page. . . . I was so excited.”

“From then on, I have held a firm belief: When I start businesses in future, I will never hold the controlling stake of a company, making those controlled by me suffer. I will give plenty of understanding and support to lower levels. I have never once had a controlling stake at Alibaba. I am proud of this. I am the CEO of the company, because I lead it with [my] wisdom, courage, and resourcefulness, not capital.”

Chapter Six Bubble and Birth

After his struggles with Hope Translation and China Pages and an uncomfortable period working for the government in Beijing, Jack went on to found Alibaba at the beginning of 1999.

Jack decided to call his new venture Alibaba, a curious name for a Chinese company.

Jack has been asked many times why he chose an Arabic name for his company rather than something derived from his passion for Chinese martial arts or folklore. Jack was attracted, he said, by the “open sesame” imagery, since he hoped to achieve an opening for the small and medium-size enterprises he was targeting.

He was also looking for a name that traveled well, and Alibaba is a name that is easy to pronounce in many languages. He liked the name since it came at the beginning of the alphabet: “Whatever you talk about, Alibaba is always on top.”

Jack says the idea came to him for the website on a trip to San Francisco: “I was having lunch, and a waitress came. I asked her: ‘Do you know about Alibaba?’ She said, ‘Yes!’ ‘What is Alibaba?’ And she said, ‘Open Sesame.’ So I went down to the street and asked about ten to twenty people. They all [knew] about Alibaba, Forty Thieves, and Open Sesame.

Chapter Seven Backers: Goldman and SoftBank

Jack has always been dismissive of business schools: “It is not necessary to study an MBA. Most MBA graduates are not useful. . . . Unless they come back from their MBA studies and forget what they’ve learned at school, then they will be useful. Because schools teach knowledge, while starting businesses requires wisdom. Wisdom is acquired through experience. Knowledge can be acquired through hard work.”

“Masters of negotiation always listen, don’t talk. Those who talk a lot only have second-rate negotiation skills. A true master listens, and as soon as he moves his sword, you pretty much collapse.”

Chapter Eight Burst and Back to China

“If you can’t tolerate your opponents, you will be definitely beaten by your opponent. . . . If you treat your opponents as enemies, you have already lost at the beginning of the game. If you hang your opponent as a target, and practice throwing darts at him every day, you are only able to fight this one enemy, not others. . . . Competition is the greatest joy. When you compete with others, and find that it brings you more and more agony, there must be something wrong with your competition strategy.”

Chapter Nine Born Again: Taobao and the Humiliation of eBay

“The pioneers take the arrows, settlers take the land”

The SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus outbreak started in southern China in 2002,

Although it sickened thousands and killed almost eight hundred people, the outbreak had a curiously beneficial impact on the Chinese Internet sector, including Alibaba. SARS validated digital mobile telephony and the Internet, and so came to represent the turning point when the Internet emerged as a truly mass medium in China.

Millions of people, confined to their homes or dormitories for days or weeks on end, looked to the Internet for information or entertainment.

Crucially for Alibaba, SARS convinced millions of people, afraid to go outside, to try shopping online instead.

“One of the greatest investments of our lifetime has been New York City real estate,” she said, “and investors made the highest returns when they bought stuff during the 1970s and 1980s when people were getting mugged. . . . The lesson is that you make the most money when you buy stuff that’s out of consensus.”

By starting with C2C, it made the price factor very appealing. Individuals can be happy to make even five mao (less than 1 U.S. cent) on a sale.”

Taobao’s decision to forgo charging fees was not without risk, since it forced it to look to other ways of generating revenues, especially if the site became popular and drove up operating costs. But making the site free for both shoppers and merchants turned out to be the key factor in ensuring Taobao’s triumph over eBay. A research paper that analyzed more than a decade’s worth of transaction data on Taobao concludes that in the early phase of the company’s history, attracting merchants, who in China are especially allergic to paying fees, was more important than attracting shoppers. Taobao’s popularity was fueled by a “virtuous circle”: More merchants and product listings meant more shoppers were attracted to the site, which meant more merchants and products, etc.

As predicted, as soon as the China site was migrated and integrated into the global site, the impact on EachNet’s traffic was disastrous: It dropped off precipitously. Customers in China started to experience long delays and time-outs on the site. Why would they bother to wait for eBay in China—a site that charged fees—when Taobao was available instantly and for free?

Changing one word on the site would take nine weeks. Changing one feature would take one year.

Although Taobao had its merits, Alibaba could hardly believe its luck as the ineptness of this supposedly world-renowned company became apparent.

“You’ve got to have a set of products uniquely designed for this market by Chinese. It is not a market where you can take a product or a system that works in Europe or the United States and export to China.”

“We made one big mistake. We should have left EachNet on their own platform in China. Instead what we did was put EachNet onto the global eBay platform because it had worked everywhere. It had worked in Western Europe, it had worked all over. . . . We had bought all these baby eBays and basically migrated them to one common platform, which had a lot of advantages. One is cost. Second is speed to market, because when you roll ‘buy it now’ you could roll it to thirty countries as opposed to do it incrementally. But we made a mistake in China.” She gives credit to Alibaba’s achievements in designing Taobao to suit the local market:

“eBay may be a shark in the ocean, but I am a crocodile in the Yangtze River. If we fight in the ocean, we lose, but if we fight in the river, we win.”

Chapter Ten Yahoo’s Billion-Dollar Bet

On April 12, 1996, Yahoo went public on the Nasdaq,

Only a year after incorporating the company, Jerry Yang and David Filo were each worth more than $165 million on paper. Within three years they were billionaires.

Google announced its withdrawal from China.

eBay, Yahoo, and Google had all recognized that China’s Internet market would become massive. But as the market grew, so did regulatory barriers and the competitive challenge from entrepreneurial and well-financed companies like Alibaba, Baidu, and Tencent.

Chapter Eleven Growing Pains

Tencent, with more than 740 million QQ instant messaging users

Although its share price took a beating, Alibaba would survive the global financial crisis. And as with SARS five years earlier, the crisis created some unexpected dividends for the company. First, Jack realized that the downturn gave him a way to increase the loyalty of his paying customers. He initiated a dramatic reduction in the cost of thier subscriptions, tellin David, “Let’s be responsible to our customers. They are paying fifty thousand yuan; we can give them thirty thousand yuan back.”

“The stock market went crazy,” David recalled, as investors called him up to complain, “What? You’re losing sixty percent of your revenue.” But there was a method to Jack’s madness. Jack was serious about putting the customer first. Jack was “always trying to understand how to get the money back later. He’s just not greedy about getting the money first.” Looking back on the price cut, David concluded that the move was well timed. “Revenues didn’t drop at all. Customer volume growth offset the price drop completely. And after the financial crisis was over we didn’t raise the prices. We created an opportunity to sell them more value-added services, more of an Internet-style model. Jack actually told me he wanted to change it anyway. The crisis gave him the opportunity.”

Chapter Twelve Icon or Icarus?

So, Alibaba found itself in New York. Selling 12 percent of the company, it raised $25 billion, the largest IPO in history.

Demand for BABA shares outstripped supply by over fourteen times.

BABA closed the day 25 percent higher than the initial price, valuing the company at over $230 billion, more than Coca-Cola. Among Internet companies, Alibaba was second only to Google, higher even than Amazon and Facebook.

CEO David Wei instructed his team to look at countries with the lowest efficiency in their retail sector.

Without AliExpress even opening offices there, but with Russian and Portuguese language capabilities added to the AliExpress website, Russia and Brazil became early success stories. Demand from Alibaba’s customers in Brazil at one point exceeded over three hundred thousand packages a day, before a slowing economy and the weakening real hit the company’s business there. Demand in Russia, especially for clothing and consumer electronics, was so strong that AliExpress reportedly even broke the Russian postal service, leading to the dismissal of its boss. Today Russia accounts for a fifth of AliExpress’s sales.

Your Thoughts?

Have you read the book? What did you get out of it? Have these notes inspired you to read it?

Have your say in the comments section below.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari

Have you ever read a book and felt it rewiring your brain?

This is one of those books.

(This is actually the first of a pair of books. The sequel is called Homo Deus which looks at the future).

My whole adult life I’ve had a conflict between my Christian beliefs and my interest in science when it comes to the origin of humanity (and all life on this planet). This book nudged me one step closer to the explanations provided by science.

This book tackles the big questions:

  • Was the universe and humanity created by God?
  • Or, have humans, and all life on this planet, evolved over millions/billions of years? And if so, what is the evidence?
  • What is the purpose of humanity?
  • Why is all life driven to survive and thrive?
  • Were religions created by people to help us co-operate better?

I found a summary much better than one I could have written by James Clear on his blog: Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, summary written by James Clear.

So I have copied James Clear’s notes below, but first, here are 5 ideas that really stood out to me.

My 5 Favourite Ideas From Sapiens

  1. That instead of domesticating wheat, wheat domesticated us, and has become one of the most successful plants in the history of the planet
  2. That our human ability to share “myths” has helped us take over the planet.
    • The most important of those myth’s is money. We all agree to believe that pieces of paper or numbers in an account have value. Using money as a basis, complete strangers can exchange value with each-other and grow the economy
    • Another myth are nations. Nation’s don’t physically exist like a mountain or a lake does, but we name countries and believe they exist
    • Another example is companies. They are legal fictions but they have the power to influence everything that physically exists in the world
  3. I was fascinated by the story of how Australia’s ancient giant mammals (eg 3 ton wombat, the 3m tall kangaroo, the 3m tall flightless thunder bird) were all wiped out within a short time of the first humans arriving on that landmass. They didn’t have a chance to evolve a fear of humans so that was the end of them
  4. Humanity became increasingly dependent on the agricultural revolution and even though it fed more and more people, nutrition levels actually dropped
  5. A review of history has shown that humanity is moving relentlessly toward unity (despite what the media might make you think). The whole planet is moving toward one world culture.

Want to read it yourself? Buy it from Amazon.

Yuval Noah Harari’s 2015 TED Talk

Yuval’s TED Talk provides a very brief 15 minute summary of Sapiens (and a 2 minute intro to the sequel: Homo Deus).

Jame’s Clear’s Notes on Sapiens

The Book in Three Sentences

Human history has been shaped by three major revolutions: the Cognitive Revolution (70,000 years ago), the Agricultural Revolution (10,000 years ago), and the Scientific Revolution (500 years ago).

These revolutions have empowered humans to do something no other form of life has done, which is to create and connect around ideas that do not physically exist (think religion, capitalism, and politics).

These shared “myths” have enabled humans to take over the globe and have put humankind on the verge of overcoming the forces of natural selection.

Sapiens summary

This is my book summary of Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. My notes are informal and often contain quotes from the book as well as my own thoughts. This summary also includes key lessons and important passages from the book.

