Goodbye, Things- The New Japanese Minimalism


Title: Goodbye, Things- The New Japanese Minimalism

  • URL

  • Good summary of the book @ Here

  • “Reducing the number of possessions that you have is not a goal unto itself. I think minimalism is a method for individuals to find the things that are genuinely important to them. It’s a prologue for crafting your own unique story.”
  • “When you think about it, it’s experience that builds our unique characteristics, not material objects. So maybe it’s natural that we find our own originality when we strip away all the things that distract us.”
  • “once you are a minimalist who only has what you need, your focus will inevitably shift from others to yourself. Freed from comparing, you’ll start to discover who you truly are.”
  • “After what I’ve been through, I think saying goodbye to your things is more than an exercise in tidying up. I think it’s an exercise in thinking about true happiness.”

Educated by Tara Westover


Title: Educated

  • by Tara Westover

  • URL

  • A Powerful memoir. A inspiring story. Difficult to read. Impossible to put down.

  • The story is about: a religious fanatic father, hoarding food and guns, keeping his family off the public systems, not having birth certificates, not getting medical treatments and avoiding the government at all cost.

  • The most horrific part was that: keeping children out of school under the cause of paranoia, the preparation for the “Days of Abomination”; Plus the brutality by her brother Shown’s.. too awful!

  • Another horrific part was that her mother’s healing herbs used to treat the most horrible head injury or burns from gasoline due to an explosion, plus her mother’s subservience to her husband, and many family neglect in the name of religious beliefs and in reality mental illness.

  • The writing is beautiful, especially on the struggle between how Tara found the will to rise while she was torn with the sense of loyalty to her family, Tara struggled for years to discover who she was, who she could be - a scholar, a writer, an independent woman.

  • This is one of the few novel books that I even write notes on!


business management

Title: Rework - by Jason Fried , David Heinemeier Hansson (founders of 37signals / technologies behind Ruby on Rails)

  • URL

  • concise, interesting, and practical tips
  • Good advice for small business

  • Plan and product
    • “They say you can’t succeed without making financial projections and five-year plans. They’re wrong.”
    • “Learning from failures is overrated. Don’t spend time thinking you should fail early and fail often if your goal is to succeed.” .. “Learn from success, not from mistakes.”
    • “Don’t trust five-year business plans. It’s impossible to predict what will happen so far in advance. There are just too many variables, such as market conditions, competitors, or the economy. … but these plans are really just guesses. Feeling in control can be dangerous … You must be able to take advantage of opportunities as they come along.””
    • “… ego pushes us to grow fast and grow big. However, may exist a perfect size for your company, and it might not be big! “”
    • “Create a product or a service that you want to use… When you solve someone else’s problem, you work in the dark. When you solve your own problem, everything becomes clear quickly. Solving your own problem is much better because you know exactly what you want to accomplish. Making products that solve your own problems is always a better choice.
  • business and product
    • “Just having an idea for a business is not enough. Ideas do not have real value. Execution is the key. So, instead of just thinking, start doing something. “
    • “Define why you’re doing what you’re doing. What is it that you stand for? …this will create so-called superusers. Superusers are people that will follow your every step and promote you … You can’t satisfy everyone.
    • “Start a business, not a startup…Don’t find investors if it’s not really necessary. Having more people on the management board delusional. A business must earn money to survive, and it’s better if you figure out how to earn this money early on.
    • “You don’t need an exit strategy. .. If you aim to sell your company in the future, then you spend time worrying about who will buy you instead of how to satisfy your customers. Customers should be the center of your attention not selling the company.””
    • “Focus on the core of your product or service, stay lean, and make decisions fast. … more creative about doing things with limited resources. So, don’t complain, just stretch your limits and do what you can do.””
    • “always a lot of things that “could” do and “want” to do; however, if it’s not directly related to the core of your business, you shouldn’t do it. … better to make a great product focused on a few small elements …””
    • “Instead of talking about design, create something real. Instead of describing your product, make a mock-up. Go from abstraction to something concrete.”
  • management
    • “Try to create and protect more long uninterrupted stretches of time for better productivity”. “Constantly validate that what you’re doing matters… Get enough sleep.”
    • “Plan short development cycles.”
    • “copying a business rarely works…Copying is a recipe for failure. …When your business is growing, people will start copying you. The best way to protect your business from competitors is to make yourself an integral part of the business. Your obsession should be part of how the company works. “
    • “Saying that your competition sucks is OK, because you differentiate your business. “
    • “Focus on your product and the value it provides, not on the competition.”
    • “Learn to say no. … It’s better to have a clear vision for your business and do things that you want to do. Say no to everything else. Listen to your customers, yes, but then give yourself permission to forget the things they request. If you can forget it, that means it’s not very important. … nice-to-have is not good enough to put everything else on pause and pursue.
  • marketing
    • “Do not oversell your product. .. surprise the person with additional features after purchase. This way, you will build a long term relationship.”
    • “when small, a great time to experiment and test crazy ideas due to flexibility. ..before your company becomes popular, as an opportunity to explore and experiment.
    • Build an audience by teaching customers rather than paying for advertising”. .”Content marketing is a great way to promote products. .. can show your soul and your imperfections. This allows you to build an authentic image of who you and your company are. In contrast, press releases are a very bad way of promoting products”.
    • Marketing is everything you do. ..Think of everything inside your company as marketing. …Speak, write, tweet, and make videos to build your audience—these are the best marketing channels”
  • hiring
    • “Never hire anyone to do a job until you’ve tried to do it yourself first.” “Hire the right people, and you will be able to manage them. .. don’t hire too many people too fast. That will create an environment where everyone avoids drama, is too polite, and doesn’t tell the truth. ..
    • “Use hiring principles to create an effective and productive team.. Good work environments result from trust, autonomy, privacy”
    • “Hire only as a last resort. Ignore resumes. Check cover letter. Look for 6 months+ experience, but after that the learning curve flattens.”
    • “Hire managers : self-directed who can set their own goals and reach them without help. Hire great writers. …Give applicants a brief assignment to see if they are a good fit.. Don’t create policies because one person did something wrong once.”.
    • “Be open about your processes, flaws and opinions. create more credibility than trying to appear perfect. …Communicate bad news loudly and clearly. It’s much better for your reputation for you to share this news than for rumors to circulate”
    • “Provide epic customer support: To understand how to create a product or service for real people, putting all your employees on the frontline can be a valuable experience.”
    • “Company culture is not something you create. It’s something that happens. You cannot direct the culture by setting rules or enforcing policies. You cannot install a company culture. You just have to be patient and to give it time to develop.”
    • “Speak and write simply. Avoid jargon and buzz words….Don’t imply ultimatums or demands by using words like need, must, can’t, etc.”

21 Lessons for the 21st Century

science critical-thinking my-favorite

Title: 21 Lessons for the 21st Century

  • by Yuval Noah Harari
  • URL

  • Great review summary on this book review:

  • Chapter One — Disillusionment
    • “humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers or equations which is why the communist, fascist and liberal stories of the 20th Century were so powerful… “The simpler the story, the better”.
    • “While the 20th Century was all about three political systems, the 21st century introduces new stories and classes, that of humans, superhumans and artificial intelligence”.
  • Chapter 2 — Work
    • Harari says that at least in some lines of work, it might make sense to replace all humans with computers even if individually some humans still do a better job than machines. In addition, e.g. in chess, creativity is already the trademark of computers rather than humans!
    • the author said that “what we should focus on is providing for people’s basic needs and protecting the social status and self worth”. “Universal basic income will protect the poor against job losses and economic dislocation while protecting the rich from populist rage”.
    • Happiness = Reality — Expectations / problem with UBI or UBS is that human beings aren’t just built for satisfaction. … When things improve, expectations balloon and consequently even dramatic improvements in conditions might leave us as a dissatisfied as before…. People need not only the basics, but they need to feel like they have enough, that their contributions are worthwhile, that they are learning and growing and that they have access to a community.
  • Chapter 3 — Liberty
    • “once we begin to count on AI to decide what to study, where to work, and who to marry, democratic elections and free markets will make little sense.”
  • Chapter 4 — Equality
    • “Those who own the data own the future…. data is everywhere and nowhere at the same time, it can move at the speed of light and you can create as many copies of it as you want. So we had better call upon our lawyers, politicians, philosophers and even poets to turn their attention to this conundrum. The key political question of our era is quite possibly, “how do you regulate the ownership of data?”
  • Chapter 5 — Community
    • On tech addiction and how it is compromising genuine human connection and community
  • Chapter 6 — Civilization
    • “10,000 years ago, humankind was divided into countless isolated tribes where we knew no more than a few dozen people. … In recent generations, the few remaining civilizations have been blending into a single global civilization.”
  • Chapter 7 — Nationalism
    • “There is nothing wrong with benign patriotism. The problem, Harari warns, starts when benign patriotism morphs into chauvinistic ultra-nationalism. Instead of believing that my nation is unique, which is true all nations, I might begin feeling that my nation is supreme.”
    • “Three threats facing humanity: technological nuclear and ecological We now have a global ecology, a global economy and global science but we are still stuck with only national politics.”
  • Chapter 8 — Religion
    • the author said we need to distinguish between three types of problems:
    • As Karl Marx argued, religion doesn’t really have much to contribute to the great policy debates of our time.
    • Great comments from this book review: “Freud ridiculed the obsession people have about such matters as a narcissism of small differences. On this point, I did some research to find out why the Eastern Orthodox and Western Christian religions branched off from each other. One of the key points of difference that ultimately split the churches was that most Western Christians use a version of the Nicene Creed that states that the Holy Spirit “proceeds from the Father and the Son”, whereas the original Orthodox version doesn’t feature ‘and the Son’. That was it. Perhaps Freud had a point.””
  • Chapter 9 — Immigration
    • To clarify matters, Harari defines immigration as a deal with three basic conditions: “Precisely because you cherish tolerance, says Harari, you can not allow too many intolerant people in.”
    • “On culturists: People continue to conduct a heroic struggle against traditional racism without noticing that the battlefront has shifted from traditional racism to culturists.”
  • Chapter 11 — War
    • “Today information technology and biotechnology are more important than heavy industry when it comes to war.”
    • “Today the main economic assets consist of technical and institutional knowledge rather than wheat fields, goldmines or even oil fields and you just cannot conquer knowledge through war”.
  • Chapter 12 — Humanity
    • “Even apes developed the tendency to help the poor,”
  • Chapter 13 — God
    • “Hence in order to act morally, you don’t need to believe in any myth or story. You just need to develop a deep appreciation of suffering.”
    • the most important secular commitment is to truth which is based on observation and evidence rather than on mere faith”.
  • Chapter 14 — ignorance
    • “as we come to make the most important decision in the history of life I personally would trust more in those who admit ignorance than those who claim infallibility”.
  • Chapter 15 — Ignorance
    • ” Behavioral economists and evolutionary psychologists have demonstrated that most human decisions are based on emotional reactions and heuristics shortcuts rather than on rational analysis”
    • ” we think we know a lot, even though individually we know very little ; mordern world is so complex, no one knows the whole…”
  • Chapter 16 — ideologies fiction Story
    • “For better or worse, Harari says, fiction is among the most effective tools in humanity’s toolkit. By bringing people together, religious creeds make large-scale human cooperation possible.”
  • Chapter 17 — Stories in Business
    • Besides religions and ideologies, commercial firms rely on fiction and fake news too.
  • Chapter 18 — Science Fiction
    • “Perhaps the worst failing of present-day science fiction is that it attempts to confuse intelligence with consciousness. As a result it is overly concerned about a potential war between robots and humans when in fact we need to feel a conflict between a small superhuman elite”.
  • Chapter 19 — Education
    • “what kids really need to learn is adaptability, learning how to learn, resilience, curiosity, critical thinking, problem solving and effective collaboration. “
    • “teachers now mostly focus on knowledege.., however, eople need the ability to make sense of information, to tell the difference between what is important and what is an important and above all to combine many bits of information into a broad picture of the world. “
    • “Harari has for today’s fifteen year olds is not to rely on the adults too much. Most of them mean well but they just don’t understand the world.
  • Chapter 20 - One more thing on Free Will
    • “become” less obsessive about our opinions feelings and desires.
    • The Buddha taught that the three basic realities of the Universe. 1 — Everything is constantly changing; 2 — Nothing has any enduring essence; and; 3 — Nothing is completely satisfied. Suffering emerges because people fail to appreciate this.
  • Chapter 21 — Meditation
    • Harari echoes what philosophers have been saying for millenia, that the deepest source of suffering is in the patterns of our own minds.
    • Suffering is .. a mental reaction generated by our own minds. Learning this is the first step towards seizing to generate more suffering.
    • Meditation is not an escape from reality. It is getting in touch with reality.
    • “Consciousness is the greatest mystery in the universe. We had better understand our minds before the algorithms make a match up for us.””



Title: The-First-20-Hours- HOW TO LEARN ANYTHING… FAST!

  • By: Josh-Kaufman

  • URL

  • Not recommended.. the author spends a majority of the book explaining what he learned (Yoga, Programming, touch typing, Go, Ukelele, Windsurfing) rather than how he learned it.

  • It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something, it only takes 20 hours to become proficient, if working smart.

  • A basic method:

    1. Choose a loveable project
    2. Focus on one project at a time
    3. Define your target performance level
    4. Deconstruct the skill into subskills
    5. Obtain critical tools
    6. Eliminate barriers to practice
    7. Make dedicated time for practice
    8. Create fast feedback loops
    9. Practice by the clock in short bursts
    10. Emphasize quantity and speed

Stanford 2014 Course- How to Start a Startup (Part B)

self-develop management my-favorite business

I find this series of lectures excellent in helping a faculty plan the team projects / manage group / and brand the team research.

Title: Stanford 2014 Course shared online: How to Start a Startup (Part B)

Index Lecture Speaker Topic
11 Patrick Collison, Co-Founder, Stripe; John Collison, Co-Founder, Stripe ; Ben Silbermann, Founder & CEO, Pinterest Hiring and Culture, Part II
12 Aaron Levie, Founder, Box Building for the Enterprise
13 Reid Hoffman, Partner, Greylock Ventures and Founder, LinkedIn How To Be A Great Founder
14 Keith Rabois, Partner, Khosla Ventures How to Operate
15 Ben Horowitz, Founder, Andreessen Horowitz, and Founder, and Opsware How to Manage
16 Emmett Shear, Founder and CEO, Twitch How to Run a User Interview
17 Hosain Rahman, Founder, Jawbone How to Design Hardware Products
18 Kirsty Nathoo, Carolynn Levy, Partners, Y Combinator Legal and Accounting Basics for Startups
19 Tyler Bosmeny, Founder and CEO, Clever; Michael Seibel, Partner, Y Combinator, Sasar Younis, Dalton Caldwell, Partners, Y Combinator Sales and Marketing; How to Talk to Investors; Investor Meeting Roleplaying
20 Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator Later-Stage Advice

11. Patrick Collison, Co-Founder, Stripe; John Collison, Co-Founder, Stripe ; Ben Silbermann, Founder & CEO, Pinterest / Hiring and Culture, Part II

  • transcripts
  • Ben Silbermann, the founder of Pinterest, and John and Patrick Collison, the founders of Stripe. Founders that have obviously, some of the best thinking about culture and building their teams.
  • Ben Silbermann: What are the most important parts? For us, we think on a few dimensions. One is who we hire, what those people value. Two is what we do every day. Why do we do it? Three is what we choose to communicate and I think four is how we choose to celebrate. Then the converse of this is what you choose to punish, but in general I think running a company based on what we celebrate is more exciting than what we punish. I think, the four things I think make up the bulk of it for us.
  • John Collison: One thing, I think Stripe has placed a large emphasis on, more so than other companies, is transparency internally. So as we have grown, we started off two people, we’re now a hundred seventy people, we’ve put a lot of thought into the tooling that goes around, transparency.
  • ” culture is the invariant that you want to maintain, as you get specifically involved in fewer and fewer decisions over time. When you think about it that way, maybe intended importance becomes self-evident. Again, the fraction of things you can be involved in directly, diminishing, exponentially, assuming your headcount growth is on a curve that looks like one of the great companies. “
  • ” For example, in hiring, maybe the reason the first ten people you hire, the decisions are so important that aren’t just hiring those first ten people, you are actually hiring a hundred people because you think each one of those people are going to bring along another ten people with them. “
  • “I have read all these books on culture,… so I think one big misconception that someone said once was, people think of culture as architecture when it is a lot more like gardening. “
  • “I often looked for three to four things that I really valued in people. I looked for people who worked hard, had high integrity, low ego. I looked for people who were creative, super curious, which meant they had all these interests…. we find, the people that are excited about many disciplines and extraordinary at once, tend to build really great products and are really great at collaborating…. e really want someone who wants to build something great. And they aren’t arrogant about it, they want to take a risk and build something bigger than themselves.”
  • Three traits we came up with, genuine, caring a great deal, and completing things.
  • “At least for us, it was over a very long time period talking to people we knew … For our first ten people, the things that seemed to be important, they were also very genuine and straight…. There are a lot of people who are really excited about tons of things. Only some of those are excited about completing things…. I think it’s much more interesting to work with someone who took two years to spend time going deeper into an area. And then the third trait that we looked for is that they cared a great deal, it’s offensive to them when something is just a little off. “
  • “Everyone was always like, it was borderline insane how much they cared about tiny details like we used to. Every single API request that ever generated an error went to all of our inboxes and phoned all of us. Because it seemed terrible to get an error that didn’t get a resolution from the users standpoint. Or we used to copy everyone else on outgoing email and point out slight grammar or spelling mistakes to each other. Because it would be horrible to ever send an email with a spelling mistake. “
    • “I think the really good people, generally are doing something else so you have to go seek them out instead of expecting that they are going to seek you out.”
  • Ben Silbermann: You will never 100% know until you work with folks. So the flip side is, if the person you hired is not a good fit, you owe it to them and to the company to tell them where to improve and if they aren’t working out, then to fire them.
    • Before we talk to anyone, we try to figure out what exactly is world class in that discipline need.
    • So I always made it a habit of mine to talk to people I knew de facto were world class and just asking them, what are the traits you look for? What are the questions you ask? And how to find them? If you are looking for the next person that is as good as you, where is that person working right now and what’s her phone number? I think that learning what’s good and bad during the interview process is extremely expensive. It is an expensive use of your time, expensive use of everyone else’s time. A recalibration of that really matters.
    • Really great people want to do things that are going to be hard. They want to solve tough problems,… you lay out in gory detail why it’s going to be hard. And then the right people select in or they select out of that opportunity.
  • Patrick Collison: I think a specific tactical thing to do, again, for the first ten people is to work with them as much as you can before committing to hire them.
  • Ben Silbermann: I think referencing people is really important Referencing people is just what it sounds like. Asking people with experience for their honest opinion. We do that really aggressively but we are trying to figure out what this person is like to work with. … To evaluate this person’s dimensions, is this person the top 1% of the people you worked with, the top 5%, and the top 10%? And it forces scarcity that gives them material reference.
    • Now as the company grows, I think that problem has to get a little more formalized. So we spend a lot of time thinking and constantly trying to refine what that person looked like from the day they came in, to their first interview, through 30 days after they joined.
    • Then we also ask their peers and manager, hey is this person up to speed? Do you feel we did a good job at making them productive? If we haven’t then thats a key that a) we should not be hiring any more people because we’re not doing a good job bringing in new people and b) we need to retool that.
    • I think one thing we try to do on the team side is to make the teams feel as autonomous and nimble as possible within the constraints of the organization. That means over time we are trying to make it feel like a startup of many startups.
  • John Collison: And so when we have engineers start, we try to get them committing on the first day. When we have people in business roles start, we will have them in real meetings the first day on what they are meant to be working on. Sometimes it’s easy to be tentative and ease people in. We are much more, push people off the cliff. Then second, we try to quickly give people feedback. Expectedly giving people feedback on how to adapt to the culture.
    • So one of the lucky and in hindsight decisions we made was our actual fourteenth or fifteenth person we hired was a professional recruiter. She worked at startups, she worked at big companies like Apple. But she sort of knew where that pipeline breaks down. Knew the early indicators, and taught everyone not just how to screen for talent but to identify the people who are going to be culturally really good for the company.
  • Patrick Collison: Startups, … is an organization that is not yet stuck with all these principal agent problems. But because everyone is rolling in the same direction, a startup, you can kind of make all the information transparent. Like I said earlier, Stripe used to bcc us to be on every email unless you opted out of it.
  • Ben Silbermann: I think for us the answer is some yes and some no. I think one of the benefits of working at a startup is you can be handed a challenge no one else would be crazy enough to let you take on.
  • Patrick Collison: I think the other thing that motivates people a great deal is the prospect of affecting some outcome, is just the personal development angle.

