Smart People Should Build Things Summary

Smart People Should Build Things SummaryHow to Restore Our Culture of Achievement

Do you know what smart people do?

They build things.

Read on to find out how.

Who Should Read “Smart People Should Build Things” and Why?

Big companies are not the drivers of economic progress. Instead, startups are pushing the world forward.

So, instead of securing a job with many benefits at a big company, smart people should follow another direction: become the innovators of tomorrow.

We recommend “Smart People Should Build Things” to all students who are contemplating about their future career choices, as well as those wanting to know why students want to work in big companies, and how this world can correct this wrong tendency.

About Andrew Yang

Andrew YangAndrew Yang has a background in startups and is the CEO and founder of Venture for America.

“Smart People Should Build Things Summary”

After years of diligent studying, every student has to make a decision about the path they are going to take after finishing their studies.

Where should they head to? Where should they start?

What kind of job should they look for?

Sadly, many colleges nowadays, the elite ones most of all, limit their students’ worldview and position them to look only in one direction: big, professional service companies.

Statistical data shows that most elite school graduates decide to work in finance, law or management consultancy firms.

Why?

Because they believe that these professions will bring them money and prestige – and that is what they are after.

Moreover, elite colleges prepare their students for the hard application process that these companies use to pick their future employees – the application for elite schools is equally as challenging.

Hence, these students do not have a hard time to get a place in their wanted companies, so why shouldn’t they?

Let’s not mention that all of their friends also apply for such jobs, so it is only natural that they do as well.

These companies promise them money, benefits and learning experience that they could get nowhere else.

However, despite the fact that all that we mentioned above sounds like a “dream job,” the reality is that not everyone is ready to work in such a company.

These companies do give some sort of security and benefits, but they do so at a certain price.

Usually, the workload employees have in such companies is immense, and the environment is highly competitive.

As a result, these companies attract a large number of applicants, but the turnover is big as well.

Employees are used to seeing their colleagues come and go, which makes it hard for them to develop lasting friendships, makes them constantly stressed that they will be the ones who go next, and can leave a mark on their wellbeing and happiness.

You might think that if you do not feel good in a good company, you will move to a smaller one, right?

Well, that is not as easy as you might think.

Big companies make their employees used to high salaries and other benefits, which small companies do not offer.

Just imagine the shock one receives after they lose the status that they once had, and has to start anew. Can you think of all the adjustments to the lifestyle he or she has to make?

However, that is not the only problem.

Small companies actually need employees with different approach and skills to their job. They need to get things done and get to actual solutions to their problems.

Professional service firms, on the other hand, practice a more theoretical and analytic approach.

Finally, just like in every other area in life, startups use networking as a primary recruiting source, so they usually just hire people from their own network and do not reach out to big companies.

Why are we telling you all of this?

Because you need to think if you really want to work in a big company in the long term. If you do not see yourself in such an environment, it may be easier for you if you do not get into the “race” at all, and follow a different path.

In fact, we encourage you to take a different approach.

Let’s say: start your own business.

Sadly, being smart and graduating from a good school does not mean that you will be a good businessperson.

Thankfully, you can learn how you can succeed.

What is the process that will inevitably lead you to success?

Well, it all starts with extensive preparation.

First, do thorough market research: know your competitors, know your potential customers, and know their needs.

Next, build your online presence – no company can survive without it in today’s environment.

Finally, get the people close to you excited about your idea, and reach out to investors, co-founders, and staff.

Of course, these are just the preparatory stages.

Building your own business from the ground up is not an easy task, but we assure you, it is worth the effort.

For the detailed approach, read this book and find out why smart people build things, and how they do it successfully.

Key Lessons from “Smart People Should Build Things”

1.      Most Graduates Choose their Careers for the Wrong Reasons
2.      Big Firms Imprison Elite College Graduates
3.      Big Companies are Not That Beneficial to the Economy

Most Graduates Choose their Careers for the Wrong Reasons

Only a small percentage of the elite college applicants get into their schools of choice.

Sadly, the lucky few choose their careers for the wrong reasons. Most students follow a direction in which they believe money and status await.

Big Firms Imprison Elite College Graduates

The firms everyone wants to get into, pressure college graduates to either progress and get promoted, or leave the firm.

However, it is too hard to leave these companies, since they offer all the benefits anyone could ask for.

So, what is left for employees is to work night and day and try to stay “alive” another year, and then another, and then another.

Big Companies are Not That Beneficial to the Economy

Contrary to what you may believe big companies are not the central pillar of a healthy economy. If you want to know who drives the economy forward, startups are your answer.

The problem is that big companies take up a significant market share and do not allow for many startups to develop.

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“Smart People Should Build Things” Quotes

It wasn’t until I got to the law firm that things started hitting me. Click To Tweet It seemed kind of ridiculous to me; what the heck had I done to deserve that kind of money? As you can tell, not a whole lot… Most worrisome of all, my brain started to rewire itself after only the first few months. I was adapting. Click To Tweet Organizations give rise to other organizations like themselves. Click To Tweet I wanted a position that required broad management in a growth enterprise that was doing something I could get excited about. I wanted to be an owner and to be committed to helping a team achieve its goals. Click To Tweet Basically, I wanted to build something. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

An excellent book that will help everyone understand the job market reality and make better career choices for the right reasons.

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Startup Growth Engines Summary

Startup Growth Engines SummaryCase Studies of How Today’s Most Successful Startups Unlock Extraordinary Growth

The best way to learn is to look at the success stories and find the things they have in common.

This is exactly what we do in the text below.

Who Should Read “Startup Growth Engines” and Why?

We have all heard about those companies that became world-known names overnight.

“Startup Growth Engines” considers these companies and explores the things they have in common: using growth hacking.

If you want to succeed in the modern marketplace, learn how to use different growth techniques and business models, as well as get better at creating viral marketing campaigns, then this is the book you should pick up from the shelf.

About Sean Ellis & Morgan Brown

Sean EllisSean Ellis is an investor and entrepreneur with a rich knowledge and experience in start-ups. He frequently publishes with The Wall Street Journal and Entrepreneur Magazine.

Morgan BrownMorgan Brown is a digital marketing specialist.

“Startup Growth Engines Summary”

Most of you who are now reading this summary, have heard about the Silicon Valley and the many successful startups it is home to.

However, you might not know how successful actually these companies are.

If you look at the figures, you will be truly amazed!

In just a short period, Silicon Valley startups attract millions of customers and generate billions of dollars profit.

The growth of these companies cannot be compared to the traditional economy – it is much faster.

In fact, these companies purposely avoid traditional marketing techniques and use what is now known as growth hacking.

Growth hacking focuses on maximizing growth and can be used in any sector.

Do not confuse it with formula, since there is not one single “right” way for successful growth hacking.

What it does it combining multiple factors (statistics, data and a whole ton of creativity) that assure attracting new customers, retaining them, and generating revenue through them.

But where do you begin?

You will not be surprised by the answer  – you have heard it many times before: you begin with a problem.

One thing about businesses never changes, at it never will: a business solve a problem the customers are having, thus offering them value.

But, how do you find the problem that is worth building a business around?

You do not have to think too wide, just observe your environment.

Look at your own life, and at the life of your friends. Notice the common problems you run into.

Even mundane issues are a good basis for business, since probably everyone has them, and the best kind of issues for building a business are those that affect a wide range of people.

Another strong point of looking for a problem in your closest surrounding or your own experience is that you will have the chance to be your own first “customer.”

In other words, you will be able to test and evaluate your product or service and see if it meets all of the customer expectations.

Once you are past the stage of finding a problem, you need to develop a slow and steady growth strategy.

Do not make a mistake many people that get passionate about their ideas do and want to start big immediately.

Instead, start slow, from your surroundings, just as you did when you were looking for your idea.

Then, you will steadily stretch to new markets.

Why is this important?

Because when you focus all your effort in satisfying the customers in one specific niche market, you will be able to gain positive momentum by building a good word-of-mouth reputation for your business.