  • Human cultures began to take shape about 70,000 years ago.
  • There have been three major revolutions in human history: the cognitive revolution, the agricultural revolution, and the scientific revolution.
  • Prehistoric humans (2 million years old or so) were no more important and impressive than other mammals.
  • Homo Sapiens means “wise man.”
  • Humans first evolved in Africa about 2.5 million years ago.
  • The author believes it is unlikely Homo sapiens will survive for another 1,000 years.
  • From about 2 million years ago until 10,000 years ago, multiple human species roamed the earth together. The depiction of man evolving from hunched over to upright incorrectly displays human evolution as a linear trajectory. In fact, the species lived simultaneously.
  • Humans have huge brains for their body size.
  • Human brains account for 2-3 percent of body size, but use 25 percent of energy.
  • Human kind was very much in the middle of the food chain until 400,000 years ago and didn’t leap to the top of the food chain until 100,000 years ago.
  • Most animals at the top of the food chain made it there gradually over millions of years. Humans, however, jumped to the top relatively rapidly. This means that the rest of the food chain wasn’t ready and neither were we. Hence we feel anxious and stressed because we aren’t used to being at the top.
  • The advent of fire and cooking food may have opened the way for the evolution of a smaller intestinal track and a larger brain.
  • There are two theories of how Homo sapiens evolved: Interbreeding theory and Replacement theory. The reality is probably a combination of both theories.
  • Perhaps this is why Homo sapiens wiped out the Neanderthals: “They were too familiar to ignore, but too different to tolerate.”
  • The last dwarf species of humans died out 12,000 years ago.
  • Homo sapiens conquered the world because of its unique language.
  • The Cognitive Revolution occurred between 70,000 to 30,000 years ago. It allowed Homo sapiens to communicate at a level never seen before in language.
  • As far as we know, only Homo sapiens can talk about things we have never seen, touched, or smelled. Think religions, myths, legends, and fantasies.
  • The telling of myths and stories allow Homo sapiens to collaborate in large numbers in extremely flexible ways.
  • This separates us from all other animals.
  • Chimps can’t form groups of more than 50 or so. For humans, the group size is usually 150 or so. Beyond that, you can’t rely on gossip and personal communication. You need something more to get large numbers of people working together.
  • Large numbers of people can collaborate by sharing common myths and beliefs.
  • In academic circles, stories are known as fictions, social constructs, or imagined realities.
  • An imagined reality is not a lie because the entire group believes it.
  • Ever since the Cognitive Revolution, humans have been living in a dual reality: the physical reality and the imagined reality.
  • The way people cooperate can be changed by changing the stories as myths we tell.
  • Because Homo sapiens shared myths were not genetically based, they could adapt and change their behavior as soon as they adapted their new belief. They didn’t have to wait millions of years for a genetic change.
  • Homo sapiens are the only animals that conduct trade.
    As far as we know, the humans of 30,000 years ago had the same physical, emotional, and intellectual capabilities that we have today.
  • Evolutionary psychology claims that most of our psychology was developed during the period before the
  • Agricultural Revolution about 10,000 years ago.
  • The instinct to gorge on high calorie food is wired into our DNA.
  • Ever since the Agricultural Revolution, there hasn’t been one predominant way of life for all humans. There have only been options from a variety of cultures.
  • The dog was the first animal domesticated by humans around 15,000 years ago.
  • In ancient human groups (over 10,000 years ago) there was very little privacy, but also very little loneliness.
  • Most of our ancient ancestors had much wider and deeper knowledge of their physical surroundings than we do. They were not unintelligent at all.
  • The human collective today knows far more overall than the whole population of 15,000 years ago. However, at the individual level we are much more specialized today. Ancient foragers were the most knowledgable and skillful people in history.
  • It is far easier to pass “unremarkable” genes along today than it was 10,000 years ago.
  • Our lack of knowledge about prehistoric religions and beliefs is one of the biggest holes in our understanding of human history.
  • Humans traveling across the sea and landing in Australia was one of the most important expeditions in history.
  • It marked the moment humans cemented themselves at the top of the food chain.
  • Homo sapiens first made it to America about 16,000 years ago.
  • The settling of America – across the Siberian peninsula through Alaska into Canada and the United States down through Mexico and Central America into the Andes and the Amazon and all the way to the tip of South America – was one of the most rapid and incredible invasions by a single species the world had ever seen.
  • Incredibly, the Agricultural Revolution sprang up independently in many different parts of the world.
  • There is no evidence modern humans have become more intelligent with time.
    The Agricultural Revolution actually didn’t make the life of the average human better at first. It did, however, allow humans to collect more food per unit area and thus the overall population multiplied exponentially.
  • Fascinatingly, the first few thousand years of the Agricultural Revolution actually made life harder for humans by creating more work, less leisure, and a ballooning population that created more mouths to feed. Each individual generation didn’t see how their life was becoming worse because the small changes were so tiny.
  • One of history’s few iron laws is that luxuries tend to become necessities and to spawn new obligations. Once people begin to enjoy new luxuries they tend to become expected and then count on them.
  • The evolutionary success of the Agricultural Revolution (greater population) was actually cause for much suffering on the individual level. Not just for humans, but for domesticated animals like cows, sheep, and chickens as well.
  • The advent of the Agricultural Revolution marked the time when worries of the future became prevalent: the weather, the crop yield this year, etc.
  • The myths that surround us and make up our lives dictate so much of what we believe and what we do.
  • Like the ancient Egyptians, most people dedicate their lives to building pyramids. It’s just that the names, shapes, and sizes of the pyramids change from one culture to another.
  • In order to change the imagined order, you must first find a group that believes in a current imagined order.
  • New myths must build upon or evolve from previous myths.
  • The main purpose of writing is to record numbers, which our brains did not evolve to manage well. Our brains are much better at remembering biological, zoological, and social information.
  • There is an ancient writing system used by the Incas known as a quipu. They are not written words at all, but a series of knots of different colors and strings that represent words and numbers.
  • Writing has actually changed the way humans think. We can use writing and record keeping to think far more categorically than ever before.
  • Numbers are the world’s most prevalent language.
  • Social hierarchies, inequality, and so on are human inventions.
  • Most rich people are rich because they were born into rich families. Most poor people are poor because they were born into poor families.
  • Unjust discrimination often gets worse, not better, with time.
  • As of 2006, there were still 53 countries where a husband could not be legally prosecuted for raping his wife.
  • When it comes to gender inequality: biology enables, culture forbids. The idea of “unnatural” behaviors is actually a result of Christian theology, not biology.
  • If it is possible biologically, then it is natural. From a scientific perspective, two men having sex is natural.
  • Traveling at the speed of light is not natural.
  • Why are men valued in many cultures more than women?
  • All human cultures are filled with inconsistencies. For example, America currently values individual freedom and equality. But these two ideals don’t always play nicely. It is part of the human experience to reconcile them.
  • These inconsistencies aren’t necessarily bad. They force us to think critically. Consistency is the playground of dull minds.
  • History is moving relentlessly toward unity. The whole planet is moving toward one world culture.
  • The creation of money was purely an intellectual revolution. It doesn’t exist except in our minds.
  • More than 90 percent of all money is just electronic data, not physical money.
  • Everyone always wants money precisely because everyone else always wants money.
  • Empires have been the world’s most common form of political organization for the last 2,500 years.
  • In general, empires do not fall because of uprisings. They almost always succumb to outside invasion or splits from within the empower class.
  • Most of what we firmly believe is part of “our culture” was actually forced upon us by other empires who conquered our ancestors.
  • Despite the obvious negatives of empires taking over a culture, there are many benefits too. Art, music, governance, and more are the result of empires forming. Often, they blended new together with the conquered people to create a new culture.
  • It seems obvious that we are moving fast toward a singe global empire. Global markets, global warming, and commonly accepted concepts like human rights make it clear we all need one collective entity, not man states and countries.
  • Religion is the third great unifier of humankind, alongside money and empires.
  • The Agricultural Revolution was accompanied by a Religious Revolution.
  • Interestingly, polytheism is more open and accepting of multiple beliefs even though we often look at it as more barbarian and uneducated than our current beliefs.
  • Monotheism seems to push away polytheism, but actually is very similar to polytheistic gods with the use of patron saints. Praying to the patron saints of farmers isn’t much different than praying to the god of rain.
  • The central tension with monotheism is how to deal with the fact that there is evil in the world while the omnipoten God is believed to be good and caring. If God is good why would he allow evil things to happen?
  • Even the rich and famous are rarely satisfied.
  • According to Buddhist tradition: the mind naturally craves more in all situations. And all suffering arrives from craving.
  • There are a variety of “natural law religions” that are popular today like communism, capitalism, and liberalism.
  • Over the last 200 years, science has increasingly revealed that human behavior is determined by hormones, genes, and neurological synapses. If this is true, then for how much longer will we ignore that biology does not agree with the concept of free will?
  • To describe how something happened means to reconstruct the series of specific events that led from one point to another.
  • To describe why something happened means to find causal connections that led to this particular series of events to the exclusion of all others.
  • The deeper your knowledge of a particular area of history, the harder it becomes to explain why one particular outcome occurred and not another.
  • It is an inevitable rule of history that what seems obvious in hindsight is impossible to predict beforehand.
  • The are level one and level two Chaotic Systems. Level one does not respond to predictions about it, like the weather and weather forecasts. Level two does respond to predictions about it, like the stock market and analyst reports about rising oil prices.
  • There is no proof that history is working for the benefit of humans or that human well being increases overtime. It’s good for the victors, but is it good for us all?
  • The Scientific Revolution started in Europe around 500 years ago. The last 500 years have witnessed an unprecedented growth of human impact.
  • One difference between religion and science is that science assumes humankind does not know the answers to many of life’s biggest questions. Religion, however, assumes that the important stuff is already known. Science assumes human ignorance.
  • Modern culture has been able to admit ignorance more than any previous culture.
  • Previous cultures and belief systems compiled their theories using stories. Science compiles its theories using mathematics.
  • The story of how Scottish Widows was founded is an awesome example of the power of probability.
  • Scientists generally agree that no theory is 100 percent correct. Thus, the real test of knowledge is not truth, but utility. Science gives us power. The more useful that power, the better the science.
  • The military arms race drives science forward in rapid fashion. The truth is war prompts many scientific discoveries.
  • In the past, the best minds of the day worked on finding ways to give meaning to death. Today, our best minds work on preventing death through biological, hormonal, and genetic means. Science does not take death as an inevitability.
  • The economic, religious, and political interests that impact the flow of money into scientific and technological research have a huge impact on the output of science.
  • It is not enough to consider science in a vacuum. Economic and capitalistic interests, for example, determine what we research and what to do with the research findings.
  • Why did Europeans discover and conquer the Americas? Why not the Chinese or those from India or the Middle East who possessed just as much knowledge and technology as the Europeans? The European ideology to explore the world was the primary difference.
  • For most of human history, per capita production remained the same. Since the launch of capitalism, however, per capita production has skyrocketed.
  • Modern capitalism has exploded the growth of humankind thanks to the creation of credit, which allows you to borrow money now because we collectively trust that the future will be better than the present.
  • Adam Smith’s brilliant insight about capitalism in The Wealth of Nations was that increasing private profits is the basis for increasing collective wealth and prosperity. In other words, by becoming richer you benefit everyone, not just yourself. Both parties get a bigger slice of pie. (Note: this only works if profits get reinvested, not hoarded.)
  • For capitalism to work, profits must be reinvested in new production.
  • The “religion” of capitalism says economic growth is the supreme because justice, freedom, and happiness requires economic growth.
  • All credit is based on the idea that science and technology will advance. Scientists ultimately foot the bill of capitalism.
  • The annual sugar intake of the average Englishman rose from nearly zero in the early 17th century to 18 pounds in the early 19th century.
  • The life expectancy, child mortality, and calorie intake are significantly improved for the average person in 2014 compared to 1914, despite exponential population growth.
  • Until the industrial revolution, human behavior was largely dictated by solar energy and plant growth. Day and night. Summer and winter. Everything was determined by man power and animal power, which were determined by food, which is determined by photosynthesis.
  • “This is the basic lesson of evolutionary psychology: a need shaped in the wild continues to be felt subjectively even if it is no longer really necessary for survival and reproduction.”
  • Harlow’s infant monkey studies from the 1950s (and a variety of followup studies) have shown that animals have strong psychological needs as well as purgative physical needs. Note to self: never disregard your psychological needs.
  • Each year the United States population spends more money on diets than the amount needed to feed all the hungry in the rest of the world.
  • Most people don’t realize just how peaceful of the times are we live in.
  • In recent years, more people die from suicide each year than from war and violent crime. The same can said for car accidents.
  • Live a safe community, drive as little as possible, and love yourself. Violent local crime, car accidents, and suicide are some of the biggest killers of humans.
  • War is at an all time low because the costs of war have increased because of nuclear weapons, the benefits of war have decreased because physical resources drive less of the economy and international trade is more lucrative than conquest, and the tightening of international connections because a worldwide culture is less likely to battle itself.
  • Our view of the past is heavily influenced by recent events.
  • Researchers have investigated nearly all aspects of history, but have rarely have asked whether historical changes have made humans happier.
  • Nietzsche: “He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
  • If happiness is based on pleasurable feelings, then increasing our happiness is a matter of increases biochemical release. If happiness is based on meaning, then increasing our happiness is a matter of deluding ourselves about the meaning of our lives.
  • One uncommonly cited benefit of religion: belief in the afterlife gives meaning to your life in the present.
  • Buddhism has studied happiness for over 2,000 years. Interestingly, Buddhism shares many viewpoints on happiness with science. Most notably, that happiness results from processes within the body and not from the outside world.
  • The Buddhist philosophy of happiness centers around the idea that you are not the events that happen to you, but you are also not the feelings you have. You are not your feelings. They are just feelings. Thus, if you understand this, you can release the needs to keep chasing the need to feel happy or to not feel angry or to not feel sad. In other words, you have to understand yourself.
  • For close to 4 billion years, every organism developed according to evolution. But in recent decades, humans have begun to evolve according to intelligent design. In other words, there are people who would have been selected out of the gene pool millennia ago, but not today.
  • Genetic engineering is allowing humans to break the laws of natural selection.
  • The next stage of human history will not only involve biological and technological changes, but also changes in human consciousness and identity. Changes that are this fundamental will call the very term “human” into question.
  • Many people think the question we should ask to guide our scientific pursuits is, “What do we want to become?” However, because we seem to be on the path to genetically engineering and programming nearly every facets of our wants, desires, and consciousness, the real question we should ask is, “What do we want to want?”
  • In the past 1000 years, humans have evolved to take over the world and are on the verge of overcoming natural selection and becoming gods. Yet, we still seem unhappy in many ways and we are unsure of what we want. Is there anything more dangerous that dissatisfied and irresponsible gods who don’t know what they want?

The Sequel: Homo Deus

I actually read the sequel to this book, Homo Deus first. Sapiens looks back at the past, Homo Deus looks at the future and I found the ideas fascinating.

Your Thoughts?

Have you read the book? What did you get out of it? Have these notes inspired you to read it?

Have your say in the comments section below.

Tools of Titans by Timothy Ferriss

I’ve been a fan of Tim Ferris since the beginning when his first book 4-Hour Work Week caused me to quit my job. I own every book he’s written.

This book is a collection of his favourite moments from the 100’s of pod-cast interviews he’s done with “Billionaires, Icons and World-Class Performers”.

It’s also crammed full of recommendations for documentries and books, so after reading this book instead of my reading list being reduced by one, it has increased by 10.

The book is in 3 parts: Healthy, Wealthy and Wise.

Here are my favourite bits of “Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines, and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers” by Timothy Ferriss.

Part 1: HEALTHY

A very simple 10-second exercise. I tell the audience members to each identify two human beings in the room and just think, “I wish for this person to be happy, and I wish for that person to be happy.

Everybody emerges from this exercise smiling, happier than 10 seconds before. This is the joy of loving-kindness.

During working hours or school hours, randomly identify two people who walk past you or who are standing or sitting around you. Secretly wish for them to be happy. Just think to yourself, “I wish for this person to be happy, and I wish for that person to be happy.

I found myself wondering throughout the day, “Why am I so happy?” Part of the reason I think it’s so effective is that meditation is normally a very “me”-focused activity,

Part 2 WEALTHY

CHRIS SACCA

GO TO AS MANY HIGHER-LEVEL MEETINGS AS POSSIBLE

“Go to all the meetings you can, even if you’re not invited to them, and figure out how to be helpful. If people wonder why you’re there, just start taking notes.”

Chris was well known at Google for showing up to meetings with anyone, including the co-founders. Even if attendees looked at each other puzzled, Chris would sit down and let them know he’d be taking notes for them.

GOOD STORIES ALWAYS BEAT GOOD SPREADSHEETS

“Whether you are raising money, pitching your product to customers, selling the company, or recruiting employees, never forget that underneath all the math and the MBA bullshit talk, we are all still emotionally driven human beings. We want to attach ourselves to narratives. We don’t act because of equations. We follow our beliefs. We get behind leaders who stir our feelings.”

MARC ANDREESSEN

RAISE PRICES

It has become conventional wisdom in Silicon Valley that the way to succeed is to price your product as low as possible, under the theory that if it’s low-priced, everybody can buy it, and that’s how you get to volume,” he said. “And we just see over and over and over again people failing with that, because they get into a problem called ‘too hungry to eat.’ They don’t charge enough for their product to be able to afford the sales and marketing required to actually get anybody to buy it. Is your product any good if people won’t pay more for it?