12. Aaron Levie, Founder, Box : Building for the Enterprise

  • transcripts
  • “The first is the quick background of Box. Because when we first started out, we did not know we wanted to do enterprise software. “.
    • ” We launched the company in 2005, we got the idea back in college which was 2004. “
    • ” what we noticed in 2004, in college, was for some reason it was really hard to share files. And as simple of an idea as that is now, and you go back ten years. It was either really expensive or really hard to move data around through corporate companies. “
    • ” The first point to remember, always look for the changing technology factors…. there were a lot of factors that changed in the software world. The first was the cost of storage was dropping dramatically. “
    • ” So we had more than what a consumer needed and not enough that an enterprise needed. So we found ourselves at the juncture. “
    • ” Okay consumer looks really fun, enterprise looks really hard and there is a lot of competition. At the same time, in this consumer space you are always fighting this issue of how do you monetize? How do you actually get people to pay for product? In the consumer space there are really only two business models that you can do. You can either have people pay for your application or you could provide advertising on the application… We are going to be fighting to get consumers to pay a few dollars a month. “
    • ” We were really fortunate. We had an investor, early in his career, make a belief on us because there was something changing with the enterprise that we would be able to take advantage of. “
    • “we architected the business model, we architected the software, we architected the solution to work in one specific version of the world, and it turned out that one solution was the one that happened… . The first is that most application companies are moving to the cloud. “
    • “The platforms themselves are becoming more global. Our customers were internationally a couple weeks after starting the company.”
  • “Then we are going to talk the major factors that changed in enterprise software that make it possible to do a startup today.”
    • “There are only two times, two moments of opportunity where a technology revolution will happen in an enterprise. The first is where raw materials change. So cost of computing goes down and they centralize and let people use it on demand. The second thing that can change, is the very people that these enterprises have to go after need new experiences at that enterprises product.”
    • “No one is prepared, what does it mean when consumers want to go buy goods anytime from anywhere with better information, better intelligence. So every retailer in the world is going to need a new technology stack to power their retail experiences.”
  • ” And finally we are going to look at patterns that are ways to recognize and go build a startup by yourself.”
    • “So the first one is to spot technology disruptions. .. You have to look for new enabling technologies, or major trends, like fundamental trends, that create a wide gap between how things are done and how they can be done. … something that was impossible 5, 10 years ago is now very practical. “
    • “The next thing is, in enterprise, you want to start intentionally small.”
    • “Then next you really want to find asymmetries. You want to do things that incumbents can’t or won’t do because either the economics don’t make sense for them, the economics are so unusual, or because technically they can’t…e.g, thus created a business model that no other software company has been able to think of or attack. “
    • “The next is you want to find the mostly crazy, but still reasonable outliers within the customer ecosystem…..Paul Graham has a great article where he talks about living in the future and building what is missing when you are living in the future…. work with a lot of those early adopters to establish their platform. “
    • “Listen to your customers but don’t always build exactly what they are telling you. This is a really key distinction around building enterprise software. .. It is your job to listen to their problems, and translate those into what is going to build the best and simplest solution for them. “
    • “You want to modularize not customize. So build a platform as opposed to building all the custom technology and customer vertical experiences into the software itself. Make sure you really think about openness and APIs as a way of building experiences. “
    • “read these three books: Crossing the Chasm, the Innovators Dilemma, and Behind the Cloud. These three combined, if you binge and read them all, you will come out ahead.”

13. Reid Hoffman, Partner, Greylock Ventures and Founder, LinkedIn : How To Be A Great Founder

  • transcripts
  • “how is one a great founder, these are all skills that are super important. “
  • “1. Founder team…. To explode the myth of super founder is usually it’s best to have two or three people on a team rather than a solo founder….. Well the reason is, because of what great founders do is seek the networks that will be essential to their task. And they realize it’s not just about, I am superman, I can do this anywhere. I can do this in Antarctica, etc, in order to be successful, I have to go to where the strongest networks are for the particular kind of thing that I am doing. And Silicon Valley, by the way, is super good at some kind of tasks, some places that you essentially try to solve certain types of problems. But it’s not good at all of them…. Silicon Valley for tech startups, for mobile, for marketplaces this is a really good place to do it. For a bunch of other things, you should think about a different location. “
  • “2. it’s actually pretty easy to become contrarian. It’s hard to be contrarian and right. … And part of when you think about contrarian is to say, okay what do I know that others don’t know? … in general, as a founder it’s good to be contrarian in the real sense.”
  • “3. you’ve got to be both flexible and persistent…. you should have a project you are doing, like a company, an investment, a thesis that essentially says why you think, possibly contrarian, why you think it is potentially a good idea. It should include what you know you think other people don’t know… am I in fact increasing confidence in my investment thesis? Or decreasing value in my investment thesis? .. “ So you are always combining the vision and the data, and data is within the framework of the vision. And sometimes the course of what you learn changes your vision.” - Normally entrepreneur founders are thought about as being the risk takers… how do I take intelligent risks?. Part of having a thesis is you chart it out as a list of bullets. - should I have this long term vision or should I be solving a local near term problem? Again the answer is both these paradoxes. And the question is, you should jump between them. - product distribution is more fundamental than what the actual product is. And the one below it is financing. The reason it’s financing is because if you run out of money and the whole effort goes away, even if you have a really good idea, it doesn’t work. - be able to recognize whether you are on track or not. To have that kind of belief but also paranoid about am I tracking against my investment thesis? - there is not one skill set, there is an ability to learn and adapt. And an ability to constantly have a vision that’s driving you but to be taking input from all sources and then to be creating networks all around you. And that’s essentially what makes a great founder. - I’m a huge believer in references. I only meet with someone when they come to me through a reference. - Because if you don’t have that level of clarity, you are not going to be able to assemble the network behind you. You are not going to be able to get investors, you are not going to be able to get employees, you have to be able to articulate a very clear mission about what you are doing. - All founders– there are differences. For example, in software speed to market, speed to learning is really key. In hardware if you screw it up you are dead. So accuracy really matters. If you build and ship the wrong thing you are hosed.

14. Keith Rabois, Partner, Khosla Ventures ; How to Operate

  • transcripts
  • So basically what you are doing when building a company is building an engine. … Eventually you want to construct a very high performance machine. A machine that almost nobody really has to worry about every hour, every minute. …As Warren Buffett says, build a company that idiots could run because eventually they will.
  • Basically eliminating things, the biggest task of an editor is to simplify, simplify, simplify and that usually means omitting things. .. Don’t accept the excuse of complexity… So force yourself to simply every initiative, every product, every marketing, everything you do.
  • To ask clarifying questions. We try to narrow down to, what are the one two three four things that matter most to this company? And only focus on those things. So it allows us to be more decisive and we can make decisions rapidly. It allows us not to distract you from your day job which is actually building a company.
  • to allocate resources.
  • to ensure consistent voice… You want to train people so they can recognize differences in voice.
  • The people who work with you, generally, should be coming up with their own initiatives.
  • delegating. So just like the other metaphor on editing is writers do most of the work in the world, editors are not writing most of the content in any publication. So that is true of your company, you shouldn’t be doing most of the work. And the way you get out of most of the work, is you delegate.
    • First, and this actually came from High Output Management and Andy Grove, is called task relevant maturity. It’s a fancy phrase for, has this person ever done this before?
    • any executive, any CEO, should not have one management style. …Your management style should be dictated by your employee.
    • how to make decisions. Delegating vs doing it yourself… Two by two matrix.. a: sort your own level of conviction as extremely high or extremely low;… / b: consequence dimension.
    • low consequence + your low confidence in your own opinion ==> you should absolutely delegate. delegate completely.
    • dramatic consequences are + your extremely high conviction that you are right ==> explain your thinking why.
  • to edit the team. .. Nobody is going to have a perfect team and you certainly aren’t going to start that way.
    • Most great people actually are ammunition, But what you need in your company are barrels. And you can only shoot through the unique barrels that you have. That’s how the velocity of your company improves is having barrels. Then you stock them with ammunition, then you can do a lot. …virtually irreplaceable because they are also very culturally specific.
    • One of the definition of a barrel is, they can take an idea from conception and take it all the way to shipping and bring people with them. And that’s a very cultural skill set.
    • And that’s actually what you want to do with every since employee, every single day, is expand the scope of responsibilities until it breaks. And it will break
    • every company has their own growth rate, and every individual has their own growth rate…So always track the individual slope of employee and the company growth rate.
    • only give everybody one thing to prioritize….the insight behind this is that most people will solve problems that they understand how to solve. Roughly speaking, they will solve B+ problems instead of A+ problems. A+ problems are high impact problems for your company but they are difficult. You don’t wake up in the morning with a solution, so you tend to procrastinate them.
  • to create tools that enable people to make decisions at the same level you would make them yourself.
    • build a dashboard… your dashboard needs to be as intuitive as your product is for users.
    • transparency. .. Metrics are the first step. Other things I like to do, is to take your board decks… review every single slide with every single employee after the board meeting….
    • When you scale, you create notes for every meeting and you send them to the entire company. … Every conference room at Square has glass walls.
    • minimal viable transparency, … the critique of compensation transparency is?
    • To measure outputs, not inputs. And again, you should dictate this yourself. You should draft the dashboard yourself to tie this all together. One important concept is pairing indicators…. So you always want to create the opposite and measure both. And the people responsible for that team need to be measured on both.
    • to look for the anomalies. You don’t actually want to look for the expected behavior.
    • book by Bill Walsh, called The Score Takes Care of Itself. And the basic point of the book is that if you get all the details right, you don’t worry about how to build a billion dollar business, you don’t worry about how to have a billion dollars in revenue, you don’t worry about having a billion users. Thats a byproduct of what you do everyday to get the details excellent.
    • The office environment that people work in everyday dictates the culture that you are going to be in.
  • More details:
    • every good startup is a cult. And it’s really hard to create a cult if you are sharing space with people. Because a cult means you think you are better than every other startup, you have a special way of doing things that’s better than anyone else in the world.
    • How to manage people: to have a one on one roughly every two weeks. Some people say every week, but I wouldn’t go longer than two weeks. Every week can be ideal in many companies. The reason why there is another adage, you should only have five to seven direct reports
    • Bill Walsh, in the first chapter of his book, he asks this question, how do you know you are doing the job? And this is the quote that he gave everyone when asked that question. “So if this is how you feel everyday then you’re probably on the right track. If it doesn’t sound appetizing then you shouldn’t start a business truthfully.”
    • The underlying philosophy of getting the details right is pretty important to install in the very very beginning of a company.
    • And the key to culture is it’s a framework for making decisions. And if it’s baked into your culture, people learn how to make decisions across that culture without you ever saying anything. You never have to really do anything except watch and promote and move people around.

15. Ben Horowitz, Founder, Andreessen Horowitz, and Founder, and Opsware; How to Manage

  • transcripts
  • you have to be able, when making critical decisions, to see the decision through the eyes of the company as a whole. You have to add up every employee’s view and then incorporate that into your own view. Otherwise your management decisions are going to have weird side effects and potentially dangerous consequences. - the process actually protects the culture because what it does it says, look we’re going to look at all inputs. We are going to have a formal way of saying, and deciding ; I’m not going to do things when asked. There is one process and that’s it. - one have to keep in mind, you have to think about the people who are staying and you want to reward the people who are staying. The perspective of the Employee who leaves, and this is really critical because this is your reputation,… losing all your stock is a very big incentive to stay.
  • In conclusion, the most important thing that you can learn, and one of the hardest things to do, is you have to discipline yourself to see your company through the eyes of the employees, through the eyes of your partners, through the eyes of the people you are not talking to and who are not in the room… even the people you hate.

16. Emmett Shear, Founder and CEO, Twitch ; How to Run a User Interview

  • transcripts
  • Emmett is the CEO of Twitch, which was acquired by Amazon, where he now works. Emmett is going to talk about how to do great user interviews;
  • We ran a very large number of user interviews. We talked to a lot of people and that data formed the core of all the decision making for the next three years of product features on Twitch. We continued to talk to users and in fact built an entire part of the company whose job it is to talk to our users.
  • You need the answer to the question: who is my user and where am I going to find them?
  • The main thing you’re trying to do when running this first set of interviews is not necessarily ask questions about optimizing user flow. Or questions about the specifics of any of that stuff. That can be distracting because users think they know what they want.
  • When you talk to detailed users of your product, they come back to you with very detailed things about features because they get mired in the features. You have to sort of read between the lines. .. actually a very common request … This stuff was really consistent.
  • The other important thing is We talked to all the people who weren’t using us or our competitors. In many ways, those were the most important people… eople who have never used your service before and what they say is actually the most important. What they say is the thing that blocks you from expanding the size of the market with your features.
  • You combine that feedback and what it tells you is not features to build, because … What was important were the issues, the goals they were trying to accomplish.

17. Hosain Rahman, Founder, Jawbone ; How to Design Hardware Products

  • transcripts
  • talk today about the hardware journey of building products
  • I always like to start with the broadest thinking. The way we look at the world is we think of ourselves at this intersection of really crafted innovation in engineering that’s almost invisible to the user in terms of its functionality, even beyond design. We have been designing products for well over a decade now. We think that the conversation has shifted even beyond design into beauty.
  • We started on this journey really, really early. Right out of engineering school here, we were developing core technology. We decided to build consumer products around that.
  • the core of when we start to think about how we build and opportunities to create products. We think about where the world is going.
  • everything for us is a system. We don’t think about it discretely as a piece of hardware or discretely as an application or discretely as a platform. We think across the whole thing.
  • we map where we are much unbridled in our imagination in the exploration phase. We start to validate some of our concepts, bring those ideas tighter, and tighten them. And then we actually start to build a product. Launch it and then iterate.
  • We have leadership meetings with the broader cross functional team. I have to show results. I have to go through a scientific process to outline why this works. Why is it going to happen?” This is when we start formulating an important tool in the company
  • framework: “What is the user problem that we solve through this experiment?” Whether it’s in hardware, software, data, platform, whatever it is, once we solve it, people can’t live without it. They may have an absolutely burring need to solve this problem and they can’t. Either they are looking for a solution or you never thought you needed it but now you can’t live without it.
  • We think of ourselves as an experiences company. It’s not just about this physical device or that feature. It’s about the system.
  • transcripts
  • if you know the basics, you can get yourself set up in the right way, avoid pain, stop worrying about it, and then concentrate on what you actually want to do, which is make your company a success.
  • a “startup” has to be a separate legal entity, will have assets, IP, inventions, other things, and that the company needs to protect those;
  • the primary purpose for forming a separate legal entity is to protect yourselves from personal liability. If your company ever gets sued, it’s not your money in your bank account that the person can take. It’s the corporation’s.
  • where: the easiest place is Delaware. Delaware is in the business of forming corporations. The law there is very clear and very settled. It’s the standard.
  • Clerky. all standard basic documents set up
  • The first thing that you need to know is that execution has greater value than the idea. … You need to resist the urge to give a disproportionate amount of stock to the Founder who is credited with coming up with the idea for the company.
  • The next thing you want to think about is if the stock should be allocated equally among the founders.
  • Thirdly, it’s really important to look forward in the startup. Said another way, all the founders have to be in it one hundred percent.
  • vesting means that you get full ownership of your stock over a specific period of time. .. When your hear restricted stock, it means that the stock is subject to vesting. The IRS speak for this is, “Shares that are subject to forfeiture.”
  • standard vesting period is four years with a one year cliff.
  • Investors want to see all founders, even solo founders, incentivized to stay with at the company for a long time.
  • investors want something in return for putting in money at the earliest, riskiest stage of the company’s life. This is where the concept of a valuation cap comes in,
  • The other thing to keep in mind is that investors should be sophisticated. They have enough money to be able to invest. They understand that investing in startups is a risky business.
  • The other things is advisers. They are so many people who want to give advice to startups. Few people actually give good advice.
  • Pro-rata rights are a very common request from investors. They are not necessarily a bad thing, but as a founder you absolutely need to know how pro-rata rights work. Especially because the corollary to an investor having pro-rata rights to avoid dilution is that founders typically suffer greater dilution.
  • The final thing is information rights. Investors almost always want contractual information rights to get certain information about your company. .. Any investor saying they want a monthly budget or weekly update, that’s not ok.
  • The concept of business expenses can get a little bit blurry, especially in the early days.. you don’t have to necessarily think about the book keeping and accounting at that point. However, it’s crucial to keep the receipts
  • “Founder Employment.” Why. Working for free is against the law and founders should not let their company take on this liability…. The founders need to be paid. So do employees. It isn’t enough to just say, “Well, I am paying them in stock. That can be their compensation.” They need to be paid at least minimum wage.
  • At YC we have seen a ton of founder break ups and we know that the break ups get extra ugly when the founders haven’t paid themselves. Why? Unpaid wages become leverage for the fired founder to get something that he or she wants from the company. Typically that is vesting acceleration.
  • Services like Zen Payroll are focused on startups. They help you get this set up in the easiest way possible so you can go back and concentrate on what you do best… That’s the key thing. Use a payroll service provider and make sure that you understand the basics of employment.
  • Best practices for how to fire someone: number one, fire quickly. Don’t let a bad employee linger…. Don’t apologize. Fire the employee face to face and ideally with a third party present… Number five, if the terminated employee has any invested shares, the company should repurchase them right away.

19. Tyler Bosmeny, Founder and CEO, Clever ; Michael Seibel, Partner, Y Combinator ; Qasar Younis, Dalton Caldwell, Partners, Y Combinator :

  • Sales and Marketing
  • How to Talk to Investors
  • Investor Meeting Roleplaying
  • transcripts
  • Paul Graham likes to talk about how there’s two things you should be doing at any point in time when you’re starting your company. You should be either talking to your users or building your product.
  • What I’ve learned is that when it comes to “hiring the sales people,” as a founder, the reality is that it’s you. - One of those is your passion for the product and what you’re building. - The second is your knowledge of the industry and the problem that you’re solving. Those two things actually totally trump sales experience from what I’ve seen.
  • The process of figuring out who will even take your call.
    • Everett Rogers : technology life cycle adoption curve.
    • a bell curve where you have innovators who will try new things, early adopters, mid-stage adopters, late adopters, and laggers.
    • only 2.5 percent of companies will even consider using your product ==> To get some early sales, have to talk to a lot of people.
  • The second thing : cold email. …. It’s actually easy and the key is not to write a lot. Your email should be concise. ..
  • The best sales people, the top one percent, .. the most surprising thing is how little talking they do… They would ask a lot of questions.
  • The other part of this stage that surprises a lot of people is you have to follow up. Here’s a lot of different steps that you go through: emailing somebody, not getting a response and emailing them back. Calling them, leaving a voice mail. …
  • YC has agreed to open source their deal documents. The documents that YC founders use are going to be available to everybody….The other place where so many smart people go wrong is they don’t remember what their goal is. Your goal is to sign some deals, get some reference customers, get some validation, and get some revenue. If you don’t do that, your startup is toast.
  • On new features: Once you have a lot of customers requesting it, then you should build it. … The other trap I would highly recommend you try to avoid is the free trial trap…. , “How do I have to price my product to be a viable business?”
  • Christoph Janz wrote this really great blog post online about the five ways to build a hundred million dollar company..

19b. Four things on how to raise money. Michael Seibel

  • The first is your 30 second pitch.. three sentences. .. (1) what you do (2) The second is in a multi-billion dollar market, it’s pretty simple to do this.; (3) Third sentence, how much traction do you have?.
  • Then is your two minute pitch. .. to add four additional components. (1) The first is unique insight…- you’re only going to get two sentences to get that out there. So it can’t be complicated.
    (2) Next - how do you make money? You know your business model. (3) Then next one is team. I think that this answer is actually really clear. I think you’re trying to do two things. If your team has done something particularly impressive- you need to call that out. (4) So the last one is the big ask. When it comes to this, you have to figure out whether this is a conversation involves fundraising or not.
  • When to fundraise? (1) Investors like to invest based on traction. It is literally always better to raise money when you have more traction than less. (2) The second this is, have you created a plan so that you can launch and grow without needing to raise a bunch of money? (3) Finally how to set up investor meetings. This is really, really simple.. ==> a mock pitch

20. Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator : Later-Stage Advice

  • transcripts
  • The first area we’re going to talk about is management. In the beginning of a company, there is no management. This actually works really well. Before 20 and 25 employees, most companies are structured with everyone reporting to founder. It’s totally flat. That’s really good. That’s what you want because at that stage, it’s the optimal structure for productivity.
  • What works totally fine at 20 employees is disastrous at 30. You want to be aware that this transition will happen. .. You ideally want to cluster people in teams that make sense but the most important thing is that there is a clear reporting structure and that everyone knows what it is. Clarity and simplicity are the most important things here.
  • “I personally like six year big grants - but six years of vesting. ‘Cause I think these companies take a while to build. There’s pyramid vesting where you back weight someone’s grant. In year four they get a lot more of the vesting than year one”.
  • ” As the company grows you continue to osculate. The highs are better but the lows keep getting worse. And you really want to think about this early on and just be aware that this is going to happen. And try to, try to manage your own psychology through the expanding swing that it’s going through.”
  • "”Competitive dynamics” - this is a basic principal of negotiation. Most founders learn this the first time in fundraising. But it actually matters for everything. The way you get deals done and the ways you get good terms is to have a competitive situation. “
  • you’re trying to find product market fit. You’re trying to build a product and you’re trying to close the gap between those two gears. The only way to do that is to go off and meet the people. You can’t do this without getting really, really close to your users

Stanford 2014 Course- How to Start a Startup (Part A)

self-develop management my-favorite business

I find this series of lectures excellent in helping a faculty plan the team projects / manage group / and brand the team research.