A focused effort is the best way to succeed.

Usually, when companies start, they use a few models that seem to work for them.

First, you can try out the freemium model, which is actually offering a no-cost service, that will turn into revenue.

In other words, you offer your customers a free “taste” of your product and give them an option for an upgraded version for a fee.

Another thing you can do is to offer free content to the public to generate revenue.

Through this approach, you will be able to gather information about your customers and keep their attention for when they are ready to pay for your services.

Of course, these approaches will not work for everyone and come with a risk which we will cover in one of the key lessons below.

Key Lessons from “Startup Growth Engines”

1.      Start Big and Small at the Same Time
2.      The Freemium Model Comes with Risks
3.      Offer a Free Tool to Get People’s Attention

Start Big and Small at the Same Time

Do not get too excited by your ideas, and do not let your passion blind you. Starting too big is not a good way to start. Instead, opt for a narrow market niche and a significant market share in it.

That way you will secure generating good word of mouth in your local environment that will lay out the groundwork for your future growth.

The Freemium Model Comes with Risks

Many companies use the freemium model, and you can experiment with it, but it is vital that you remember that the whole purpose of giving things for free, is making people want to upgrade and pay for the premium version.

The product that you offer for free should be easy to use and learn in a short time since people will not invest too much time and effort into something they did not pay for.

If you are not sure that customers will be interested in getting more from you, then this model will not work for you.

Offer a Free Tool to Get People’s Attention

Another thing you can do is to offer a free tool that will answer some of your customer’s problems.

Again, do not forget that although you will get noticed by doing this and you will have the opportunity to gather information about your customers, the purpose of giving away free stuff is to make revenue later on.

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“Startup Growth Engines” Quotes

If you take the lowest common denominator approach using cross-platform stuff, you by definition create something that’s average. Click To Tweet Growth is not just a concern of sales and marketing, but of product, engineering and support too. It is this organization-wide commitment to growth that ultimately sets these companies apart. Click To Tweet Uber has taken what could be seen as a massive business hurdle—litigation—and turned it into an asset that drives growth. Click To Tweet Growth hacking is not anti-marketing, it is the evolution of marketing, it is pro-growth. Click To Tweet We’ve learned it’s much better to ship it now and fix it later, once you can see how people are using it, than it is to let it linger in development forever. Just ship it. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

This is a great book for those who already have a product or service that they would like to offer to potential customers.

Those that have not found a problem they can solve just yet maybe should postpone the reading of this book for when they do.

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Robert Greene – A journey of 100 steps

Robert Greene doesn’t endorse any quitting and giving up on something you love doing.

In this short little preview of Green’s journey, we outline the key milestones in his life and more.

Who is Robert Greene

Robert GreeneRobert Greene is hailed as one of the best American authors, in this era. He was born on May 14, 1959, and from early childhood, Robert questioned the behavioral patterns that shape one’s opinion and mindset.

Believe it or not, his main incentive for becoming a writer was the importance of power in the world, not just today but throughout history.

As the author of five recognized, and international best-selling books, he has all the expertise required to share a psychological review of the whole world.

What’s even more inspiring, is the number of celebrities who have joined his cause, and publicly stated that his books changed their lives and perception. Not bad, ha?

Robert Greene books:

  • The 48 Laws of Power
  • The Art of Seduction
  • The 33 Strategies of War
  • The 50th Law
  • Mastery.

As you can assume, he didn’t have a flying start. Born to a Jewish Family, Robert Greene had humble beginnings. Growing up in Los Angeles, and attending the University of California, opened the window of opportunity for him.

How should things unfold? Like an arrow, straight to the top. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case with Robert Greene. As a matter of fact, Greene had at least 80 different jobs before he became a writer.

Working as a construction worker, editor, Hollywood movie writer granted him the opportunity to distinguish himself in the writing business.

In the mid-90s, Greene got a job to work as a writer at Fabrica. From today’s perspective, this art and media school symbolizes the crossroad in Robert’s life, where he met a book packager known by the name of Joost Elffers.

This friendship marked the beginning of Greene’s professional writing career. He wrote a treatment and presented it before Elffers, a situation that can be labeled as the turning point or a point of no return in Robert Greene’s adventure.

It was at that moment that Greene started writing “The 48 Laws of Power,” a book which will later develop into a global sensation.

Greene’s viewpoints and conclusion, on numerous occasions, were described as manipulative and unethical.

According to various testimonies, “The 48 Laws of Power” breaks all the boundaries of moral behavior and sets a new line of defense in order to protect one’s interest.

Despite all the controversies revolving around it, this classic continues to inspire business executives, athletes, entrepreneurs, lawyers to take action.

Greene responded to these allegations by saying that – These laws (referring to the 48 Laws) are nothing but practical, a useful tool for all people to get their grip on success.

Without further ado, we also like to mention that Greene’s work and accomplishments have been featured in renowned magazines and journals such as The New York Times, Newsweek, Forbes, USA Today, and others.

If you are unsure of a course of action, do not attempt it. Your doubts and hesitations will infect your execution. Timidity is dangerous: Better to enter with boldness. Any mistakes you commit through audacity are easily corrected with more audacity.

Best Robert Greene Books

Robert Greene Bio#1. The 48 Laws of Power Summary

The First Edition of “The 48 Laws of Power” was published back in 1998. At first glance, it may seem like a guide that instigates a battle for power, but in our opinion, it’s just a collection of tips used by those seeking power.

You are not bound to employ the techniques if you find them disturbing and corrupt. You can also use the book as a tool against those wishing to harm you and question your authority.

Take notes, because these laws are drawn from the unpredictable course of history. Personalities such as Niccolò Machiavelli, Alexander the Great, Sun Tzu, Napoleon Bonaparte, Henry Kissinger are an integral part of the whole ball-game.

1 Chapter = 1 Laws – start now.

Do not leave your reputation to chance or gossip; it is your life’s artwork, and you must craft it, hone it, and display it with the care of an artist.

Robert Greene Biography#2. The 33 Strategies of War Summary

The 33 Strategies of War is like a chess match. The shrewd one will always outsmart the impatient one. If you are looking to explore an all-encompassing military guide, enriched with all sorts of mind-games and how to use them – you are in the right place.

It’s said that any war, lacks principles and compassion. Well, that statement can also be interpreted otherwise, but that’s another matter.

Greene is renowned for his ability to put all pieces together, and this sequel to the Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is no different.

Motivated by events that shaped history, Greene covers various campaign and endeavors that ended up successfully, which is equivalent to bloodshed.

Learn how to set your offense and win the little wars that unfold in everyone’s life. Take a strong stance and push back those enemy forces that are boiled with rage.

Estimate your strength and available assets to take the initiative and launch a counter-offensive.

It sounds like a medieval drama, but life has its struggles and battles. You cannot run away from them! A great warrior never flees the field of battle; he stands his ground willing to defy the odds and numbers.

Grand strategy is the art of looking beyond the present battle and calculating ahead. Focus on your ultimate goal and plot to reach it.

Robert Greene Books#3. The Art of Seduction Summary

Well, turn the lights off, or not – just kidding. This book doesn’t prompt the execution of spy activities on any level. It’s more like a magician’s trick performed to delude the audience and control the people’s reactions.

These dazzling maneuvers will leave you breathless and thus you’ll be in a position to earn the title of a Seducer.

Sex has always been used as weaponry, particularly useful to control the outcome of a certain situation. In general, manipulation and persuasion are seldom used as separate concepts.

Seduction has its price and value, and it’s known to be a valuable asset against all forms of influence.

Domination, authority, competence, potential, skill, talent, all fall beneath the feet of shrewd maneuvering. Raise your voice and learn a few tricks that can help you seize power.

Discover who is who and find out more about the participants of this process. However, never neglect the system itself, because you can’t make a right move if you don’t understand the game.

Sadness of any sort is also seductive, particularly if it seems deep-rooted, even spiritual, rather than needy or pathetic—it makes people come to you.”