DEREK SIVERS

HOW TO THRIVE IN AN UNKNOWABLE FUTURE? CHOOSE THE PLAN WITH THE MOST OPTIONS. THE BEST PLAN IS THE ONE THAT LETS YOU CHANGE YOUR PLANS.

THE STANDARD PACE IS FOR CHUMPS

“I think you can graduate Berklee School of Music in two years instead of four. The standard pace is for chumps. The school has to organize its curricula around the lowest common denominator, so that almost no one is left out. They have to slow down, so everybody can catch up. But,’ he said, ‘you’re smarter than that.’ He said, ‘I think you could just buy the books for those, [skip the classes] and then contact the department head to take the final exam to get credit.”

TF: Lack of time is lack of priorities. If I’m “busy,” it is because I’ve made choices that put me in that position, so I’ve forbidden myself to reply to “How are you?” with “Busy.” I have no right to complain. Instead, if I’m too busy, it’s a cue to reexamine my systems and rules.

TAKE 45 MINUTES INSTEAD OF 43—IS YOUR RED FACE WORTH IT?

Why don’t I just chill? For once, I’m gonna go on the same bike ride, and I’m not going to be a complete snail, but I’ll go at half of my normal pace.’ I got on my bike, and it was just pleasant.

I was like, ‘Hey, a pelican!’ and he shit in my mouth.

I looked at my watch, and it said 45 minutes. I thought, ‘How the hell could that have been 45 minutes, as opposed to my usual 43? There’s no way.’ But it was right: 45 minutes. That was a profound lesson that changed the way I’ve approached my life ever since…. “We could do the math, [but] whatever, 93-something-percent of my huffing and puffing, and all that red face and all that stress was only for an extra 2 minutes. It was basically for nothing…. [So,] for life, I think of all of this maximization—getting the maximum dollar out of everything, the maximum out of every second, the maximum out of every minute—you don’t need to stress about any of this stuff.

What’s something you believe that other people think is crazy? “Oh, that’s easy. I’ve got a lot of unpopular opinions. I believe alcohol tastes bad, and so do olives. I’ve never tried coffee, but I don’t like the smell.

Ben Franklin’s excellent advice: “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead and rotten, either write things worth reading, or do things worth writing.

is the ultimate quantification of success? For me, it’s not how much time you spend doing what you love. It’s how little time you spend doing what you hate. And this woman spent all day, every day doing what she loved.

REID HOFFMAN

QuestBridge supplies more exceptional low-in-come talent (i.e., kids) to top universities than all other nonprofits combined. QuestBridge has created a single standardized college application that’s accepted by more than 30 top universities like Stanford, MIT, Amherst, and Yale. This allows them to do some very innovative things, such as give away laptops and have the giveaway forms double as college applications. They then offer scholarships to many kids who could otherwise not even think of college. Did you know that roughly $3 billion available for scholarships goes wasted each year? It’s not a funding problem: It’s a sourcing problem.

“I have come to learn that part of the business strategy is to solve the simplest, easiest, and most valuable problem. And actually, in fact, part of doing strategy is to solve the easiest problem, so part of the reason why you work on software and bits is that atoms [physical products] are actually very difficult.

“Never go to sleep without a request to your subconscious.”—Thomas Edison

PETER THIEL

How important is failure in business? “I think failure is massively overrated. Most businesses fail for more than one reason. So when a business fails, you often don’t learn anything at all because the failure was overdetermined.

“I think people actually do not learn very much from failure. I think it ends up being quite damaging and demoralizing to people in the long run, and my sense is that the death of every business is a tragedy.

What I prefer over trends is a sense of mission. That you are working on a unique problem that people are not solving elsewhere. “When Elon Musk started SpaceX, they set out the mission to go to Mars. You may agree or disagree with that as a mission statement, but it was a problem that was not going to be solved outside of SpaceX. All of the people working there knew that, and it motivated them tremendously.

So if I said that nobody should go to college, that might be hypocritical. But what I have said is that not everybody should do the same thing.

SETH GODIN

So the goal isn’t to get good ideas; the goal is to get bad ideas. Because once you get enough bad ideas, then some good ones have to show up.”

Seth has no comments on his blog, he doesn’t pay attention to analytics, and he doesn’t use Twitter or Facebook (except to rebroadcast his daily blog posts, which is automated). In a world of tool obsession and FOMO (fear of missing out) on the next social platform, Seth doesn’t appear to care. He simply focuses on putting out good and short daily posts, he ignores the rest, and he continues to thrive. There are no real rules, so make rules that work for you.

“I think we need to teach kids two things: 1) how to lead, and 2) how to solve interesting problems. Because the fact is, there are plenty of countries on Earth where there are people who are willing to be obedient and work harder for less money than us. So we cannot out-obedience the competition.

James recommends the habit of writing down 10 ideas each morning in a waiter’s pad or tiny notebook. This exercise is for developing your “idea muscle” and confidence for creativity on demand, so regular practice is more important than the topics:

“I [then] divide my paper into two columns. On one column is the list of ideas. On the other column is the list of FIRST STEPS.

  • 10 old ideas I can make new
  • 10 ridiculous things I would invent (e.g., the smart toilet)
  • 10 books I can write (The Choose Yourself Guide to an Alternative Education, etc).
  • 10 business ideas for Google/Amazon/Twitter/etc.
  • 10 people I can send ideas to
  • 10 podcast ideas or videos I can shoot (e.g., Lunch with James, a video podcast where I just have lunch with people over Skype and we chat)
  • 10 industries where I can remove the middleman
  • 10 things I disagree with that everyone else assumes is religion (college, home ownership, voting, doctors, etc.)
  • 10 ways to take old posts of mine and make books out of them
  • 10 people I want to be friends with (then figure out the first step to contact them)
  • 10 things I learned yesterday
  • 10 things I can do differently today
  • 10 ways I can save time
  • 10 things I learned from X, where X is someone I’ve recently spoken with or read a book by or about. I’ve written posts on this about the Beatles, Mick Jagger, Steve Jobs, Charles Bukowski, the Dalai Lama, Superman, Freakonomics, etc.
  • 10 things I’m interested in getting better at (and then 10 ways I can get better at each one)
  • 10 things I was interested in as a kid that might be fun to explore now (Like, maybe I can write that “Son of Dr. Strange” comic I’ve always been planning. And now I need 10 plot ideas.)
  • 10 ways I might try to solve a problem I have This has saved me with the IRS countless times. Unfortunately, the Department of Motor Vehicles is impervious to my superpowers.

SCOTT ADAMS

Everyone has at least a few areas in which they could be in the top 25% with some effort.

It could be as simple as learning how to sell more effectively than 75% of the world. That’s one. Now add to that whatever your passion is, and you have two, because that’s the thing you’ll easily put enough energy into to reach the top 25%. If you have an aptitude for a third skill, perhaps business or public speaking. develop that too.

You’d be hard-pressed to find any successful person who didn’t have about three skills in the top 25%.

SHAUN WHITE

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout, The Law of the Category. When you’re the first in a new category, promote the category.

ALEX BLUMBERG

Prompts to Elicit Stories (Most Interviewers Are Weak at This)

  • “Tell me about a time when …”
  • “Tell me about the day [or moment or time] when …”
  • “Tell me the story of … [how you came to major in X, how you met so-and-so, etc.]”
  • “Tell me about the day you realized ___ …”
  • “What were the steps that got you to ___ ?”
  • “Describe the conversation when …

Follow-Up Questions When Something Interesting Comes Up, Perhaps in Passing

  • “How did that make you feel?”
  • “What do you make of that?

ED CATMULL

IF YOU CAN’T READ IT, TRY LISTENING TO IT

“My brain works differently. It turns out I am unable to read poetry…. Reading poetry, within a few seconds, shuts my brain down.

So this woman at a dinner said: ‘Don’t read it, listen to it.’ I bought the tape and I listened to it, and I found I was completely enthralled.

TRACY DINUNZIO

‘When you complain, nobody wants to help you,’ and it’s the simplest thing and so plainly spoken. Only he could really say that brutal, honest truth, but it’s true, right? If you spend your time focusing on the things that are wrong, and that’s what you express and project to people you know, you don’t become a source of growth for people, you become a source of destruction for people. That draws more destructiveness.

Book your A list for after your first 10 pitches.

PHIL LIBIN

And Bezos looks at me and goes, ‘Mars is stupid.’ And I say, ‘What?’ He says, ‘Once we get off of the planet, the last thing we want to do is go to another gravity.’ “Bezos said, ‘The whole point, the reason this is so hard to get off the earth, is to defeat gravity the first time. Once we do that, why would you want to go to Mars? We should just live on space stations and mine asteroids and everything is much better than being on Mars.

“Every single thing in your company breaks every time you roughly triple in size.”

“His hypothesis is that everything breaks at roughly these points of 3 and 10 [multiples of 3 and powers of 10]. And by ‘everything,’ it means everything: how you handle payroll, how you schedule meetings, what kind of communications you use, how you do budgeting, who actually makes decisions. Every implicit and explicit part of the company just changes significantly when it triples.

CHRIS YOUNG

His dad, a very successful entrepreneur, gave Chris advice when he was a freshman or sophomore in high school: “I distinctly remember him saying not to worry about what I was going to do because the job I was going to do hadn’t even been invented yet…. The interesting jobs are the ones that you make up

Don’t worry about what your job is going to be…. Do things that you’re interested in, and if you do them really well, you’re going to find a way to temper them with some good business opportunity.

One of the top 10 venture capitalists I know uses a variant of this litmus test as his measurement of “disruptive”: For each $1 of revenue you generate, can you cost an incumbent $5 to $10? If so, he’ll invest.

one of my favorite business-related PDFs floating around the Internet is “Valve: Handbook for New Employees

DAYMOND JOHN

“If you go out there and start making noise and making sales, people will find you. Sales cure all. You can talk about how great your business plan is and how well you are going to do. You can make up your own opinions, but you cannot make up your own facts. Sales cure all.

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World.

That last Genghis Khan book has been recommended to me by several billionaires.

NOAH KAGAN

The book Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman: “If you ever meet me in person, I have an extra copy because it’s just that amazing.

LUIS VON AHN

‘I don’t understand what you’re saying,’ and then I would try to find another way of saying it, and a whole hour would pass and I could not get past the first sentence.

This is basically just an act. Essentially, I was being unclear about what I was saying, and I did not fully understand what I was trying to explain to him. He was just drilling deeper and deeper and deeper until I realized, every time, that there was actually something I didn’t have clear in my mind. He really taught me to think deeply about things, and I think that’s something I have not forgotten.

Try experimenting with saying “I don’t understand. Can you explain that to me?” more often.

THE CANVAS STRATEGY

“Great men have almost always shown themselves as ready to obey as they afterwards proved able to command.” —Lord Mahon

Imagine if for every person you met, you thought of some way to help them, something you could do for them? And you looked at it in a way that entirely benefited them and not you? The cumulative effect this would have over time would be profound: You’d learn a great deal by solving diverse problems. You’d develop a reputation for being indispensable. You’d have countless new relationships. You’d have an enormous bank of favors to call upon down the road.

That’s what the canvas strategy is about—helping yourself by helping others. Making a concerted effort to trade your short-term gratification for a longer-term payoff. Whereas everyone else wants to get credit and be “respected,” you can forget credit. You can forget it so hard that you’re glad when others get it instead of you—that was your aim, after all. Let the others take their credit on credit, while you defer and earn interest on the principal.

  • Maybe it’s coming up with ideas to hand over to your boss.
  • Find people, thinkers, up-and-comers to introduce to each other. Cross wires to create new sparks.
  • Find what nobody else wants to do and do it.
  • Find inefficiencies and waste and redundancies. Identify leaks and patches to free up resources for new areas.
  • Produce more than everyone else and give your ideas away.

SCOTT BELSKY

What do you believe that others think is insane? “It is essential to get lost and jam up your plans every now and then. It’s a source of creativity and perspective. The danger of maps, capable assistants, and planning is that you may end up living your life as planned. If you do, your potential cannot possibly exceed your expectations.

How has a “failure” set you up for later success? “The hardest decisions to make in business are those that disappoint people you care about.

“From this experience I learned what legendary writers call ‘killing your darlings’—the plot points and characters that detract from a novel. Sometimes you need to stop doing things you love in order to nurture the one thing that matters most.”

“… young creative minds don’t need more ideas, they need to take more responsibility with the ideas they’ve already got.”

PETER DIAMANDIS

“THE BEST WAY TO BECOME A BILLIONAIRE IS TO HELP A BILLION PEOPLE.”

‘When you go after a moonshot—something that’s 10 times bigger, not 10% bigger—a number of things happen….’ “First of all, when you’re going 10% bigger, you’re competing against everybody. Everybody’s trying to go 10% bigger. When you’re trying to go 10 times bigger, you’re there by yourself.

when you are trying to go 10 times bigger, you have to start with a clean sheet of paper, and you approach the problem completely differently. I’ll give you my favorite example: Tesla. How did Elon start Tesla and build from scratch the safest, most extraordinary car, not even in America, but I think in the world? It’s by not having a legacy from the past to drag into the present. That’s important.

“Three to five billion new consumers are coming online in the next 6 years. Holy cow, that’s extraordinary. What do they need? What could you provide for them, because they represent tens of trillions of dollars coming into the global economy, and they also represent an amazing resource of innovation.

PETER’S LAWS

Peter has a set of rules that guide his life.

His 28 Peter’s Laws have been collected over decades.

Here are some of my favorites:

  • Law 2: When given a choice … take both.
  • Law 3: Multiple projects lead to multiple successes.
  • Law 6: When forced to compromise, ask for more.
  • Law 7: If you can’t win, change the rules.
  • Law 8: If you can’t change the rules, then ignore them.
  • Law 11: “No” simply means begin again at one level higher.
  • Law 13: When in doubt: THINK.
  • Law 16: The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live.
  • Law 17: The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself. (adopted from Alan Kay)
  • Law 19: You get what you incentivize.
  • Law 22: The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.
  • Law 26: If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

Money can always be regenerated. Time and reputation cannot.

GET THE LONG-TERM GOAL ON THE CALENDAR BEFORE THE SHORT-TERM PAIN HITS

Make commitments in a high-energy state so that you can’t back out when you’re in a low-energy state.

