One Sentence Summary:
- Exceptionally motivating and inspiring guidebook to put your life into perspective through the lives of countless high-performers whilst even providing you with ways to get closer to the folks you connected with most.
Below are notes I've taken while reading the book. This is not a comprehensive summary but thoughts and ideas I've found valuable. I recommend reading these notes after you've read the book first to compare our thoughts. I can't stop you if you don't want to so I guess you can use the below as an idea of what you may get out of the book yourself if you read it... though if it ain't clear it's cause you didn't listen to me.
"Set up your life so that it is as comfortable and happy as possible - and so that it accommodates your creative work" -> Generate multiple streams of income that can fund your creative endeavour. The benefit of this approach is that your creative venture can always be a source of pleasure for you may not need to rely on it's need for financial gain. Though I think this is the obvious route for many and it may not be as effective for enjoyment of life in setting up the comfortable environment.
"Expect it will take courage to follow your bliss, and expect it will suck at times. Expect you're going to have to take risks for it. Expect others won't necessarily understand. And also expect that what gives you bliss today may not be what does tomorrow. Just follow it all over again" -> You will constantly change. So remain flexible and always look to reinvent yourself
Raise prices for your time. Time is the only thing we can't get back.
There is no 7. Rank 1 - 10 but no 7 is allowed. It's a cop out. Use this to help you make decisions on whether to do something or not. Like the "Hell yeah or no" meter.
"In order to have you must do, and in order to do you must be" -> See the things you desire as being completed, finished and real now. Touches upon the power of affirmations and visualizations
"Fail on my own terms" -> You are the decider. Make yourself the single point of failure. Focus on things you can influence. Put yourself in a position of leverage. You will choose what your result will be.
Ignore advice on FOMO. There is no exclusivity. You have everything you need to do what you desire. Don't be constrained by the rules of others.
Wisdom > Intelligence. One can be fostered while the other is innate.
"No one can do things exactly the way you do"
"Busy is a decision"
Courage > Confidence. You gain confidence after succeeding multiple times.
"If your are looking for work-life balance in your 20s or 30s, you are likely in the wrong career. If you are doing something you love, you don't want work-life balance." -> There is no balance. You need full integration and you can ONLY integrate things you love.
"win a great job" -> It's a competitive sport. Treat it as such.
"Desire is a driver, a motivator. ~ But pick a big one and pick it carefully. Drop the small ones" -> Desire continues to come up as a theme. I always had a negative feel for it.. like yearning. But I'm changing my mind around it. It's good to desire.
"The means of learning are abundant - it's the desire to learn that's scarce." -> Read on the things you desire!
"Do everything you were going to do, but with less angst, less suffering, less emotion. Everything takes time."
"The only way to truly learn something is by doing it. Yes, listen to guidance. But don't wait" -> don't push things. Or else you'll never do it.
Don't travel to places you wouldn't go on vacation. Wasted time.
"memento mori - remember that you have to die"
"Self-sufficiency is another word for poverty" -> Build a team around you!
"We traded the fun of having fancy lifestyles in our 20s for being far more free people at the age of 30" -> Started a test prep business in early 20s w/ cofounder. Grew it and invested back into business instead of paying self high salaries. Investment into employees helped scale the business for you are buying time. At 30 the company had 10x the revenue with 20 employees.
"You kind of group all careers into two major buckets - careers where you're the CEO and careers where you work for a CEO. ~ neither of these paths is inherently better or worse than the other - it just depends on your personality, your goals, and what you want from a lifestyle. ~ most of us leave college pretty torn about the kind of work we want to do the most. For those people, I'd recommend thinking hard about the CEO question and experimenting in your 20s to see what it feels like on both sides" -> Go on a sabbatical to start a business and after 4-5 months you'll realize what suits you more.
Most adults are at a "socialized" stage in their development where they follow the assumptions given to them by society. This makes it all the more affirmative that doing something different will be construed as weird and is definitely the right course of action.