Title: Stanford 2014 Course shared online: How to Start a Startup

(Part A)

Index Lecture Speaker Topic
1 Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator, Dustin Moskovitz, Cofounder, Facebook, Cofounder, Asana, Cofounder, Good Ventures Welcome, and Ideas, Products, Teams and Execution Part I : Why to Start a Startup
2 Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator Ideas, Products, Teams and Execution Part II
3 Paul Graham, Founder, Y Combinator Before the Startup
4 Adora Cheung, Founder, Homejoy Building Product, Talking to Users, and Growing
5 Peter Thiel, Founder, Paypal, Founder, Palantir, and Founder, Founders Fund Competition is For Losers
6 Alex Schultz, VP Growth, Facebook Growth
7 Kevin Hale, Founder, Wufoo and Partner, Y Combinator How to Build Products Users Love
8 Walker Williams, Founder, Teespring, Justin Kan, Founder, Twitch and Partner, Y Combinator, Stanley Tang, Founder, DoorDash Doing Things That Don’t Scale, PR, How to Get Started
9 Marc Andreessen, Founder, Andreessen Horowitz and Founder, Netscape; Ron Conway, Founder, SV Angel ; Parker Conrad, Founder, Zenefits How to Raise Money
10 Alfred Lin, Former COO, Zappos and Partner, Sequoia Capital; Brian Chesky, Founder, Airbnb Culture

1. Welcome, and Ideas, Products, Teams and Execution Part I — Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator; Dustin Moskovitz, Cofounder, Facebook, Cofounder, Asana, Cofounder, Good Ventures

  • Why to Start a Startup
  • “There are much easier ways to become rich and everyone who starts a startup always says, always, that they couldn’t have imagined how hard and painful it was going to be. You should only start a startup if you feel compelled by a particular problem and that you think starting a company is the best way to solve it.”
  • “Good startups usually take ten years.”
  • “The hardest part about coming up with great ideas, is that the best ideas often look terrible at the beginning. …That’s how most great companies get started. Unpopular but right is what you’re going for. You want something that sounds like a bad idea, but is a good idea… Why now? Why is this the perfect time for this particular idea, and to start this particular company. Why couldn’t it be done two years ago, and why will two years in the future be too late?”
  • “One of the most important tasks for a founder is to make sure that the company builds a great product. Until you build a great product, nothing else matters. When really successful startup founders tell the story of their early days its almost always sitting in front of the computer working on their product, or talking to their customers. That’s pretty much all the time.”

2. Ideas, Products, Teams and Execution Part II — Sam Altman, President, Y Combinator ;

  • to go on a vacation and that never works for founders. It’s sort of all consuming in this way that is very difficult to understand. … So what you do is you just keep going.
  • ” Cofounder relationships are among the most important in the entire company. .. looking for cofounders that need to be unflappable, tough, they know what to do in every situation. They act quickly, they’re decisive, they’re creative, they’re ready for anything”
  • “how much time you should be spending on hiring. The answer is zero or twenty-five percent. “
  • “There are three things I look for in a hire. Are they smart? Do they get things done? Do I want to spend a lot of time around them?”
  • “Mediocre founders spend a lot of time talking about grand plans, but they never make a decision. They’re talking about you know I could do this thing, or I could do that other thing, and they’re going back and forth and they never act. And what you actually need is this bias towards action.”
  • ” Boards add value to business strategy only rarely. But very frequently you can use them as a forcing function to get the company to care about metrics and milestones.”

3. Before the Startup — Paul Graham, Founder, Y Combinator :

  • Startups are very counterintuitive and I’m not sure exactly why. the list of the counterintuitive stuff you have to remember to prevent your existing instincts from leading you astray. startups are so weird that if you follow your instincts they will lead you astray.
  • First: Work with people you would generally like and respect and that you have known long enough to be sure about
  • Second: What you need to know to succeed in a startup is not expertise in startups, what you need is expertise in knowing your own users. … the best way to convince investors is to start a startup that is actually doing well, meaning growing fast, and then simply tell investors so… the way to make your startup grow is to make something that users really love, and then tell them about it.
  • Third: counterintuitive thing to remember about startups: starting a startup is where gaming the system stops working. Gaming the system may continue to work, if you go to work for a big company, depending on how broken the company is”
  • “fourth counterintuitive point, startups are all consuming. If you start a startup, it will take over your life to a degree that you cannot imagine and if it succeeds it will take over your life for a long time; for several years, at the very least, maybe a decade, maybe the rest of your working life. So there is a real opportunity cost here. “
  • “the fifth counter intuitive point: You can’t tell. I learned from experience to keep completely open mind about which start ups in each batch would turn out to be the stars. “.. “ Instead of trying to make a conscious effort to think of startup ideas, turn your brain into the type that has startup ideas unconsciously. In fact, so unconsciously that you don’t even realize at first that they’re startup ideas. “
  • ” One guaranteed way to turn your mind into the type to start up ideas for them unconsciously. Is to get yourself to the leading edge of some technology. To, as Paul Buchheit put it, “Live in the future.” And when you get there, ideas that seem uncannily prescient to other people will seem obvious to you. You may not realize they’re start up ideas, but you will know they are something that ought to exist.”
  • “but business school was designed to teach people management. Management is a problem that you only have in a startup if you are sufficiently successful. So really what you need to know early on to make a start up successful is developing products. … Honestly the best way to learn on how to start a startup is just to just try to start it.”

4. Talking to Users, and Growing — Adora Cheung, Founder, Homejoy ; Building Product,

  • “what are the things that most people do incorrectly when starting a startup? The novice approach is thinking, “I have this really great idea, I don’t want to tell anyone about it. I’m going to build, build, build and then going to maybe tell one or two people and then I’m going to launch it on TechCrunch or somewhere like that, and then I’m going to get lots of users.”
  • ” You should be able to describe your problem in one sentence. And then you should think, “How does that problem relate to me? Am I really passionate about that problem?” And then you should think, “Okay it’s a problem I have, but is it a problem that other people have?” And you verify that by going out and talking to people.”
  • “If you are in a situation like mine where there is a service element of it then you should go and do that service yourself.”
  • ” You should be so obsessed that you want to know what everybody in that space is doing. And it is things like writing a list of all of the potential competitors, similar types of companies, and Google searching them and clicking on every single link and reading every single article from search result number 1 to 1000.”
  • “The second thing is identifying customer segments.”
  • “And lastly, before you even create a product or before you put code down, you should really storyboard out the user experience of how you are going to solve the problem.”
  • “Minimal viable product pretty much means what is the smallest feature set that you should build to solve the problem that you are trying to solve. “
  • “The best way to do that is by tracking customer retention. The number of people that came in the door today, the number of people who are coming back tomorrow, the next day and so forth. “
  • “You need to not try and automate everything and create software to have robots run everything. What you should do to really understand what you should build is manually do it yourself…. “In week one you should basically build as much as possible to get that one user. And then a week to build as much to get two users”
  • “I hate to keep harping on it but these are things that I see today with founders and something that I went through as well. And I think that unless you are building something that requires tens of millions of dollars just to start up there is really no point in waiting around to launch the product.”
  • “So there are three types of growth. Sticky, viral, and paid growth. Sticky growth is trying to get your existing users to come back and pay you more or use you more. Viral growth is when people talk about you. So you use a product, you really like it and you tell ten other friends, and they like it. That’s viral growth. And the third is paid growth. If you happen to have money in the bank you’re going to be able to use part of that money to buy growth.”

5. Competition is For Losers – Peter Thiel, Founder, Paypal, Founder, Palantir, and Founder, Founders Fund :

  • “today’s speaker is Peter Thiel, Peter was the founder of PayPal, Palantir, and Founders Fund and has invested in most of the tech companies in Silicon Valley. He’s going to talk about strategy and competition. “
  • “you always want to aim for monopoly and you want to always avoid competition. And so hence competition is for losers,”
  • “there’s basically a very simple formula, that if you have a valuable company two things are true. Number one, that it creates “X” dollars of value for the world. Number two, that you capture “Y” percent of “X.” And the critical thing that I think people always miss in this sort of analysis is that “X” and “Y” are completely independent variables, and so “X” can be very big and “Y” can be very small. “X” can be an intermediate size and if “Y” is reasonably big, you can still have a very big business.”
  • “it’s generally not that good if you’re involved in anything that’s hyper competitive, because you often don’t make money. “
  • “I do think the extreme binary view of the world I always articulate is that there are exactly two kinds of businesses in this world, there are businesses that are perfectly competitive and there are businesses that are monopolies. There is shockingly little that is in between. And this dichotomy is not understood very well because people are constantly lying about the nature of the businesses they are in. “
  • ” I would say that the that one of the reasons the tech industry in the US has been so successful financially is because it’s prone to creating all these monopoly-like businesses..”
  • ” I think one of the sort of very counterintuitive ideas that comes out of this monopoly thread is that you want to go after small markets. “
  • “You want to be a one of a kind company. You want to be the only player in a small ecosystem. “
  • “all happy companies are different because they’re doing something very unique. All unhappy companies are alike because they failed to escape the essential sameness in competition.”
  • ” My sort of crazy, somewhat arbitrary rule of thumb is you want to have a technology that’s an order of magnitude better than the next best thing. “
  • “the scientists never make any money. They’re always deluded into thinking that they live in a just universe that will reward them for their work and for their inventions. This is probably the fundamental delusion that scientists tend to suffer from in our society…. We should ask is this a rationalization to obscure the fact that “Y” equals zero percent and the scientists are operating in this sort of world where all the innovation is effectively competed away and they can’t capture any of it directly…. . There is the classic Henry Kissinger line describing his fellow faculty at Harvard, “The battles were so ferocious because the stakes were so small,” describing academia”
  • “There are, in my mind, probably only two broad categories in the entire history of the last two hundred and fifty years where people actually came up with new things and made money doing so. One is these sort of vertically integrated complex monopolies which people did build in the second industrial revolution at the end of the nineteenth and start of the twentieth century. This is like Ford, it was the vertically integrated oil companies like Standard Oil, and what these vertically integrated monopolies typically required was a very complex coordination, you’ve got a lot of pieces to fit together in just the right way, and when you assemble that you had a tremendous advantage. This is actually done surprisingly little today and so I think this is sort of a business form that when people can pull it off, is very valuable.”
  • ” But so much of people’s identities got wrapped up in winning these competitions that they somehow lost sight of what was important, what was valuable…. this tremendous price that you stop asking some bigger questions about what’s truly important and truly valuable. Don’t always go through the tiny little door that everyone’s trying to rush through, maybe go around the corner and go through the vast gate that nobody is taking.”

6. Growth: Alex Schultz, VP Growth, Facebook ;

  • transcripts
  • “growth, growth hacking or growth marketing. In my mind it’s just internet marketing using whatever channel you can to get whatever output you want, and that’s how I paid for college and that’s how I went from being a physicist to a Marketer - transitioning to the darkside of the force.”
  • “Retention is the single most important thing for growth. “
  • “So many times, I got to advise multiple startups. My favorite was working with Airbnb, but I’ve worked with Coursera, I’ve worked with other ones that haven’t done as well as those guys. But the one thing that’s true, over and over again is, if you look at this curve, ‘percent monthly active’ versus ‘number of days from acquisition’, if you end up with a retention curve that is asymptotic to a line parallel to the X-axis, you have a viable business and you have product market fit for some subset of market. But most of the companies that you see fly up, we’ve talked about packing and virality and all of this stuff, their retention curve slopes down toward the axis, and in the end, intercepts the X-axis.”
  • ” Different verticals need different terminal retention rates for them to have successful businesses. If you’re on ecommerce and you’re retaining on a monthly active basis, like 20 to 30% of your users, you’re going to do very well. If you’re on social media, and the first batch of people signing up to your product are not like, 80% retained, you’re not going to have a massive social media site. So it really depends on the vertical you’re in, what the retention rates are. What you need to do is have the tools to think, ‘who out there is comparable’ and how you can look at it and say, ‘am I anywhere close to what real success looks like in this vertical?’”
  • “Startups should not have growth teams. The whole company should be the growth team. The CEO should be the head of growth. You need someone to set a North star for you about where the company wants to go, and that person needs to be the person leading the company, from my opinion, that’s what I’ve seen. “
  • “Think about what the magic moment is for your product, and get people connected to it as fast as possible, “
  • ” Building an incredible product is definitely optimizing it for the people who use your product the most, but when it comes to driving growth, people who are already using your product are not the ones you have to worry about.”
  • “So for operating for growth, what you really need to think about, is what is the North star of your company: What is that one metric, where if everyone in your company is thinking about it and driving their product towards that metric and their actions towards moving that metric up, you know in the long-run your company will be successful.”
  • ” Just have a North Star (golden metric to optimize), and know the magic moment that you know when a user experiences that, they will deliver on that metric for you on the North Star, and then think about the marginal user, don’t think about yourself. Those are, I think, the most important points when operating for growth. Everything has to come from the top.”

7. How to Build Products Users Love: Kevin Hale, Founder, Wufoo and Partner, Y Combinator

  • transcripts
  • “How do we make things that have a passionate user base, that our users are unconditionally wanting it to be successful, both on the products that we built and the companies behind them?”
  • “I feel like growth is fairly simple. It’s the interaction between two concepts or variables: conversion rate and churn. The gap between those two things pretty much indicates how fast you’re going to grow. Most people, especially business-type people, tend to look at this interaction in a very mathematical, calculated sort of way. “
  • “I want to talk about these things at a more human scale because in a startup when you’re interacting with your users, you have a fairly intimate interaction in the early stages, and so I think there’s a different way of looking at this stuff in terms of how we build our products. “
  • “… the best way to get to $1 billion is to focus on the values that help you get that first dollar to acquire that first user. If you get that right, everything else will take care of itself. It’s a sort of faith thing.”
  • ” To sum it up the average start up raises about $25 million, and the return for their investors is about 676%. Wufoo, raised about $118,000 total, and our return to our investors was about 29,561%.”
  • ” In startups, we have to do it at scale.”
  • “So we decided to start off by asking, “How do relationships work in the real world and how can we apply them to the way we run our business and build our product that way?”
  • ” two metaphors: acquiring new users as if we are trying to date them, and existing users as if they are a successful marriage.”
  • “When it comes to dating, a lot of the things that we uncovered, had to do with first impressions. … First impressions are important for the start of any relationship because it’s the one we tell over and over again, right? There’s something special about how we regard that origin story. … “
  • “My argument for people who are very good at product is that they discover so many other moments and make them memorable: the first email you ever get, what happens when you got your first login, the links, the advertisements, the very first time you interacted with customer support. All of those are opportunities to seduce.”
  • "”is this a quality item?” The two words for quality are atarimae hinshitsu and miryokuteki hinshitsu. The first one means taken for granted quality, which basically means functionality. The last one means enchanting quality. “
  • ” MailChimp. What they did was they redesigned all of their help guides so that they looked like magazines covers, and overnight basically readership goes up on all these features, and customer support for these things that help people optimize emails, goes down.”
  • “When it comes to long-term relationships, or marriages, the only research that we ended up having to read is the stuff done by John Gottman. He’s been featured in “This American Life,” Malcolm Gladwell’s books, etc. He’s a marriage researcher… John Gottman talks about the reason that we often break up with one another is due to four major causes. They are warning signs. He calls them the Four Horsemen: criticism, contempt, defensiveness, stonewalling…. Contempt is when somebody is purposely trying to insult another person. Defensiveness is not trying to take accountability, or trying to make excuses for their actions. Stonewalling is basically shutting down. Stonewalling according to John Gottman, is one of the worst things we can do in a relationship. “
  • “One of the surprising things he discovered is not that successfully married people don’t fight at all; turns out, everybody fights and we all fight about the exact same things: money, kids, sex, time, and others (“Others” are things like jealousy and the in-laws.) To bring this around, you can actually attribute every single one of these to problems to things you see in customer support when you’re building out your products, so Money - this costs too much, or I’m having trouble with credit cards. Kids - users’ client. Sex - performance, how long you’re up and how fast. Others - I said was jealousy or in-laws, so that’s competition and partnerships, anything weird happening there, people are going to write to you about.”
  • ”, we realized that there’s a big problem with how everyone starts up their company or builds up their engineering teams. There’s a broken feedback loop there. … what we’re trying to figure out is how we change software development so that we inject some values that we don’t talk about enough, like responsibility, accountability, humility, and modesty. We call this SDD (Support Driven Development). It’s a way of creating high-quality software, but it’s super simple; you don’t need a bunch of Post-it notes. All you have to do is make everyone do customer support…. What you end up having is you fix the feedback. The people who built the software are the ones supporting it, and you get all these nice benefits as a result.”
  • “Treacy and Fred Wiersema and in it they talk about the discipline of market leaders. They say there’s only three ways that you achieve market dominance, and depending on how you want to achieve that market dominance, you have to organize your company in a very specific way: best price, best product, and best overall solution. For best price, you focus on logistics, so Wal-Mart and Amazon. If you want to be the best product out there, you focus on R&D, Apple is usually a quintessential example of that. Best overall solution is about being customer intimate. This is the path that you see all luxury brands follow, … as well as the hospitality industry. What I love about this path towards market dominance is that the third one is the only one that everyone can do at any stage of their company. It requires almost no money to get started with it. It usually just requires a little bit of humility and some manners. “
  • “My feeling on marketing and sales, my feeling is marketing and sales is a tax you pay because you haven’t made your product remarkable. Word-of-mouth is the easiest kind of growth, and it’s how a lot of the great companies grow. Figure out how to have a story that people want to tell about your product where they are the most interesting one at the dinner table. And then that person is your sales person. That person is your sales force for you.”

8. How to Get Started: Walker Williams, Founder, Teespring, Justin Kan, Founder, Twitch and Partner, Y Combinator ; Stanley Tang, Founder, DoorDash

  • transcripts
  • “So at the beginning, Doing Things That Don’t Scale; …Another thing about doing things that don’t scale is it also allows you to become an expert in your business, …”
  • ” And finally, it’s okay to do things that don’t scale. Doing things that don’t scale is one of your biggest competitive advantages when you’re starting out, and you can figure out how to scale once you have your demand.”
  • “At the beginning consumer demand was never a problem, even up until now. So for us it’s just about finding a need and just focusing on serving that demand. At the beginning competition doesn’t really matter.”
  • How to Get Started:
    • “You need to make sure that users value your product….I don’t recommend giving your product for free. “
    • “The easiest way to turn a user into a champion is to the delight them with an experience they are going to remember, so something that’s unusual or out of the ordinary – an exceptional experience.”
    • “You’re never going to get a better sense for your products than actually listening to real users. “
    • “There are three ways to talk to your customers. You can run customer service yourself…. The second step is to proactively reach out to current and churn customers. Churn customers are customers who have left…. Finally, the one I’m probably most OCD about is social media and communities. You need to know how people are talking about your brand. “
    • “The last one I want to talk about is finding product/market fit. What I mean by that is the product you launch with will almost certainly not be the product that takes you to scale. So your job in those early days of a startup is to progress and iterate as fast as possible to reach that product that does have market fit.”
    • “Before you think about press, one of the things you really want to consider is who you want to reach, as well as your actual goal. “

9. How to Raise Money: Marc Andreessen, Founder, Andreessen Horowitz and Founder, Netscape; Ron Conway, Founder, SV Angel

Parker Conrad, Founder, Zenefits

  • transcripts
  • “what made you decide to invest in a founder company? … SV Angel and its entities have invested in over 700 companies. To invest in 700 companies that means we have physically talked to thousands of entrepreneurs and there is a whole bunch of things that just go through my head when I meet an entrepreneur.
  • “Literally while you are talking to me in the first minute I am saying: - “Is this person a leader?” - “Is this person rightful, focused, and obsessed by the product?”
  • the first question I ask is “What inspired you to create this product?”—I’m hoping that it’s based on a personal problem that that founder had and this product is the solution to that personal problem.
  • Then I am looking for communication skills, because if you are going to be a leader and hire a team, assuming your product is successful, you have to be a really good communicator and you have to be a born leader. “
  • “invest in across stages”…. “We invest in the seed stage, the venture stage, growth stage.”
  • “a game of outliers, it is extreme outliers.” / + “conventional statistics are in the order of four thousand venture fundable companies a year that want to raise venture capital. “ + “About two hundred of those will get funded by what is considered a top tier VC”. / + “About fifteen of those will, someday, get to a hundred million dollars in revenue. “
  • “invest in strength versus lack of weakness. … checkbox like: really good founder, really good idea, really good products, really good initial customers. Check, check, check, check. … but not have an extreme strength that makes them an outlier.”
  • “one compelling sentence that you should practice like crazy, what your product does so that the investor that you are talking to can immediately picture the product in their own mind.”
  • “Procrastination is the devil in startups. So no matter what you do you got to keep that ship moving. If it’s decisions to hire, decisions to fire, you got to make those quickly. All about building a great team. Once you have a great product then it’s all about execution and building a great team.”
  • “raising venture capital is the easiest thing a startup founder is ever going to do. As compared to recruiting engineers, recruiting engineer number twenty. It’s far harder than raising venture capital. Selling to large enterprise is harder, getting viral growth going on a consumer business is harder, getting advertising revenue is harder. “
  • “So a startup at the very beginning is just this long list of risks, right, and the way I always think about running a startup is also how I think about raising money. Which is a process of peeling away layers of risk as you go….. s a systematic way to think about how the money gets raised and deployed.”
  • “the relationship between investors and founders involves lots of trust. The biggest mistake I see by far is not getting things in writing. You know, my advice on the fundraising process is do it as quickly and efficiently as you possibly can. “
  • seed stage: very first investor…normally invest today at around the million to two million… Our network is so huge now that we basically just take leads from our own network. We evaluate the opportunity, which means you have to send in a really great short executive summary and if we like that, we actually vote, ..”
  • venture stage, the Series A stage: top tier venture capitalists only invest in two kinds of companies at the Series A stage. (1) One is if they have previously raised a seed round. (2) Rarely we will go straight to a company that hasn’t raised a seed round. Really the only times when that happens is when it is a founder who has been a successful founder in the past and is almost certainly somebody we have worked with in the past…. So by far the best way to get the introductions to the A stage venture firms is to work through the seed investors. Or work through something like Y Combinator.”
  • “most important thing at the seed stage is picking the right seed investors because they are going to lay the foundation for future fundraising events… YC does a very good job at telling you who they think those people are. “
  • “YC Demo Day: You get all these sort of investors at once who are looking at the company…. there is a rough kind of range that people are willing to pay. You just have to figure out what that is. Just get the money that you need, don’t raise any more than you need. And just get it done. At the end of the day, whether you raise a twelve, a nine, or a six, it’s not a huge deal for the rest of the company.”
  • ” it is important for the founder to say to themselves in the beginning, at what point does my ownership start to demotivate me? … in the seed stage from what I have heard, there doesn’t seem to be any magic to it, but it seems ten to fifteen percent is what people say, but that is mostly just what I have heard… “
  • “when people progress in their careers they get bigger and bigger jobs, and at some point they get the really big job. Some of the people grow into the job, and half the people swell into it. And you can kind of tell the difference. There is a point when people just lose their minds. …So when you start a company, you have got to find phenomenal co-founders.”
  • ” If you raise too much money in your A round that will seriously screw you up, right, later on down the road. Because you are going to raise a C seed then the accumulative dilution will get to be too much. So you have to be precise on every single round, you have to raise as close to the exact amount of money as possible. Then you have to be as pure and clean and precise with the investors as you can possibly be about the risks and the milestones…. Basically you want to think of it as a ticket that you have a limited number of holes you can punch, every time you make an investment you punch a hole. When you are out of holes to punch, you are done,”
  • “So it really, really, really matters who your partner is. It really is like getting married, and it really is worth putting the same amount, “