The Oxford Book of Aphorisms by John Gross because it contains the most brilliant one-liners in history.

Favorite documentaries

  • Catfish—“It’s a cliché, but it’s a brilliant, generation-defining documentary.”
  • To Be and to Have—“This is a beautiful and simple film about a one-room school in France, and what happens over the course of one year.”
  • The Overnighters—“This covers oil exploration in North Dakota, which has become perhaps bigger than the Gold Rush in the 1800s

The Road to No

  • If I’m not saying “HELL YEAH!” about something, then I say no. Meaning: When deciding whether to commit to something, if I feel anything less than “Wow! That would be amazing! Absolutely! Hell yeah!”—then my answer is no.
  • My agenda became a list of everyone else’s agendas.
  • great creative work isn’t possible if you’re trying to piece together 30 minutes here and 45 minutes there. Large, uninterrupted blocks of time—3 to 5 hours
  • Life favors the specific ask and punishes the vague wish.
  • If I sleep poorly and have an early morning meeting, I’ll cancel the meeting
  • Making health #1 50% of the time doesn’t work. It’s absolutely all-or-nothing.

Are You Having a Breakdown or a Breakthrough? A Short How-To Guide

  • If you’re suffering from a feeling of overwhelm, it might be useful to ask yourself two questions: In the midst of overwhelm, is life not showing me exactly what I should subtract? Am I having a breakdown or a breakthrough?
  • For me, step one is always the same: Write down the 20% of activities and people causing 80% or more of your negative emotions. My step two is doing a “fear-setting” exercise on paper (here), in which I ask and answer, “What is really the worst that could happen if I stopped doing what I’m considering? And so what? How could I undo any damage?

To “fix” someone’s problem, you very often just need to empathically listen to them.

Part 3: WISE

MARIA POPOVA

SOMETIMES, THE BEST “NO” IS NO REPLY

“Why put in the effort to explain why it isn’t a fit, if they haven’t done the homework to determine if it is a fit?” Maria could spend all day replying to bad pitches with polite declines.

‘Those who work much, do not work hard.

“When Kurt Vonnegut wrote ‘Write to please just one person,’ what he was really saying was write for yourself. Don’t try to please anyone but yourself…. The second you start doing it for an audience, you’ve lost the long game because creating something that is rewarding and sustainable over the long run requires, most of all, keeping yourself excited about it

Book recommendations:

  • “The Shortness of Life: Seneca on Busyness and the Art of Living Wide Rather Than Living Long”
  • “How to Find Your Purpose and Do What You Love”
  • “9 Learnings from 9 Years of Brain Pickings”
  • Anything about Alan Watts: “Alan Watts has changed my life. I’ve written about him quite a bit.

JOCKO WILLINK

Freeform days might seem idyllic, but they are paralyzing due to continual paradox of choice (e.g., “What should I do now?”) and decision fatigue (e.g., “What should I have for breakfast?

“You can’t blame your boss for not giving you the support you need. Plenty of people will say, ‘It’s my boss’s fault.’ No, it’s actually your fault because you haven’t educated him, you haven’t influenced him, you haven’t explained to him in a manner he understands why you need this support that you need. That’s extreme ownership. Own it all.

MARC GOODMAN

Book recommendation: Kevin Kelly, The Inevitable

SHAY CARL

HOW SHAY CURRENTLY SHOOTS VIDEO

Canon PowerShot G7 X camera

It’s about the relationship you build, not the production quality. The effects of “acting” more upbeat seemed to last at least 2 to 3 hours.

KEVIN KELLY

Cooking everything using a Kelly Kettle. This is a camping device that can generate heat from nearly anything found in your backyard or on a roadside (e.g., twigs, leaves, paper)

Fasting, consuming nothing but water.

Oddly, you might observe that you are happier after this experiment in bare-bones simplicity. I often find this to be the case. Once you’ve realized—and it requires a monthly or quarterly reminder—how independent your well-being is from having an excess of money, it becomes easier to take “risks” and say “no” to things that seem too lucrative to pass up. There is more freedom to be gained from practicing poverty than chasing wealth. Suffer a little regularly and you often cease to suffer.

WHITNEY CUMMINGS

My trauma therapist said every time you meet someone, just in your head say, ‘I love you’ before you have a conversation with them, and that conversation is going to go a lot better.

“Happiness is wanting what you have.”

BRYAN CALLEN

“The difference between the people you admire and everybody else [is that the former are] the people who read.”

Book recommendation: The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin

ALAIN DE BOTTON

Favorite documentary The Up series.

Planshopping. That is, deferring committing to any one plan for an evening until you know what all your options are, and then picking the one that’s most likely to be fun/advance your career/have the most girls at it—in other words, treating people like menu options or products in a catalog.

When you’re not drinking, you can see drunkenness more clearly than those actually experiencing it.

I did make a conscious decision, a long time ago, to choose time over money, since you can always make more money. And I’ve always understood that the best investment of my limited time on earth is to spend it with people I love.

CAL FUSSMAN

Book recommendations:

  • Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe

PAULO COELHO

What are the most common mistakes or weaknesses of first-time novelists? “Keep it simple. Trust your reader. He or she has a lot of imagination. Don’t try to describe things. Give a hint, and they will fulfill this hint with their own imagination.

  • Write about a time when you realized you were mistaken.
  • Write about a lesson you learned the hard way.
  • Write about a time you were inappropriately dressed for the occasion.
  • Write about something you lost that you’ll never get back.
  • Write about a time when you knew you’d done the right thing.
  • Write about something you don’t remember.
  • Write about your darkest teacher.
  • Write about a memory of a physical injury.
  • Write about when you knew it was over.
  • Write about being loved.
  • Write about what you were really thinking.
  • Write about how you found your way back.
  • Write about the kindness of strangers.
  • Write about why you could not do it.
  • Write about why you did.

AMANDA PALMER

Book recommendation: Dropping Ashes on the Buddha. It’s by Zen Master Seung Sahn.

ERIC WEINSTEIN

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.”—Mark Twain.

SETH ROGEN & EVAN GOLDBERG

8 TACTICS FOR DEALING WITH HATERS

  1. It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.
  2. 10% of people will find a way to take anything personally. Expect it and treat it as math.
  3. When in doubt, starve it of oxygen.
  4. If you respond, don’t over-apologize. Some version of “I see you” will diffuse at least 80% of people who appear to be haters or would-be haters.
  5. You can’t reason someone out of something they didn’t reason themselves into.
  6. “Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity. You’ll avoid the tough decisions, and you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted.”—Colin Powell
  7. “If you want to improve, be content to be thought foolish and stupid.”—Epictetus
  8. “Living well is the best revenge.”—George Herbert

NAVAL RAVIKANT

“Desire is a contract you make with yourself to be unhappy until you get what you want.

“Free education is abundant, all over the Internet. It’s the desire to learn that’s scarce.

“You get paid for being right first, and to be first, you can’t wait for consensus.

GLENN BECK

People are starving for something authentic. They’ll accept you, warts and all, if that’s who you really are.

TARA BRACH

Radical Acceptance

…actively recognizing anger and other types of what we consider “negative” emotions. Rather than trying to suppress something or swat it away, we say to the emotion/ourselves, “I see you.” This counterintuitively helps to dissolve or resolve the issue.

MIKE BIRBIGLIA

…whenever we meet someone who we know doesn’t care about meeting us, my wife and I always try and come up with a trick question that throws them off. They kind of have to answer, or have to think about it.

THE JAR OF AWESOME

Anytime something really cool happens in a day, something that made me excited or joyful, doctor’s orders are to write it down on a slip of paper and put it in this mason jar. When something great happens, you think you’ll remember it 3 months later, but you won’t. The Jar of Awesome creates a record of great things that actually happened, all of which are easy to forget if you’re depressed or seeing the world through gray-colored glasses. I tend to celebrate very briefly, if at all, so this pays dividends for weeks, months, or years.

STEPHEN J. DUBNER

What’s the worst advice you hear often? “‘Write what you know.’ Why would I want to write about what little I know? Don’t I want to use writing to learn more?

JOSH WAITZKIN

Josh has no social media, does no interviews (except my podcast, for which he often says to me, “You fuck!”), and avoids nearly all meetings and phone calls. He minimizes input to maximize output, much like Rick Rubin. Josh says: “I cultivate empty space as a way of life for the creative process.

…when Josh gave me a beginner’s tutorial on chess, he didn’t start with opening moves. Memorizing openings is natural, and nearly everyone does it, but Josh likens it to stealing the test answers from a teacher. You’re not learning principles or strategies—you’re merely learning a few tricks that will help you beat your novice friends. Instead, Josh took me in reverse, just as his first teacher, Bruce Pandolfini, did with him. The board was empty, except for three pieces in an endgame scenario: king and pawn against king. Through the micro, positions of reduced complexity, he was able to focus me on the macro: principles like the power of empty space, opposition, and setting an opponent up for zugzwang (a situation where any move he makes will destroy his position). By limiting me to a few simple pieces, he hoped I would learn something limitless: high-level concepts I could apply anytime against anyone.

Whereas most competitors are secretive about their competition prep, Marcelo routinely records and uploads his sparring sessions, his exact training for major events. Josh explains the rationale: “[Marcelo] was visually showing these competitors what he was about to use against them at 2 weeks, 3 weeks, 4 weeks [away from competition], and his attitude about this was just completely unique: ‘If you’re studying my game, you’re entering my game, and I’ll be better at it than you.’” TF: I often share exact under-the-hood details of how I’ve built the podcast, put together Kickstarter campaigns, etc. I do this because of two core beliefs.

Belief #1—It’s rarely a zero-sum game (if someone wins, someone else must lose), and the more I help people with details, the more detailed help I receive.

Belief #2—If it is competitive, I’m simply offering people the details of my game. My attention to detail will scare off half of the people who would have tried; 40% will try it and be worse than me; 10% will try it and be better than me, but … see Belief #1. That 10% will often reach out to teach me what they’ve learned, as they’re grateful for my own transparency.

“One of the biggest mistakes that I observed in the first year of Jack’s life was parents who have unproductive language around weather being good or bad. Whenever it was raining, you’d hear moms, babysitters, dads say, ‘It’s bad weather. We can’t go out,’ or if it wasn’t, ‘It’s good weather. We can go out.’ That means that, somehow, we’re externally reliant on conditions being perfect in order to be able to go out and have a good time. So, Jack and I never missed a single storm, rain or snow, to go outside and romp in it. Maybe we missed one when he was sick. We’ve developed this language around how beautiful it is. Now, whenever it’s a rainy day, Jack says, ‘Look, Dada, it’s such a beautiful rainy day,’ and we go out and we play in it. I wanted him to have this internal locus of control—to not be reliant on external conditions being just so.”

JON FAVREAU

  1. To get huge, good things done, you need to be okay with letting the small, bad things happen.
  2. People’s IQs seem to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them.

Most media rightly don’t give a rat’s ass about book launches. They care about stories, not announcements,

JAMIE FOXX

It’s never been easier to be a “creator,” and it’s never been harder to stand out. Good isn’t good enough.

BRYAN JOHNSON

“What can you do that will be remembered in 200 to 400 years?

BRIAN KOPPELMAN

“Is that a dream or a goal?” If it isn’t on the calendar, it isn’t real.

ROBERT RODRIGUEZ

Robert takes copious notes. He sets an alarm for midnight every night to input the day’s notes into a Word document. He dates everything and stores them by year, so he can find whatever he might want later:

I would go back and review the journals and realize how many life-changing things happened within a weekend. Things that you thought were spread out over 2 years were actually Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and that Monday. So many occurrences happened in chunks that could blow you away, things that kind of define you…. “For anyone who is a parent, it’s a must. It’s a must because your children—and you—forget everything. Within a few years, they’ll forget things that you think they should remember for the rest of their lives. They’ll only remember it if it’s reinforced.

MY RAPID-FIRE QUESTIONS

  • When you think of the word “successful,” who’s the first person who comes to mind and why?
  • What is something you believe that other people think is insane?
  • What is the book (or books) you’ve given most as a gift?
  • What is your favorite documentary or movie?
  • What purchase of $100 or less has most positively impacted your life in the last 6 months?
  • What are your morning rituals? What do the first 60 minutes of your day look like?
  • What obsessions do you explore on the evenings or weekends?
  • What topic would you speak about if you were asked to give a TED talk on something outside of your main area of expertise?
  • What is the best or most worthwhile investment you’ve made? Could be an investment of money, time, energy, or other resource. How did you decide to make the investment?
  • Do you have a quote you live your life by or think of often?
  • What is the worst advice you see or hear being dispensed in your world?
  • If you could have one gigantic billboard anywhere with anything on it, what would it say?
  • What advice would you give to your 20-, 25-, or 30-year-old self? And please place where you were at the time, and what you were doing.
  • How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success? Or, do you have a favorite failure of yours?
  • What is something really weird or unsettling that happens to you on a regular basis?
  • What have you changed your mind about in the last few years? Why?
  • What do you believe is true, even though you can’t prove it?
  • Any ask or request for my audience? Last parting words?

THE MOST-GIFTED AND RECOMMENDED BOOKS OF ALL GUESTS

  • Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu (5 mentions)
  • Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (4)
  • Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (4)
  • Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse (4)
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss (4)
  • The Checklist Manifesto by Atul Gawande (4)
  • Dune by Frank Herbert (3)
  • Influence by Robert Cialdini (3)
  • Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert (3)
  • Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom (3)
  • Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! by Richard P. Feynman (3)
  • The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferriss (3)
  • The Bible (3)
  • The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz (3)
  • The War of Art by Steven Pressfield (3)
  • Watchmen by Alan Moore (3)
  • Zero to One by Peter Thiel with Blake Masters (3)

Your Thoughts?

Have you read this book? What were your favourite parts? Are you going to read it thanks to this summary? Have your say in the comments below.

Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character by Richard P. Feynman

I absolutely loved this book.

I had a smile on my face the whole time I was reading it.

My Feynman was so full of mischief and curiosity about the world.

He saw the world as a series of puzzles and he felt driven to solving them.

When he became curious about something or wanted to learn about something, or how to do something, he dove straight in and became an expert via experimentation.

This book was recommended several times inside a collection of interview transcripts with many of the worlds greatest minds. It just kept popping up again and again.