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“Robert Greene Quotes”

Religion is the great balm of existence because it takes us outside ourselves, connects us to something larger. Click To Tweet But the greatest battle of all is with yourself—your weaknesses, your emotions, your lack of resolution in seeing things through to the end. You must declare unceasing war on yourself. Click To Tweet Do not leave your reputation to chance or gossip; it is your life's artwork, and you must craft it, hone it, and display it with the care of an artist. Click To Tweet Many a serious thinker has been produced in prisons, where we have nothing to do but think. Click To Tweet The future belongs to those who learn more skills and combine them in creative ways. Click To Tweet

Final Notes

We are hoping that in recent future, the audience will receive another gem from Robert Greene’s beautiful fountain of ideas.

His influence and straightforwardness can never be surpassed anytime soon.

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John C. Maxwell – A Journey of 100 Steps

Seth Godin and Daniel Goleman are not just names you casually throw around. They are giants in their fields and colossi among the popular intellectuals of today. Consequently, you wouldn’t be too surprised to find their names – at positions #2 and #6 – in a list of the top 50 leadership and management experts in the world.

Well, John C. Maxwell is above them on the list. Above everybody, in fact. Because, in the world of leadership, he’s a more than a giant: he’s a titan.

Who Is John C. Maxwell?

John Calvin MaxwellJohn Maxwell was born in Garden City, Michigan, in 1947, in a devoutly Christian family.

Much like another self-help intellectual heavyweight, Stephen R. Covey, he followed his father into ministry. In fact, all of his degrees are from Christian universities: a BA from Ohio Christian University, an MDiv from Azusa Pacific University and a D. Min. from California’s Fuller Theological Seminary.

You can’t become a Doctor of Ministry if not simultaneously engaged in practical ministry, so it should come as no surprise to the reader that, starting from the 1970s, John Maxwell has preached at numerous churches in Ohio, Indiana, Florida, and California.

He became a senior pastor at the evangelical Skyline Church in La Mesa in 1981 and served at this position for the next 14 years. During his tenure, the church tripled its average weekend attendance, becoming a megachurch in the process with over 3,000 visitors per week.

In 1995, Maxwell stepped from this position to focus on “INJOY Stewardship,” a company he founded in 1992 with a vision to “not simply help churches raise money, but rather, to help churches raise more fully surrendered followers of Jesus.”

During this time, Maxwell will be able to spend more hours of his time writing and publishing, and, in few years, he will become a household name in the world of leadership.

Three of the books he will write during this period will become “New York Times” bestsellers, selling over 1 million copies in a fairly short period: “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership,” “21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader” and “Developing the Leader Within You.”

He would follow the success with many other classics, among them “Leadership Gold,” “The Five Levels of Leadership,” “Talent Is Never Enough,” “Put Your Dream to the Test,” and “Thinking for a Change.”

Not surprisingly, in 2005, Maxwell will be inducted in Amazon’s Hall of Fame, as one of its 25 inaugural members, rubbing shoulders with Stephen Covey, Johnson and Blanchard, Jim Collins, and Marcus Buckingham – you know, few spots below the towering Tolkiens and J. K. Rowlings ruling the universe of fictional books.

By this time, Maxwell would once again return to congressional ministry at Florida’s Christ Fellowship, where he is still a pastor.

In addition to “INJOY,” Maxwell has founded “The John Maxwell Company,” “The John Maxwell Team” and “EQUIP,” and has supposedly trained more than 5 million leaders in almost every country in the world. He has spoken to and consulted numerous Fortune 500 companies and even presidents of nations.

He believes that “everything rises and falls on leadership” and that everyone can create a legacy with some help. As he states on his website, he has always dreamt of impacting the world and changing lives one at a time.

Mission accomplished: his books and his speeches have done exactly that for at least 70 million people.

To lead any way other than by example, we send a fuzzy picture of leadership to others. If we work on improving ourselves first and make that our primary mission, then others are more likely to follow.

Best John Maxwell Books

#1. The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership Summary: Follow Them and People Will Follow You

By 1999, the highly prolific John Maxwell had already written and published no less than 14 books. And most of them were successful in their own right. But, when in 1999, he decided to distill everything he had learned in the previous three decades of his life and wrote, we suppose that even he couldn’t have been aware that he had written a leadership guidebook for all times.

Because “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership” is exactly that – even two decades after it first appeared. The book lists 21 laws which, as its subtitle suggests, are all you will ever need to follow if you want other people to follow you.

The best thing is that each of these laws is backed with interesting real-life examples and even more interesting historical anecdotes, making the book both practical and delightful read.

You can’t move people to action unless you first move them with emotion… The heart comes before the head.

#2. The 360o Leader Summary: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization

There’s a problem with leadership books. Call it a paradox, if you will, but It’s still a problem, nevertheless. Namely, leadership books are usually written for people who don’t really need them. Or, in other words – for leaders.

And there’s the catch: “how to be a good leader” isn’t exactly a question the answer to which interests about 90% of the population. Because, after all, most of the people aren’t on the top – and merely work under somebody.

Well, not if you ask John Maxwell. “The 360o Leader” is a paradigm shifter, a theoretical framework and comprehensive guidebook written under the premise that middle-level managers can – and have – lead not only those below them but also those across and above them.

As organized as you would expect from a John Maxwell book, “The 360o Leader” dispels 7 myths, describes 7 challenges, defines 5 values and delves deep into the 9 lead-up, 7 lead-across and 7 lead-down principles.

All in all – 42 new things to learn and remember. So, twice the number of irrefutable laws of leadership!

Leaders must be able to lead other leaders – not just those below them, but also those above and alongside them.

#3. Failing Forward Summary: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success

“Achievers are given multiple reasons to believe they are failures,” writes John Maxwell in “Failing Forward,” his much-loved motivational gem. “But in spite of that, they persevere. The average for entrepreneurs is 3.8 failures before they finally make it in business.”

In other words, you need to start four companies before you create the one which will finally make you a successful person.

This means three things. First of all, that “in life, the question is not if you will have problems, but how you are going to deal with your problems.” Secondly, that the difference between being a successful person and a failure is neither talent nor skill – but grit and determination.

Finally, it means that there are two ways to look at mistakes: either as the final goal of your journey or as a stepping stone for success.

Which one of the two makes more sense?

It will make even more once you finish this book.

The essence of man is imperfection. Know that you’re going to make mistakes. The fellow who never makes a mistake takes his orders from one who does. Wake up and realize this: Failure is simply a price we pay to achieve success.

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Best Malcolm Gladwell Books

“John Maxwell Quotes”

The measure of a leader is not the number of people who serve him but the number of people he serves. Click To Tweet Anyone can steer the ship, but it takes a leader to chart the course. Leaders who are good navigators are capable of taking their people just about anywhere. Click To Tweet Talent is a gift, but character is a choice. Click To Tweet Small disciplines repeated with consistency every day lead to great achievements gained slowly over time. Click To Tweet You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine. Click To Tweet

Final Notes

Unlike most of the self-help authors out there, John C. Maxwell is a firm believer in organization and examples.

That’s why you know exactly what you can expect from his books. Finely-written, neatly structured cohesive textbooks which work both as insightful collections of didactic anecdotes and life advices and as textbooks for success and greatness.

Unsurprisingly, almost every book he has ever written ­is a bestseller. And he has topped the Leadership Global Gurus annual list for the past six years!

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Stephen R. Covey – A Journey of 100 Steps

In 1996, to the surprise of some, “Time” magazine included Stephen Covey in its annual list of “25 Most Influential Americans.” Two decades later and few years after Covey’s death, it’s obvious that “Time” didn’t make any mistake: Covey’s books are still widely read and loved, with “Forbes” naming “The 7 Habits of Highly Influential People” one of the 10 best business books in history.

So, without further ado –

Who Is Stephen Covey?

Stephen R. CoveyStephen Covey was born on October 24, 1932, in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Today we know him and love him as “the herald of good habits” (a phrase borrowed from his “New York Times” obituary), but everything could have been a lot different if Stephen Covey hadn’t contracted slipped capital femoral epiphysis (yes, that’s an actual condition!) in junior high school.