10. Culture: Alfred Lin, Former COO, Zappos and Partner, Sequoia Capital ; Brian Chesky, Founder, Airbnb

  • transcripts
  • “hopefully, after this talk you will be able to know: What is culture? Why does it matter? How do you create your core values? And think about elements that fit together for core values and culture that create a high performance team. Get some best practices for the culture.”
  • “quote from Gandhi “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become the habits. Your habits become your values. And your values become your destiny.”
  • “Why it matters is that it becomes the first principles you sort of go back to when you make decisions. It becomes a way to align people on values that matter to the company. It provides a certain level of stability to fall back on. And it provides level of trust, people sort of trust each other with, but it also gives us a list with which you should be able to figure out what to do and what not to do. And what the more important thing about that is what not to do. Then finally the other thing that is important is it allows you to retain the right employees. There are people in this world that are not going to be a fit for your company, but if you have good strong culture, and the strong core values, you’ll know who you want to retain and who you truly do not want to retain. And if you take the first letter of those it happens to help you move faster.”
  • “If you have trust, you can actually have debates and conflict and get to the right answer. If you don’t have conflicts and debate, it’s the blind leading the blind. “
  • “If you think about the company as a black box and results, one of the major inputs is the culture of the company.
  • ” I think that’s what the first thing is, to build a team that is so talented that they kind of, slightly make you uncomfortable to be with them, because you know you are going to have to raise your game to be with them.”
  • “It doesn’t matter how great your original product idea is, if you cannot build a great company then your product will not endure. As we thought about this, we realized we wanted to build a company for the long term.”
  • “We started to realize that we needed to have intention, culture needs to be designed…. “
  • ” We finished Y Combinator in April 2009, hired our first engineer in July something like that. Probably six months. Some people ask why did you spend so much time on hiring your first engineer. I think bringing in your first engineer is like bringing in a DNA chip to the company. This person, if we’re successful, there were going to be a thousand people just like him or her in that company,”
  • “So there is this old parable about two men laying bricks. Somebody comes up to the first man and says what are you doing? I’m building a wall. He asks the other guy, he says I’m building a Cathedral. There’s a job and there is a calling. We want to hire people not only looking for jobs, but a calling. And that’s the first value, champion the mission….”
  • “The reason we ended up not buying them was I just didn’t like the culture. I didn’t want to bring in those four hundred people. I felt like we were missionaries and they were mercenaries. I didn’t feel like they were doing it for the beliefs, I thought they were doing it to make a lot of money very quickly.”
  • “what’s the job of the CEO? There are lots of things a CEO does, but what you mostly do is articulate the vision…. you end up doing is articulating the vision over and over. Whether it’s recruiting, talking to investors, getting funding, doing PR interviews, speaking in a class room. You are always reinforcing the values. You’re doing it in an email to a customer. You just do it a thousand times, it changes and gets better and better every time. So it kind of evolved. “
  • ” Paul Graham said, I remember he had this line, it’s better to have a hundred people that love you than to have a million people that just sort of like you.”

What I Talk about When I Talk about Running - A Memoir

0writing memoir my-favorite

Title: What I Talk about When I Talk about Running: A Memoir

  • By: Haruki Murakami

  • URL

  • Type of readers will enjoy the book:
    • called to creative work
    • interested in the author’s creative process
  • Key Takeaways
    • Keep going is essential for long-term progress / writes and runs everyday / always stops at the point where he could write more, at the point before his legs are exhausted.
    • To keep on going, have to keep up the rhythm / at a set speed takes as much concentration and effort as you can manage /
    • Have to do the work for creativity to arise/ The only path for the non-talented is to keep at it until you uncover something great.
    • Don’t try to Appeal to Everyone / Before writer, Murakami ran a jazz bar , aimed to attract the right customers; NOT matter if nine out of ten didn’t like my bar / Just had to make sure that the one person who did like the place really liked it / had to make my philosophy and stance clear-cut, and patiently maintain that stance no matter what / The same logic to his novels, targeting a specific type of reader.
    • Understanding yourself is difficult but fruitful / Emotional hurt is the price a person has to pay in order to be independent. / I think I’ve been able to run for more than twenty years for a simple reason: It suits me. / “Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional. Say you’re running and you start to think, Man this hurts, I can’t take it anymore. The hurt part is an unavoidable reality, but whether or not you can stand any more is up to the runner himself.”, / “Just focus on moving my feet forward, one after the other. That’s the only thing that matters.””
    • “you really need to prioritize in life, figuring out in what order you should divide up your time and energy. If you don’t get that sort of system set by a certain age, you’ll lack focus and your life will be out of balance.””
    • “whenever I run a marathon my mind goes through the same exact process. Up to nineteen miles I’m sure I can run a good time, but past twenty-two miles I run out of fuel and start to get upset at everything. And at the end I feel like a car that’s run out of gas. But after I finish and some time has passed, I forget all the pain and misery and am already planning how I can run an even better time in the next race. The funny thing is, no matter how much experience I have under my belt, no matter how old I get, it’s all just a repeat of what came before. I think certain types of processes don’t allow for any variation. If you have to be part of that process, all you can do is transform—or perhaps distort—yourself through that persistent repetition, and make that process a part of your own.”
    • “If I used being busy as an excuse not to run, I’d never run again. I have only a few reasons to keep on running, and a truckload of them to quit. All I can do is keep those few reasons nicely polished.”
    • “If I’m asked what the next most important quality is for a novelist, ..: focus—the ability to concentrate all your limited talents on whatever’s critical at the moment. …. After focus, the next most important thing for a novelist is, hands down, endurance. If you concentrate on writing three or four hours a day and feel tired after a week of this, you’re not going to be able to write a long work. ….Fortunately, these two disciplines—focus and endurance—are different from talent, since they can be acquired and sharpened through training…. Writing itself is mental labor, but finishing an entire book is closer to manual labor. …. To be able to grasp something of value, sometimes you have to perform seemingly inefficient acts.””

Essentialism The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

critical-thinking my-favorite
  • URL
  • by Greg McKeown

  • key takeaways
    • It is all about how to get the right things done. “Decision fatigue” reduces the quality of the decision we make. “Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”
    • “Remember that if you don’t prioritize your life someone else will.” : Decide what your agenda or goal is, and pursue only opportunities that lead you to your goal. So better not commit casually to plans you are not sure about. Don’t be afraid to be unavailable. Focus requires you to set aside time for your priority.
    • Teams function better if there is one clear, quantifiable, overarching purpose.
    • Keeping a journal and making time to read are important.
  • The “wardrobe” metaphor: cluttered and disorganized. have difficulty finding clothes, and no place for new ones. To address this problem in three parts.
    • The first is to “Explore and Evaluate.” / stronger question: “Do I love this?” maps to questions like “Will this activity or effort make the highest possible contribution towards my goal?”
    • The next is the “Eliminate” step. This is the step to prevent having 10 top priorities. via questions like: “If I didn’t have this opportunity, what would I be willing to do to acquire it?” The author McKeown describes how to rid yourself of the non-essentials in a way that earns you respect from colleagues, management, and clients.
    • The third step is to “Execute.” e.g., to decide be the recipient of the clothing, what time they are open, and to schedule that into your diary. Without the plan to see this through, they will return to your wardrobe, sooner or later.
    • One discipline required to be an essentialist: even being able to say “no” well, requires courage.


science critical-thinking my-favorite

Title: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

– August 25, 2009

  • URL
  • good summary here URL

  • Ch1: “Incentives are the basic building blocks of economics: according to economists, nearly every decision can be explained through incentives. Because of incentives, people are sometimes driven to cheat.”

  • Ch2: “Experts often abuse information asymmetry between themselves and consumers, but things like the internet are working to erase this information imbalance by providing more information to everyday people.”

  • Ch3: “debunks the myth that drug dealers are all rich by telling the story of a man who studied the organization of the Black Disciples crack gang in Chicago.” In reality, crack gangs are very similar in structure to any business in corporate America, with a small number of people on the top making big money and hundreds of people on the bottom barely scraping by at all. T

  • Ch4: “where have all the criminals gone?” “the story of Romania, a country that experienced a huge rise in crime after its dictator banned abortion.”
    • “then turns to the United States in the mid-1990s: while crime had been rapidly rising in the year prior, the trend suddenly reversed, leaving many experts puzzled and attempting to explain it.”
    • None of the explanations they proposed were correct—instead, according to Levitt, the crime drop was heavily linked to the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision of abortion was legalized. “Meant that many babies who would have grown up unwanted and impoverished—and, by this trend, more likely to become criminals as they neared adulthood—were not being born. Nearly two decades later, this generation of potential criminals would have been teenagers; however, they had never been born, and so there was a sudden drop in crime.”
  • Ch5 talks about parenting,
    • “Levitt points out that many parents are misguided, and the things they do matter much less than the things they are. “
    • “Parents who are highly educated with a high income are most likely to have successful children; these factors are determined before the child is even born.”
  • Ch6: naming children
    • “The name given to a child does not cause their success or failure; rather, it is a reflection of the status and circumstances of the parents. “
    • “high-income parents begin to use a name, and then, over time, it trickles down to low-income parents until it becomes less popular.”
  • no single unifying theme / the main takeaway is a new way of thinking, looking at, and interpreting the world according to the tools of economics discussed.

Albert-László Barabási - The Formula - The Universal Laws of Success

science critical-thinking

Title: The Formula: The Universal Laws of Success

  1. Performance drives success, but when performance can’t be measured, networks drive success.
    • “It’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know. Or rather, who knows YOU.
    • You can create something great, but it helps if people who are already known for being great know just how great YOU are.””
  2. Performance is bounded, but success is unbounded.
    • “There’s only so fast you can run, or how good you can make your product.””
    • “But there’s no limit to how much money you can make, or how many lives you can influence.””
  3. Previous success x fitness = future success.
    • “It helps if you’re already known for being awesome, and then it helps to actually BE awesome. “”
    • If you’re not known yet, connect with someone who is. People listen to those they know, even when it doesn’t make sense to do so.
  4. While team success requires diversity and balance, a single individual will receive credit for the group’s achievements.
    • “in sports all the time. It’s the exact opposite of group projects from school (where one individual does all the work, and the group receives credit for the assignment).”
  5. With persistence success can come at any time.
    • “It’s never too late. You never know which of your efforts will lead to a sudden breakthrough, so keep going. Keep creating. “
    • the reason behind old saying “after certain age, no breakthrough” is because people try less when aging.

Atomatic Habit


Title: Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

  • URL
  • A good book summary here URL

  • Main ideas
    • Habits are the compound interest of self-improvement.
    • If you want better results, then forget about setting goals. Focus on your system instead.
    • The most effective way to change your habits is to focus not on what you want to achieve, but on who you wish to become.
    • The Four Laws of Behavior Change are a simple set of rules we can use to build better habits. They are (1) make it obvious, (2) make it attractive, (3) make it easy, and (4) make it satisfying.
    • Environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior.
  • Ch1: Tiny Habits:
    • “You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results.” “The purpose of setting goals is to win the game. The purpose of building systems is to continue playing the game. True long-term thinking is goal-less thinking. “
  • Ch2: How Your Habits Shape Your Identity (and Vice Versa)” drawing drawing

  • Chapter 4: The Man Who Didn’t Look Right
    • “If you’re having trouble determining how to rate a particular habit, ask yourself: ‘Does this behavior help me become the type of person I wish to be? Does this habit cast a vote for or against my desired identity?’” “With enough practice, your brain will pick up on the cues that predict certain outcomes without consciously thinking about it.” “Once our habits become automatic, we stop paying attention to what we are doing.”
    • “The process of behavior change always starts with awareness. You need to be aware of your habits before you can change them.”
  • Chapter 5: The Best Way to Start a New Habit
    • “Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity.”
    • “One of the best ways to build a new habit is to identify a current habit you already do each day and then stack your new behavior on top. This is called habit stacking.”

Read Literature Like a Professor


Title: How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines,

  • Revised Edition Paperback – February 25, 2014 by Thomas C Foster (Author)
  • URL
  • great guide educating about the basics of classic literature and how authors use patterns, themes, memory and symbolism in their work to deliver their message to you.
  • Good summary note here ULR

  • Lesson 1: Most books hide their message using memory, symbols and patterns.
    • Memory, symbols, and patterns are what hide the deeper message in any book.
  • Lesson 2: One of the most common patterns is the quest structure.
    • eg. hero type: A quester / A destination / A stated reason to go / Some challenges along the way / An unexpected revelation
  • Lesson 3: + Look for universal messages in books to discover which symbols authors use.
    • intertextuality – all texts depend on one another – and it’s a good thing!
    • Ask “What’s the universal message behind this event?” as you read, and you’ll be able to spot symbols and some of the big ideas, which have been around for centuries.
  • Interesting messages: summarized here ULR
    • Which questions help you get to the emotional level of a book
    • What one book all other books connect to
    • How the Mississippi river is a symbol for more than one thing, in just one book
    • Why settings profoundly shape how we perceive a story (and what role seasons play in it)
    • What makes irony one of the most powerful tools of an author

Blink - The Power of Thinking Without Thinking

  • URL

  • quite relating to book “thinking fast, thinking slow”
  • get review text mostly from here url and here url2.

  • Explain distinction between two processes for arriving at a decision.
      1. “Conscious Thinking (also known as rational decision making) is when we use logic to weigh the pros and cons of each choice and make a conscious decision. This process is effective, but it takes a long time.””
      1. “Unconscious Thinking (variously known as the adaptive unconscious, intuition, and making snap judgments) is when we make decisions without understanding why, or even realizing we’ve made them. This process is quick, but is sometimes colored by bias.””
  • most of the book about mechanisms of unconscious thinking, or snap judgments.

  • advantages of thin-slice:
    • 1) “They thin-slice: Our unconscious minds “thin-slice,” or find patterns in situations based on thin slices of experience. When we thin-slice, our unconscious picks out the information that is relevant and leaves the rest. This allows us to ignore distracting, superficial details and get to the heart of a problem or choice.”
    • 2) “The unconscious mind processes little bits of information and makes decisions about them all the time, without our being aware of it. This frees up the conscious mind to focus on tasks that only it can complete, like those involving logic.”
    • overthinking a problem can produce results much worse than simply respecting gut feelings.
  • disadvantages of thin-slice:
    • 1) When we try to explain how we arrive at an unconscious decision, our explanations are inaccurate and sometimes problematic.
    • 2) thin-slicing uncovers the deep truths and relevant details needed to make a wise decision. But stress, time pressures, and biases can interrupt
  • describe ways to improve insights and snap judgments with small tweaks and smart training.
    • Intriging Examples of products that succeed or fail due to minor shifts in the ways they’re perceived by the public. Chapter 6 chronicles the tragic death of Amadou Diallo. Expert at reading the subtle clues from micro-expressions, teaches the skill to police, helping them avoid situations like the Diallo shooting.
    • Plus The story of a female trombonist wins an audition by performing while hidden behind a screen.

The Book of Why- The New Science of Cause and Effect


Title: The Book of Why- The New Science of Cause and Effect

by Judea Pearl and Dana MacKenzie

  • URL

  • many of the review text were from here URL

  • INTRODUCTION Mind over Data 1
    • “If causation is not correlation, then what is it? “
    • “well articulated discussion of causal inference - what it is, what the available tools are (RCTs, IVs, matching, etc), how they have changed over the years, and how they could be improved. The bits that tell the history of causal inference are especially illuminating;””


  • CHAPTER 1 The Ladder of Causation 23
    • three distict levels: seeing, doing, and imagining.
    • “Various options exist for causal models: causal diagrams, structural equations, logical statements, and so forth. “
    • “Methods for extracting causal conclusions from observational studies are on the middle layer of Pearl’s Ladder of Causation, and they are expressed in a mathematical language that extends classical statistics and emphasizes graphical models.””
  • CHAPTER 2 From Buccaneers to Guinea Pigs: The Genesis of Causal Inference 53
    • review the history of statistics
    • review the inventor of path digram: Sewall Wright
    • “The use of graphical models to determine cause and effect in observational studies was pioneered by Sewall Wright, whose work on the effects of birth weight, litter size, length of gestation period and other variables on the weight of a 33-day-old guinea pig”
    • “Pearl defines a causal model to be a directed acyclic graph that can be paired with data to produce quantitative causal estimates. The graph embodies the structural relationships that a researcher assumes are driving empirical results.””
  • CHAPTER 3 From Evidence to Causes: Reverend Bayes Meets Mr. Holmes 93
    • review Bayesian networks
  • CHAPTER 4 Confounding and Deconfounding: Or, Slaying the Lurking Variable 135
    • review the major casual inference strategy: randomized controlled trial (RCT)
    • “The structure of the graphical model, including the identification of vertices as mediators, confounders, or colliders, guides experimental design through the identification of minimal sets of control variables”




  • CHAPTER 5 The Smoke-Filled Debate: Clearing the Air 167
    • unable to use RCT to answer “the smoke debate”
  • CHAPTER 6 Paradoxes Galore! 189
    • a chapter of paradoxes: the Monty Hall paradox, Simpson’s paradox, Berkson’s paradox and others.


  • CHAPTER 7 Beyond Adjustment: The Conquest of Mount Intervention 219
    • explains the “causal inference engine”: that produces yes/no answer and estimation of proportion contribution
    • important patterns in CDM include: back-door adjustment, front-door adjustment, and instrumental variables.

    • The graphical approach to causal inference that Pearl favors has been influential, but it is not the only approach.



  • CHAPTER 8 Counterfactuals: Mining Worlds That Could Have Been 259

    • Another influential model: “Neyman–Rubin potential outcomes model. In the language of medical randomized control trials, a researcher using this model tries to quantify the difference in impact between treatment and no treatment on subjects in an observational study. Propensity scores are matched in an attempt to balance inequities between treated and untreated subjects.” Since no subject can be both treated and untreated, however, the required estimate of impact can be formulated as a missing value problem.
    • Rubin model as missing data task.
    • Three basic assumptions of Rubin’s model: (1) stable unit treatment assumption, (2) consistency assumption and (3) ignorability assumption.

    • “Other researchers favor models by James Heckman, whose concept of “fixing” resembles, superficially at least, the do operator that Pearl uses.”

    • More from Statist. Surv. Volume 3 (2009), 96-146. Causal inference in statistics: An overview, by Judea Pearl illustrated using a general theory of causation based on the Structural Causal Model (SCM) described in Pearl (2000a), which subsumes and unifies other approaches to causation, and provides a coherent mathematical foundation for the analysis of causes and counterfactuals.

    • In particular, the paper surveys the development of mathematical tools for inferring (from a combination of data and assumptions) answers to three types of causal queries:
    • (1) queries about the effects of potential interventions, (also called “causal effects” or “policy evaluation”)
    • (2) queries about probabilities of counterfactuals, (including assessment of “regret,” “attribution” or “causes of effects”) and
    • (3) queries about direct and indirect effects (also known as “mediation”).

    • Finally, the paper defines the formal and conceptual relationships between the structural and potential-outcome frameworks and presents tools for a symbiotic analysis that uses the strong features of both.
  • CHAPTER 9 Mediation: The Search for a Mechanism 299
    • Total effect = direct effect + indirect effect ???
    • Total effect (x=0 -> x=1 ) = NDE(x=0-> x=1) - NIE(x=1 -> x=0)


  • CHAPTER 10 Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, and the Big Questions 349 drawing

  • Some other comments from here
    • “Pearl promotes his extension of probability calculus and nonparametric structural equation models (directed acyclic graphs or DAGs) as the solution to the problem of inferring causes from observational data. “
    • “f you have good subject knowledge about a research topic, you will have an understanding of the dependencies between relevant variables and you can use graphical methods as one of the tools to clarify the implications of the model, but that’s really it.”

    • “the differences between these approaches to causal inference are far less important than their simmilarities. Support for this includes a construction by Thomas Richard and James Robins incorporating counterfactuals into graphical cause-and-effect models, thereby unifying various threads of the causal inference literature. [“Single world intervention graphs (SWIGS): A unification of the counterfactual and graphical approaches to causality.” April 2013.] “

    • “Results based on a causal model are no better than its underlying assumptions. These assumptions can represent a researcher’s knowledge and experience.”
    • ” However, many scholars are concerned that model assumptions represent researcher bias, or are simply unexamined. David Freedman emphasizes this: Assumptions behind models are rarely articulated, let alone defended. The problem is exacerbated because journals tend to favor a mild degree of novelty in statistical procedures. Modeling, the search for significance, the preference for novelty, and the lack of interest in assumptions—these norms are likely to generate a flood of non-reproducible results.”



Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior


Title: Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior

  • By Professor Mark Leary, Ph.D. Duke University
  • URL

  • many of the answers to the puzzles of human behaviors, thoughts, and emotions lie in three broad themes
    1. Evolution: In some cases, a behavior that is difficult to understand today makes sense when you consider the possibility that the behavior dealt with a particular problem our ancestors faced in the distant past.
    2. Self-awareness: No other animal can think consciously about itself with such abstraction as we can. Self-awareness is an important lens through which to view human behavior because much of what you do is influenced by your self-image, your future goals, and your concerns with what other people think, each of which requires abstract self-awareness.
    3. Culture: Often, we do odd things because our culture has taught us to. Many puzzling behaviors that appear inexplicable when seen through the eyes of one culture may be understandable when seen through the eyes of another.
  • Every lecture of Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior examines a central question about human behavior. For examples
  1. Why do your feelings get hurt? Like physical injury, a loss of social connection compromises your well-being. The brain areas involved in hurt feelings from rejection overlap with the areas involved in the experience of physical pain. Neuroscientists believe that the social pain system was built on top of the older system that mediates physical pain.
  2. Why do you sometimes forget things? One explanation for forgetfulness holds that a memory trace in your brain has deteriorated over time. In fact, the brain appears designed to allow disused memories to become less accessible so that you’re not overwhelmed with memories that are unimportant or that interfere with the acquisition of new information.
  3. Why do you fall in love? Research suggests that romantic love has three components—intimacy, passion, and commitment. Neuroscientists studying the biochemical bases of love have discovered that adrenalin, dopamine, and other chemicals are responsible for physical attraction, the desire for closeness, energetic feelings, and other symptoms of being in love.
  4. Why do you blush? Many people think of blushing as a social signal that communicates a nonverbal apology for breaking some social rule. But why do we sometimes blush when we are complimented or praised? Research suggests that blushing is analogous to appeasement displays in other animals. Humans blush when we receive unwanted social attention—negative or positive.
  5. Of course, not all of the mysteries of human behavior have been completely solved.


Effective Research Methods for Any Project


Title: Effective Research Methods for Any Project

By: Amanda M. Rosen, The Great Courses


  • I like its last part : Learn to Analyze Your Data and Communicate your Findings
  1. study quantitative data analysis, interpreting your findings through simple statistical calculations that describe your data in useful ways.
  2. how inferential statistics allow you to draw conclusions from your data, and to compare groups using statistical means.
  3. vital methods such as how to track the correlation or relationship between your data variables, and how to assess causation between your variables.
  4. qualitative data analysis, which involves discerning meaning and patterns in data, and the principle approaches to qualitative analysis you may need for your research.

Ego Is the Enemy

critical-thinking my-favorite management

Title: Ego Is the Enemy

  • URL
  • by RYAN HOLIDAY 2016

  • three main parts / great summary from here
  1. Aspire, wanting to accomplish bigger and better goals.
  2. Success, achieving our goals and receiving public praise.
  3. Failure, falling from grace and dealing with internal resistance.
  • about the ego and aspiration:
  1. Too much talking, not enough work.
  2. Do it for the right reasons. Having a goal bigger than us counteracts ego.
  3. Keep learning. In every situation we can learn something.
  4. Be practical, not passionate. Being passionate can lead us to do stupid things. Be calm and calculate your next steps with a clear and objective mind.
  5. Help others. Just like learning, helping others keeps us humble. Having a mindset of abundance will allow you to strive and forge relationships without having to fight your ego.
  6. Restrain yourself. Don’t reply to the haters. Don’t allow your ego to get offended. Endure the pain.
  7. Live in the present. With ambition comes dough. We begin telling ourselves that we don’t have what it takes, that we will fail. Getting out of our head will help us remaining focused in the work and able to learn from its lessons.
  8. Don’t get fancy. Ego turns minor accomplishments into major events. This artificial inflation is simply a delusion. It turns you into a fraud. Stay humble through your work.
  9. Work! While aspiring, the most important thing you can do to fight your ego is to focus on creating value. Sit down and put in the hours. Invest in yourself by thinking long term.
  • about success can be the greatest catalyst for the ego.
    1. Keep learning and improving.
    2. Don’t tell yourself a story. The path towards success is full of obstacles and failures. But once we get to the destination, the ego only wants to share with others all the victories making it sound like we had everything planned all along.
    3. Remember what’s important. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
    4. Trust and value others. Don’t fear depending on others. Detach yourself from your work and let others help you
    5. Manage yourself first. Know yourself, learn your inner workings and most important, learn your weaknesses and accept them. Learn how to manage yourself and you will succeed at managing others. Delegate.
    6. Beware the disease of me. Don’t fall in love with yourself and your success. The ego feeds off boasting and vanity. Stay focused on what got you where you are: work.
    7. Remember how insignificant you are. If we look at the night sky and see all the stars and thinking about our impact in this infinite plane of existence, it is hard to feel nothing but gratitude. Ego can’t live in that state of mind.
    8. Stay sober. Success can act like a drug. It makes people act differently and against their own principles.
  • about failure happens to everyone, regardless of our ego.
    1. Keep the fire going. The ego assumes defeat easily. Keep active. Keep learning and improving. Never give up.
    2. Your work is enough. The ego likes to be acknowledged but bad news: live is not fair. Therefore we must internalize that doing the work is enough. No need for public recognition. It will eventually come by itself.
    3. Draw the line. Follow your own standards. Don’t hold yourself to other people’s expectation and standards. That mindset will not allow you to grow and improve. Create your own version of success and hold yourself against that.
    4. Always love. . Practice love towards others who don’t deserve it and specially with yourself. Do not indulge in gossip, it will only set you back even more. Focus on productive ways to move forwards.
  • In summary:
    1. Never stop learning. Seek to learn about yourself, your craft and others.
    2. Don’t get fancy. Don’t fall in love with yourself. You are not that special.
    3. Have a goal bigger than yourself. Set your standards and be selfless with your goals.
    4. Focus on the work. Doing the work is enough. It keeps us in the moment, honing our skills and away from impracticality.

Books for Writing well


Book Title: The-Elements-of-Style

  • URL
  • Best book to improve your writing

Book Title: Style towards Clarify and Grace

  • URL
  • Great tip: As you write, shift from the familiar, simple to the more complex, unfamiliar information. You can do this in the space of a sentence, a paragraph, or a section in your writing.
  • Tip: While you can begin a sentence with “and” or “but”, keep such sentences to a minimum (one or two per page).
  • Tip: Use a mind map to lay out the main sections and subsections of the “story”, and then add details to flesh out the narrative. Introduce the topic with the first sentence of the first paragraph, then end the first paragraph with your topic sentence.
  • Tip: Write in active voice. Use passive voice when you need it or when it will add to the grace and style of the writing.

Book Title: Writing Science: How to Write Papers That Get Cited and Proposals That Get Funded

  • URL
  • Most important tip: As a scientist, you are a professional writer.

Book Title: On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

  • by William Zinsser
  • URL

Moonwalking with Einstein- The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

critical-thinking my-favorite science

Book title: Moonwalking with Einstein- The Art and Science of Remembering Everything

  • URL

  • Entertaining, humorous, and surprisingly philosophical. A must-read!

  • Great book review from URL

  • The following notes were mostly the paraphrase from the above reviews.


“…the average person squanders about forty days a year compensating for things he or she has forgotten.””

” The techniques of the memory palace — also known as the journey method or the method of loci, and more broadly as the ars memorativa, or “art of memory” — were refined and codified in an extensive set of rules and instruction manuals by Romans like Cicero and Quintilian. These were the same tricks that Roman senators had used to memorize their speeches, that the Athenian statesman Themistocles had supposedly used to memorize the names of twenty thousand Athenians, and that medieval scholars had used to memorize entire books. “

“Literature, music, law, politics, science, math: Our culture is an edifice built of externalized memories. … In a sense, the elaborate system of externalized memory we’ve created is a way of fending off mortality. It allows ideas to be efficiently passed across time and space, and for one idea to build on another to a degree not possible when a thought has to be passed form brain to brain in order to be sustained.””


“The brain makes sense up close and from far away. it’s the in-between — the stuff of thought and memory, the language of the brain — that remains a profound mystery. “”

“It’s all about creating a vivid image in your mind that anchors your visual memory of the person’s face to a visual memory connected to the person’s name. this was a kind of manufactured synesthesia.


Experts see the world differently. They notice things that nonexperts don’t see.

..…our ability to process information and make decisions in world is limited by a fundamental constraint: We can only think about roughly seven things at a time.

Our working memories serve a critical role as a filter between our perception of the world and our long-term memory of it. …

Chunking is a way to decrease the number of items you have to remember by increasing the size of each item. T

In most cases, We don’t remember isolated facts; we remember things in context!!!

Expertise in “the filed of chess, shoemaking, painting, building, [or] confectionary” is the result of the same accumulation of “experiential linkings.” In other words, a great memory isn’t just a by-product of expertise; it is the essence of expertise.


Patient EP has two types of amnesia — anterograde, which means he can’t form new memories, and retrograde, which means he can’t recall old memories either, at least not since about 1950.

Without a memory, EP has fallen completely out of time. ..Without time, there would be no need for a memory. But without a memory, would there be such a thing as time? … I mean psychological time, the tempo at which we experience life’s passage. Time as a mental construct.

… Scientists generally divide memories broadly into two types: declarative and nondeclarative (sometimes referred to as explicit and implicit). Declarative memories are things you know you remember, like the color of your car, or what happened yesterday afternoon. EP and HM had lost the ability to make new declarative memories. Nondeclarative memories are the things you know unconsciously, like how to ride a bike or how to draw a shape while looking at it in a mirror (or what a word flashed rapidly across a computer screen means).

… Psychologists make a further distinction between semantic memories, or memories for facts and concepts, and episodic memories, or memories of the experiences of our own lives.

One of the many mysteries of memory is why an amnesic like EP should be able to remember when the atomic bomb fell on Hiroshima but not the much more recent fall of the Berlin Wall.

Chapter 5: THE MEMORY PALACE / “elaborative encoding.”

“The general idea with most memory techniques is to change whatever boring thing is being inputted into your memory into something that is so colorful, so exciting, and so different from anything you’ve seen before that you can’t possibly forget it. … That’s what elaborative encoding is.”. … The principle of the memory palace, is to use one’s exquisite spatial memory to structure and store information whose order comes less naturally…

Artificial memory is the software you run on your hardware. Artificial memory, the anonymous author continues, has two basic components: images and places. Images represent the contents of what one wishes to remember. Places — or loci, as they’re called in the original Latin — are where those images are stored.


… our brains, in the most reductive sense, are fundamentally prediction and planning machines. And to work efficiently, they have to find order in the chaos of possible memories. From the vast amounts of data pouring in through the senses, our brains must quickly sift out which information is likely to have some bearing on the future, attend to that, and ignore the noise. Much of the chaos that our brains filter out is words, because more often than not, the actual language that conveys an idea is just window dressing. What matters is the meaning of those words. And that’s what our brains are so good at remembering.


It was probably not until about the ninth century, around the same time that spacing became common and the catalog of punctuation marks grew richer, that the page provided enough information for silent reading to become common. … Ancient texts couldn’t be readily scanned. You couldn’t pull a scroll off the shelf and quickly find a specific excerpt unless you had some baseline familiarity with the entire text.

As books became easier and easier to consult, the imperative to hold their contents in memory became less and less relevant, … To our memory-bound predecessors, the goal of training one’s memory was not to become a “living book,” but rather a “living concordance,” a walking index of everything one had read, and all the information one had acquired. .. Today, we read books “extensively,” without much in the way of sustained focus, and, with rare exceptions, we read each book only once. …


In the 1960s, the psychologists Paul Fitts and Michael Posner attempted to answer this question by describing the three stages that anyone goes through when acquiring a new skill.

During the first phase, known as the “cognitive stage,” you’re intellectualizing the task and discovering new strategies to accomplish it more proficiently.

During the second “associative stage,” you’re concentrating less, making fewer major errors, and generally becoming more efficient. Finally you reach what Fitts called the “autonomous stage,” when you figure that you’ve gotten as good as you need to get at the task and you’re basically running on autopilot. During that autonomous stage, you lose conscious control over what you’re doing.

As a task becomes automated, the parts of the brain involved in conscious reasoning become less active and other parts of the brain take over. you could call it the “OK plateau,” the point at which you decide you’re OK with how good you are at something, turn on autopilot, and stop improving.

What separates experts from the rest of us is that they tend to engage in a very directed, highly focused routine, which Ericsson has labeled “deliberate practice.” Having studied the best of the best in many different fields, he has found that top achievers tend to follow the same general pattern of development. They develop strategies for consciously keeping out of the autonomous stage while they practice by doing three things: focusing on their technique, staying goal-oriented, and getting constant and immediate feedback on their performance. In other words, they force themselves to stay in the “cognitive phase.”

Memory is more like a collection of independent modules and systems, each relying on its own networks of neurons. … Part of the reason techniques like visual imagery and the memory palace work so well is that they enforce a degree of attention and mindfulness that is normally lacking. You can’t create an image of a word, a number, or a person’s name without dwelling on it. And you can’t dwell on something without making it more memorable.


… learning, memory, and creativity are the same fundamental process directed with a different focus. …. Creativity is the ability to form similar connections between disparate images and to create something new an hurl it into the future so it becomes a poem, or a building, or a dance, or a novel. Creativity is, in a sense, future memory. – Tony Buzan

…intelligence is much, much more than mere memory…but memory and intelligence do seem to go hand in hand, like a muscular frame and an athletic disposition. There’s a feedback loop between the two. The more tightly any new piece of information can be embedded into the web of information we already know, the more likely it is to be remembered. People who have more associations to hang their memories on are more likely to remember new things, which in turn means they will know more, and be able to learn more. the more we remember, the better we are at processing the world. And the better we are at processing the world, the more we can remember about it.

Chapter 10 and Chapter 11: THE U.S. MEMORY CHAMPIONSHIP

described how the author Joshua Foer won!

Scientists’ fMRI analysis showed that memory athletes use different regions of the brain when using memory palace techniques.

from the author’s TED talk: I think if there’s one thing that I want to leave you with, it’s what E.P., the amnesic who couldn’t even remember that he had a memory problem, left me with, which is the notion that our lives are the sum of our memories. How much are we willing to lose from our already short lives by losing ourselves in our Blackberries, our iPhones, by not paying attention to the human being across from us who is talking with us, by being so lazy that we’re not willing to process deeply? …. I learned firsthand that there are incredible memory capacities latent in all of us. But if you want to live a memorable life, you have to be the kind of person who remembers to remember.

Peak- Secrets from the New Science of Expertise

critical-thinking self-develop science

Book title: Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise (2017)

  • URL
  • Great reviews of this book from URL

  • The following notes are mostly paraphrased from the above reviews .
  • The book was written by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool; Based on more than forty years of research about expert performance.

  • The main opening question answered by the book: “Why are some people so amazingly good at what they do?” sets the stage for the whole book. This book explains in detail the journey that expert performers go on to reach the mountaintop.

Chapter 1.

First it explains the value of purposeful practice in expanding your physical and mental capacity for generating greater achievements in the future. It emphasizes the importance of taking small steps on a regular basis and gathering feedback on what you are doing effectively and ineffectively.

Chapter 2.

Then the authors explain how to learn how to specifically harness your mental adaptability to develop new skills and move beyond the status quo. It also explains how your potential is not fixed, but rather is something that can be continually expanded.

Chapter 3.

The authors explain the importance of mental representations. And emphasizing the importance of actually seeing the level of performance that you are aspiring to reach. By visualizing the details of what needs to happen, you are able to see the pieces and patterns that are necessary for a great performance.


Chapter 4 explains the steps involved in deliberate practice, the best way to improve your performance in any type of activity. By progressing forward in a more intentional and effective way, e.g., logging performance, logging errors, analyzing logs, getting instant feedbacks from good coaches, 1-1 individualized tutoring, allowing errors in the OK plateau phase; ……

Chapter 5.

Chapter 5 showcases how deliberate practice can be used in actual job situations regardless of the type of work that you do. Then the authors explained how deliberate practice can be applied in everyday life situations whether you’re exercising, parenting, or enjoying a hobby.

Chapter 7.

Chapter 7 explains and analyzes the world-class experts and explains what is involved. It analyzes cases like the three chess master sisters from Hungarian. (1) initial interests get motivated in the childhood; (2) deliberated practices take time, hard focus and analytical reasoning and planning; (3) right mentors and coaches;

In the 1960s, the psychologists Paul Fitts and Michael Posner attempted to answer this question by describing the three stages that anyone goes through when acquiring a new skill.

During the first phase, known as the “cognitive stage,” you’re intellectualizing the task and discovering new strategies to accomplish it more proficiently.

During the second “associative stage,” you’re concentrating less, making fewer major errors, and generally becoming more efficient. Finally you reach what Fitts called the “autonomous stage,” when you figure that you’ve gotten as good as you need to get at the task and you’re basically running on autopilot. During that autonomous stage, you lose conscious control over what you’re doing.

As a task becomes automated, the parts of the brain involved in conscious reasoning become less active and other parts of the brain take over. you could call it the “OK plateau,” the point at which you decide you’re OK with how good you are at something, turn on autopilot, and stop improving.

What separates experts from the rest of us is that they tend to engage in a very directed, highly focused routine, which Ericsson has labeled “deliberate practice.” Having studied the best of the best in many different fields, he has found that top achievers tend to follow the same general pattern of development. They develop strategies for consciously keeping out of the autonomous stage while they practice by doing three things: focusing on their technique, staying goal-oriented, and getting constant and immediate feedback on their performance. In other words, they force themselves to stay in the “cognitive phase.”

When you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend. … Regular practice simply isn’t enough. To improve, we must watch ourselves fail, and learn from our mistakes.

The best way to get out of the autonomous stage and off the OK plateau, Ericsson has found, is to actually practice failing. The secret to improving at a skill is to retain some degree of conscious control over it while practicing — to force oneself to stay out of autopilot.

How is it that we continue to surpass ourselves? Part of Ericsson’s answer is that the barriers we collectively set are as much psychological as innate.

Chapter 8.

Then the authors explodes the myth of natural talent. It shows in detail that great performers always got there through extraordinary practice.

Chapter 9.

Finally the authors guide the reader to think about the future of a world that applies deliberate practice on a regular basis and its impact on education, medicine, health, and relationships. They wrote, “Perhaps a better way to see ourselves would be as Homo exercens, or ‘practicing man,’ the species that takes control of its life through practice and makes of itself what it will.”

  • Related books: 10,000-hour rule mentioned in the book “Outliers” by Malcom Gladwell and the book “Talent is Overrated” by Geoff Colvin.

Make It Stick- The Science of Successful Learning

critical-thinking self-develop science my-favorite

Book title: Make It Stick- The Science of Successful Learning 1st Edition

  • URL
  • Great summary from URL
  • The following basically paraphrasing the review from the above book summary:

Chapter 1.

“Learning is Misunderstood”: A common misunderstanding about learning: re-reading is an effective study strategy – but it’s not. Re-reading gives students confidence that they know something when they actually don’t.

Chapter 2.

“To Learn, Retrieve.”; Testing is one effective retrieval strategy to improve learning.

Chapter 3.

“Mix Up Your Practice,” the authors present research on two robust teaching strategies: spacing and interleaving. Research demonstrates that simply spacing out or rearranging and mixing up concepts can yield a large boost in learning.

Chapter 4.

“Embrace Difficulties” during learning. The authors point out that contrary to popular belief, making errors during retrieval is a good thing for learning.

Chapter 5.

“Avoid Illusions of Knowing.” Students consistently predict higher test performance following ineffective strategies (e.g., re-reading) compared to more effective strategies (e.g., retrieval practice). Numerous studies reveal that students drop flashcards too fast due to poor metacognition and awareness of their own knowledge.

Chapter 6.

“Get Beyond Learning Styles.” The authors point out that no empirical evidence that teaching students consistent with their “learning style” (e.g. auditory, visual or through experience) will improve learning. In contrast, methods supported by scientific evidence – including retrieval – are robust and reliable methods that improve student learning in the classroom.

Chapter 7.

How to “Increase Your Abilities.” One method the authors highlight is a growth mindset, or the belief that learning and intelligence are malleable rather than fixed. Growth mindset encourages students to focus on learning and growing with increasing challenges, rather than performance at one point in time.

Chapter 8.

“Make it Stick,” the final chapter is a list of tips provide tips:

  • Possible retrieval practices: Clickers or Colored Index Cards
    • Clickers or Paper-and-pencil and computer or web-based quizzes: for gaining instant feedback for both the student and the teacher, but the key to retrieval practice is to engage students in recalling information from memory.
  • Possible retrieval practices: Bell Work or Exit Tickets: Give small slips of paper at the very beginning of class as students are entering the classroom (“bell work”) or before students leave the classroom (“exit tickets”) that include questions about content learned in class.

  • the retrieval benefit from short answer vs. multiple-choice quizzes appears to be similar.
  • Use retrieval practice as a learning strategy, not an assessment tool.
  • Make retrieval practice low-stakes or no-stakes (i.e., not for a grade), to reduce anxiety and encourage trial-and-error.
  • Provide retrieval practice frequently, as often as possible. Practice makes perfect!
  • Provide retrieval practice after a lesson is complete, perhaps even a few days or weeks later.

  • Space it out. Use a variety of strategies to implement frequent retrieval practice: clickers, index cards, bell work, quick writing prompts, etc. grade levels.
  • Encourage metacognition by giving students feedback.
  • Reassure students that challenging learning (via retrieval practice) is a good thing!
  • Examine your existing teaching strategies – do they focus on getting information “in” or “out” of students’ minds? Are students being challenged, or is learning easy and “fluent?”
  • Use a variety of question types: fact-based, conceptual, and higher order/transfer.

  • Interleaved practice makes sense and some level of blocked practice is necessary. Students must learn how to both choose and use a strategy because that is what they must do on cumulative exams and other high-stakes tests. Simply put, interleaved practice gives students a chance to learn what they need to know.

Neanderthal Man- In Search of Lost Genomes


Book title: Neanderthal Man: In Search of Lost Genomes

  • URL

  • This book taught me basics of next generation sequencing and how the techniques evoled recently. Super educational!