It’s not normally a book I would choose. It’s a collection of reminiscences by the Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman who was born in 1918 and died in 1988.

I found this list of about 200 Feynman stories in the book useful for finding my 11 favourites.

My 11 favourite Feynman stories

From “Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character” by Richard P. Feynman:

  1. Science Lab: He built a science lab at home (11 years old) to work out how electricity and radios worked
  2. Safe-Cracking: He enjoyed safe-cracking. He loved to open the locked filing cabinets full of nuclear bomb secrets
  3. Japan: In preparation for a trip to Japan he was advised to learn some Japanese by the tour leader, which he did, but the tour leader didn’t even bother. He refused to stay in a Western Hotel because he wanted an authentic Japanese experience
  4. Samba: He learnt how to play samba drums and became good enough to perform in a street parade
  5. Drawing: He learned how to draw portraits by taking classes and even sold a few pieces
  6. Brazilian University: He was a guest lecturer in Brazil and discovered that everyone was learning physics by rote instead of truly understanding. If they wanted to develop leading physics scientists, this was not the right path, and he told the university such during his final speed. He was taken seriously. He doubted his own conclusion because he did find 2 gifted students, but during his speech, both of these students revealed that they were from other countries
  7. Text Books: He was asked to review dozens of text books for high schools and read them all in detail (unlike any of the others on the review panel) and supported his approvals/disapproval’s with his detailed notes
  8. Ants: He spent hours and hours studying how ants leave trails and experimenting with how to move them around on bridges of paper without them noticing
  9. Understanding: He became quite famous for explaining complex theories (and anything really) because of how deeply he understood them himself, and his method of coming up with examples in his head of how things worked
  10. Smell: Discovered that human smell can be almost as good as a bloodhound’s by sniffing books and bottles that were recently handled
  11. Atomic Bomb: Played a role in building the first atomic bomb

And here are just 4 passages I highlighted:

Page: 120
“The trouble with playing a trick on a highly intelligent man like Mr. Teller is that the time it takes him to figure out from the moment that he sees there is something wrong till he understands exactly what happened is too damn small to give you any pleasure!”

Page: 295
“This question of trying to figure out whether a book is good or bad by looking at it carefully or by taking the reports of a lot of people who looked at it carelessly is like this famous old problem: Nobody was permitted to see the Emperor of China, and the question was, What is the length of the Emperor of China’s nose? To find out, you go all over the country asking people what they think the length of the Emperor of China’s nose is, and you average it. And that would be very “accurate” because you averaged so many people. But it’s no way to find anything out; when you have a very wide range of people who contribute without looking carefully at it, you don’t improve your knowledge of the situation by averaging.”

Page: 298
I couldn’t claim that I was smarter than sixty-five other guys—but the average of sixty-five other guys, certainly!

Page: 310
“Oh. Well, nobody knows anything about that, so I guess we can’t talk about it.” “On the contrary,” I answered. “It’s because somebody knows something about it that we can’t talk about physics. It’s the things that nobody knows anything about that we can discuss. We can talk about the weather; we can talk about social problems; we can talk about psychology; we can talk about international finance—gold transfers we can’t talk about, because those are understood—so it’s the subject that nobody knows anything about that we can all talk about!”

If you have an interest in science at all, or you are curious by nature, I think you’ll enjoy this book.

Find it on Amazon: “Surely You’re Joking Mr Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character

 

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly

Such a great book!

I enjoyed this book for 3 reasons:

  1. Lists are awesome
    • And in this book, Kevin Kelly made a lot. I’ve included my favourites below
  2. Stories about the future are awesome
    • 2 or 3 times in this book, Kevin Kelly would paint this picture of a typical day-in-his-life set in the future. What happened on that day seems amazing, but realistic. They were a bit too long to include in my notes, so you’ll have to read the book yourself
  3. I’m excited about robots taking our jobs!
    • Some people are not. Some people are scared of their jobs being taken by robots. Not just mechanical jobs, but jobs that until only recently, we thought were safe from robots: doctors and lawyers and accountants for example

But you don’t have to be afraid. All you need to do is remember that technology is additive. Email hasn’t replaced the postal service. Internet news hasn’t replaced physical newspapers. Digital hasn’t replaced paper.

Those industries have changed and adapted but they haven’t gone.

It’s the same with robots and artificial intelligence. They can augment and supplement our experience, our work, our contribution, our lives. Not replace.

If you read nothing else from my summary, just read the “Here are the Seven Stages of Robot Replacement“.

Anyway, as always, I urge you to get your own copy because my favourite parts may be different to your own.

In the meantime, here are my notes on “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future” by Kevin Kelly. Continue reading “The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly”

Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future by Ashlee Vance

This is one of the best business books I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot)!

There are 3 reasons why I liked it so much:

  1. It mashes together several interests of mine:
    • Technology
    • Entrepreneuriship/start-up companies
    • The future of our planet
    • Electric cars, autonomous vehicles, and the future of transportation
    • Solar power
    • and space travel
  2. It is superbly written
    • (by Ashlee Vance, a business columnist who has written for many major publications)
    • Vance steps back and forth between present day and the past with flashbacks that bring real depth and understanding of Elon Musk’s story, his background, his motivations and his relentless drive
  3. It fills me with hope
    • It’s the same reason I love TED videos too, because they fill me with hope about the future of the human race
    • Musk has found a way to make things the planet needs (electric cars powered with solar power as an alternative to burning fosil fuels, a plan for colonising another planet incase we screw this one up), and making billions of dollars in the process that he feeds into his next idea
    • That a person can have several epic ideas as a kid and see them come real in his own lifetime thanks to his own hard work (I hope my kids have the same experience)

Continue reading “Elon Musk: How the Billionaire CEO of SpaceX and Tesla is Shaping our Future by Ashlee Vance”

The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt

It was only recently that I developed an an interest in politics. It was during my 2016 campaign in which I sought election onto the Tauranga City Council. I was not elected but that has not extinguished my new found fascination with politics, both local, national and international.

I came across a TED Talk in which Chris Anderson interviewed Jonathan Haidt on why Trump was elected into office. I found what he had to say very interesting and I sought out this book to find out more.

I loved the book. It really does do a great job at explaining why people vote the way they do.

One section that really stood out to me was in Chapter Four which talked about how being accountable to an audience increases “evenhanded consideration of alternative points of view”. I saw myself in this because I’ve found that having my audience on my mind when I read business books helps me concentrate, and again when I read through a large volume of council documents during my election campaign, I read them with an open mind because I intended to share my summaries of them with the public.

Another thing I’ll say about Haidt is that he writes amazing chapter summaries. Continue reading “The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt”

Three Cities: Seeking Hope in the Anthropocene by Rod Oram

rod-oram-three-cities“Orthodox is obsolete; conventional is kaput. We thought we knew how we make economics, politics, technology and nature work for us. But increasingly, they are failing to run by the rules and systems we’ve honed over recent decades. Boom-bust economies, fractured and destructive politics and a deeply degraded ecosystem are just some of the symptoms.”

“Pioneers around the world are seeking new values, systems and technologies. Thus equipped we might achieve the unprecedented, speed, scale and complexity of change we need to meet the immense challenges of the twenty-first century.”

“In this BWB Text acclaimed business journalist Rod Oram travels to Beijing, London and Chicago to meet some of these pioneers and report on their setbacks and progress. Because if 10 billion people are going to live well on this planet in 2050, we’re going to have to fundamentally change the way we do things.” Continue reading “Three Cities: Seeking Hope in the Anthropocene by Rod Oram”

Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail

exponential-organizationsOne day I stumbled came across Ismail’s 45 minute talk at Singularity University about Exponential Organizations and was fascinated by everything I heard. I just had to read the book.

And wow, this book was awesome.

Not only is it crammed full of optimism about the future, it gives us tips on how to position our businesses (large and small), to take advantage of the opportunities.

And it carries a warning.


Those businesses that do not evolve, will not survive.

I encourage you to buy this book and read it in full, but in the meantime, here are my notes on Exponential Organizations: Why new organizations are ten times better, faster, and cheaper than yours (and what to do about it) by Salim Ismail, Michael S. Malone, Yuri van Geest.

Introduction

  • An Exponential Organization is one whose impact (or output) is disproportionally large – at least 10 x larger – compared to it’s peers because of the use of new organizational techniques that leverage accelerating technologies.

Continue reading “Exponential Organizations by Salim Ismail”

Ask by Ryan Levesque

Ask-by-Ryan-Levesque
The basic idea of this book is very simple: You are just guessing what your customers actually want, right now and in the future. So perhaps it’s time you asked them what they want.

According to Levesque, the way to check is to put them through a series of surveys.

Their answers to these survey questions will enable you to put your customers into groups.

When you have those groups, you can better tailor your product/service packages to these groups.

Sounds pretty reasonable? Pretty simple?

That’s because it is.

Levesque does describe these surveys in moderate-to-light detail, and does provide a few examples of the emails that you can adapt for your own purpose.

But, I’m sorry to say, it doesn’t provide the formula that I expected from reading the title of the book. And worse, it pushes you to buy Levesque’s survey software. It’s just not easy to set up the system he proposes without it. Continue reading “Ask by Ryan Levesque”

Launch by Jeff Walker

launch-jeff-walkerI’ve been reading about, and experimenting with, selling digital products for a couple of years (ebooks, e-courses, video courses etc), so when I came across this book I was pretty excited!

I expected this book to teach me how to:

  • Create and build up an email list
  • Generate ideas of what digital products I could create to sell to them
  • Test those ideas on small samples of my email list to find which one gets traction
  • Create a digital product
  • Write a series of emails that builds anticipation and trust
  • Make millions


But I was wrong.

It didn’t teach me those things. Continue reading “Launch by Jeff Walker”

The 4-Hour Work Week (Timothy Ferris): What I Learned The Second Time Through

Lately, at times, I’ve been feeling that I’m running on a hamster wheel.

Do you know that feeling?

hamster-on-wheel

Almost 7 years ago I read the 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss and quit my job almost immediately. I’ve been running my own business ever since.

The problem is, I thought I was on a hamster wheel when I had a job working for someone else, but now I realise that I’m just running on a different hamster wheel by running my own business!

Recently, I was nudged by a friend of mine to re-read the book, which I did.

Much of it was very familiar because so many of the principles I put into action at the time, but here’s a section on goals that stood out to me this time. Continue reading “The 4-Hour Work Week (Timothy Ferris): What I Learned The Second Time Through”

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

bold-how-to-go-bigHere are my notes on the book “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World” by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler.

(This is a kind of sequel to another book by these authors called Abundance. Here’s my summary of Abundance)

Fueling my brain with a daily TED talk for 5 years now (and watching/reading no main-stream news) has meant I’ve got a very positive view of the future and supreme confidence in the potential for humanity to band together to solve our planets biggest problems.

This book has that same positivity but puts an entrepreneurial spin on it. What opportunities does the future hold for entrepreneurs who can see these changes coming and prepare for them?

As one of the first headlines in this book states: “The world’s biggest problems = biggest business opportunities”.

Here’s a collection of my favourite bits from this book. Continue reading “Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler”

Money, Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins

money-master-the-gameHere are my notes on the book “Money Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom” by Tony Robbins.

There are 3 things you need to know about this book:

  1. This book is huge
    • Most business books take me 4 hours to get through, this one took me 12
    • I read it on my Kindle, so at times I thought it would never end (whereas, with a hardcopy book, you can feel with your fingers how far through you are)

  1. Tony repeats points over and over
    • This can be a bit annoying at times. But that’s just his teaching style. He knows that for the important bits to stick in your head, he needs to repeat them.
  2. His writing style is not crisp and concise like most business authors
    • His writing is like a conversation in your head between you and him. It’s like he’s talking to you personally

Having said that, this was a very good book. I’ve broken it into 4 parts: Continue reading “Money, Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom by Tony Robbins”

Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek

read_newI’m a big fan of Simon Sinek’s TED talks. (In fact, I watched the rehearsal for his latest one live on stage in Vancouver in March of this year).

I was surprised to find that this book was about drugs.

Not the ones that might come to mind when I use that word, but the kind of drugs that our own brains secrete into our nervous system.

One of the big lessons for me was about how large corporations think that internal competition is healthy and necessary for innovation. They are wrong. That kind of competition is damaging and disrupts the “Circle of Safety” that Simon talks about in this book.

Another one nicely reinforced the direction my life is going in at the moment – that is, my mission is to bring people together at inspiring events.

His thoughts on how video conferencing can never replace a business trip was very interesting.

Let’s take a look. Continue reading “Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek”

Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier by Ari Meisel

Here are my notes on “Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier” by Ari Meisel.Screen-Shot-2015-04-18-at-3.15.28-PM-533x423

I thought I knew a lot about productivity and efficiency, so I haven’t picked up books like this lately.

I’m glad I did though, because even a few tips can make a big difference on your time management and impact.

The biggest lesson for me about this book was about email.

I’ve felt guilty about how addicted I am to email, but this book gave me tips about how I continue to use my email inbox as my to-do list, but with some cunning twists on how to improve the timing of what appears in there.

You’ll find out more about that shortly.

In the meantime, here’s a collection of my favourite bits from this book. Continue reading “Less Doing, More Living: Make Everything in Life Easier by Ari Meisel”

Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh

Here are my notes on the book “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose” by Tony Hsieh51oR41Z4zoL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Tony Hsieh is the CEO of Zappos, which is now wholly owned by Amazon and sells a wide range of items online, but made it’s start selling shoes online.

It’s the classic start-up story many of us dream of: a couple of friends get together and quit their jobs on the back on a single idea, they make it through the good times and bad times and desperate times to somehow scale it up to a billion dollar company within 10 years.