You see, Covey was pretty athletic and wasn’t very interested in an academic career up to this point. But, once his physical condition wouldn’t allow him to focus on sports – he had steel pins implanted in his legs and had to spend three years on crutches – he started reading ferociously and even manage to graduate from high school one year early.

And the books he read the most can be classified into three categories. All of them had a profound impact on his worldview, and one can easily trace the genesis of “The 7 Habits” philosophy into his unique educational path.

Namely, Stephen R. Covey earned a B.S. degree in business administration from the University of Utah in 1952, and an MBA from Harvard University five years later. And, like many of us, during these years, he fell in love with Peter Drucker’s works. Back in 1967, the founder of modern management wrote that “effectiveness… is a habit.” Covey will never forget this.

In 1970, Covey got a job as an adjunct professor in the business department at Brigham Young University in Provo. By now already a father of nine children, he would use this occasion to finally complete his doctorate. His subject: “the human side of success in America, as evidenced through ‘success literature’ from 1776 forward.” And that is the second category of books which will profoundly influence Covey. Because during his research, he found out that American self-help books had focused on character building for almost two centuries before the Second World War made them so superficial and insincere.

And Covey didn’t want to be insincere, because he was a devoutly religious person, a life-long member of “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Yes – that’s a fancy way of saying that Covey was a Mormon (he was from Utah, after all!) His religious views influenced him so much that Clayton Christensen, a fellow-Mormon and – yes! – the author of this book, once summed up “The 7 Habits” as “essentially a secular distillation of Mormon teaching.”

Four years before he published his most famous book, Covey founded the Covey Leadership Center which will later merge with Franklin Quest to become Franklin Covey, a consultant firm which generates millions of dollars and has advised about 80% of the Fortune 100 companies so far.

In April 2012, Covey was riding his bike down a hill when he suddenly lost control and hit his head on the pavement. Four months later, on July 16, 2012, he passed away at the age of 79.

Be a light, not a judge. Be a model, not a critic.

Best Stephen Covey Books

#1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Summary: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change

Since first being published in 1989, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has reached two milestones which have transformed it from a brilliant self-help book into a historical curiosity. Namely, the book is not only one of the few to sell over 25 million copies of its paperback edition, but it is also the first non-fiction book in history to sell over 1 million copies of its audio version!

But, what made this book so exceptional?

Two things.

First of all, it’s against-the-grain thought model: Covey says that the oft-promoted “personality ethic” is obsolete and that “character ethic” is the new sheriff in town. In other words, you don’t need to be just independent – but interdependent as well.

And secondly, its straightforwardness. What you read in the title, you get in the book. The first three habits delineate Covey’s vision of independence: be proactive, begin with the end in mind, and put first things first. The second three outline his idea of interdependence: think win-win, seek first to understand than to be understood, and synergize. And the last habit is the bridge between these two groups: sharpen the saw, or improve consistently over time.

People often find themselves achieving victories that are empty, successes that have come at the expense of things they suddenly realize were far more valuable to them.

#2. The 8th Habit Summary: From Effectiveness to Greatness.

A quarter of a century after “The 7 Habits of Successful People” was published, Stephen Covey felt that he needed to make an update for the “New Knowledge Worker Age.”

The seven habits aimed to make people highly effective. And judging by the sheer number of sold copies, they did just that for millions. However, in 2005, Covey felt that being effective wasn’t enough anymore. People needed to make a step forward, a stride towards the top, a move from effectiveness to greatness.

The world had changed, and it didn’t ask for merely useful people anymore; now it asked for great people, passionate people living their lives to the full and making significant contributions.

So, if you managed to become a highly effective person in the period between 1989 and 2005, you needed to add one more habit to your store: “The 8th Habit.” Or, in Stephen Covey’s words, you needed to “find your voice and inspire others to find theirs.”

Find out how with this book.

To touch the soul of another human being is to walk on holy ground.

#3. Principle-Centered Leadership Summary: Give a Man a Fish and You Feed Him for a Day: Teach Him How to Fish and You Feed Him for a Lifetime

If in “The 8th Habit” Covey updated “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, you could argue that in “Principle-Centered Leadership” he moved beyond them. Make no mistakes: they are still there and as important as ever. However, they are also now coupled with four timeless, universal principles: security, guidance, wisdom, and power.

Truth be told, ever since his most famous book, Covey adamantly refused to equate principles and values, claiming that while the former are universal, the latter are subjective. In other words, only principles can be considered a trait of interdependence. And, consequently, only they can help us find some meaning in this world.

“Principle-Centered Leadership” demonstrates how we can apply the four most important principles in our homes and organizations and how, implementing them, may help us become not only more effective but also better people.

Effective people lead their lives and manage their relationships around principles; ineffective people attempt to manage their time around priorities and their tasks around goals. Think effectiveness with people; efficiency with things.

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Best Malcolm Gladwell Books

“Stephen Covey Quotes”

I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. Click To Tweet Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent and not enough time on what is important. Click To Tweet Effective people are not problem-minded; they’re opportunity-minded. They feed opportunities and starve problems. Click To Tweet We live in a shortcut world. Can you imagine a farmer ‘cramming’ in the fall to bring forth the harvest, as students have done, and still do, to pass examinations? Can you imagine a mile runner ‘pretending’ speed and endurance? Click To Tweet Almost every significant breakthrough in the field of scientific endeavor is first a break with tradition, with old ways of thinking, with old paradigms. Click To Tweet

Final Notes

Even half a decade after his death, if you search Amazon for its most popular authors – a list updated on a daily basis –you’ll certainly find Stephen Covey’s name there, probably among the top 10. Currently, he firmly holds the 8th position, above, say, Dr. Seuss and Stephen King!

Needless to add, he is the top-ranked self-help and non-fiction author in Amazon’s history. Do you need anything more to start reading his three best books?

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Simon Sinek – A Journey of 100 Steps

Type “Simon Sinek Quotes” and you get adjectives such as “amazing,” “inspirational,” and “awe-inspiring.” Type “Simon Sinek YouTube” and, among the results, you read things like “best speech ever” or “the video that will change your life.” Finally, type “Simon Sinek TED Talk” and you’ve just stumbled upon the third most watched TED Talk video in history.

People with such a portfolio don’t need a special introduction, do they?

Who Is Simon Sinek?

Simon SinekAs you may sometimes discern (if you are a language Sherlock Holmes, that is) from his somewhat strange-sounding accent, Simon Sinek was born in Wimbledon on 9 October 1973. Come to think of it, he could have been named Sebastian or Scott – but he was certainly not going to be a John or a Mark.

Because we believe that his family has a knack for the letter “S.”

Don’t believe us?

Well, his father’s name is Steve, his mother is called Susan, and his sister’s name is Sara. And if that isn’t enough for you, his mother has authored a desserts book.

Its title?

“Simply Scrumptious”! Now, don’t tell us that this isn’t some kind of a pattern!

By this point, somewhat unsurprisingly, Simon Sinek spent most of his childhood in South Africa. And that’s where the pattern breaks because afterward, his family moved to Hong Kong and London before Simon finally settled in the U.S.A.

He graduated in 1991 from Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest, New Jersey, before completing a BA in cultural anthropology at Brandeis University. Planning to become a Barrister, Sinek went back to England and enrolled at City University London to study law. However, after a while, he left his studies to focus on a career in advertising.

He worked at Euro RSCG and Ogilvy & Mather, before launching his own business, SinekPartners.

His life changed in 2009 after he published his first book, “Start with Why,” and presented its ideas in an ultra-popular TED Talk which has been so far viewed by almost 40 million people.

In 2014, he published “Leaders Eat Last” which repeated the success of “Start with Why.” Since then, he has published two more books, “Together Is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration” and “Find Your Why.”

Analysists approximate that Simon Sinek’s total net worth is in the range of $15 million. We approximate that his next book will make him even richer, since it will be another bestseller.