  • The author described his own journey towards sequencing the Neanderthal and Denisovan genomes; “A fantastic portrayal of how science really works, from the perspective of a driven, charismatic, and successful scientist.””

  • Neanderthals have puzzled scientists for decades about Precisely how they were related to modern humans. From 1981, as a Swedish graduate student secretly obsessed with extracting DNA from Egyptian mummies. .. bought a piece of calf’s liver and put it in a lab oven at about 120 degrees for a few days to approximate mummification. He succeeded in finding scattered fragments of DNA. He went on to find DNA in a 2,400-year-old mummy and then from much older animals, like extinct cave bears and ground sloths. In 2010, he became world-famous when he and his colleagues unveiled the Neanderthal genome.

  • “Following the style of two previous memoirs by pioneering geneticists — James D. Watson’s “The Double Helix” (1968) and J. Craig Venter’s “A Life Decoded” (2007). In “The Double Helix,” Watson described discovering the structure of DNA. In “A Life Decoded,” Venter told how he led a team that developed new ways to read DNA and eventually assembled a rough draft of the entire human genome.”

On Writing by Stephen King

0writing my-favorite memoir

Book title: Stephen King On Writing

  • URL

  • Stephen King is one of the best fiction authors in the world.

  1. build your own toolbox of writing
    • “Learn from others. Learn how to describe, build the plot, build a character. Recognize patterns, study the tone. Steal and make it your own.”
  2. Write for Yourself First
    • “When you’re writing a story, you’re telling yourself a story. When you rewrite, you’re taking out all the things that are not the story.”
    • “Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.”
    • “Don’t let anyone or anything interfere while you first channel and write down your story. Let it come to you on its own without judgment, without even looking through a particular lens. Be objective. Then, when you’ve finished the first draft of any story, it’s time to put on some different glasses and rewrite with an open mind.”
    • “Write what you like, then imbue it with life and make it unique by blending in your own personal knowledge of life, friendship, relationships, sex and work.”
    • “Description begins in the writer’s imagination, but should finish in the reader’s.” / As a writer essential at describing characters, scenery, objects, situations, you name it.
  3. Write Every Day
    • “Once I start work on a project, I don’t stop and I don’t slow down unless I absolutely have to. If I don’t write every day, the characters begin to stale off in my mind — they begin to seemlike characters instead of real people. The tale’s narrative cutting edge starts to rust and I begin to lose my hold on the story’s plot and pace.”
    • Write at the same time in the same place every day. Make it a habit.
  4. Let go of Your Fear to Impress
    • “Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation, Affectation itself, beginning with the need to define some sort of writing as ‘good’ and other sorts as ‘bad’, is fearful behavior. Good writing is also about making good choices when it comes to picking the tools you plan to work with.”
  5. Do
    • “The hours we spend talking about writing is time we don’t spend actually doing it.”
  6. Read
    • “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or tools) to write.”
  7. Write a ‘Crammy’ First Draft
    • Ambitious writing goals and habitual and structural schedules
  8. Accept Your Vocabulary Level
    • “When it comes to a writing tool such as vocabulary, pack what you have without the slightest bit of guilt and feeling of inferiority.”
    • “Use the first word that comes to your mind, if it is appropriate and colorful.”
  9. Create a Good Writing Environment
    • “Eliminate every possible distraction.” / no distractions like phone, a TV, video games. /
  10. Take Some Distance Before You Edit and find a “best reader” to get advice first
    • “When you write a book, you spend day after day scanning and identifying trees. When you’re done, you have to step back and look at the forest.” What did you write, what did you try to convey? What’s your book really about?
    • “For me the answer has always been two drafts and a polish.”
    • “Formula: Second draft = First draft — 10%.”
    • to open the door and show your work to people close to you (about 5) and who are willing to give feedback.

The Digital Doctor- Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age


Book title: The Digital Doctor: Hope, Hype, and Harm at the Dawn of Medicine’s Computer Age

  • URL
  • The book is about how health IT has fallen short despite of the US government’s $30 billion investment in EHR.

  • The author worked at the Department of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco
  1. EHR changes the Doctor-patient relationships
    • IT interferes with the doctor-patient relationship.
    • Radiology was the earliest specialty to adopt digital IT.. from 2000, only 8% to more than 75 percent of U.S. hospitals were using digital imaging and by 2008; However, clinicians now rarely meet to discuss cases in the radiology department.
    • The author projected that AI based virtual radiologist will diagnose a myriad of diseases.
    • EMR and computerised prescribing took a difficult start than digital imaging in the U.S. due to poor user interfaces and connectivity.
    • doctors are making less eye contact, less personal exam touch, and forming less emotional connections with patients due to spending more time on their computers;
    • The author emphasized: “ At the heart of medicine is human connection, compassionate care, and empathic interaction with individuals who are vulnerable and ill.
  2. EHR might induce Medical Errors
    • Digital prescribing may help pharmacists more easily read the prescription.
    • The technology designed to reduce medical errors and increase patient safety may actually cause harm. For instance, a serious prescribing error occurred in UCSF hospital when a 16-year old patient was mistakenly given 38 and a half tablets of sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim instead of one tablet. This happened though there existed several checkpoints (including the technician, pharmacist, robot, and nurse) before the medication finally made its way to the patient. Partly because all related are experiencing alert fatigue ( too many previously unnecessary alerts in digitized healthcare system due to poor interface design of the EMR software).
    • This certainly indicated blind trust in technology is wrong. Need to encourage hospital staff to speak up not only when something is wrong but also when not sure that something is right.
    • Big data analytics in healthcare is still a work in progress. May be useful, e.g., in determining staffing patterns, monitoring and preventing hospital infections.
    • Privacy has to be maintained when big data is analysed.
    • the productivity paradox (productivity has not increased but remained stagnant following the computerization )
  3. Deficit in Interoperability
    • One of the biggest issues: healthcare IT deficit in interoperability (connecting EHR systems used by different hospitals and clinics, patient information from one provider to another.)
    • Some discussion about EPIC
    • OpenNotes, the history of how patients gaining the right to view their medical records. Some history about improving the doctor-patient relationship by advocating for the patient’s right to have access to own medical record.
    • “Patients possess a body of knowledge about themselves that we can never hope to master, and we have a body of knowledge about medicine that they can never hope to master. Our job is to bring these two groups together so we can serve each other well”;

Deep Medicine- How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again


Book title: Deep Medicine: How Artificial Intelligence Can Make Healthcare Human Again by Eric Topol (Author)

  • URL

  • Enlightening, and insightful
  • Same author’s third book about the future of medicine

  • Author is a world-renowned cardiologist, Executive Vice-President of Scripps Research, founder of a new medical school and one of the top ten most cited medical researchers
  • He pointed out the transformational potential of AI for medicine , .is set to save time, lives and money.

  • a rough summary:
    • Dr. Topol tells us we are living in the Fourth Industrial Age, through AI ; AI has been sneaking into our lives;

    • The promise is to provide composite views of patients medical data; to improve decision support; to avoid error such as misdiagnosis and unnecesary procedures; to help in the ordering and interpretation of appropriate tests; and to recommend treatments;

    • For medicine, big datasets take the form of whole-genome sequences, high-res images, and continuous outputs from wearable sensors.

    • 3D Medicine: digitizing, and democratizing, and deep ;

    • *Propose three components of deep medicine: (1) deep phenotyping; (2) deep learning based pattern learning; (3) deep empathy and connection between doctors/health systems and patients. *

    • current medicine practice is Shallow medicine, indicated by e.g., physicians spending the majority time looking for information and only ~20 percent of time in talking with patients; doctors are overloaded with many duties not about caring patients at all; computer, keyboards screens, scans et al are pushing doctors away from close relationships with patients; Besides, current healthcare “is resulting in extraordinary waste, suboptimal outcomes, and unnecessary harm.”

    • Dr. Topol reviews the states of the art: AI is pushing progress in medicine on multiple narrow aspects; He also reviewed the DeepMind controversial beginning push in medicine due to the risk of privacy;

    • the author tried to connect self-driving cars and medicine in Chapter four; e.g., Five levels of self-driving (from no automation to full automation)

    • chapter6: doctors with patterns, e.g. 1. radiologiests are conducting pattern-centric practices; 2. pattern-heavy elements in other primary care and specialites include such as scans or slides,

    • clinicians without patterns: most physicians, nurses and clinicians do not have pattern-centric practices; their predominant function is making an assessment and formulating a plan. Here the author reviewed the IBM Waston efforts in medicine; reviewed a few potential areas of AI: eye doctor, cancer doctor, heart doctor, surgeon, and other healthcares like neurologists;

    • Dr. Topol devoted a whole chapter to discuss Mental health and potential of AI for it, especially the “no judgemental” chatbots.

    • Dr. Topol did a wonderful summary of cutting edge Deep learning efforts in life science and drug discovery

    • Dr. Topol used a whole chapter to survey Diet, nutrition and potential of AI in this important and messy field

    • AI for clinical output prediction and Virtual medical assitant through better input channels like Alexa…

    • Deep empathy: the last chapter deeplyl discuss the potential of using AI to save time in medicine, which will result in deep bonding between patients and doctors.

Good to Great- Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't

career-guides self-develop my-favorite management

Book title: Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…And Others Don’t

  • URL

  • “Hedgehog concept” (Simplicity Within the Three Circles)
    • a strategy to push for ages, eventually will take the company to number 1.
    • answer 3 questions to find your Hedgehog concept: (1) What can we be the best in the world? (2) On what can we be passionate? (3) What is the critical economic indicator we should concentrate on?;
    • Only Pushing for “Hedgehog concept” centered technology advancements: by selecting and focusing solely upon the development of a few technologies that are fundamentally compatible with the established strengths and objectives of .
    • making decisions and taking actions that reinforce and affirm the company’s “hedgehog” competencies, executives initiate positive momentum.
  • so-called Level 5 leaders
    • are value centered
    • vs. Ego centered leaders
  • First Who, Then What
    • Securing high-quality, high-talent individuals with Level 5 leadership (more about characters than skills)
    • hiring should be delayed until an absolutely suitable candidate has been identified
    • With the right people in the right positions
  • Confront the Brutal Facts (Yet Never Lose Faith)
    • the willingness to identify and assess defining facts in the company and in the larger business environment.
  • How to sustain (build to last)
    • First, a company should focus on developing the foundation that is necessary to work toward greatness. Then, they can begin to apply the principles of longevity that are set forth in Built to Last.
    • summary from url:

      “First and foremost, Collins contends that companies need a set of core values in order to achieve the kind of long-term, sustainable success that may lead to greatness. Companies need to exist for a higher purpose than mere profit generation in order to transcend the category of merely good. According to Collins, this purpose does not have to be specific – even if the shared values that compel the company toward success are as open-ended as being the best at what they do and achieving excellence consistently, that may be sufficient as long as the team members are equally dedicated to the same set of values.”

The Productivity Project- Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy

career-guides self-develop

Book title: The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy

  • URL

  • From Chris Bailey
  • productivity in terms of energy, time and attention.
    • Energy comes from health. Keep time log to understand your own engergy pattern;
    • Time is a skill you can learn. All about managing your priorities.
    • Attention is what makes having the other two worthwhile. Avoid chasing distractions.
  • slowing down to work more deliberately, more mindful ; - the rule of three: think to have 3 things on your To-Accompolish (at the beginning of per day and per week)
    • shrinking or eliminating the unimportant (dedicate / chunking / eliminate);
    • control the time of work: a steep decline in workers’ productivity after crossing the 55 hour per week mark.
  • Brain dumping:
    • write down all the thoughts that you have at that moment and reference later
  • Exercising your attention muscle
    • meditation
    • diffused mode of attention
    • cell phone type of surfing needs focused mode-attention
  • Avoid distractions:
    • each distraction needs 25mins to come back
    • turn off all notifications
    • the 20 second rule to distract yourself from the inevitable distractions;

The Hard Thing About Hard Things- Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers

critical-thinking career-guides management
  • URL

  • A good summary @ URL

  • The book is geared toward entrepreneurs. “Most business books focus on how to do things correctly, whilst the author acknowledges upfront there is no such thing as a perfect business and however much planning you make, screw ups will inevitably happen. The author addresses all the major screw ups that have occurred during his time leading billion $ corporations and how his team made decisions to turn things around, or screw things up further.”

  • Some interesting text from the book:

    • Peacetime vs Wartime CEO.
    • IN FACT, things alway go wrong..which means WARTIME CEO mindset dominates often.
    • Peacetime CEO’s  — thinks long term and is a reasonable human being;
      • focusing on e.g., strategic culture builders, follow protocols, sets goals, makes back up plans and minimiizes conflict
    • Robust learning takes a long time (quickly learned = quickly forgotten). Your brain is like muscle. It takes time to absorb new concepts and new ideas;
    • Wartime CEO  — obsesses about the immediate need and couldn’t give a damn about anyone;
      • focusing on: e.g. let the situation define the culture, violates all protocol, doesn’t have time read a books about goals, has no back up plan and conflicts with anyone that gets in the way of the plan.
    • A healthy company has a culture of sharing bad news and freely discusses it’s problems and solves them.
      • You may experience overwhelming pressure to be overly positive. Stand up to the pressures, face your fear and say things as they are. Breed a culture of trust and get people working on problems instead of covering them.
      • ask ‘What would you do if we went bankrupt’. It can be a source of good ideas and potential pivots.
    • Large Organisations are slowed down by single people
    • Take care of People, Products and Profits (in that order)
      • Make the hard decisions quickly and don’t put them off.
      • Hire for strength rather than lack of weakness
      • Have clear expectations of who you are hiring with a realization that there is something seriously wrong with every employee in your company (including you). Nobody is perfect.
      • Involve multiple people in brainstorming but make the final decision solo. Consensus-based decisions tend to sway the process away from strength and towards weakness.
    • Minimise Politics:
      • keep up regular performance management and employee feedback with a good system of one on one meetings between employee’s an managers. These are an essential platform for employees to discuss their as yet unheard brilliant ideas, pressing issues, and chronic frustrations.
      • Don’t fall into the ‘Peter Principle’! (In a Hierarchy, members are promoted whilst they work competently. Ultimately they get promoted to a position they are no longer competent int (their ‘level of incompetence’). They are unable to earn further promotion and stay in a role they are not good at.)

Drive- The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

critical-thinking self-develop

Book title: Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

  • URL

  • A good summary

  • Some interesting text from the book:

    • three types of motivations: (1) biological drive (2) reward-and-punishment drive, (3) third drive: deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our abilities, and to live a life of purpose.
    • to motivate the third drive, we need: (1) Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives; (2) Mastery—the urge to get better and better at something that matters; and (3) Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in the service of something larger than ourselves.
    • Tasks are either: (1) Algorithmic— mostly do the same thing over and over in a certain way, or (2) Heuristic— need to come up with something new every time because there are no set instructions to follow.
    • Heuristic type of jobs are more prevalent and need more from the 3rd type of motivation.

A Mind for Numbers- How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra)

critical-thinking self-develop

Book title: A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science (Even If You Flunked Algebra)

  • URL

  • A good summary

  • The book is geared toward helping students study well. Despite the title for math, most of the advice in this book is appropriate for just about any subject. It is especially appropriate for subjects with concepts that might be challenging to grasp;

  • Some interesting text from the book:

    • Education is about getting good at challenging things!
    • Create the best conditions for focused and diffuse thinking
    • Robust learning takes a long time (quickly learned = quickly forgotten). Your brain is like muscle. It takes time to absorb new concepts and new ideas;
    • Occasional knowledge collapse is inevitable, natural and temporary
    • common pitfalls:
      • Procrastination (to avoid, e.g., do the hardest task of the day first, Use to-do lists, Set a quitting tim)
      • Distraction (including multitasking – has big switching costs and depletes limited willpower resources; to avoid, e.g., Eliminate cues)
      • Getting stuck (see Einstellung effect often as a result of too much focused thinking, focus too narrow; to avoid, e.g., Consciously alternate diffuse and focused )
      • Confirmation bias (overconfidence in your own solution without checking)
      • Illusions of confidence (following as opposed to understanding; to avoid, e.g., Test yourself frequently)
      • Fatigue (increasingly proven to be caused by build up of toxins in brain; to avoid, e.g, exercise, sleep, ..)

Measure What Matters by John Doerr

career-guides management

Book title: Measure What Matters

  • URL

  • Objectives and Key Results (OKRs):

    • written goals with systematic follow-ups
    • many stories from various companies/individuals who have used the framework to great effect.
    • Objectives point us in the direction we want to go.
    • Key results are how we get there. They are specific, time-bound, and measurable.

Made to Stick- Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die

critical-thinking 0writing

Book title: Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die Book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

  • URL

  • Main problem in communication: the “Curse of Knowledge”;

  • Strategies to make the ideas stick: simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional (for the times), and a story;

  1. find the core: simple and distilling to the most important idea at the core.

  2. Unexpected:
    • effective communication needs attention and keeps the attention;
    • unexpected: to break these patterns, but still connecting and reinforcing the main message.
  3. Concrete:
    • the “curse of knowledge” is the main enemy of being concrete.
    • the main difference between an expert and novice is the ability of the expert to see things abstractly
  4. Credible:
    • people believe ideas based on authorities - parents, traditional, experts, etc.
    • If can, bring in a true authority
    • If cannot? several ways: (1) Use an anti-authority, (2) use concrete details, (3) use statistics (and make the statistics more concrete), (4) use like the Sinatra Test (looking for the one test case that make your idea completely credible) and (5) use testable credentials (asking the reader to test for themselves the idea).
  5. Emotional
    • goal of making message “emotional” is to make people care
    • For people to take action, they have to care.
    • To make people care about ideas, create empathy for specific individuals; or show how our ideas are associated with things that people already care about, or appeal to their self-interest (more important to appeal to their identities - not only to the people they are right now, but also to the people they would like to be).
  6. Stories
    • A key to making an idea sticky is to tell it as a story.
    • Most good stories are collected and discovered, rather than produced de novo.
    • a few existing plots:
    • 6.1 The Challenge Plot: the obstacles seem daunting
    • 6.2 The Connection Plot: A story about people who develop a relationship that bridges a gap – racial, class, ethnic, religious, demographic, or otherwise. All connection plots inspire us in social ways. They make us want to help others, but more tolerant of others, work with others, love others.
    • 6.3 The Creativity Plot: This involves someone making a mental breakthrough, solving a long-standing puzzle, or attacking a problem in an innovative way.
    • stories usually automatically meet other criteria for making ideas sticky: almost always concrete, often emotional and have unexpected elements. The real difficult is to be sure the stories are simple enough.

How to think like Leonardo da Vinci

self-develop critical-thinking


  • Strategy using mind map for important life-stage planning
  • DaVinci review of your mind map :
    1. Am I Asking the right question?
    2. How to improve my ability to learn from experience ?
    3. What is my plan to strengthen when aging?
    4. What is plan to sharpen my ability?
    5. Am I balancing?
    6. How to nurture the balance
    7. How to connect all things well?
  • One hour per day for a few days to draw your mind map
  • Day1: Sketch with big keywords, representing big areas you care / Ask yourself what you want in each
  • Day2: draw multiple colors in depth of each area / e.g. , what questions in each? / where questions?
  • Day3: clarify each goal/ asking why you have those goals in day2? Now make a list of your top10 values / match your values with your goals
  • Day4: ask yourself what is your life purposes. A stream of writing about a statement of purposes with 20words or less / rewriting until you know/ask what are negative purposes ?
  • Day5: add perspectives/ e.g. what is the current status of each goal you listed in day1?
  • Day6: new mind map to find connections among goals, now make a big mind map as vivid as possible / read it to find repeated keywords/ are my goals and purposes matching? / is my life in proportion? With correct priority?
  • Day7: change mind map into a 5year plan to realize each goal / measurable? Actionable? Now? / weekly mind-map plan ? Checking if matching with the overall plan? / each day 5 to 10 mind to review your plan and mind map

Homo Deus- A Brief History of Tomorrow

history my-favorite critical-thinking

Book title: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow

  • URL
  • “Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake? Homo Deus explores the projects, dreams and nightmares that will shape the twenty-first century—from overcoming death to creating artificial life. It asks the fundamental questions: Where do we go from here? And how will we protect this fragile world from our own destructive powers? This is the next stage of evolution. This is Homo Deus.”

Homo Sapiens- A Brief History of Humankind

history my-favorite

Book title: Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind

  • URL
  • Educational, Intuitive
  • ” spans the whole of human history, from the very first humans to walk the earth to the radical – and sometimes devastating – breakthroughs of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific Revolutions. Drawing on insights from biology, anthropology, paleontology and economics, he explores how the currents of history have shaped our human societies, the animals and plants around us, and even our personalities. Have we become happier as history has unfolded? Can we ever free our behaviour from the heritage of our ancestors? And what, if anything, can we do to influence the course of the centuries to come? “

Decisive- How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work

critical-thinking self-develop

Book title: Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work Book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

  • URL

  • A few practical recommendations for rational thinking:

  1. Widen your options
    • never only just two choices
    • think about opportunity costs, or creative ways to get everything.
    • Find someone who has solved the same problem in the same or different domain.
  2. Reality-test your assumptions.
    • What would it take for your assumptions to be wrong?
    • Can you test your assumptions?
  3. Attain distance before deciding.
    • Get away from short-term emtions.
    • Define your core priorities.
  4. Prepare to be wrong.
    • Define acceptable operating boundaries.
    • Define milestones that are acceptable operating boundaries.
    • Set tripwires where you will check along the way.