Here’s a collection of my favourite quotes from the book: Continue reading “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh”

Flash Foresight: See The Invisible To Do The Impossible by Daniel Burrus

Here are my notes on “Flash Foresight: See the Invisible to Do the Impossible” by Daniel Burrus.Flash-Foresight-Book

I learnt a lot from this book. The 2 biggest lessons for me were:

  1. I’ve heard about the aging population a million times, but this book made me think about it in 2 different ways:
    • It will create an enormous part-time, low-cost workforce with huge business experience
    • There is enormous business opportunity as that generation requires more health care, more medical technology (hearing aids for example)
  2. Technology-driven change doesn’t kill off the old ways of getting things done, it adds on
    • Eg e-news hasn’t killed newspapers, email and digital storage hasn’t killed paperwork

Here’s a collection of my other favourite bits from this book. Continue reading “Flash Foresight: See The Invisible To Do The Impossible by Daniel Burrus”

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams

Here are my notes on “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life” by Scott Adamsg-and-Still-Win-Big-Scott-Adams

Scott Adams is the author of the world famous Dilbert comic strip that make fun of life in an office cubicle.

Like his comic strip, this book is certainly amusing. He is a great story teller in super-short-form comics in which he has only a few panels, and in this long-form book in which he has hundreds of pages.

He has led an interesting life, and tells those stories and the lessons he learnt, but even more interestingly, he shares several counter-intuitive ideas that I’d like to share with you today. Continue reading “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life by Scott Adams”

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk

Here are my notes on the book “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World” by Gary Vaynerchuk1002029_10151895114248227_228094411_n-1

For me, I got 3 things out of this book:

  1. I got a simple introduction into the major social media platforms all in one place
  2. I got a simple explanation of how they all work and, more importantly, how they are different from each other
  3. I got dozens of examples of best practice and many examples of poor usage

    • To be honest, I found this part a bit confusing at times – it was hard to tell the difference between examples Gary liked and those he didn’t!

Continue reading “Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk”

The Power of Less: The 6 Essential Productivity Principles That Will Change Your Life by Leo Babauta

power-of-less-e1394503989145I’m no stranger to productivity books, this is about the 7th one I’ve read over the last 5 years.

It’s amazing how the little tips and changes you pick-up from books like this one, become so important and valuable, but just slip away over time, one by one.

So this was a fantastic refresher.

Here, I’ve recorded the parts of the book that were particularly useful to me.

I encourage you to read the book yourself in your entirety because you are bound to find different sections more relevant to you.

My notes on The Power of Less: The 6 Essential Productivity Principles That Will Change Your Life by Leo Babauta Continue reading “The Power of Less: The 6 Essential Productivity Principles That Will Change Your Life by Leo Babauta”

Value-Based Fees: How to Charge, and Get, What You’re Worth by Alan Weiss

517VifzS24L._SX396_BO1,204,203,200_This book has changed the way I do business. It’s that good. I also know much more about value-based pricing and I am able to provide advice to friends/clients/acquaintences who still stuck in the work-for-an-hour-get-paid-for-an-hour trap.

Here, I’ve recorded the parts of the book that were particularly useful to me. I encourage you to read the book yourself in your entirety because you are bound to find different sections more relevant to you.

My notes on Value-Based Fees: How to Charge – and Get – What You’re Worth by Alan Weiss Continue reading “Value-Based Fees: How to Charge, and Get, What You’re Worth by Alan Weiss”

Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson

remote-officeFrom this book I’ve just pulled out sections that were of particular interest to me.

I don’t have a huge amount of notes because I worked from home for 3.5 years and in a co-working space for the last 14 months so I’m very much aware of the pros and cons of not working in a traditional office.

For the bigger picture on the office vs remote worker movement, I encourage you to read the book in it’s entirety.

My notes on Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson Continue reading “Remote: Office Not Required by Jason Fried, David Heinemeier Hansson”

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout

51b7BzdnqLL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_This book is very old now: 1994, but much of the advice is still pretty good.

It’s a very easy read – each of the 22 chapters are only a couple of pages each. It’s not available on Kindle which is annoying but there are a few pdf versions floating around.

I found the notes of Chris Anuman which were better than mine so that’s what you’ll see below.

I also came across a very interesting series of articles arguing that these laws are overturned in the present day that’s worth a look at.

My notes (Chris Anuman’s notes actually) on The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout Continue reading “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing by Al Ries and Jack Trout”

Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler

This book was pretty darn amazing.51wCZoVxdSL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

I’m already a pretty optimistic guy but this book backed up that optimism with facts and reasoning. Fantastic stuff.

My favourite quote was “In today’s hyperlinked world, solving problems anywhere, solves problems everywhere.”

Let’s start with the table of contents because you might spot areas that interest you that you might like to know more about (I do encourage you to get this book, it’s only $15 on Kindle).

After that I’m just going to share my favourite parts of the book.

My notes on Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler. Continue reading “Abundance: The Future Is Better Than You Think by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler”

Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff

My notes on Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff.

Buy this book now from Amazon

Chapter 1: The Method

The process using the acronym STRONG:

  • Setting the frame
  • Telling the story
  • Revealing the intrigue
  • Offering the prize
  • Nailing the hookpoint
  • Getting a decision

Continue reading “Pitch Anything: An Innovative Method for Presenting, Persuading, and Winning the Deal by Oren Klaff”

Startup Communities – Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City by Brad Feld

My notes on “Startup Communities – Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City” by Brad Feld15822571

Give Before You Get

  • Boulder is an incredibly inclusive community. Although there is some competition between companies, especially over talent, the community is defined by a strong sense of collaboration and philosophy of “giving before you get.”
  • If you contribute, you are rewarded, often in unexpected ways.
  • At the same time especially since it’s a small community it’s particularly intolerant of bad actors. If you aren’t sincere, constructive, and collaborative, the community behaves accordingly


Continue reading “Startup Communities – Building An Entrepreneurial Ecosystem In Your City by Brad Feld”

Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

My notes on Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner.Blank white book w/path

Lots of interesting stories in this book, but I’m just going to talk about 2 that really struck a chord with me.

The Cost To Avoid Guilt? Just $3

Economists in an Israeli study in day care centres started imposing a fine of $3 if any parent was more than ten minutes late picking up their kids.

The number of late pick-ups doubled.

The incentive had plainly backfired.

Continue reading “Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner”

The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries

My notes on “The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses” by Eric Ries

I’ve only made notes on the sections I found most interesting, so to get the full benefit of this book I urge you to read a copy for yourself Continue reading “The Lean Startup: How Constant Innovation Creates Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries”

The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz

téléchargerMy notes on “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” by Mike Michalowicz

This book had excellent structure, but I’ve only made notes on the sections I found most interesting, so you might find these notes jump around a bit.

Launching Businesses

  • I loved entrepreneurialism. I could talk about business all day, read every magazine, attend every seminar, and still my thirst would not be quenched. It took me a few years to figure out what was sitting right under my nose the entire time: That I loved launching businesses.
  • Once I came to the realization that it is the birthing and maturing of a business that I love, I knew the path my future would follow.

Continue reading “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur by Mike Michalowicz”

Made to Stick by Chip & Dan Heath

My notes on “Made to Stick” by Chip & Dan Heath

S.U.C.C.E.S.s: Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible Stories41hMTwhl6IL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

Simplicity

  • Not dumbed down or sound bites
  • Find the core fo the idea
  • “The curse of knowledge” if you say 3 things you say nothing
  • Simple = core + compact, forced prioritisation
  • To make a profund idea compact use flags – “tap the existing terrain of your audience”
  • Schema’s are a collection of generic properties of a concept or category
  • Higher level schemas are composed of other schemas. Analogies are great
  • The goal is to write a proverb

How To Make Millions With Your Ideas by Dan S. Kennedy

My notes on “How To Make Millions With Your Ideas” by Dan S. Kennedy5188mtDB8rL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_
  • To win with premium prices, clobber competitors with service
  • Call every customer after the job is completed to verify satisfaction
  • Offer strong guarantees
  • Get crazy publicity & word of mouth with free product to local companies (works if you own a cafe anyway)
  • Stake out a market leader position from the start – define a new niche
  • Break even on the first sale / product to get a mailing list together. Sell to that group long term
  • Repackage the same core product / service in heaps of different ways, different formats, different prices, to different target markets

The Unwritten Laws of Business by J. King and James G. Skakoon

My notes on “The Unwritten Laws of Business” by J. King & James G. Skakoon. 2007511pX2EDVHL._AC_UL320_SR214,320_

Good advice for employees who want to get the most out of their current role.

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

My notes on “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie

3 Fundamental Techniques in Handling People51RWA6BmIWL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_

  1. Don’t crisicise, condemn or complain
    • Instead, try to understand them, why they do what they do
    • The most important human desire: A feeling of importance
  2. Give honest and sincere appreciation
    • Find out their good points
    • Try to see everything from the other person point of view
  3. Arouse in the other person on eager want

Purple Cow by Seth Godin

My notes on “Purple Cow” by Seth GodinpurpleCow

  • Remarkable marketing is the art of building things worth noticing right into your product. If it isn’t remarkable, its invisible
  • The Advertising Age
    • Before: Word-of-Mouth
    • During: Ever increasing consumer prosperity, and endless consumer desire. Simple formula: Advertise on TV & mass media = increased sales
    • After: Word-of-Mouth with new networks at rocket speed

Anything You Want by Derek Sivers

My notes on “Anything You Want” by Derek SiversDerekSivers-AnythingYouWant-318x450

My personal philosophy’s

  1. Business is not about money. It’s about making dreams come true for others and for yourself
  2. Making a company is a great way to improve the world while improving yourself
  3. When you make a company, you make a utopia. It’s where you design your perfect world
  4. Never do anything just for the money
  5. Don’t purse business just for your own gain. Only answer the calls for help
  6. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently promoting what’s not working

  1. Your business plan is moot. You don’t know what people really want until you start doing it
  2. Starting with no money is an advantage. You don’t need money to start helping people
  3. You can’t please everyone, so proudly exclude people
  4. Make yourself unnecessary to the running of your business
  5. The real point of doing anything is to be happy, so do only what makes you happy Continue reading “Anything You Want by Derek Sivers”

Game-based Marketing by Gabe Zichermann

My notes on “Game-based Marketing: Inspire Customer Loyalty Through Rewards, Challenges and Contests” by Gabe Zichermann & Joselin Linder.51yFzzNljwL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

Games are all around us

  • “The Subway Game” is passive – most people don’t realise there is a game on, the players stand close to the train doors, block other players with their body language and compete for a seat. Breaking the rules using aggression is not allowed.
  • Variations: The Bar Game – get to the bar and order drinks for your friends the fastest. The Supermarket Game – identify which queue is likely to move the quickest
  • They are big business. Games such as Frequent Flier Miles earn more revenue for airlines than flying people around


Continue reading “Game-based Marketing by Gabe Zichermann”

Real- Meerman ScottTime Marketing and PR by David

My notes on “Real-Time Marketing and PR” by David Meerman Scott.

“How to instantly engage your market, connect with customers and create products that grow your business now.”8157405

What’s Expected In The Corporate World:

  • Wait, to make certain
  • Work from checklists dictated by one-year and even five-year business plans
  • Measure results quarterly
  • Execute based on a long-term “new product launch” mentality
  • Organise around multi-month marketing and communications campaigns
  • Ger permission from your superior
  • Run decision by your staff
  • Bring in the experts, the agencies, and the lawyers
  • Conduct extensive research
  • Carefully evaluate all the alternatives
  • Aim for perfection before public release
  • Respond to customers on your time frame
  • Engage with media, analysts, and commentators only when convenient and comfortable for you


Continue reading “Real- Meerman ScottTime Marketing and PR by David”

Hit The Ground Running: A Manual For New Leaders by Jason Jennings

My notes on “Hit The Ground Running: A Manual For New Leaders” by Jason Jenningsihwx.9f22449c-7a23-4641-a068-194083827ab9.200.175

  •  The number one cause of business failure isn’t poor cash-flow or pricing it’s copying a competitors strategy
  • Shareholders are best served by looking after consumers, retailers, employees, suppliers and community first. A different perspective from what you’d hear from Wall St
  • “Profit is not the reason for the existence of a company, profit is a well deserved by-product of doing what’s right. Looking for profit? Do more good things”
  • When you are the new CEO: unless people are presented powerful and undeniable evidence to believe that you are different (better) than your predecessors, they’ll either wink and whisper “here we go again” or adopt a deadly wait-and-see attitude
  • Productivity: it’s not the hours you put in or your level of effort, it’s about achieving what you set out to do. “Activities are not the same as Results”
  • “If you do a good job, people want you. Not for what you were trained to do but for your ability to get the job done.”
  • “People don’t quit companies, they quit bosses. The best boss is a mentor, one you trust.”
  • “Don’t confuse a decision made after listening to lots of people with a compromise decision. Usually when you get to a compromise you’ve lost something. Seek input, carefully consider everything you’ve heard and then make a call. Don’t try to please everyone.”
  • The new CEO of a private hospital started by giving a flower, newspaper and his business card out every morning with a note to call him on his extension for a quick resolution to any problem during their stay
  • “If you’re trying to climb one mountain and you find you can’t reach the summit, you don’t abandon mountain climbing, you change the goal and go for another summit. Who cares which mountain you climb? The view is great from every mountain top.”
  • “The plan isn’t nearly as important as the planning” – Keith Rattie
  • “One boss I had didn’t have thirty years of experience he had five years experience”

Continue reading “Hit The Ground Running: A Manual For New Leaders by Jason Jennings”

Poke The Box by Seth Godin

My notes on “Poke The Box” by Seth Godinsethpokethebox copy

Kinds of capital

What can you invest? What can your company invest?