And we also hypothesize that you’re going to love each of these books!

There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it, or you can inspire it.

Best Simon Sinek Books

#1. Start with Why Summary: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action

By now, you surely know Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle” thought model. As he himself stated in the third most watched TED Talk video in history, “it’s probably the world’s simplest idea.” However, as it has been proven over and over again throughout history, the ideas that change the world are actually simple.

After all, as Shinichi Mochizuki has probably found out by now, what’s the point in proving a long-standing math problem if nobody understands the solution? You know what they say: the tree which falls…

Well, the “Golden Circle,” elucidated in “Start with Why,” didn’t fall on deaf ears; on the contrary, its echo was resounding. The idea is that most companies – and people – know what they are doing and how they are doing it. The point, however, is to know why you are doing what you’re doing.

And this why is the be-all and end-all, the alpha and omega of success. If you don’t have it or lose it – don’t expect an appreciation from others. They have better things to do.

Like finding their whys.

People don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it. And what you do simply proves what you believe.

#2. Find Your Why Summary: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team

If “Start with Why” was Simon Sinek’s theoretical breakthrough, “Find Your Why” was – and still is – the best step-by-step practical guide for those people who, though now convinced by Simon that they needed a why, went through a fair share of problems finding it.

Co-written with Peter Docker and David Mead, “Find Your Why” brims with practical exercises and applicable advises, action steps and explanatory illustrations. It addresses the most important concerns a person or a company on their path to their “whys” may have.

Practically anything from whether you can have two “whys” to what to do if a team can’t agree on a uniform “why,” from how to circumvent having an identical “why” with your competitors to what to do if your “why” doesn’t match your “how” and your “what.”

Essential for those who think that theory means nothing if not applicable.

If we want to feel an undying passion for our work, if we want to feel we are contributing to something bigger than ourselves, we all need to know our WHY.

#3. Leaders Eat Last Summary: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t

Between “Start with Why” and “Find Your Why,” Simon Sinek wrote a book which, in retrospect, one may consider a bridge between the “whys.” And its wisdom is as unconventional as its title: “Leaders Eat Last.”

The counter-intuitive idea behind it sounds a bit biblical.

Remember that scene at the Last Supper when Jesus washes the feet of his followers?

Well, if you remember it well, you certainly remember that Jesus counters the amazement of his disciples with a simple remark. “If I then, your Lord and Teacher,” he says, “have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.” And he tops that with an even more memorable phrase. “For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.”

Well, that’s what “Leaders Eat Last” is about. If you are a leader and you wash the feet of your employers, don’t you think that they will wash your feet too?

Of course, we’re not talking about feet. We’re talking about good leaders making you feel safe.

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.

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Best Malcolm Gladwell Books

“Simon Sinek Quotes”

Great companies don't hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. Click To Tweet You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. Click To Tweet It is not the genius at the top giving directions that makes people great. It is great people that make the guy at the top look like a genius. Click To Tweet The opportunity is not to discover the perfect company for ourselves. The opportunity is to build the perfect company for each other. Click To Tweet The greatest contribution of a leader is to make other leaders. Click To Tweet

Final Notes

Simon Sinek didn’t know what his why was for most of his life. After he found it, he realized that it’s related much more to the others than to himself. He wanted to help, to inspire and change people.

And, my god, he’s doing such a great job!

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Seth Godin – A Journey of 100 Steps

There are few people more famous in any area than Seth Godin in the field of marketing. However, with a career more varied than your DNA, Godin is so much more than the world’s most wanted marketer: an author of eighteen bestsellers, a founder of few companies, popular speaker, trendsetter, mind-changer, paradigm-shifter.

Who Is Seth Godin?

Seth GodinSeth Godin was born on July 10, 1960, in Mount Vernon, New York, which would make him about a century – and four years – older than Nikola Tesla.

Yes, that’s our fancy way of saying that those two share a birthday. But no – this doesn’t mean that people born on July 10 are destined to be great. After all, Jessica Simpson was born on the same day

Now, if things had worked out differently, Godin might have had a lot more in common with Tesla, because the first degree he obtained was in computer science and philosophy from Tufts University. However, just after graduation, he got a job as a brand manager at the then newly formed educational software company, Spinnaker Software.

He left the company just four years later, using all of his savings – about $20,000 – to found a book-packaging business, Seth Godin Productions. He would later sell the business to his employees, focusing all of his energy on Yoyodyne, one of the first online marketing companies in history.

Named after a fictional company from a 1984 SF adventure with a lengthy title, “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension,” Yoyodyne used online games and scavenger hunts to market companies to participating users.

By this time, Godin felt that he had found his calling, so he enrolled at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, from where he subsequently got his MBA in marketing.

Ironically, it was during this period that he started working on a book which would soon become part of many business schools’ curricula: “Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers.”

Published in 1999, the book was not merely a bestseller, but also a seminal achievement. It introduced the world to the concept of permission marketing, a non-traditional technique which, unlike those preceding it, saw marketing the same way our laws see sex: as a consensual activity.

Direct mails, telemarketing calls, TV ads – they were all suddenly a thing of the past, too pushy and obtrusive to give you the wanted results. Namely, an intravenous relationship with your clients who will trust you as much as they trust their doctors.

Godin followed the success of “Permission Marketing” with many more bestsellers, three of which we’ve picked as his best below. However, we had a hard time choosing them, since Godin’s name appears above few other titles so essential that you may have already heard them, even if you don’t know who Seth Godin is.

(We are aware that the second part of the previous sentence targeted no more than two of our readers.)

Unleashing the Ideavirus” – the most popular eBook in history (a free PDF of which you can download here) – discusses how you can (and can’t) turn an idea into a viral phenomenon. If you haven’t before – see Seth Godin’s TED Talk on the topic.

The 2005 classic “All Marketers Are Liars” examines how marketers should use the inherent human passion for storytelling; humans seem to prefer well-told truthful stories to blatant honesty.

Poke the Box” is a book which demonstrates how and why you should take an initiative no matter how little authority you think you have. “The Dip,” on the other hand – as its subtitle succinctly states – is a little book that teaches you when to quit (and when to stick).

In 1998, Seth Godin sold Yoyodyne to Yahoo for about $30 million and became the company’s vice president of direct marketing. Eighty years later he launched Squidoo, an article-writing revenue-sharing site which, at one point, was among the Top 500 sites in the world.

Speaking of which, Seth Godin blog is undoubtedly one of the most popular blogs in history. It’s so popular, in fact, that, believe it or not, it will come up third on Google’s first page if you type nothing more than “seth”!

Being aware of your fear is smart. Overcoming it is the mark of a successful person.

Best Seth Godin Books

#1. Purple Cow Summary: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable

In a world of million products and billion commercials – writes Seth Godin in his phenomenal book “Purple Cow” – “your one chance for success is to be remarkable.”

In other words: you won’t notice a white cow among white cows – especially if you’re not interested in cows in the first place. But a purple one? You’ll spot it instantaneously even if you don’t want to!

So, Seth Godin advises you, put a purple cow in everything you do. Make something which will stand out by being so counter-intuitive and surprising that you won’t be able to tell from the start whether it will be a success or a flop.

Because, you see, in a crowded marketplace, “the old ways of marketing are dead – and being safe is now too risky.” “Purple Cow” is about the very opposite: risk with a purple cow and you will be safe among the white ones.

The best the timid can hope for is to be unnoticed. Criticism comes to those who stand out.

#2. Tribes Summary: We Need You to Lead Us

Remember William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies”? If there’s one thing that book taught you it should have been probably this: even if you are just a child stuck on a desert island among other children, you will bound to become either a leader or a follower.

Because it’s in our human nature to be one or the other. Want to be a leader, asks Seth Godin in “Tribes”? Then, gather your scattered followers on a desert island and turn them into a tribe. It’s as easy as 1-2-3! You just need to have a desire, an ability to connect people, and a willingness to lead them.

The best thing?

The Internet has made it possible for you to gather your followers virtually. So, you don’t need a desert island. Just a computer. And few Seth Godin advices you can read in “Tribes.”