Any startup with co-founders still has a single "source": the person who took the first risk on a new initiative. That individual source has the gestalt for the original idea and the intuitive knowledge to make the right next steps. Other co-founders tend to be the source of the friend, hired to ease the source's anxieties. Focus on who the source is. If the company is transitioning leaders, better for the source to leave the company outright.
The only source of stability in any hedge fund is whether the mindset of the team leader (portfolio manager) is resilient or even antifragile. He gets divorced or depressed? Product changes.
Discover your zone of genius whilst apprenticing under someone. Then swim towards chaos (i.e. freedom) and try to craft your own language. But know what you can always swim back and forth from the lanes of apprenticeship and freedom.
Mike Maples Jr. - Founder @ Floodgate Ventures
"Sometimes... not getting what you want opens the door to getting what you need" -> He didn't get a VC partner offer from firms so he started his own. Didn't get into a frat, so started his own. Not getting what you want can build grit and it can help you build what you actually need.
Everyone told him moving to California to be a VC was stupid. Seems the more people of social norms think it's stupid, the more it should be done.
"It will be tempting to live a life that impresses others. But this is the wrong path. The right path is to know that life is short, every day is a gift, and you have certain gifts" -> Made me realize a purpose of inspiring people has an element I cannot control (i.e. I can't make them be inspired). But digging into the roots is to inspire them to break social stigma and conventional thoughts holding them back. So, the purpose better served would be to teach people to do that immediately. To challenge themselves and society.
No point following exactly what someone else did. They've done it already. It's old news. Use the thought process they had and the actions they took as guidance for your own unique path.
Dustin Moskovitz - Co-founder of Facebook + Asana
We can't control the fact that bad things are going to happen, but it's how we react to them that really matters, and that we can lean to control
"Whenever there is any doubt, there is no doubt" -> David Mamet; Trust your gut. Just be fucking decisive.
"Look for a partner you'll try to impress daily, and one who will try to impress you" -> for in business and life.
"Take risks, now."
"If you are your sole responsibility, this is the time to step outside of your comfort zone, to start or join an exciting, risky project; to drop everything else at the chance to be part of something really great. So waht if it fails? You can always go back to school, take that job at an investment bank or a consulting company, move into a nicer apartment. Understand your fear and realize the alternative is not so difficult.
Focus on finding your strengths and doubling down on the intersection of passion and strength. Forget accumulating a bunch of skills you don't care for.
"What we think of as endpoints to a goal are really just forks in a road that is endlessly forking" -> Ask yourself at the outcome if you did your best given who you were and what you had. Then ask what you can learn from the outcome to be better. It's a continuous journey from each goal you hit.
"Note that criticism is not failure. If you're not being criticized, you're probably not doing anything exceptional"
A positive community will be material to your growth
How to say no: "If you are saying yes out of guilt or fear then it is a no"
"Fuck you, pay me" -> know your worth
"Anything that you can point to on your LinkedIn that screams, "Hey I'm passionate about this!" works." -> Act first! Work on initiatives and projects to areas you care about and prove it to the world. Don't wait for some fucking job.
Do something that is easy for you while letting you me creative. Basically, it is easy for you + hard for others = Not hard for you to beat others
"Hard choices, easy life. Easy choices, hard life." -> a practice for making the right choice for yourself.
He has a tradition of doing a lunch date with his wife at noon where they go to the same place. A routine to get back to the simple parts of life. Love. 42 years of marriage so it probably works.
You train for power. Not endurance. Amazing story of how one trainer complained about how he saw no relevance for weightlifting because he trains marathon runners and firefighters and they both need endurance to run marathons or 40 flights of stairs. Then Jerzy asked him if you put firefigthing gear on a marathon runner vs. an olympic lifter who would fly up 40 flights of stairs faster. Power is the fundamental training required.
"The moment I start one of these three behaviours - blaming, complaining, or gossiping - I become negative. It is a sign of avoiding what I am responsible for: my life"
"We are drawn to tasks where we can receive validation through results, but I've learned that true fulfillment comes from love of the process. Look for something where you love the process, and the results will follow." -> Powerlifting. Learning about investing. Learning about self-development
"I think I perform better when I focus less on being and more on being honest" -> True authenticity goes a long way.