  • Financial capital – Money in the bank that can be put to work on a project or investment
  • Network capital – People you know, connections you can make, retailers and systems you can plug into
  • Intellectual capital – Smarts. Software systems, Access to people with insight
  • Physical capital – Plant and machinery and tools and trucks
  • Prestige capital – Your reputation
  • Instigation capital – The desire to move forward. The ability and guts to say yes. This is the most important capital of our new economy


Continue reading “Poke The Box by Seth Godin”

Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead

My notes on “Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation” by Sally Hogsheadfascinate

Fascination Scale

  • Avoidance
    • You’ll take steps to avoid TV commercials
  • Disinterest
    • You might leave the room during a commercial break to grab a bite
  • Neutrality
    • You don’t really care if you watch the commercial or not. You’re not going to take steps to avoid it, or to watch it
  • Mild Affinity

    • If a commercial happens to pique your curiosity, you’ll watch. Otherwise, eh, whatever
  • Interest
    • Commercials entertain, at least the good ones
  • Engagement
    • You actively enjoy commercials. During Super Bowl, you pay more attention to the commercials than the game
  • Immersion
    • You go out of your way to watch commercials, even going online to search them out
  • Preoccupation
  • Obsession
  • Compulsion

Continue reading “Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation by Sally Hogshead”

Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business by Erik Qualman

My notes on “Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business” by Erik Qualmantélécharger (1)

The story about bacon salt

  • Bacon Salt was an idea that was born out of the minds of two Seattle buddies, Justin Esch and Dave Lefkow, who over a few beers jokingly posed the question – “Wouldn’t it be great if there was a powder that made everything taste like bacon?”
  • They found over 35,000 people that mentioned bacon in their MySpace profile. They began reaching out to these people to gauge their interest in Bacon Salt, and not only did they find interest, they started receiving orders when they didn’t even have a product yet.
  • It went viral.
  • The spice that made everything taste like bacon incredibly sold 600,000 bottles in 18 months. “We didn’t even have a product at the beginning; instead, we bought cheap spice bottles, printed out Bacon Salt logos and scotch them onto the bottles.”
  • Lesson: People are passionate about what they like. Each passion is a niche that can turn into a business.


Continue reading “Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business by Erik Qualman”

Social Media 101 by Chris Brogan

My notes on “Social Media 101” by Chris BroganScreen-Shot-2015-04-29-at-10.43.45-AM

In this book Chris talks about how he doesn’t use the word “expert” but uses the word “advisor” instead.

So I extracted 4 pieces of advice from what I read. Here they are:

(Should you read the book yourself you are sure to extract different advice for yourself).

1. Chris’s Advice About Writing

What is the customer, consumer, user and/or partner thinking?

  • What’s in it for me?
  • How does this impact me?
  • Do I have to do something?
  • What’s this going to cost me?


Continue reading “Social Media 101 by Chris Brogan”

Social Media Marketing for Dummies by Shiv Singh

My notes on “Social Media Marketing for Dummies” by Shiv Singh.51xOpIA89AL._SX397_BO1,204,203,200_

My additions are in italics.

Can sponsored conversations in social media be authentic?

Yes, the trick is to be completely transparent that they are sponsored

Disney partnered with SavvyAuntie, an online community focused on aunts without kids. Melanie Notkin, who runs SavvyAuntie, tweeted about Disney’s Pinocchio movie in March 2008 to coincide with its Disney anniversary release. She tweeted about t themes in the movie, often in question form, encouraging others to respond. Her 8000 followers on Twitter knew that she was doing this for Disney (every tweet about Pinocchio had a special tag), but because the tweets were appropriate for the audience, entertaining, and authentic, the campaign was a success.

Continue reading “Social Media Marketing for Dummies by Shiv Singh”

The Zen of Social Media Marketing by Shama Hyder Kabani

the-zen-of-socialMy notes on “The Zen of Social Media Marketing” by Shama Hyder Kabani

Facebook

Facebook is like a coffee shop. Everyone is there for his or her own reasons, but it is a great place to strike up a conversation.

People from all walks of life use Facebook. They aren’t there to buy stuff. They are there, first and foremost, to express themselves. After self-expression comes their need to connect with others.

Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days by Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager

My notes on “Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days” by Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager

What is your competitive advantage? Is it enough?61o1gFxYuZL._AC_UL320_SR256,320_

  • Write down every reason you can think of to do business with your company. Now do the same for your top competitors. Scratch off the common ones. Are the remaining reasons good enough to be your competitive advantage? Do you need more?
  • Asking your customers why they do business with you will provide you with your competitive advantages


Continue reading “Guerrilla Marketing in 30 Days by Jay Conrad Levinson and Al Lautenslager”

Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future By Seth Godin

My notes on “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future” by Seth Godintélécharger (2)

The law of the Mechanical Turk

  • The law: “Any project, if broken down into sufficiently small, predictable parts, can be accomplished for awfully close to free.”
  • Eg Jimmy Wales led the tiny team at Wikipedia that destroyed the greatest reference book of all time. And almost all of them worked for free.
  • The Encyclopaedia Britannica was started in 1770 and is maintained by a staff of more than a hundred full-time editors. Over the last 250 years, it has probably cost more than a hundred million dollars to build and edit.

  • Wikipedia, on the other hand, is many times bigger, far more popular, and significantly more up-to-date, and it was built for almost free. No single person could have done this. No team of a thousand, in fact. But by breaking the development or articles into millions of one-sentence or one-paragraph projects, Wikipedia too advantage of the law of the Mechanical Turk. Instead of relying on a handful of well-paid people calling themselves professionals. Wikipedia thrives by using the loosely coordinated work of millions of knowledgeable people, each happy to contribute a tiny slice of the whole.
  • The internet has turned white-collar work into something akin to building a pyramid in Egypt. No one could build the entire thing, but anyone can haul one brick into place.

Continue reading “Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? How to drive your career and create a remarkable future By Seth Godin”

Marketing Without Money – How 20 Top Australian Entrepreneurs Crack Markets With Their Minds by John C Lyons and Edward de Bono

My notes on “Marketing Without Money – How 20 Top Australian Entrepreneurs Crack Markets With Their Minds” by John C Lyons and Edward de Bono:BUSMAR3

How narrow is your product offering?

  • “Don’t try to be all things. Be famous for just one thing. We are doing a very simple thing. We are facilitator only, taking people to the top of the bridge. Our job is to enable our customers to make heroes of themselves. – Paul Cave, BridgeClimb

How narrow is your target market?

  • Frequently it is better to define what you do in terms of what you do not do, being quite harsh on your choice of markets and the products and services you deliver. Seldom is failure attributable to too narrow a focus.


Continue reading “Marketing Without Money – How 20 Top Australian Entrepreneurs Crack Markets With Their Minds by John C Lyons and Edward de Bono”

Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths For Winning At Business Without Losing Your Self by Alan M. Webber

My notes on “Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths For Winning At Business Without Losing Your Self” – by Alan M. Webber.51Ei+GQ7PnL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_

What business are you in?

  • If you’re a journalist and you think you’re in the news business, chances are good you’re going to go out of business. News today is a commodity. But there’s a good market for the opinion business or event he funny business (eg Jon Stewart whom recently finished forth in the voting for America’s most trusted source of… news). None of them are in the news business; they’re successful because they are in the ideas-behind-the-news business.
  • Learn to see with fresh eyes so you can differentiate your business from the competition.

  • Change the way your business sees the market and the way your customers see your business.
  • How? Start by asking a different question. Not “what is our product or service?” but “What does our product or service stand for?”
  • Eg a supermarket chain could stand for healthier life for customers who are willing to pay more for organic food.
  • Eg2 a coffee shop could stand for neighbourliness for the people in its surrounding community who use it as an informal gathering place

Continue reading “Rules of Thumb: 52 Truths For Winning At Business Without Losing Your Self by Alan M. Webber”

The Knack – How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn To Handle Whatever Comes Up by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham

My notes on “The Knack – How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn To Handle Whatever Comes Up” by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham4891811

Why are you better off starting a business from scratch rather than buying one?

  • It’s harder to learn a business if you haven’t been with it from the start
  • You miss out on all the trial-and-error education that happens in the early stages
  • You don’t understand key relationships in the business
  • You don’t know what to do in emergencies
  • You make mistakes that are much costlier than they would have been back when the company was smaller and struggling to get off the ground


Continue reading “The Knack – How Street-Smart Entrepreneurs Learn To Handle Whatever Comes Up by Norm Brodsky and Bo Burlingham”

Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business by Jeff Howe

31Ab-eLDZAL._AC_UL320_SR208,320_My notes on “Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business” by Jeff Howe

8 Very Successful Crowdsourcing Examples

1. Threadless

  • Threadless receives thousands of designs each week
  • The Threadless community of millions votes
  • The company selects nine from the top hundred to print
  • Each design sells out
  • Hardly surprising given the fact Threadless has a fine-tuned sense of consumer demand before they ever send the design to the printer
  • Threadless isn’t really in the T-shirt business. It sells community


Continue reading “Crowdsourcing: How the Power of the Crowd is Driving the Future of Business by Jeff Howe”

1001 Ways To Make More Money As A Speaker, Consultant or Trainer by Lilly Walters

My notes on “1001 Ways To Make More Money As A Speaker, Consultant or Trainer” by Lilly Walters:51SDqSEjmEL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

    1. Have business cards sized versions of flyers. They are easier for prospects to keep (flyers get binned)
    2. Goals are dreams with a deadline. Set goals with deadlines today.
    3. Freebies: Add to the bottom of articles, a freebie that people will get if they contact you Eg “To obtain a free copy of “How to xyz”, just [state action here]”
    4. Presentations: Don’t include everything in your presentation handouts. Refer to an item eg “the 10 rules of…”, and ask audience members to pass their business cards up to get a copy, and invite them to write a big “S” on the back if they speaker for a future date

  1. Feedback surveys: Don’t provide a ratings scale, ask questions like:
    • What basic message did you hear that you could use tomorrow? (Purpose)
    • How will you use what you heard today increase your profits and/or productivity? (Practical application)
    • Is there something else about my subject that you would like to know that I did not have time to touch on in this presentation? (New topics)
    • Do you know of others (businesses, associations, etc) that would benefit from the material presented today? Who are they? (Referrals)
    • What is your opinion of my presentation?  (Testimonials – make sure there is a permission check box so you can use the comments)
  2. Discounting: When a client tells you “cut your fee on this talk, and when we might use you in a series”, reply “this programme will cost full price, but I will be glad to add a clause stating ‘If a series contract is signed within one year of this date $xyz will be deducted from the series price’”
  3. Press Releases: Ask “would your viewers like to learn how to…?” or “would your listeners like to know the answer to…?”. Or ask these questions in the follow up phone call
  4. Self Publishing: “The self-publishing manual” by Dan Poynter
  5. Let the market lead: “Find a problem, then look for a solution. Don’t develop a solution, then spend your life searching for a problem for it. Pull through an idea from the market place, don’t push it through from inception towards some intangible market” – Jack Ryan

How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer

My notes on “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer:télécharger (3)

Which of the following 2 sentences of praise encourages kids to challenge themselves?

  1. “You must be smart at this” (intelligence)
  2. “You must have worked really hard” (effort)

The research revealed that the kids praised for their intelligence chose a puzzle of equal difficulty. Of the kids praised for their effort 90% chose a more difficult puzzle.  When praising intelligence, the kids hear “look smart, don’t risk making mistakes”. The fear of failure actually inhibits learning. Continue reading “How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer”

Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson

My Notes on “Ready, Fire, Aim” by Michael Masterson:41XjfgOsASL._SX317_BO1,204,203,200_

When Launching A New Business, What Should Consume Your Time?

  • In launching new businesses, many entrepreneurs do the opposite of spending 80% of their time of their time on selling.
  • They spend most of their time, attention, energy and capital on things such as setting up an office, designing logos, printing business cards, filing forms, writing contracts, and refining the product.

  • They have the impression that they are doing things in a logical order – getting everything just right before they open their doors.
  • In fact, they are wasting valuable resources on secondary and tertiary endeavours.
  • It is enough to have the product and customer service just okay at the outset. Perfecting them can be done a little later, after you have gotten feedback from your customers.
  • Sell as soon as you can – if possible before you have spent a lot of time and money making it perfect.

Continue reading “Ready, Fire, Aim by Michael Masterson”

Outrageous Advertising That’s Outrageously Successful by Bill Glazer

My Notes on “Outrageous Advertising That’s Outrageously Successful” by Bill Glazer:

Recipe for a 5 Page Sales Letter51-3Sx8fMwL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

  • Page 1: Tell your story, the reason why you’re doing this, and why buyers should buy
  • Page 2: The details, what’s for sale, who you are, how much they’ll save
  • Page 3: Offer free gift “premium”. A deadline. Write directly at them. Hint at coupons coming up on the last page.
  • Page 4: Personal message reminding them how great you are, that they are your preferred customers, and not everyone is getting this offer, but they will later and then all the best stuff will be gone so they better act now. Another hint of the coupons on the last page
  • Page 5: Use P.S. and P.P.S.


Continue reading “Outrageous Advertising That’s Outrageously Successful by Bill Glazer”

The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J Stanley and William D Danko

the_millionaire_next_doorWhat can we learn from this book published in 1996? Quite a lot actually.

Can You Answer “Yes” to the Next 7 Questions? If not, you have little chance of becoming a Millionaire:

  1. Do live below your means?
  2. Do you allocate time, energy, and money efficiently in ways conducive to building wealth?
  3. Do you believe financial independence is more important than displaying high social status?
  4. Do you provide economic outpatient care for your adult children?
  5. Are your adult children economically self-sufficient?
  6. Are you proficient in targeting market opportunities?
  7. Have you chosen the right occupation?


Continue reading “The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas J Stanley and William D Danko”

Toughen Up by Michael Hill – Book Review

I liked it.

The secret to his success is setting goals, and then taking bold steps to achieve them. He’s a very goal oriented man.

  • Goal 1: 7 stores in 7 years. Achieved.
  • Goal 2: 70 stores in the next 7 years. Achieved.
  • Goal 3: 1000 stores by 2024. I think he’ll achieve it.

He’s got balls of solid gold.

He’s loving the recession because it means he can buy up prime US locations for his stores that he never would have been able to afford previously.

Genius. Continue reading “Toughen Up by Michael Hill – Book Review”

Permission Marketing by Seth Godin – Have your customers given YOU permission?

My Notes on “Permission Marketing” by Seth Godin:

My Summary:

Rather than write an advertisement in a feeble attempt to get people to buy (when they have never even heard of you before), simply ask them for permission to send them more information (a free report, a free sample, a list of “common mistakes” in your industry).

And in that information you send them, ask for permission to send them more.

After you build up a relationship in this way over time, then you can start selling.

Continue reading “Permission Marketing by Seth Godin – Have your customers given YOU permission?”