For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.

#3. Linchpin Summary: Are You Indispensable?

The world is changed. I feel it in… well, neither in the water nor in the earth or the air. I feel it in the fact that there is one more team in the workplace, other than management and labor. The linchpins.

Now, what would Karl Marx say about this, Seth Godin?

Well, if you ask us, he would be thrilled to find out that there’s one more solution to the class struggle and that it doesn’t involve revolutions and bloodsheds. And that it is a Hegelian, mind you!

Because, as Godin writes in “Linchpin,” this new category of workers is something the world has never seen before. They are the people who love their work, the intermediaries who solve conflicts, the go-to guys for moments when the traditional rules don’t apply anymore.

Want to be indispensable?

Be a linchpin!

I call the process of doing your art ‘the work.’ It’s possible to have a job and do the work, too. In fact, that’s how you become a linchpin. The job is not the work.

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Best Malcolm Gladwell Books

“Seth Godin Quotes”

The old rule was this: create safe, ordinary products and combine them with great marketing. The new rule is: create remarkable products that the right people seek out. Click To Tweet In your career, even more than for a brand, being safe is risky. The path to lifetime job security is to be remarkable. Click To Tweet Your art is what you do when no one can tell you exactly how to do it. Your art is the act of taking personal responsibility, challenging the status quo, and changing people. Click To Tweet The secret of leadership is simple: Do what you believe in. Paint a picture of the future. Go there. People will follow. Click To Tweet In a battle between two ideas, the best one doesn't necessarily win. No, the idea that wins is the one with the most fearless heretic behind it. Click To Tweet

Final Notes

In the two decades between his debut, “The Smiley Dictionary” and his, so far, last book, “What to Do When It’s Your Turn,” Seth Godin has written and published 18 books – which amounts to about a book per year. The fascinating thing is that almost each and every one of his books is still an event.

Consequently, Seth Godin’s induction in “The Marketing Hall of Fame” in the Class of 2018 (it should happen in less than a month after this article is published), is not at all surprising. It’s merely an expected development.

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How Not to Be Wrong Summary

How Not to Be Wrong SummaryThe Power of Mathematical Thinking

What if someone came to you right now and told you that you are a mathematician by design? And what if that someone claims that by learning few more tricks from his book, you can at least learn how to be tricked less by the Greatest Mathematician of All, Life.

Jordan Ellenberg is the someone from the previous paragraph. And you can read all about the aforementioned tricks he knows in our “How Not to Be Wrong” summary.

Who Should Read “How Not to Be Wrong”? And Why?

Mathematics doesn’t need to be all equations and no language. Jordan Ellenberg proves that it can be the other way around. So, you don’t need to be interested in math or logic to read this book. All you need to be interested in is common sense.

Because “How Not to Be Wrong” aims to teach you that what you find in math schoolbooks is actually common sense neatly broken down into comprehensible mathematical symbols. Ellenberg translates them into examples so that you can understand them better.

About Jordan Ellenberg

Jordan EllenbergJordan Ellenberg is a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

A child prodigy, he has received a Ph.D. from Harvard University and an MFA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins. He is a regular columnist for “Slate” and has written few interesting articles for “New York Times” and the “Wall Street Journal.”

In addition to “How Not to Be Wrong,” Ellenberg has also authored a novel, “The Grasshopper King.”

“How Not to Be Wrong Summary”

Let’s just say that we’re targeting most of our readers if we start our summary with a sentence along these lines:

You don’t like math, do you?

And you are reasonably sure that it has no practical value whatsoever?

Don’t try to prove me wrong on the latter one, you warn us, because I know that even a genius mathematician of Richard Feynman’s stature felt that math was a bit abstract to his taste!

OK – we dig you! It’s not like we solve equations in our free time. And no – we don’t have a T-shirt with an Euler’s identity print! (Though, man, they sure look funny…) However, Jordan Ellenberg really convinced us that math is not a throwaway matter. So, at least give him – and us – a chance! Because we will try to prove you wrong.

Firstly, by claiming that you already know a lot more math than you care to admit (or are aware of, for that matter); and secondly, by demonstrating you that if you learn a bit more, you can basically cheat your way through life.

But, first thing’s first: you, the unconscious mathematician.

Now, Jordan Ellenberg has a funny way of describing math, and his definition is a good way to start. Namely, he claims that math is “the science of not being wrong.” A bit pretentious, you think? Maybe, but like almost everything else in math – not wrong.

You see, after Einstein, we started questioning even physics, and everything suddenly was much more relative than before. Math survived through this as well, as basically the only exact science of them all.

Speaking of surviving – here’s an excellent way to demonstrate to you how its exactness works. And how it’s not a purely mathematical matter, but common-sensical as well.

At one point during the Second World War, the U.S. Army intended to protect its planes better. In order to decide where the manufacturers should add more armor – they couldn’t add everywhere since that would have caused more fuel consumption – they examined thoroughly the damages on all of the returned planes.

The result?

As you can see yourself from Louie Zamperini’s plane, it was the fuselage which suffered the most, having far more bullet holes than the planes’ engines. After the study, the U.S. Airforce decided to reinforce the fuselage; and it would have done exactly that, if a mathematician by the name of Abraham Wald hadn’t realized that the seemingly straightforward study was flawed.

Namely, it didn’t take into account the bombers which were shut down. Those, Wald claimed, were surely hit much more in their engines.

The U.S. Airforce made a logical error we now call survivorship bias. In a nutshell: focusing merely on the things that have survived a process gives incomplete results.

Yes, this is math too. And, as you can see, it can save numerous lives. Not to mention some serious blushes.

And you know – and readily use ­– few similar techniques to tackle everyday issues. Or, unfortunately (if you don’t know them), you risk being tackled by them. Or, to use Taleb’s phrase, your risk being “fooled by randomness.”

For example, do you know that acting upon advices in books written by successful investors makes you a victim of the survivorship bias explained above? After all, there are many others who failed to get rich at the market, and you don’t know any of those guys! Who knows how many of them are in the world right now! Just like the World War II planes, Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger may be the exceptions.

Also, are you aware that the only thing a monkey needs to write the complete works of Shakespeare is a typewriter and infinite time? Just as well, many other things create patterns through sheer noise. Believing in conspiracy theories, for example, may mean finding something which is there merely because you are a human and you’re built to see patterns even where there are none.

Finally, do you know that even a majority vote can be rigged if your agenda maker is savvy enough? It’s called the Condorcet paradox, and you may have been a victim of it once or twice.

Especially if you were living in Florida in 2000 and voted for Ralph Nader.

Still not interested in math problems?

Key Lessons from “How Not to Be Wrong”

1.      Math Is the Science of Not Being Wrong
2.      Be Wary of the Survivorship Bias – Especially When You’re Reading Books
3.      You Can Rig Elections and Majority Votes

Math Is the Science of Not Being Wrong

Jordan Ellenberg has a funny way to define math. He claims that it is the science of not being wrong.

You may notice that he doesn’t mention where – it’s just not being wrong, period.

And he has a right to say that since math is basically never wrong. What it actually deals with is the underlying laws and patterns which govern the chaos around us. In other words, if you’ve ever argued against your friend’s claim that Steph Curry had a hot hand that February night against the Knicks back in 2013 – you’ve actually practiced math.

Because, as far as mathematicians are concerned, there’s no such thing as hot hands in basketball – or anywhere else. It’s just a case of taking into consideration fewer factors than you should. Or, in layman’s terms, a case of being wrong.

Be Wary of the Survivorship Bias – Especially When You’re Reading Books

Math problems have many practical applications. One of the most famous examples is the survivorship bias. It means that studies often focus only on the people or things which have survived through a process. And the survivors don’t necessarily describe the process in its entirety.

What does this mean in practice?

It means that thousands of people have tried becoming investment gurus using Warren Buffett’s strategies, but most of them probably failed. However, their failures are invisible to us, since these guys are not on TV and their books don’t sell a million copies.

The conclusion?