If you are thinking about any career, ask yourself why. Personally think you just follow up the first why with 4 more "whys" to flush out to the first principles.
He references being "interdisciplinary" is an understated good recommendation. I agree. You specialize if you want to be an employee. Specialized skills are replaceable and you are only valuable to the person that hires you. The person that hired you is the interdisciplinary individual who is outsourcing things they don't have time for.
"Relationships - even brief ones - are doorways to opportunity" -> That is how you create your own luck.
Having more information can actually hurt your investment results for it is a counterintuitive field. For if more information was a true advantage then the largest funds with the money to buy all information should win. I believe a slim edge exists in how you interpret the information. Yet, I think it is a slim edge that is not sustainable and still prone to error
"~ financial trends involve human behaviour and human beliefs on a global scale, the most powerful trends won't make sense until it becomes too late to profit from them. By the time investors formulate an understanding that gives them the confidence to invest, the investment opportunity has already passed. So when I hear sophisticated investors or financial commentators say, for example, that it makes no sense how energy stocks keep going lower, I know that energy stocks have a lot lower to go." -> At this point of a 10 year bull market, people are all saying a crash is overdue since a recession happens on average every 5 years... yes, it is on average every 5 years. But that does not mean a crash must come. Just insinuations on facts. It's these guys who forecast crashes who will eventually prop up the market as they enter into the market after being wrong so often.
Advice to ignore: Follow the beaten path. Avoid risk. Play it safe. Wear a suit.
"Do what you love, do it in a way that you love, and pour your hear and soul into every moment of it"
Ann Miura-Ko (VC @ Floodgate, micro-cap VC)
She has a PhD in math modeling but recommends people to fill heads with humanities in school. Because all the things she learned are outdated. Fundamental principles of humanities like philosophy, history and psychology are still applicable today.
"While people often say there's not enough time, remember that you'll always have less attention than time. Full attention is where you do your best work, and everyone's going to be looking to rip it from you. Protect and preserve it." -> Hence an activity that puts you into flow state while making you want to make time for it is something that should be cherished and focused on.
"Start small, stay as small as possible for as long as possible. Grow in control, not out of control"
"If you bootstrap, you'll be forced to get good at making money. If there's one habit/skill an entrepreneur should practice, it's making money. So force yourself into it"
"Get great at presenting yourself with words, and words alone, and you'll be far head of most."
Macro patience + micro speed. Don't worry about getting that exact thing in 10 years. Focus on finishing shit in the week! Quite a wake-up call for someone like me who loves planning. Un-executed plans are shit.
"I'm not worried about my years, because I'm squeezing the fuck out of my seconds, let alone my days."
Per Christensen's The Innovator's Dilemma, it was apparent that breakthrough technologies succeed by creating a new market. A category of its own. It only then LATER disrupts the existing category because it is no longer relevant. It's about creating a new category for yourself. Not disrupting existing ones with incumbents. Small niche categories let you grow big because no big players wants to play there.
"It isn't technology that eliminates jobs, it is the shortsighted business decisions that use technology simply to cut costs and fatten corporate profits. The point of technology isn't to make money. It's to solve problems." -> A man with a hammer sees every problem as a nail.
"Learning to follow your nose, pulling on threads of curiosity or interest, may make you places that being driven will never lead you to." -> Trust your judgment and intuition. Use facts as references. Listen to your inner 'daimon' like Socrates. Wait. Patience.
"I happen to believe that economic success lies in the hands of SMEs, small and medium-sized enterprises"
"They say: "Think big! Have compelling vision!" I say: Think small. Do something super cool by the end of the day! I write about "excellence." Most see excellence as some grand aspiration. Wrong. Dead wrong. My two cents: Excellence is the next five minutes or nothing at all. Make the next five minutes rock" -> I do believe in having a big grand goal. I think it's valuable to have a picture of it. I think visualization and affirmation there is effective. But being able to distill that to killing every day is even more important. The long marathon of life is actually build by numerous sprints.