The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun

My Notes on “The Myths of Innovation” by Scott Berkun:berkun-myths-210x315-200x300

Myth #1: The Myth of the Epiphany

  • An epiphany only comes when you’ve put in all the hard work. It’s just the final piece in a 1000 piece puzzle
  • When inventors are asked how they came up with their idea they say “it just came to me”, and have some interesting story about how the idea formed in their head. They don’t say “after 1000 hours of research the idea became obvious”, because it’s boring. Stories about epiphany’s are interesting and exciting and give us hope that we will have one
  • The most useful way to think of epiphany is an occasional bonus of working on tough problems


Continue reading “The Myths of Innovation by Scott Berkun”

Making Things Happen – Mastering Project Management by Scott Berkun

51inoqTDRML._SX379_BO1,204,203,200_My Notes on “Making Things Happen – Mastering Project Management” by Scott Berkun:

The Five States Of Communication

1. Transmitted

When you send an email or leave a voice mail, you are transmitting a piece of information to someone.  This doesn’t mean she has read or heard it, it just means the message has left your hands with the intent to arrive in hers.  With email and the Web, it’s very easy to transmit information, but there is no guarantee anyone is ever going to read it.

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The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organisation by Peter F. Drucker, Jim Collins, Phillip Kotler

My Notes on “The five most important questions you will ever ask about your organisation” by Peter F. Drucker, Jim Collins, Phillip Kotler:227565 cover.indd

Every truly great organisation demonstrates the characteristic of preserving the core but stimulating progress.

Peter Drucker told us over 40 years ago “The purpose of a company is to create a customer… The only profit centre is the customer.”

If he was here today he would amend this observation. He would say “The best companies don’t create customers. They create fans.
Continue reading “The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask About Your Organisation by Peter F. Drucker, Jim Collins, Phillip Kotler”

Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne

My Notes on “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W.Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne:51xtlczer7L._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_

Creating Blue Oceans

Rather than compete with Ringling Bros, Cirque du Solei created uncontested new market space that made the competition irrelevant.

Imagine a market universe composed of two sorts of oceans: red oceans and blue oceans. Red oceans represent all the industries in existence today.  This is the know market space. Blue oceans denote all the industries not in existence today.  This is the unknown market space.
Continue reading “Blue Ocean Strategy by W. Chan Kim & Renee Mauborgne”

Brain Rules by John Medina

My Notes on “Brain Rules” by John Medinaby:cover-BR2

Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power

  • Our brains were built for walking 20km a day
  • To improve your thinking skills, move
  • Exercise gets blood to your brain, brining it glucose for energy and oxygen to soak up the toxic electrons that are left over. It also stimulates the protein that keeps neurons connecting.
  • Aerobic exercise just twice a week halves your risk of general dementia. It cuts your risk of Alzheimer’s by 60 percent


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Tribes – We Need You To Lead Us by Seth Godin

My Notes on “Tribes – We Need You To Lead Us” by Seth Godin:3828382

The best synonym for leadership is management. That used to fit, but perhaps no longer. Movements have leaders and movements make things happen. Leaders have followers. Managers have employees.  Managers make widgets. Leaders make change.

It takes only two things to turn a group of people into a tribe:

  • A shared interest
  • A way to communicate


Continue reading “Tribes – We Need You To Lead Us by Seth Godin”

The Secrets of Consulting by Gerald M. Weinberg

My Notes on “The Secrets of Consulting” by Gerald M. Weinberg:The secrets

  • The first law of consulting: In spite of what your client may tell you, theirs is always a problem.
  • The second law of consulting: No matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem
  • Never promise more than 10% improvement (so the client doesn’t get embarrassed about how crap they were)
  • If you happen to achieve more than 10% improvement, make sure it isn’t noticed
  • Whatever the client is doing, advise something else (because what they have been doing hasn’t worked so far)

  • You’ll never accomplish anything if you care who gets the credit
  • If they don’t hire you, don’t solve their problem
  • The Law of Raspberry Jam: The wider you spread it, the thinner it gets. Alternative: “Influence or affluence; take your choice”. One on one advice is very powerful for initiating change, an email newsletter or a book is weaker at influencing chance. But with the latter, with leverage, you can make a lot of money
  • Most of the time, for most of the world, no matter how hard people work at it, nothing of any significance happens
  • Once you eliminate your number one problem, number two gets a promotion
  • The Hard Law: If you can’t accept failure, you’ll never succeed as a consultant
  • Inverse of the Hard Law: Some people do succeed as consultants, so it must be possible to deal with failure
  • The Harder Law: Helping myself is even harder than helping others

Continue reading “The Secrets of Consulting by Gerald M. Weinberg”

SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham

My Notes on “SPIN Selling” by Neil Rackham:Spin

The difference between small and large sales

  • Define Small Sale: Is a sale which can normally be completed in a single call and which involves a low dollar value.
  • In selling consumer goods product knowledge makes all the difference.  But in large sales it can prevent success because the customer won’t see enough value to justify so large a decision.
  • Customer hesitation when deciding about a large sales isn’t so much about the product as entering a relationship.  You will have to work with the seller over a period of some months rather than just buy the item and walk out the door.
  • In small sales the customer can afford to take more risks because the consequences of mistakes are relatively small.


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The Ultimate Sales Machine by Chet Holmes

My Notes on “The Ultimate Sales Machine” by Chet Holmes:Chet holmes

  • You can profoundly improve your company if you absolutely commit one hour a week in which you do nothing else than work on making the business much more effective.
  • We all get good ideas t seminars and from books and business-building gurus. The problem is that most companies do not know how to identify and adapt the best ideas to their businesses. Implementation, not ideas, is the key to real success.
  • To do’s, tasks, and deadlines must be assigned after every meeting. But the key is not to ask for too much to be completed. Make the gains small but constant. If you are having the meeting every week and you are making small incremental gains each and every week, think of the profound transformation you’re going to have in 52 weeks.


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The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More With Less by Richard Koch

My Notes on “The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More With Less” by Richard Koch:good read

  • Conventional wisdom is not to put all your eggs in one basket.  80/20 wisdom is to choose a basket carefully, load all your eggs into it, and then watch it like a hawk.
  • Celebrate exceptional productivity, rather than raise average efforts
  • Look for the short cut, rather than run the full course
  • Be selective, not exhaustive
  • Strive for excellence in few things, rather than good performance in many
  • Delegate or outsource as much as possible in our daily lives and be encouraged rather than penalised by tax systems to do this (use specialists to the maximum instead of doing the work ourselves)

  • Only do the thing we are best at doing and enjoy most
  • In every important sphere, work out where 20% of effort can lead to 80% of returns
  • Creative systems operate away from equilibrium. Cause and effect, input and output, operate in a non-linear way. You do not usually get back what you put in; you may sometimes get very much less and sometimes get very mush more.
  • If you can identify where your firm is getting back more than it is putting in, you can up the stakes and make a killing. Similarly, if you can work out where your firm is getting back much less than it is investing, you can cut your losses.

Continue reading “The 80/20 Principle: The Secret of Achieving More With Less by Richard Koch”

The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris

My Notes on “The 4-Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferris:work week

Different is better when it is more effective or more fun.  If everyone is defining a problem or solving it one way and the results are sub-par, this is the time to ask, What if I did the opposite. Don’t follow a model that doesn’t work.

Most cold calls don’t get to the intended person for one reason: gatekeepers. Make all your calls from 8-8.30am and 6-6.30pm for a total of one hour to avoid secretaries and book twice as many meetings as senior sales executives who call from 9-5. Twice the results in 1/8 of the time.
Continue reading “The 4-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris”

The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber

My Notes on “The E-Myth Revisited” by Michael E. Gerber:riiig

In a business that depends on you, on your style, on your personality, on your presence, on your talent and willingness to do the work, if you’re not there customers would go someplace else.

In this case, customers aren’t buying your businesses ability to give them what they want, but your ability to give them what they want.

If your business depends on your, you don’t own a business – you have a job.  And that’s not the purpose of going into business. The purpose of business is to get free of a job so you can create jobs for other people, to expand beyond your existing horizons, to satisfy a need in the marketplace
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Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got by Jay Abraham

My Notes on “Getting Everything You Can Out Of All You’ve Got” by Jay Abraham:télécharger (4)

Only 3 Ways to increase income:

  • Increase the number of clients
  • Increase the size of the sale per client
  • Increase the number of times that client buys from you

Difference between a customer and a client

  • A customer is someone who purchases something.  A client is someone under our protection.  So when a client wants to buy a bicycle for his son, what he really wants to spend precious time with his son to teach him to ride a bike, so its in his best interests if I sell him the best bike in the store that won’t crumple if he bumps into a tree.  I am a trusted advisor, so he’ll be back next year to get bikes for the whole family.


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12: The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter

My Notes on “12: The Elements of Great Managing” by Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter:9781595629982_p1_v3_s369x593

1. I know what is expected of me at work

Like a Jazz band or the team on an aircraft carrier, or a NBA basketball team.  More than knowing their tasks, they have been working as a team for so long, they can anticipate moves and have contingency plans.  I know the tasks to complete but more importantly, how my role fits in with everyone else.

2. I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right

Be open to other peoples suggestions about how they could do a better job. Eg the special gloves at the fibreglass factory.  Small refinements add up over time.  And mean a lot to the employee – they feel listened to and cared about and they reward the company with loyalty and pitching in when needed.  Bad idea: Not allocating people their space, having fluid desk arrangements Continue reading “12: The Elements of Great Managing by Rodd Wagner and James K. Harter”

Crucial Conversations, Tools For Talking When The Stakes Are High by Kerry Patterson

My Notes:51aefLfnGUL._SX331_BO1,204,203,200_

    • Focus on what you really want.
      • What do I want for myself?
      • For others?
      • For the relationship?
      • How would I behave if this were what I really wanted?
    • Contrast to fix misunderstanding:
      • Start with what you don’t intend or mean, then explain what you do intend or mean.
      • Don’t be tempted to water down your content: “you know it’s really not that big a deal”

  • What story am I telling myself?
    • Victim story: It’s not my fault!
    • Villain story: It’s all your fault!
    • Helpless story: There’s nothing else I can do!
    • Re-examine the cold hard facts, question my conclusions look for other possible explanations. What do I really want? What would I do right now if I really want these results?
  • STATE your path
    • Share your facts
    • Tell your story (explain what you’re beginning to conclude)
    • Ask for others’ paths (encourage them to share their facts and stories)
    • Talk tentatively (state your story as a story – don’t disguise it as fact)
    • Encourage testing (make it safe for others to express differing or opposing views)
  • To get people to share
    • Ask (express an interest)
    • Mirror (acknowledge their emotions)
    • Paraphrase (restate what you’ve heard to show you understand, and that its safe for them to share)

Bargaining for Advantage by G. Richard Shell

So How Do You Ensure You Have The Advantage When Negotiating? My Notes:51C7i36GXbL._SX312_BO1,204,203,200_

    • Prepare thoroughly in advance
    • Locate the decision maker
    • Built rapport
    • Discover the other party’s goals – ask questions, obtain information on interests, issues and perceptions. Test for understanding, summarise, probe first then disclose, signal regarding your leverage
    • If you open then you benefit from setting the anchor point.
    • Look for common ground
    • On what issues might the other side say “no”?
    • Search for low-cost options that solve the other party’s problems while advancing your goals
    • Trade issues

  • Leverage
    • Flows to those with the greatest control and comfort with the present situations.
    • Threats must be credible.
    • For whom is time a factor?
    • Create momentum by giving little things.
    • Create a vision that the other side has something to lose from no deal
    • Positive leverage: Is having something the other guy wants, or better, needs, or best, cannot do without
    • Negative Leverage: Threat based, with hints rather than shouts
    • Normative Leverage: Give and take
    • Leverage changes constantly through the negotiation
    • Leverage depends on the other party’s perceptions of the situation, not the facts
  • Closing Technique: Scarcity Effect
    • Competition (many others are interested)
    • Deadlines (we will withdraw the offer soon)
    • Walkouts (I will get up and leave at any time)
  • Closing Technique: Overcommitment
    • eg standing in line at DisneyLand
    • Leverage loss aversion  (“We’ve come so far, don’t let all this time and effort go to waste!”)
  • Softer Closing Technique: Split the difference
  • Beware Rogue Tactics:
    • Lies about bottom lines and alternatives
    • Low-balling
    • Phoney issues / decoy / red herring
    • Fake authority ploys
    • Overcommitment (drags out the negotiation process and raises or lowers the price or terms at the last minute)
    • Good guy / bad guy
    • Consistency traps (The goal of which is to pre-commit you to a seemingly innocent standard. They get you to agree to a statement before telling you why the statement is important)
    • Reciprocity ploys (“I made a concession, now its your turn”. Beware of reciprocity traps – “Here’s a flower, may I have a donation?”)
    • The nibble (just before closing hoping your exhausted)

Meatball Sundae by Seth Godin

Like all of Seth Godins books, this book was simple, to the point and easy to digest.51g8syHXezL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

14 Trends Facing Us Today:

  1. Direct communication between producers and consumers
  2. Amplification of the voice of the consumer and independent authorities
  3. Stories spread, not facts (need for an authentic story as the number of sources increase. saying one thing and doing another fails, because you’ll get caught)
  4. Extremely short attention spans due to clutter
  5. The long tail (and the short head)
  6. Outsourcing
  7. Google and the dicing of everything
  8. Infinite channels of communication
  9. Direct communication and commerce between consumers and consumers
  10. The shifts in scarcity and abundance
  11. The triumph of big ideas (in factory based organisations little ideas are the key to success, now its about big ideas in a noisy marketplace, and not advertising but viral)
  12. The shift from “how many” to “who”?
  13. The wealthy are like us (the new bell curve)
  14. New gatekeepers, no gatekeepers (don’t need to work with big guys to get bigger)

Now What?

Now that you are aware of the trends, what action can you take today to position you and your business for the future?

Need help to figure that out?

If you need help to figure that out, call me today on (07) 575 8799 or email me.

Cheers,
Sheldon.

10 Days To Faster Reading by Abby Marks-Beale

This is the single most important book of my life.41GH7WqBB7L._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_

It doubled my reading speed from 300wpm (which I thought was already pretty good) to 600wpm with the same or better comprehension.

If only I had read it when I was 10 I could have learnt so much more in my life so far!

I have no fear of big thick books now because I know after one session I’ll be a quarter of the way through with just 3 quarters to go.

It is the first in a series of 90 books I’m reading

. Continue reading “10 Days To Faster Reading by Abby Marks-Beale”