Warren Buffett’s strategy may be a good one – but he may have been merely lucky.

You Can Rig Elections and Majority Votes

This one’s scary!

With enough info, mathematicians are capable of creating a scenario where you’ll be voting for something entirely different from what you actually defend or are firmly against. Moreover, sometimes you can be tricked into voting for the exact same thing you would least want to vote for.

How?

Consider the 2000 Florida elections. The final results stated that Bush won 48.85 percent of the votes, Al Gore 48.84 percent (just 537 votes fewer) and Ralph Nader merely 1.6 percent. Common sense says – well, the majority won.

However, math says that that’s wrong. Because almost all of the people who voted Nader would have chosen Al Gore if there were only two candidates. So, Bush won even though between him and the second-best candidate, the majority preferred the latter.

Strange?

Try some counter-intuitive paradoxes such as the Monty Hall problem! The best part is that it doesn’t matter what you or anybody else thinks. What matters is that math can’t be wrong.

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“How Not to Be Wrong” Quotes

I think we need more math majors who don't become mathematicians. More math major doctors, more math major high school teachers, more math major CEOs, more math major senators. Click To Tweet A basic rule of mathematical life: if the universe hands you a hard problem, try to solve an easier one instead, and hope the simple version is close enough to the original problem that the universe doesn’t object. Click To Tweet Knowing mathematics is like wearing a pair of X-ray specs that reveal hidden structures underneath the messy and chaotic surface of the world. Click To Tweet Dividing one number by another is mere computation; knowing what to divide by what is mathematics. Click To Tweet The Pythagoreans, you have to remember, were extremely weird. Their philosophy was a chunky stew of things we’d now call mathematics, things we’d now call religion, and things we’d now call mental illness. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“How Not to Be Wrong” is one of the very few books written by an accomplished mathematician who happens to be a novelist as well. So, in other words, here’s math for you – explained in the best, writerly manner possible.

And when that happens, math can be a magical thing. There’s a reason why Bill Gates included “How Not to Be Wrong” in his 2016 “5 Books to Read This Summer” list. It is, simply put, a great, great book.

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Hardwiring Happiness Summary

Hardwiring Happiness SummaryThe New Brain Science of Contentment, Calm, and Confidence

What if you were not meant to be happy? What if your brain was programmed by evolution to be sad so that you have a better chance to survive the jungle of modernity?

Rick Hanson says: well, then we’ll just reprogram your brain. And our “Hardwiring Happiness” Summary features both his theories and his practical tips and tricks.

Who Should Read “Hardwiring Happiness”? And Why?

Most people see the glass as half empty – even when it’s full.

Why?

Because we’re all alike: we tend to focus on the negative. Neuroscience students can read “Hardwiring Happiness” to find out why. Regular folks should read it to find out how they can counter it. The optimists and the overall happy few out there – don’t really need any of our advice.

About Rick Hanson

Rick HansonRick Hanson, Ph.D., is an American psychologist and a New York Times bestselling author. He graduated summa cum laude from UCLA, and he is currently a regular speaker at few major universities and NASA. He is also a senior fellow of the Greater Good Science Center at University of California, Berkeley.

Hanson’s books have sold millions of copies and have been translated into more than thirty languages. In addition to “Hardwiring Happiness,” he is also the author of “Buddha’s Brain” and “The Neurodharma of Love.”

You can read more at http://www.rickhanson.net/.

“Hardwiring Happiness Summary”

Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to spend a whole day without having at least one negative thought?

No? Really?!

Well, then, probably you have what scientists unscientifically call “the happy amygdala.” In other words, that part of your brain which deals with emotional responses and decision-making processes is practically hardwired to focus on the good stuff.

Your computer breaks down while you’re working on your thesis and you lose a couple of hundred pages – hell, you say, repetition is the mother of learning! Your team loses in the NBA final after its opponents’ superstar drains a half-court shot in the last second – that was a great shot, you exclaim! And you are not even wondering whether a glass is half full or half empty! To you, the most important thing is that any glass is always fillable.

Needless to add, if you have a “happy amygdala,” you don’t need “Hardwiring Happiness”; you have biology on your side, and no book would ever beat that.

However – and unfortunately – most people have a “sad amygdala.” Which isn’t too kind to our bodies, releasing cortisol and adrenaline and other unhappy chemicals presumably at will. If you’re feeling anxious and edgy, well, take a number: you are just one among billions of unfortunate people hoodwinked by evolution.

And you do need “Hardwiring Happiness” to make things better.

Because, the good news is, your brain develops with every passing year – and you can steer its development in the direction you want the most. Biology and your early life didn’t result in your amygdala stimulating the nucleus accumbens?

Well, why don’t you start learning how you can do it yourself?

Take a lesson from the London cab drivers. According to a 2000 study by Eleanor Maguire, most of them have an overdeveloped area in their hippocampus. You’ve guessed it – it is the one most related to spatial memory.

So, the reason they remember streets much better than you is simple: they have unconsciously trained that part of the brain for years and years. What do you think will happen with your abs if you made at least a hundred sit-ups day in day out for twenty years straight?

Well, the same is true for your brain as well!

Then, why are so many people so sad and stressed out nowadays? How did they all manage to train their brains in such a misguided manner?

Once again, it’s got a lot to do with evolution. We – and we can’t overemphasize this fact – are the last in a long line of survivors. Basically, we are here because our ancestors were stressed out of their socks! And because if they hadn’t consistently focused on the bad stuff, they might have gotten the dirty end of evolution’s stick.

In other words, it wasn’t a good idea to be relaxed if there was a saber-toothed tiger in the cave a hundred meters away from you and your family! It was much better to be stirred up by even the slightest rustling of a leaf.

The problem?

Even though the danger is no more a tiger, but a deadline – your reaction has remained basically the same. That’s right: you are overreacting. By definition.

So what should you do to face this and put an end to your evolution-based inherent negativity bias?

What else: counter it with positivity. A lot and lot of positivity. As powerful as it is, “positive thinking is very superficial,” says Rick Hanson. You need to “take in the good,” that is internalize it deliberately in your implicit memory.

Really – almost anything will do. A nice dinner, a walk in the park, a discussion with a friend, a memory Experience it once again with all your senses. Savor it. Think about it every time you’re feeling bad.

Let’s just say that a few years from now, your amygdala will have a lot to thank you for.

Key Lessons from “Hardwiring Happiness”

1.      It’s Not You: It’s Your Amygdala Which Is Sad
2.      Internalize Positivity and Counter Your Negativity Bias
3.      Take in the Good and Transform Your States into Traits

It’s Not You: It’s Your Amygdala Which Is Sad

It seems that at least few modern scientists believe that your sadness isn’t psychological, but biological. Namely, the amygdala – the part of your brain which deals with emotional responses, decision-making, and memory processing – has been trained by evolution to be negatively biased.

In other words: it stimulates you to think of the worst. That way, the worst can’t surprise you. This worked well in the early days of the homo sapiens when there were a lot of bad things that could happen to our ancestors basically each and every day. However, it doesn’t work well now when the worst thing that could happen to you is not anymore an attack by a mammoth, but a missed deadline.

The problem is that you and your Neanderthal great-great-great-granddaddy (yes – we know that we need to include few more of those “greats”…) are reacting in exactly the same way.

Who would have thought: you may be sad by design!

Internalize Positivity and Counter Your Negativity Bias

Let’s face it – it’s not a good thing to learn that evolution built you sad. And we don’t need scientists who tell us that, right? We may have been better off without knowing this.

Well, Rick Hanson doesn’t think that way. In fact, he claims that once we learn this, we can finally start being happy. Because we just need to retrain our brain.

And the best way to counter the negativity bias we’ve inherited from our distant ancestors?

Happy thoughts. And not just positive thinking – Hanson says it’s too superficial. You need to act much more profoundly and internalize the positive thinking, transforming it into an inherent part of your memory.

How?

Just remember this acronym and stick blindly to it: HEAL. It stands for: having positive experiences; then enriching them; next absorbing them; and, finally, linking them with the negative material so that you can overwrite the latter.