"Courage over comfort. ~ there's nothing comfortable about being courageous"
"Always take jobs for which you are not qualified; that way you will inevitably learn something"
"Addiction is short-term desire. Purpose is long-term desire"
Advises on mastering a skill, interest or knowledge others find valuable first. He believes if you continue your mastery you'll eventually arrive at your passion. I think it's an organic process. I think as you build career capital somewhere you'll inevitably be drawn to certain things over others. It just gives you more data. Focusing on those that worked for you I think is valuable. Then as you continue to focus on things that excite you and you get good or great at them it becomes a passion.
Brandon Stanton - Creator of Humans of New York
"At the time I was fired from my trading job, I was convinced that I wanted to be a successful bond trader. Sometimes you need to allow life to save you from getting what you want."
"Make yourself proud" -> It's like what Paul Graham advises. Do shit that you can be proud of. The shit you want to brag about at dinner with your friends and they go "Wow you cool shit"
"You will know the answers when you take the time to find yourself and trust yourself"
Fedor Holz - CEO of Primed + ex-poker player
A fascinating story of dropping out of university to become an internet poker champion and playing live to then developing a company focus on building the right mind sets for goal setting. After half-assing for 9 months he doubled down the next 9 months to make his first million dollars playing poker. Be patient. Things don't just happen in the first 6 months
"Try everything you think you might want to do professionally before accepting whatever backup plan you have in the back of your head but are very much hoping to avoid"
"Genius is found in unusual places"
He's super passionate in soccer. he actually uses it as a way to disconnect from his day job but used it to build professional relationships with people who share a similar passion. Finding some correlation with my powerlifting.
Peter Gruber - CEO of Mandalay Entertainment, ex-CEO of Sony Entertainment, Owner/co-owner of Golden State Warriors, LA Dodgers, LAFC
"Don't let the weight of fear weigh down the joy of curiosity. Fear is really false evidence appearing real."
"Reinvent yourself regularly. See your world as an ever-increasing set of realities and seize the day" -> Look at your career as an upside down pyramid with ever-expanding horizon of opportunities
Think it's cool that he operates his own holdco of diverse businesses
His investment story into Cobra is valuable. Sold the investment for a 20x return but reinvested into business. But recouped investment cost through endorsement payment = controlled downside while earning it a DIFFERENT way from how you invested. Then the reinvestment focused on a neglected + untargeted niche + used his strength as a top player to market his products.
Daniel Ek, Co-founder of Spotify
"If you dare, then you have already gotten further ahead than 99 percent of all others.
"Write down what your successful and professional life looks like in 20 years. Then roll the clock back to today. Make sure your choices are in service of those goals." Strauss did this himself and i think it definitely is a form of affirmation/visualization. It works. it's similar to Debbie Millman's 10 year essay exercise. It's a way to make sure whatever goals you're setting are relevant and you aren't spending time making something you shouldn't do efficient.
Steve Jurvetson - "Tech's Best Venture Investor"
"Every industry on our planet is going to become an information business" -> Data monopolies like FB, Google, AMZN etc.. It's have the data then figuring out how to utilize it.
"Success should not be measured by financial gain; true success is doing something you love for a living"
"Keep control of your brand or idea no matter what"
"Either you're in, or you're in the way" -> Don't waste time chasing people who aren't in.
"Part of knowing who you are is knowing who you are not"
Focus on the long term goals. Too often people are impatient with their strength goals. It's about getting better bit by bit every year. If you can improve in small ways 3-4x a year and do it for 28 years you'll be where Ed Coan is.
It's important to have a goal/target for your 5 year or 10 year mark. Because once you have that you can map back to the shorter term goals.
Competes only 2x a year and only maxes out at those 2x per year
"You only have so many max attempts in your body over your lifetime. Why waste them in the gym?" -> I see parables here with investment opportunities showing up in a lifetime.
"I don't pause to a box... I taught myself how to stay tight with the barbell." -> gold.