Switch- How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

critical-thinking self-develop

Book title: Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard Book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath

  1. Three main factors for a decision
    • This book teaches how make a change through the image of a rider, directing an elephant, on a path from A to B.
    • The rider is the rational (often problem-focused and over-researching) mind
    • The elephant is the emotional (sometimes out-of-control) side, and
    • the path is shaping the situation (badly done may freak the two previous parts and make things complicated).
  2. To direct the rider to do something, you can
    • 1) Find the bright spot; (go through your past experience and find instances in which something was working for you)
    • 2) script the critical moves; (have to give detailed instructions)
    • 3) point to the destination.
  3. To motivate the elephant, you can:
    • 1) find the feeling; (making people feel something - fear, compassion, indignity, absurdity, anything. )
    • 2) shrink the change; (break down the change into manageable size)
    • 3) grow the people. (by cultivating an identity; and the growth mindset.)
  4. To shape the path
    • 1) tweak the environment; (make easier to do one thing over another)
    • 2) build habits; ( “action triggers”, checklists)
    • 3) rally the herd. (behavior is contagious; social pressure effectively like stand-up meetings; Having spaces for people to talk and rally.)

Quiet- The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

critical-thinking self-develop my-favorite
  • URL

  • A must read and an eye-opener.
  • Being an introverted person, this book helps me understand many social phenomenas that have puzzled me for years!

  • Interesting concepts to take away:

  • Be true to yourself, and try to get into situations that play well with your personality, rather than forcing uncomfortable situations.
  • A list of positive characteristics are attributed to introverts, such as creativity, depth, focus, value-driven instead of reward-seeking and etc.
  • The biggest difference between introverts and extroverts is how they respond to stimuli!

  • The first part of the book “The Extrovert Ideal,” discussed the historical creation of the “Culture of Personality” and the author’s views that introverts are highly undervalued, particularly in leadership positions.

  • The second part of the book “Your Biology, Your Self?” used scientific evidence to explain a so-called “rubber band theory” of personality, meaning that we are elastic and can stretch ourselves beyond our innate traits, but only within certain limits.

  • The third part “Do All Cultures Have an Extrovert Ideal?” stated that many cultures do not emphasize traits, such as class participation, as a measure of success.

  • The fourth Part “How to Love, How to Work,” discussed the potential difficulties in communication between introverts and extroverts, how to foster traits such as depth and sensitivity, rather than trying to force introverted children to be extraverted.

Algorithms to Live By- The Computer Science of Human Decisions

critical-thinking my-favorite science
  • URL

  • A must read for computer science graduates.
  • Not an easy read. But definitely worth to read for multiple times.
  • Lots of knowledge and insights compiled in an applicable manner.

  • Interesting principles/concepts to take away:
  1. Optimal Stopping: 37% rule of “optimal stopping” (when to stop looking and just commit);
  2. Explore/Exploit: The Latest vs. the Greatest (how to perform AB test: Explore/Exploit is better than random test; chance of finding a new gem vs. certainty of enjoying a known)
  3. Sorting: Making Order (last recently used-LRU sorting as an efficient strategy for searching; soccer tournament as robust sorting)
  4. Caching: Forget About It (layered caches as metaphor for human memory, like “cache miss”)
  5. Scheduling: First Things First
  6. Bayes’s Rule: Predicting the Future by considering priors (p. 128)
  7. Overfitting: When to Think Less (when interpreting data: prefer simple accuracy to complex precision)
  8. Relaxation: Let It Slide (constraint relaxation as a technique)
  9. Randomness: When to Leave It to Chance (cases of the importance and usage of sampling)
  10. Networking: How We Connect (buffer-bloat: when backlog bad, best to reject all incoming requests until it clears)
  11. Game Theory: The Minds of Others (e.g., exponential back-off, double your wait time before trying again); Computational Kindness p. 256 (by reducing the options on the table as a good strategy to help people communicate and collaborate)

Triggers-Creating Behavior That Lasts--Becoming the Person You Want to Be

critical-thinking self-develop
  1. Our behaviors are usually the result of unappreciated triggers in our environment—the people and situations that lure us. These triggers are constant and relentless and omnipresent. But we have a choice in how we respond.

  2. Good things happen when we ask ourselves. Discovering what really matters is a gift, not a burden.

  3. When we have structure, we don’t have to make as many choices; we just follow the plan. And we’re not being depleted as quickly.

  4. People are visionary Planners but blurry-eyed Doers. Awareness and engagement: Trigger - Impulse – Awareness – Choice – Behavior Bridging the gap between the visionary Planner and the short-sighted Doer in us.
    • e.g., Meeting Questions: Where are we going? Where are you going? What is going well? Where can we improve? How can I help you? How can you help me?
  5. Forecasting the Environment: Anticipation. Avoid. Adjustments.

  6. Daily Questions – reinforce our commitment. They ignite our motivation where we need it, not where we don’t. They highlight the difference between self-discipline and self-control. They shrink our goals into manageable increments.
  • a simple “magic bullet” solution in the form of daily self-monitoring, hinging around what he calls “active” questions.
  • These are questions that measure our effort, not our results.
  • the six “engaging questions” that can help us take responsibility for our efforts to improve

  • Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
  • Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?
  • Did I do my best to find meaning today?
  • Did I do my best to be happy today?
  • Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
  • Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

Outliers- The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell

critical-thinking my-favorite management

Personal success depends on

  • Special Opportunities; timing/ randomness play bigger roles than we normally expect; Right timing / not too late not too early/ with the right opportunity available/
  • Street smart, social Savvy about knowledge how to talk/communicate with people and authorities - general intelligence
  • Parents’ guidance: wealthy parents arranging more activities for children / signaling children’s talents / talk through reasoning with children/ not intimidated by authorities / give children entitlement to negotiate/ assert themselves/
  • Family trajectory: e.g.,meaningful work with rewards/ 10,000 hours rule for becoming experts
  • culture where from / even many generations above / e.g. Culture of honor: / e.g., South Korean airline crushes- rule of culture / categorize cultures: how much individual expects to care themselves, expects to follow rules/
  • power distance index: how cultures expects to respect authorities/ expects to respect seniors. / low pdi, e.g. USA / high pdi, e.g. Brazil/ High PDI , up to listeners to understand the meanings, not effectively if from lower level to authority level ; up to the authorities to solve the issues / Low PDI , up to the speakers to deliver the message clearly
  • duration of learning: Kids from wealthy and poor families differ academically largely during the summers. Summer should be used in studies. / enough study time is the key, e.g. Keep program. / e.g. China rice industry make Chinese long history to cherish hard meaningful work with rewards
  • In the end, the author provided an explanation of family/ the education history of the author’s mom / the explanation of comedians from outsiders/

The Coaching Habit- Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

self-develop management
  • URL

  • Seven essential questions: / less advises / more curiosity / ask one question at a time / get comfortable with silence for 3 seconds

  1. Q1. What’s on your mind? / coaching for performance: / coaching for development: rare, more powerful / silence is ok / 3P model: Project: People: Pattern
  2. Q2. And what else? (3 to 5 times)
  3. Q3. What is the real question or challenge here for you:/ focus question/ stop yourself to jumping to providing solutions, slow down to get the real problem /coaching is about the mentored, not other things
  4. Q4. What do you want? Really want? / Foundation question / the fundamental functions of brain: 5 times a second to scan situations as environmental safe or not / clear expectations? High Rank speaker ? Autonomy, some self choices?
  5. Q5: how can I help? / do not be a rescuer / overuse term: strategic plans only on top shelf/ be very clear what to fully committed to / yes is nothing without a clear definition of no /==> use 3P models to choose necessary NO: what projects to avoid / what people you do not need to manage / what patterns to avoid/ say YES MORE slowly after better understanding
  6. Q6: Stay curious and ask: ==> planning: 1. What is our winning aspirations?; 2. What and where impact? Where do we play? 3. How will we win? 4. What capabilities need to have? How to become and stay as strength : 5. What to measure? What management design? ==> strategic question: / say YES to work meaningful for you and important/
  7. Q7: what was the most useful to you? / what did you learn? / ==> the learning question: people only learn when in double-loop, in the second loop reflecting the thing in the first loop. This is because Brain has very low retention rate in learning/ neural model: AGES MODEL for longer term memory: attention, generation, emotion, and spacing! / use Generation strategy here: ask the mentored to generate questions from yours, to interrupt forgetting/
  • Formula How to trigger New habits:
    1. short and specific cue->ask questions in all possible channels, e.g. Ask talks or meetings (a strong and positive way to finish a conversation) /
    2. rewards->clear of the payoff /
    3. micro-habit that can finish in less than five seconds to do- / when habit breaks down- be resilient and return / nothing stronger than habits
    4. Five types of triggers: time, location, people, actions / starts from easy, small / Coaching, weekly checking, 3/months checking,
  • The end : author recommends a list of great books **

Option B, Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy


Five things To build resilience when facing Adversity:

1. Personalization, Pervasiveness, Permanence

From the book: “We plant seeds of resilience in the ways we process negative events. After spending decades studying how people deal with setbacks, psychologist Martin Seligman found that three P’s can stunt recovery: (1) personalization-the belief that we are at fault; (2) pervasiveness-the belief that an event will affect all areas of our life; and (3) permanence-the belief that the aftershocks of the event will last forever,”

2. Kick The Elephant Out Of The Room

The book wrote: there is a lot of evidence that speaking about traumatic events improves mental and physical health, helps people understand their own emotions and feel understood by others.

3. Self-Confidence & Self-Compassion   From the book: “ I didn’t have to aim for perfection. I didn’t have to believe in myself all the time. I just had to believe I could contribute a little bit more…Over the years, this lesson has stuck with me whenever I feel overwhelmed.“

4 Suggest to write down three things did well every day. From the book: “gratitude is passive: it makes us feel thankful for what we receive. Contributions are active: they build our confidence by reminding us that we can make a difference”

5. Pay Attention To Joy From the book: “Rather than waiting until we’re happy to enjoy the small things, we should go and do the small things that make us happy. ” When you seize more and more moments of happiness, you find that they give you strength.

6 The rest of the book is about how to raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces.

The Happiness Hypothesis- Finding Modern Truth in Ancient Wisdom

  1. great idea of thinking self as a logical rider + an elephant (hard to control)
  2. suggest three ways to change/guide the “elephant”-self
    • meditation
    • cognitive therapy, like using music
    • medication
  3. social Happiness: understanding the deep workings of reciprocity can help to solve problems
  4. confirmation bias, thinking about our own fault, do not treat self too seriously
  5. happiness: = set point + condition + voluntary activities
    • set point and life condition are mostly hard to change factors
    • external conditions bad for happiness: noise / lack of control / shame / …
    • key to finding your own gratification is to know your own strengths
    • doing challenging and achieving things make you happy!!!
  6. great summary of insightful nuggets from URL
    • e.g., Pleasure comes more from making progress toward goals than from achieving them.
    • e.g., Haidt’s belief that the chief causes of evil are moral idealism and high self-esteem.
    • e.g., Wisdom is the ability to adapt, to shape the environment, and to know when to move to new environments.
    • e.g., The three levels of work are a job, a career, and a calling. The more autonomy at work, the more happiness.
    • e.g., Vital engagement in the world leads to love made visible, which is a sign of deep happiness. Work that does good for others and that leads to income and recognition will enhance happiness.
    • e.g., Eastern views and conservative politics focus on the collective, while Western views and liberal politics tend to focus on the individual.

Zero to One- Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future

critical-thinking career-guides my-favorite
  • URL
  • Inspiring
  • 0 to 1 vs. 1 to n

    1. Two different kinds of progress. Horizontal progress occurs from copying things that work. Vertical progress is achieved by doing something wholly new.
    1. The history of 1990, the dotcom mania made the current new culture: rather than investing in long-term plans, companies need to be lean, able to respond to changing circumstances.
    1. Monopoly where there is absolutely no competition. / Competitive businesses have tight profit margins, while monopolies can afford to think about things besides the bottom line. (Monopolies are better for profit.)
    1. “Innovative monopolies generate profits and create new products that benefit society. Competition limits innovation and profits.” / A unique opportunity that others don’t see?
    1. “Companies with technology that offer xx much better than the nearest competitor are well positioned to become monopolies.” / “To start small and monopolize. Once you have found your niche, scale up.” / “strategy is important; have to consider the end in order to succeed.”
    1. “Most of the western world was definite optimism from the 17th century until 1970s or so, optimism with a plan” / we live in indefinite optimistic, optimism without a plan; indefinite optimism isn’t sustainable.
    1. 80–20 rule, power law is the backbone of venture capitalism and many other things in human society / much better to focus on something with rapid growth or invest company that has rapid growth.
    1. Starting with the right co-founder, the right team / some amount of organization is critical. / Small boards / Avoid outsourcing. / Keep the CEO lean and hungry. / stock options are preferable to bonuses. / Beginnings are periods of flexibility and are characterized by openness , a culture that encourages innovation. /
    1. Keep your group tight. / Roles should be well-defined. / To draw talented employees tell them why your team is unique and important. want want really dedicated and loyal employees / founders shouldn’t take the power and the glory too seriously.
    1. need to have a strong distribution plan in order to succeed. / Excellent sales and distribution can create a monopoly even if the product itself isn’t much different / Will your market position be defensible 10 and 20 years into the future?

The Lean Startup- How Today's Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

critical-thinking career-guides management

title: Lean Startup- How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses

  • URL
  • a great read, powerful, logical
  • Providing a method to develop and manage startups. A systematic, scientific way for making fast decisions
  • Inspired by the lean manufacturing revolution developed at Toyota: / attending to the ideas and knowledge of the workers; / making smaller batch sizes; / just-in-time production / accelerating cycle times.

1: Start -Startups need management but of the sort that is tailored to their unique needs. -startups require a certain amount of failure as various products are tested and improved.

2: Define -when job is to head up an initiative for a new product or a whole new venture -“creates new products or services in an atmosphere of uncertainty.” -sustaining innovation and disruptive innovation

3: Learn -Stick with the plan, do quality work and stay on budget. -one key practice: to learn from mistakes. Study error systematically and critically — and learn. -have to be able to capture the consumer metrics, analyze them, learn from them, change the product in response and try again. -Validated learning is a system for demonstrating progress in a chaotic and changing environment. It’s quick and easy. It’s also backed up by empirical data culled from real customers. ==> launched a low-quality early prototype; charged customers from day one; and used low-volume revenue targets to drive accountability.

4: Experiment -Launching a new product should be viewed much like conducting a scientific experiment. .. carefully designed. Frame a hypothesis; test the prediction. -Two most important assumptions are the value hypothesis and the growth hypothesis. -Value hypothesis asks: Does the product deliver value to the customer? answer through experimentation. -Growth hypothesis to see how customers discover the new product. Test behavior to see if your assumptions are correct.

5: Leap -essence of the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop. -when a startup is starting up, there’s no data. There’s no way to evaluate performance, so you have to go with intuition. -important to get to the Build phase right away – the most basic version of the product that can kick start the Build-Measure-Learn loop.

6: Test -Get MVP out right away, even if isn’t wholly ready for prime time. The MVP lets you start the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop and test your hypotheses. -Gear the MVP toward the early adopters, not the mainstream. Early adopters: Being first is more important to them than quality, so make the MVP as simple as possible. -a strong temptation to put a ton of energy into creating a thing of quality…but until you know what the customer wants, .. -the most important thing is to keep trying.

7: Measure -Ultimately, to become a sustainable business. ..has to evaluate progress, -Disruptive industries call for innovation accounting. -1) use a MVP to establish baseline data; 2) improve and fine tune the product; and 3) if the product continues to improve, pivot and establish a new baseline, starting the process over again. -Do a cohort analysis. Breaking things down into cohort groups, and looking at the performance of different groups of customers, can help you understand if real growth is happening. Don’t be led astray by good looking metrics. -different versions of a product to different people can help refine what the customer does and does not want. -Metrics should be actionable, accessible and auditable:

8: Pivot (or Persevere) -“when to change, don’t throw everything out and start over; to build on what learned so far.” -“Pivot or persevere” regularly -“Zoom in: focusing on a small part of the previous strategy, or a single feature of the product -customer segment pivot / Platform pivot / Business architect pivot. / Value capture pivot. / Engine of growth pivot. / Channel pivot. / Technology pivot.

9: Batch -need to know who customers are, what customers want, how to listen to customers and how to plan to grow -Small batch sizes are better for startups in the face of rapid change.

10: Grow: ways to build sustainable growth -Sticky Engines of growth: rely on lots of repeat business. -Viral Engines of growth, powered by a feedback loop — the viral loop — and its productivity is measured with the viral coefficient. T -The Paid Engine of growth, e.g., advertising or sales team, key is to increase revenue from customers and/or reduce the cost of acquiring new customers.

11: Adapt -“Speed can compromise quality if you let it”. -“Early adopters are tolerant of minor flaws, but eventually want to go mainstream and that market is intolerant of flaws.” -“Five Whys.” to ask “why?” five times, and with each iteration, you burrow deeper into the root of a problem. “behind every technical problem is a human problem.” / Focus on new problems as they come up.

12: Innovate / certain structures and organizational qualities facilitate innovation. / scarce, but secure, resources / do need steady income and the confidence that comes with it. / Startup teams should also be autonomous. / have to run many experiments / teams should include people from every functional and relevant area / innovators should have a stake in the outcome/ to create a sandbox where innovators can try out new ideas.

13: Epilogue / “ need to experiment to verify …working on the right thing. “

The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future

  • URL
  • Great Summary @ URL
  • “Catch a man a fish, and you can sell it to him. Teach a man to fish – and you ruin a wonderful business opportunity” - Karl Marx
  • Listen – figure out the pain of your customer so you can deliver a unique cure in a profitable way.
  • Treating our customers in marketing efforts like real people: “customer profiling”: Interests, Passions, Skills, Beliefs, Values
  • The deeper you engage and know your ideal customer; the easier it is for them to buy from you.
  • “The not-so-secret to improving income in an existing business is through tweaks; small changes that create a big impact. Keeing tweaking/ experimenting: the power of tweaking things, measuring them; and then picking the best as you keep tweaking some more is incredible, especially when your customer numbers go up.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

science my-favorite management
  • BookURL

  • a lengthy, self-conscious and a challenging read but highly recommended

  • author: 2012 winner of the National Academies Communication Award

  • Three main parts: cognitive biases, prospect theory, the author’s later work on happiness

  • main idea: Kahneman describes two different ways the brain forms thoughts:
    • System 1: Fast, automatic, frequent, emotional, stereotypic, unconscious.
    • System 2: Slow, effortful, infrequent, logical, calculating, conscious.
    • the differences between these two thought systems: coherence, attention, laziness, association, jumping to conclusions, WYSIATI (What you see is all there is), and how one forms judgments. The System 1 vs. System 2 debate dives into the reasoning or lack thereof for human decision making, with big implications for many areas.
  • 1 cognitive biases
    • explanations for why humans struggle to think statistically.
    • The “anchoring effect” names our tendency to be influenced by irrelevant numbers. Shown higher/lower numbers, experimental subjects gave higher/lower responses
    • The availability heuristic is a mental shortcut that occurs when people make judgments about the probability of events on the basis of how easy it is to think of examples.
    • Substitution: System 1 is prone to substituting a difficult question with a simpler one.
    • Overconfidence: Kahneman writes of a “pervasive optimistic bias”, which “may well be the most significant of the cognitive biases.” This bias generates the illusion of control, that we have substantial control of our lives.
    • Framing effect (psychology)
    • Sunk cost fallacy: to avoid feelings of regret or loss

    • more about cognitive bias:
      • One great figure summarizing human’s cognitive bias. Image Credit from URL drawing
      • The author of above post about cognitive-bias-cheat-sheet grouped 175 biases into vague categories (decision-making biases, social biases, memory errors, etc). The author explains roughly the four types of cognitive biases as follows:
Group Index About Positive About Negative Example Biases
1 Too much information, so we aggressively filter. We don’t see everything. Some of the information we filter out is actually useful and important. e.g., Availability heuristic, Attentional bias, Illusory truth effect, Mere exposure effect, Context effect, Cue-dependent forgetting, Mood-congruent memory bias, Frequency illusion, Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, Empathy gap; Bizarreness effect, Humor effect, Von Restorff effect, Negativity bias, Publication bias, Omission bias; Anchoring, Contrast effect, Focusing effect, Framing effect, Weber–Fechner law, Distinction bias; Confirmation bias, Congruence bias, Post-purchase rationalization, Choice-supportive bias, Selective perception, … Bias blind spot, …
2 Lack of meaning is confusing, so we fill in the gaps. Signal becomes a story. We sometimes imagine details that were filled in by our assumptions, and construct meaning and stories that aren’t really there. e.g., Halo effect, In-group bias, Out-group homogeneity bias, Cross-race effect, Stereotyping, Just-world hypothesis, Argument from fallacy, Authority bias, Automation bias, Curse of knowledge, Illusion of transparency, Spotlight effect, Streetlight effect, Illusion of external agency, Illusion of asymmetric insight, Extrinsic incentive error, Impact bias, Pessimism bias, Planning fallacy, Time-saving bias, Pro-innovation bias, Projection bias, Restraint bias, Self-consistency bias…
3 Need to act fast otherwise we lose our chance, so we jump to conclusions. Stories become decisions. Some of the quick reactions and decisions we jump to are unfair, self-serving, and counter-productive. e.g., Sunk cost fallacy, Irrational escalation, System justification, Reactance, Reverse psychology, Decoy effect, Social comparison bias, Ambiguity bias, Information bias, Belief bias, Rhyme as reason effect, …
4 To keep doing all above as efficiently as possible, our brains need to remember the most important and useful bits of new information and inform the other systems so they can adapt and improve over time, but no more than that. Our memory reinforces errors. Some of the stuff we remember for later just makes all of the above systems more biased, and more damaging to our thought processes. e.g, Peak–end rule, Misattribution of memory, Source confusion, Cryptomnesia, False memory, Suggestibility, Spacing effect, Implicit associations, Implicit stereotypes, Stereotypical bias, Prejudice, Fading affect bias, Picture superiority effect, Levels of processing effect, Testing effect, Absent-mindedness, Next-in-line effect, Tip of the tongue phenomenon, Google effect, Self-relevance effect, …
  • 2 prospect theory
    • The author discusses the tendency for problems to be addressed in isolation and how, when other reference points are considered, the choice of that reference point (called a frame) has a disproportionate impact on the outcome. This section also offers advice on how some of the shortcomings of System 1 thinking can be avoided.
    • Kahneman developed prospect theory, the basis for his Nobel prize, to account for experimental errors he noticed in Daniel Bernoulli’s traditional utility theory (not take into account cognitive biases).
    • The theory describes the decision processes in two stages:
    • a. During an initial phase termed editing, outcomes of a decision are ordered according to a certain heuristic. In particular, people decide which outcomes they consider equivalent, set a reference point and then consider lesser outcomes as losses and greater ones as gains. The editing phase aims to alleviate any framing effects.[3] It also aims to resolve isolation effects stemming from individuals’ propensity to often isolate consecutive probabilities instead of treating them together. The editing process can be viewed as composed of coding, combination, segregation, cancellation, simplification and detection of dominance.
    • b. In the subsequent evaluation phase, people behave as if they would compute a value (utility), based on the potential outcomes and their respective probabilities, and then choose the alternative having a higher utility.
  • 3 the author’s later work on happiness
    • “experienced-self”: an alternative measure that assessed pleasure or pain sampled from moment to moment, and then summed over time.
    • “remembered-self” that the polls normally attempted to measure. The author’s significant discovery was that the remembering self does not care about the duration of a pleasant or unpleasant experience. Instead, it retrospectively rates an experience by the peak (or valley) of the experience, and by the way it ends. The remembering self dominated the patient’s ultimate conclusion.