Take in the Good and Transform Your States into Traits

What we just described above is Hanson’s elaboration on the idea of “taking in the good.”

Its central element is actually quite simple: take some time to enjoy the happy moments of your life. Experience them. Savor them. Don’t let them pass by you just because that’s in their nature.

Remember: your goal is to transform these “fleeting mental events to lasting neural structure;” or, in layman’s terms, to go from the few brief happy states of your existence into permanent traits of your character.

It takes a lot of work to do this. But, you can do it.

After all, it’s your happiness we’re talking about.

Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“Hardwiring Happiness” Quotes

By taking just a few extra seconds to stay with a positive experience—even the comfort in a single breath—you’ll help turn a passing mental state into lasting neural structure. Click To Tweet Neurons that fire together wire together. Mental states become neural traits. Day after day, your mind is building your brain. This is what scientists call experience-dependent neuroplasticity. Click To Tweet The brain is good at learning from bad experiences, but bad at learning from good ones. Click To Tweet Mammals, including us, become friendly, playful, curious, and creative when they feel safe, satisfied, and connected. Click To Tweet Even if you, like me, have done things worthy of remorse, they do not wipe out your good qualities; you are still a fundamentally good person. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

After remarking that “if we understand the brain a little, we can take care of our lives a lot,” Mark Hanson, a Professor at the University of Oxford, wrote that “Hardwiring Happiness” is “a book to savor, to practice, and to take to heart.”

And, obviously, a lot is happening here: few interesting scientific theories, some even more fascinating studies, and numerous practical advices which may make a real difference to your wellbeing. However, the book feels a bit repetitive, and we feel that we agree completely with one Amazon reviewer who describes it succinctly as “40 pages of good info stretched out to 300.”

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The Power of Starting Something Stupid Summary

The Power of Starting Something Stupid SummaryHow to Crush Fear, Make Dreams Happen, and Live Without Regret

Sometimes the sense of fear can overwhelm us, but not even that can be an alibi for not taking action.

You no longer need to bite your fingernails, stay with us and learn how to make your knowledge count.

We summarize the fundamental details of Norton’s vision which explain the path to success.

Who Should Read “The Power of Starting Something Stupid”? And Why?

Honestly, not many people dare to follow their dreams.

Even though it sounds a bit cliché, it is an unavoidable reality we all live in.

The Power of Starting Something Stupid” is a book that breaks all the chains and prompts a new attitude that will help you to trust in your “stupidity.”

We recommend it to all people, due to its broad use.

About Richie Norton

Richie NortonRichie Norton is renowned for his ability to conduct comprehensive research in the realm of entrepreneurship and find the gaps that are causing trouble.

He is the owner of a blog called Start Staff, and the author of the bestseller Resumes are Dead and What To Do About It.

“The Power of Starting Something Stupid Summary”

Are you one of those who abandoned its idea because of other people’s opinions? Don’t let your dream disappear and your hopes vanish due to lack of self-esteem.

A “stupid” plan or incentive can make you wealthy, so allowing others to affect your decision-making is something you wouldn’t want to embrace.    

When you become an old man/woman, how would you turn back and see that you discarded the thing that could have been the start of something big? You could have been the star of the night!

Let’s create a situation: you’ve got your Eureka Moment, and out of sheer curiosity and passion, you share it with your friends, only to find out that they are not really supportive.

Comments such as “it’s stupid,” “no one needs that” “don’t fool around” derive from disappointing life, and they are subtly sucking you in!

What’s even more surprising – the wealthiest people launched their “stupid” idea, despite all the warnings, and made a fortune.

This seemingly silly concept brought many innovations to the top of worldly influence and domination – so, think twice before you give up on your “craziness.”

Find that courage to follow your intuition and rely on your instincts. Out of those who do graduate with flying colors, only a small percentage is aware that good grades are not the embodiment of success.

As much as we want to be labeled as successful, you cannot sidestep any stage.

You’ll need strong determination in order to take the hits placed down the road leading to ultimate prosperity.

Sadly, we always find an excuse to justify our incompetence and lack of conviction in the vision. What’s even more misleading is people’s idea of a perfect life.

So, the idea of firstly becoming rich and then enjoying life with all its pleasures is not a very convenient strategy for the wise ones.

Imagine yourself living in a small house, 50 years from now, and recalling all those things you could have done differently. Is there anything more painful than that?

The pain of regret is far greater than the one triggered by failure.  

You don’t need us reminding you of the bridge an “unknown” person named Jeff Bezos had to cross to indulge in success.

As he explains, a simple mantra allowed him to understand the big picture and leave the Wall Street job in order to embark on a new adventure.

Don’t be afraid to question the inventiveness of others and go beyond the borderline! Investigate your ideas daily, find a way to improve your service and hope for a masterpiece to kick in!!

How to cross the self-imposed restrictions? Successful innovation can be best described as a process that broke the boundaries of an old standard.

This novelty is continuously challenged by brand-new “stupid” ideas, which by all means, stimulate economic expansion.

One can never be too sure of its possibilities, and the risk of failure is an unpleasant but a realistic scenario. How to avoid it?

Have you heard that attack is the best form of defense? Courage and eagerness to crush all signs of failure should be your first step!

How to be all “Tom Cruise”?

From very young age, we’ve developed a habit of procrastinating, and most people are not capable of finally putting an end to that! So, what can be done?

  • First and foremost, if you are stuck in a busy trap don’t try to find more free time by sleeping less or do something in-between other commitments. Simply, cancel everything that is irrelevant.
  • Secondly, don’t make it harder on yourself, just cut off all those meaningless tasks that are producing little or no results at all.

So, should you ask for professional assistance or go on your own from start to finish? – Don’t forget that people with the necessary expertise can make things a lot easier.

Once the safety net is torn apart, there’s not much that can be done at that point.

Therefore, build a network or base of individuals who possess the know-how and are passionate about your intentions.

Give them the freedom to express themselves, and they’ll repay with sweat and ingenuity to an unmeasurable extent.

The bottom line is, one must stop finding excuses and start chasing its dreams with no intention of stopping.

Key Lessons from “The Power of Starting Something Stupid

1.      Trust in your co-workers, make them feel valuable
2.      Find support and professional help
3.      Discover your real fears and incentives

Trust in your co-workers, make them feel valuable

Throughout history and even today people were driven by an idea, and if that vision applies to their mindset, they will undoubtedly be on their best behavior and act correctly.

The power of trust can trigger a new set of productivity that can ever surpass the defined expectations.

Find support and professional help

One way to do it is by approaching a person who can provide guidance in times of crisis.

How to do it? – You want to borrow some money to invest in your business, but you lack the funds, and you need to find a group of investors.

Find the one who has already been in a similar position and ask for directions.

Discover your real fears and incentives

Set a reminder to tell you what is hiding behind your actions.

Don’t forget to meditate, keep your mind calm and sharp so that new energy can burst in and fill the air with hope.

Control your fears by conducting an in-depth preparation for what is to come.

Like this summary? We’d Like to invite you to download our free 12 min app, for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“The Power of Starting Something Stupid” Quotes

Opportunities will come and go, but if you do nothing about them, so will you. Click To Tweet Your life should consist of more than commuting, working, eating, surfing the Internet, sleeping and watching TV. Your life should be filled with purpose-driven experiences and projects that bring excitement, passion, energy, and… Click To Tweet To crush fear doesn't mean you eliminate it; crushing fear means you literally crush it down into smaller, more manageable parts and tackle one piece at a time. Click To Tweet It all starts with a tiny, stupid idea, then one thing leads to another, and suddenly, you find something amazing: yourself. Click To Tweet Don't allow life to pass you by because you are afraid of looking stupid. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

We want to remain impartial, and we’ll continue to follow the same practice.

This book has made us believe in ourselves and showed us that every journey starts with a stupid idea.

It may sound silly, but that’s how it is. We encourage to apply Norton’s tips and enjoy life without regret.

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