Don't give up control over the E2E process. Always be in a position of leverage.
Steve Case - CEO of Revolution LLC, AOL co-founder
"If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, you must go together." -> proverb on the value of partnering instead of aiming for self-sufficiency
"Don't try to be something you're not." -> Coding being the key to success is the conventional thought now. But that doesn't account for the change in the Third Wave. Creativity, collaboration and fearlessness will be essential in the coming swift.
"If you're not called crazy when you start something new, then you're not thinking big enough!"
"Close doors" -> Most of her friends who went to McKinsey and Goldman hoping to keep options open later to pursue what they really wanted are still there and never ended up pursuing what they really wanted. Close doors to focus your efforts. Open doors can actually build complacency in the immediate.
Stop hedging. I continue to get this advice from many senior individuals and it is the idea that without focused effort nothing of meaning can be created. Moonlight as a form of necessity (i.e. paying bills etc..) but learn to cut the umbilical cord when it no longer is a necessity.
"Try as hard as you possibly can to find something you love, because the depressing reality is that most people never find a career that they're truly passionate about" -> The timing will never be right. Just start now.
"In order to become a Grandmaster, you must already be one." -> It's not on relying on the mistakes of others but having gone through the process of being able to produce the results you've been practicing to.
Evan Williams - Co-founder of Blogger, Twitter, Medium
"Be in a hurry to learn, not in a hurry to get validation"
Bram Cohen - Inventor of BitTorrent
Rather simple advice but need to write this down to log it into my memory folders: Make mistakes on someone else's dime. Work for early-stage startups to learn as much as possible before creating your own venture.
To win the Crossfit Games she first had to come second. Because that's when she realized how much she actually wanted it. She went all in and committed to moving her life from Iceland to Boston, stopping school, stopping her coaching job to go full-time under the coaching of someone she trusted and wanted to work with. That is extreme dedication. And that is what is required to be the best at 1 thing. It may not be the thing for me since I'm not such a tunnel-visioned person and would rather be the guy that is top 20% in 5 things.
Adam Fisher - Head of Macro + Real Estate @ Soros Fund
"I invest in real estate where smart people want to live." -> I feel this is a strategy on luxury products. It's the idea of not investing to the price sensitive (i.e. lower income folks) for they are sensitive to price and loyalty is weak. Price sensitivity makes the good a commodity, even real estate. But smart people tend to have higher earning jobs and are less sensitive to the price of the home for the location serves a different purpose all together. My 2 cents on his quote.
Difference between a coach and mentor is that a coach builds regiments designed to make you better whereas a mentor gives advice.
Calendar architecture = cool term for creating a repeatable system in your day. Love it.
"Life is not designed to hand us success or satisfaction, but rather to present us with challenges that make us grow. Mastery is the mysterious process by which those challenges become progressively easier and more satisfying through practice. The key to that satisfaction is to reach the nirvana in which love of practice for its own sake (intrinsic) replaces the original goal (extrinsic) as our grail. The antithesis of mastery is the pursuit of quick fixes." -> beautiful.
"Small teams will always outperform large teams in software."
"Pursue every project, idea, or industry that genuinely lights you up, regardless of how unrelated each idea is, or how unrealistic a long-term career in that field might now seem. You'll connect the dots later." -> love this advice. Focus on the intrinsic motivators first. Let them guide you, not the external noise.
"Ignore the advice to specialize in one thing, unless you're certain that's how you want to roll." -> Fucking love this too. I know that's what I believe too but it's wonderful to see it being written as advice. I much prefer the path of being a polymath. A high-functioning generalist with an immense toolbox.
Love that he is a Buffett Munger admirer too. It's been an added fact to helping me realize that just because I admire Munger and Buffett doesn't mean I have to start my career out investing in public equities. For once I dug down into why I admired them it was for their ability to focus on building systems to become superhuman in their own disciplines of choice.
Get obsessed with a problem + that need solving + your contribution can make a difference
Cool to see that as CEO of dropbox his priority was on product + recruiting. People.