The Power of Habit- Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business

self-develop my-favorite critical-thinking
  • URL
  • a very powerful book to help you understand human behaviors.
  • Habit = cue + reward + craving
  • change of habit <=
    1. a replacement habit process that follows similar cue+reward
    2. the replaced process can create a sense of craving as well
    3. true belief

The 7 Habits of Effective People

self-develop my-favorite
  • URL
  • practical, Effective and easy to follow
    • Be Proactive
    • Begin with the End in Mind
    • Put First Things First
    • Think Win-Win
    • Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood
    • Combine the strengths of people through positive teamwork
    • Balance and renew energy and health for a long-term development


  • URL
  • practical, concrete
  1. Different types of goals
    • getting better goal works if you want to enjoy some tasks
    • what goal for difficult tasks
    • why goal for simple tasks
    • when speed matters, use promotion goal
    • when you want to do something flawlessly, use prevention goal
  2. prevention type vs promotion type

  3. three basic needs: relatedness / competence / autonomy (freedom of choices)
    • prevention mind — too much confidence not good
    • prevention goal to cure procrastination
    • whenever goal controlled by others, will suffers
    • when need creativity, promotion and self-chosen
    • when resist temptation, prevention goal / why goal
  4. to help others accomplish goals:
    • give choices -> joint decision
    • open written contracts -> clearly stating why value / give positive trigger cues , e.g. Positive words or poster of role models ,
    • framing the goals, promotion by listing a list of achievements OR preventing by providing a list of potential losses
    • framing the evaluations , e.g., be better goal /
  5. how to achieve goals:
    • constant self-monitoring
    • if-then derailed plans
    • self-control muscle need exercises !!!
    • not two goals at a time
    • maintain sugar level -protein
    • do not even start bad temptation
    • not too confident, aware difficulty
    • associating with rewards /
  6. how to praise :
    • focus on detailed facts/ on efforts on strategy, not on ability
    • do not compare / praise to keep antonym / praise using goals that are possible to achieve /
  7. habit: cue (when,where,who,action) / process / reward

So Good They Cannot Ignore You- Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love

career-guides my-favorite
  • URL
  • Intuitive, light-read, Interesting
  1. Only following Passions is a bad idea
  2. The idea of Career capital - rare and valuable skills need deliberate practice
  3. A sense of control is important
  4. Do remarkable things like painting purple cow


career-guides self-develop
  • URL
  • powerful, Effective
  1. a sense of in control, making choices improves motivation
  2. Team safety/ culture, making it possible for all team members possible to participate and make suggestions
  3. Mental models to increase focus/ Focus by envision/ imagination
  4. Stretching long-term goals + smart achievable goals ; Use both short and long term goals;
  5. Use forecasting/probability by considering outcomes/rewards to improve decision making
  6. Creativity: thinking carefully of own past, be humble to idea crisis, add diversity/ disturbance; improve creativity by mixing things up;
  7. absorbing data through hard action / do something hard on the knowledge (because it makes you learn more); If you want to learn better, use the information and make it hard to absorb (it will stick better).
  8. Use engineering design framework for any problem/decision making - think forward of possibilities


my-favorite self-develop
  • URL
  • A great read, eye opener
  • Growth mindset vs. fixed mindset

Lean In- Women, Work, and the Will to Lead

career-guides my-favorite self-develop
  • URL
  • Inspiring, a life-changing book

  • The author’s comments: we can’t just mandate and legislate our way to gender equality. We have to substantially change our attitudes and behavior – both men and women!
  1. Treat your career like a jungle gym.
    • there are so many ways to get to your destination!
    • plan both for the short and long term.
    • long-term dream can help you decide what kind of work to take on, even if it’s not entirely clear
    • short-term (e.g., 18-month) goals, make you have a solid sense of direction, without too much pressure.
  2. Learn to strike a balance between ambition and appeal.
    • “women to cultivate the right public image to advance their career is like walking on a tightrope”.
    • “can’t be too ambitious, because others will just perceive you as rude, which often happens when women are assertive and go for what they want.”
    • ” If too nice though, people will not take you seriously,”
    • Be nice and accommodating, but draw clear lines when you notice others approach them.
    • “also helps to generalize and argue on behalf of a group, rather than yourself, as well as quoting other leaders and industry statistics and facts.”
  3. Before you become a mother, lean into your career as much as you can.
    • “The one thing you should avoid at all costs is giving up before you have to, just because society tells you too.”
    • “go full throttle for as long as you can, take opportunities, give it a shot …”
  4. Some concerning numbers / good tips from the book, e.g.
    • percentage of women works full-time 20 years after graduating college
    • self-doubting syndrome damages women’s confidence more than men’s
    • to get a mentor instead of asking for one
    • encourage dad’s doing their job in the house
    • Why guilt management is more important for women than time management

Grit- The Power of Passion and Perseverance

career-guides self-develop my-favorite
  • URL

  • Rough content:
    1. Goal hierarchy
    2. When being compared with the construct of persistence, grit adds a component of passion for the goal
    3. With hope / with purpose/ with calling
    4. Growth mindset
  • Related to the five factor model (FFM) / a model based on common language descriptors of personality
  • The five factors have been defined as , often listed under the acronyms OCEAN or CANOE.
    1. Openness to experience: (inventive/curious vs. consistent/cautious).
    2. Conscientiousness: (efficient/organized vs. easy-going/careless).
    3. Extraversion: (outgoing/energetic vs. solitary/reserved).
    4. Agreeableness: (friendly/compassionate vs. analytical/detached).
    5. Neuroticism: (sensitive/nervous vs. secure/confident).

Crucial Conversations- Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High

management self-develop
  • title: Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High
  • URL
  • Powerful, A must-read, Interesting

  • The fuzzier the expectations, the higher the likelihood of disappointment. When a crucial conversation ends, there must be clear expectations and guidance moving forward. It cannot be fuzzy or gray. Otherwise, a conversation has not ended, it is simply on pause.
  1. Safety First “important that everyone involved in the conversation feels safe. Look for signs of fear and bring the conversation back to safety.””

  2. Let the Facts Lead “stick to the facts during a crucial conversation. …Get back to the facts. Abandon your absolute certainty by distinguishing between hard facts and your invented story.”

  3. Look Within “ key is having an open dialogue, and to do so you must start with yourself. …There is not much you can do to change others, but there is much you can do to change yourself.”

  4. Find Mutual Purpose “ necessary to find mutual purpose. This means being genuine when looking for a common goal and honestly working to achieve the shared goal instead of manipulating or leading toward a personally desired outcome… Mutual purpose means that others perceive that you’re working toward a common outcome in a conversation, that you care about their goals, interests, and values. And vice versa.”

The more you care about an issue, the less likely you are to be on your best behavior. As a leader or a person in a relationship, you must learn this well.

  1. Curiosity is Key “common for people to either shut down and walk away or react with anger. … important to become curious. Ask questions and find out why they are feeling the way they are. Be sincere when trying to get to the source of their anger or denial.

  2. Watch Your Words “…have to approach crucial matters with purpose. Turning to sarcasm, humor, or negative body language instead of engaging in dialogue is not productive.”

Speaking in absolute and overstated terms does not increase your influence, it decreases it.

  1. What You Say vs. What They Hear “ often a gap exists between what we say, what we mean, and how someone else perceives what was said. “

“blend confidence with humility. Be confident enough to state opinions and facts, but also be open to accept a challenge.”

  1. My Way or The Highway “ always many options in dialogue… Watch to see if you’re telling yourself that you must choose between peace and honesty, between winning and losing, and so on. Break free of these Fool’s Choices by searching for the and.”

  2. Listen Up! Ask, mirror, paraphrase, and prime. In conversations, if we give the impression that something has been decided or that we aren’t open to suggestions, we will kill discussion.

  3. Self-Assess for Success becoming a vigilant self-monitor is important to dialogue. Make sure to frequently step out of the discussion and evaluate your own actions and reactions. Then evaluate how others are reacting to you and adjust your behavior to return to the common goal.

Useful Books about Family


The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts

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  • By Dr. Gary Chapman,
  • Five love languages: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

The 7 Habits of Effective Family

  • URL
  • Useful, practical, and Effective
  • Genius concept of “Emotional Bank”:
    1. the quality of the relationship to have with others. Like a finanical bank account in that you can make “deposits,” by proactively doing things that build trust in the relationship, or you can make “withdrawals,” by reactively doing things that decrease the level of trust.
    2. And at any given time the balance of trust in the account determines how well you can communicate and solve porblems with another person.
    3. Some “deposits” you can make in your own family–that may be helpful; e.g.: Being Kind, Apologizing, Being Loyal to Those Not Present, Making and Keeping Promises, and Forgiving.
  • Habit 1: Be Proactive – “to act based on principles and values rather than reacting based on emotion or circumstance.”
  • Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind – the cultivation of the first habit is the building of a family mission statement. A family mission statement explains the principles and proriority the family.
  • Habit 3: Put First Things First – putting family first in all things. About work-life balance, day care, full-time working mothers, etc; fact that no one else can raise your children as the parent can.
    • An effective tip: weekly family time, a time to plan, to teach, to solve problems, and to have fun.
    • one-on-one time with your spouse and each member of your family as part of the relationship building .
  • Habit 4: Think “Win-Win” – next three habits are explained by the author as the root, the route, and the fruit. The mutual benefit when both people are satisfied.
  • Habit 5: Seek First to Understand - Then to Be Understood. This is the method for deep interaction with understanding and empathy with another person.
  • Habit 6: Synergize – Compromise becomes a way of daily living and loving.
  • Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw – the author emphasizes the need for every family to renew itself in the four key areas of life: physical, social, mental, and spiritual.

How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success

  • URL

  • Mentoring has a close connection to raising up children. This book which gave me many insights about mentoring.

  1. When should stop overparenting:
    • “let your kids play, let them make the rules, resolve the conflicts, best is if they do it spontaneously on their own (rather than scheduled by parents)”
    • help kids develop life skills
    • let kids roam free out of your supervision
    • teach kids critical thinking / think for themselves
    • prepare kids for hard work, resilience
    • help kids choose school best for them, not necessarily the Best school.
    • “Don’t do for your kid what your kid can already do or can almost do.”
    • “choose toys that allow free play (the more multipurpose/generic the better: blocks and LEGO rather than action figures)”
    • give distance between you and kids
    • let kids take appropriate risks and deal with consequences
  2. Life skills:(longer list in book)
    - by 3 years, kid should:
    - by 5 years, kid should
    - by 7 years, kid can
    - by 9 years, kid should:
    - by 13 years, kid should:
    - by 18, kid should:
  3. teach kids to think for themselves:
    • elementary: ask “why” questions, other reasons/possibilities?
    • middle: ask what they enjoyed about school (and why), what not and why?
    • high: what did you enjoy? why? what makes that interesting ?
    • discuss controversial topic with kids,
    • help them speak up for themselves with strangers/authority.
  4. prepare for hard work / work ethic:
    • start chores at 3 years old / toddlers: help with chores: dusting, laundry help / elementary: bring in groceries, clean up spills / middle schoolers: wash car, shovel snow, rake leaves, pick up stuff from the store / high schoolder: clean kitchen, help organize house,
    • expect kids’ help, straightforward instructions, give thanks and feedback, make it routine
  5. developing purpose:
    • let long-term goals and purpose become motivator (not parent, not grades, not getting into college)
    • let kids make choices, take risks and make mistakes
    • help kids learn from experience, combat perfectionism
    • notice good and comment on it
    • authentic feedback and criticism (criticize action, don’t place blame)
    • be good model yourself
  6. some things child should experience by 18 (longer list in book)

  7. look at schools other than “the top”
    • be realistic about the odds
    • princeton review (student opinion)
    • The Alumni Factor (which small colleges allow healthy development, good financial prospects as grads)
    • let the kid decide
  8. shifts in childhood in the past 20-30 years:
    • media spread fear of abduction/injury/death
    • falling behind competition (e.g. from other countries)
    • self-esteem movement (e.g. everyone gets a trophy for existing)
    • emergence of playdates (vs child-initiated, spontaneous free play)
  9. Symptoms of the social shifts on college kids, graduate students, even employed adults:
    • increasingly dependent on parents to advocate , help them make decisions, deal with uncertainty, provide motivation and path
    • without purpose
    • unable to cope with and overcome adversity of any kind
    • feel entitled to advancement, promotion, success without really trying
    • lacking basic life skills (e.g. out of bed in time)
    • mentally weak: college students stressed out, feel no control, can’t handle failure (or success), unable to deviate from parents’ chosen path
    • parents stressed out too!
  10. some relevant “bad” going-on phenomena:
    • fear of abduction
    • allowing children independence, autonomy, going out alone is now criminalized at times
    • trying to create opportunities, give advantage to kids
    • some “parents” doing all the life skills work for kids, fixing their problems, dealing with other adults on behalf of adult children
    • parents doing homework
    • “college admissions is broken”? / estimated 1/4 of college applicants have used a private tutor or college consultant
    • many parents “game” ADHD diagnosis to get an unfair advantage for a non-affected student / ADHD recreational drug use off prescription (particularly in East Coast and boarding schools)

Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood


  • URL
  • A wonderful children book. Touching, moving and encouraging.


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  • Touching, powerful, and a must-read for the first-generation immigrant Family

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

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  • Funny, powerful and an eye opener.


Useful Books about Finance


The millionaire next door

  • URL
  • an interesting overview of some good financial habits:
    • make more AND spend less
    • live below your means and prioritize financial security over social standing;
    • investing the rest, over time you’re going to be in great shape.
    • interesting observation: Parents giving money to their children develops and reinforces poor financial habits.

five tips for people saving for retirement.

  1. Start saving now
  2. Invest in low-cost index funds
  3. Ask if your adviser is a fiduciary
  4. Gradually shift investments from stocks to bonds as getting older
  5. Keep your fees under 1%

Thinking and grow rich

  • URL
  • Based on researching successful folks, the author summarize “laws” to success:
    • step1: Desire, Faith, Autosuggestion
    • step2: Specialized Knowledge, Imagination
    • step3: Organized Planning, Know very clearly where you want to go.
    • Decision
    • step 4: Persistence
    • Tips: Power of the Master Mind process
    • Tips: The Mystery of Sex Transmutation, the Subconscious Mind, the Brain and the Sixth Sense

Rich dad poor dad

  • URL

  • A few key tips /
  • 1) Assets vs. liabilities: assets put money in your pocket even when on vacation. Liabilities take money out of your pocket, e.g., your house is a liability
  • 2) Wealthy buy assets first, and then let assets buy luxuries from the surplus cash flow.
  • 3) Wealthy people continuously increase their assets by reinvesting their surplus cash flow in more assets.
  • 4) Three primary asset classes: Real Estate, Businesses, and Paper assets (stocks bonds notes, etc)
  • 5) Cash Flow is more important than Net Worth. Net Worth is to use it you have to spend it, then it is gone. Cash Flow is like power that can be constantly replenished.
  • 6) The rich don’t work for money, they work for assets.
  • 7) learn how to use the tax laws. Passive income is taxed less, and it’s also a result of cash-flowing assets, not selling your time as an employee.; the majority percent of the tax law is written to help you reduce your taxes, therefore understand how to use it!

Other Useful Books


The Middle Passage: From Misery to Meaning in Midlife” by James Hollis

  • URL

  • “In Projection and Re-Collection in Jungian Psychology, Marie-Louise von Franz notes five stages of projection. First, the person is convinced that the inner (that is, unconscious) experience is truly outer. Second, there is a gradual recognition of the discrepancy between the reality and the projected image (one falls out of love, for example). Third, one is required to acknowledge this discrepancy. Fourth, one is driven to conclude one was somehow in error originally. And, fifth, one must search for the origin of the projected energy within oneself. This last stage, the search for the meaning of the projection, always involves a search for a greater knowledge of oneself.”

  • “In asking more of ourselves, we forego disappointment in others for not delivering what they could never deliver; we acknowledge that their primary responsibility, just like ours, is their own journey. We become increasingly aware of the finitude of the body and fragility of all things human. If our courage holds, the Middle Passage brings us back to life after we have been cut off from it. Strangely, for all the anxiety, there is an awesome sense of freedom as well. We may even come to realize that it does not matter what happens outside as long as we have a vital connection with ourselves. The new-found relationship with the inner life more than balances losses in the outer. The richness of the soul’s journey proves at least as rewarding as worldly achievement.”

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos: Jordan B. Peterson .

  • URL
  • Outline of the book: as “a less dense and more practical version of Maps of Meaning.”
  • Stand up straight with your shoulders back
  • Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping
  • Make friends with people who want the best for you
  • Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today
  • Do not let your children do anything that makes you dislike them
  • Set your house in perfect order before you criticize the world
  • Pursue what is meaningful (not what is expedient)
  • Tell the truth – or, at least, don’t lie
  • Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t
  • Be precise in your speech
  • Do not bother children when they are skateboarding
  • Pet a cat when you encounter one on the street

The Road Less Traveled, Timeless Edition: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth

  • URL

  • the opening lines: “Life is difficult. This is a great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult–once we truly understand and accept it–then life is no longer difficult. Because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters.”

  • then the books starts with the four tools/techniques of handling suffering, the discipline - to experience the pain of problems constructively.

  1. delayed gratification,
  2. acceptance of responsibility,
  3. dedication to truth, and
  4. balancing.

The books pointed out that the life problems cannot be avoided in life. To experience happiness, they need to be identified and solved: “Problems do not go away. They must be worked through or else they remain, forever a barrier to the growth and development of the spirit.”

Intentional Living: Choosing a Life That Matters

  • By John C. Maxwell

  • URL

  • Every major accomplishment that’s ever been achieved started with a first step. Sometimes it’s hard; other times it’s easy, but no matter what, you have to do it if you want to get anywhere in life.

  • powerful ideas and actions you can take to get some momentum on your mission like; start small but believe big, search until you find your why, add value to others from your sweet spot, connect with like-minded people, and more.

  • good review from amazon

    1. To Add Value to Others I Must First Value Myself
    2. To Add Value to Others I Must Value Others
    3. To Add Value to Others I Must Value What Others Have Done for Me
    4. To Add Value to Others I Must Know and Relate to What Others Value
    5. To Add Value to Others I Must Make Myself More Valuable

48 Laws of Power

  • URL
  • old style

How to Win Friends and Influence People

my-favorite management self-develop
  • URL
  • Eye opener, a life-changing book
  • Fundamental Techniques in Handling People
    • Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain.
    • Give honest and sincere appreciation.
    • Arouse in the other person true interests.
  • Six Ways to Make People Like You
    1. Become genuinely interested in people.
    2. Smile.
    3. Remember that a person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
    4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
    5. Talk in terms of the other person’s interest.
    6. Make the other person feel important and do it sincerely.
  • Twelve Ways to Win People to Your Way of Thinking
    1. The only way to get the best of an argument is to avoid it.
    2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions. Never say “You’re Wrong.”
    3. If you’re wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
    4. Begin in a friendly way.
    5. Start with questions to which the other person will answer yes.
    6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking.
    7. Let the other person feel the idea is his or hers.
    8. Try honestly to see things from the other person’s point of view.
    9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
    10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
    11. Dramatize your ideas.
    12. Throw down a challenge.
  • Be a Leader: How to Change People Without Giving Offense or Arousing Resentment
    1. Begin with praise and honest appreciation.
    2. Call attention to people’s mistakes indirectly.
    3. Talk about your own mistakes before criticizing the other person.
    4. Ask questions instead of giving direct orders.
    5. Let the other person save face.
    6. Praise every improvement.
    7. Give the other person a fine reputation to live up to.
    8. Use encouragement. Make the fault seem easy to correct.
    9. Make the other person happy about doing what you suggest.
  • Seven Rules For Making Your Home Life Happier
    1. This section was included in the original 1936 edition but omitted from the 1981 edition.
    2. Don’t nag.
    3. Don’t try to win over your partner.
    4. Don’t criticize.
    5. Give honest appreciation.
    6. Pay little attentions.
    7. Be courteous.
    8. Read a good book on the sexual side of marriage.