Scott Belsky - Benchmark VC
Great opportunities don't say "great opportunities" on them. If so, everyone would've found them. It may look unattractive at first. But what makes them great opportunities is the potential upside. But even that won't be clear
"Join a team not for what it is, but for what you think you can help it become. Be a "founder" in the sense that you're willing to make something rather than just join something." -> Create. ACTUALLY add value.
"Every step in your early career must get you incrementally closer to whatever genuinely interests you. Set yourself up to succeed by taking new jobs and roles that get you closer to your interests."
"Choose opportunities based on the quality of people you will get to work with."
"Don't ask customers what they want, figure out what they need." -> Hear this advice so often and it's such "needs" that make the customer right.
"Find a new topic or area or concern that has a small number of people you respect behind it, but which has not become a culture-wide fad or conventional wisdom. If it's already common knowledge, it's probably too late to make a major contribution. If you're the only one excited, you may be deluding yourself." -> I think my idea on designing systems for high performance inside small, bootstrapped remote businesses like basecamp does... may still be in an infancy.
Cool habit system of having one new focused habit per month. It can be doing or not doing something. I can see this focus on 1 thing for a micro cycle will be so much more effective.
Ben Silbermann - co-founder of Pinterest
He too gets motivated by seeing how many days he has left to live.
His upbringing around doctors fostered a long term mindset for him because it takes about 12 years for people to become doctors. This proved to be an advantage for him in Silicon valley where people are busy thinking about growth in one year or two year increments without the ability to understand that anything worthwhile will take 5-10 years to become something. Have to learn to give that kind of time for whatever I create as a business as well.
It took Ben 4 years after leaving Google to get Pinterest going, to this he said "That's not that long. That's like med school before you go into residency."
Ben talks about how people in the Valley think of doing college, then doing a startup, then make money and then do the thing they really want... This sounded no different from people in business going to do consulting or finance. This made me immediately question why they didn't pursue parallel processing... then he mentioned the same thing too! Fucking connection moment. For you need to be able to parallel process everything in life aside from you life's work. Your health, social relationships and just pure fun must always be considered too.
He also speaks down on emphasizing failure. To get better at something you want to learn from those who have succeeded. Not failed. You have to start the studying the best and top performers. Not looking at people who failed and trying to dissect why they failed.
Dr. Peter Attia
"If you set a goal, it should meet these two conditions: 1) It matters; 2) You can influence the outcome."
Great explanation on overcoming the sunk cost fallacy. Being focused on having spend x amount of time learning shit in the past is time you've spent and can't be changed. It should not impact how you spend the time in the future, which is completely malleable unlike time from the past.
Go back to his chapter to read his inspiring story of overcoming all the sunk costs to still become great at what he does because he chose to pursue things that genuinely interested him instead of things people all said were the linear path. engineer-> doctor -> consulting for finance models -> ultraendurance athlete/longevity doctor
Didn't realize how he owns a recording label and did everything by himself.
"It's good to recognize trends, but if you follow them, you get sucked into them, and then you also fall with the trend." -> Keep in mind of not being a lemming. Recognizing incoming tides and running to be in one are different things.
Brings up a great idea of going to marriage counseling when your marriage is going great. It's about always learning and improving and building upon your success. Going from 80 to 100. It's like doing prehab so that you don't get injured to begin with.
"Never let a good crisis go to waste. It's the universe challenging you to learn something new and rise to the next level of your potential."
Valuable point on how friends are supposed to support your growth, not hold you back. She constantly saw friends changing from 20s to 40s based on where she was at her life. Think it's valuable. Same of not applying sunk cost fallacies to friends.
"I find whomever you're attracted to today possesses whatever qualities in yourself you're ready to nurture."
Yuval Noah Harari
Amazing advice on focusing on personal resilience because people now will have to learn to constantly reinvent themselves and not rely on one form of skill/career for the future. Plays well with how my generation will see the shift to having 5 careers in a lifetime to maybe 5 careers at a single time.
Build your own brand and let technology serve you. Don't get overly invested in a third party platform to define you.