March 30, 2020

Books I Have Read and Reread - my views, highlights and notes

My naturally honest book recommendations

I don't commit to finishing any book that I start.

Every night, before I sleep, I just pick my Kindle and read what feels most interesting at the moment. No pressure to finish what I started last night if it doesn't excite me today.

This reading philosophy means that I don't finish most of the books that I start reading.

But when I do finish one, it is an indicator that that book resonates with me. It becomes a great filter for identifying books that have changed my world. So, I highly recommend them.

Here are those books along with my personal notes and highlights:

Let me know if you enjoy any of them. I would love to catch up with you for a virtual coffee! :)

The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu

My views:

  • I rarely read fiction. But I picked this book up when a tech founder who I follow mentioned rereading this book and how it becomes better with every read. Boy, am I glad to have read it!
  • While the first book in the trilogy - The Three Body Problem - was a great science fiction novel, the second book - The Dark Forest - has a mind-bending philosophical thread running through its science fiction narrative. It's about the power of asymmetricities and their long-term impact. Even though the sci-fi narrative is amazing, it is this philosophical undertone that blew my mind.
  • Don't read any further if you have not read the book. It'll spoil your read. I'm writing these views to share it with people who have read the book.
  • Alright. As I was writing, this book is about the power of asymmetricities. The Wallfacer project, the futility of decades of planning by 3 Wallfacers against the few seconds of Luo Ji's insightful moments submerged in ice water, one message having the ability to destroy an entire world - they are all meant to demonstrate how powerful asymmetric acts can be.
  • It is as if the author is trying to mock the regular systemic planning. He's saying while the humanity spends all their energy systematically planning the future and grind away working towards it, it is the little asymmetric acts that control the larger destiny. So, it is important to reserve some of your energy to think outside the box and make asymmetric bets on improving the future.
  • The second big thread running through the book is how the biggest thing working against the tremendous power asymmetricities is human motivation. Or rather, the lack thereof. Our rational brains are capable of making asymmetric bets. Like the UN did by appointing the Wallfacers or like how Luo Ji cast a spell on a distant star to test his theory of cosmic sociology.

    But a constant reminder of failure gnaws at your rational will. Especially in the long term. This is a problem because the number one friend of asymmetricites is time. As decades and centuries passed, both UN and Luo Ji lost conviction in their asymmetric bets, even though ultimately these bets would end up saving the world.
  • When faced with such asymmetricities, the question of whose work is more impactful, becomes impossible to answer. While Tyler Hendricks was stoned to death, Luo Ji became a god, and shortly after it, was denounced again. It is in the human nature to judge a decision, and thus the decision maker, by its outcome. But perhaps, we shouldn't? Especially the asymmetric bets. We should abandon such bets after executing them without trying to assign credit or blame for the decision.
  • I am glad that I had read Antifragile before reading this book because that's the book that gave me the mental model to appreciate the asymmetric.

Business of Belonging by David Spinks

My views:

  • In this book, David discusses how a business can create a community and use it as an extension of their actual teams to achieve measurable business goals for all areas of the business like Product, Marketing, Content and Support.
  • As I was reading this book, I felt like David knew about all my struggles and desires as a Community Builder.
  • He has written one of those rare actionable books that I have put to work right away. My work email is filled with Kindle notes and highlights I sent from this book to myself.
  • It is extremely practical and has no fluff.
  • It is no overstatement to say that this book has changed the tragectory of my career as a community professional.

My Highlights:

Notes and highlights for
The Business of Belonging
Spinks, David


Highlight (yellow) - Building the Community Industry > Page xvii · Location 426

I finally felt , without a doubt , I was making the right decision about my career . I left feeling inspired and reinvigorated .

Note - Building the Community Industry > Page xvii · Location 427

Exactly how i felt upon discovering the community community on twitter

Chapter 1: Why Community Is the New Competitive Advantage

Highlight (yellow) - The Rise of Community-Driven Business > Page 3 · Location 522

“ Our philosophy [ was ] to take most of the money we would have spent on paid advertising and invest it into customer service and the customer experience instead , letting our customers do the marketing for us through word of mouth . ”

Highlight (yellow) - The Rise of Community-Driven Business > Page 4 · Location 534

With one - to - one , you're limited by how many people you can form deep trust and connection with . With one - to - many communication , you can reach more people , but will lack depth . With many - to - many communication , there is no limit .

Highlight (yellow) - The Rise of Community-Driven Business > Page 4 · Location 547

Whenever she took on a new community project , she made sure it would be something she could measure , and tie back to ROI .

Highlight (yellow) - The Rise of Community-Driven Business > Page 5 · Location 549

she was able to show how community reduced support costs , increased product adoption , and increased customer spend and retention .

Note - The Rise of Community-Driven Business > Page 5 · Location 550

Think about how i can show this.

Highlight (yellow) - Giving Customers a True Sense of Community > Page 6 · Location 585

The authors describe a sense of community as “ a feeling that members have of belonging , a feeling that members matter to one another and to the group , and a shared faith that members ' needs will be met through their commitment to be together . ”

Highlight (yellow) - Giving Customers a True Sense of Community > Page 6 · Location 587

there are four factors that contribute to a sense of community : membership , influence , integration / fulfillment of needs , and shared emotional connection .

Highlight (yellow) - Giving Customers a True Sense of Community > Page 6 · Location 591

Boundaries . How do people become members , and what are the boundaries keeping others out ?

Note - Giving Customers a True Sense of Community > Page 6 · Location 592

Open to all X community might not be a good way to market your community.

Highlight (yellow) - Giving Customers a True Sense of Community > Page 7 · Location 600

members feeling like they have influence over the community and the community having influence over the members .

Highlight (yellow) - Giving Customers a True Sense of Community > Page 7 · Location 606

Each member should know that someone is listening , no matter what , even if it's just the community manager .

Note - Giving Customers a True Sense of Community > Page 7 · Location 607

Make sure no topic goes unanswered.

Highlight (yellow) - Giving Customers a True Sense of Community > Page 7 · Location 612

your community , like any other product , needs to solve a problem for its members in order to make it worth their time and contribution . A reward might be something specific like an answer to a question or networking . Or it could be something a bit more intangible , like a sense of belonging , a feeling of purpose , a new friend , etc .

Note - Giving Customers a True Sense of Community > Page 8 · Location 615

Think of rewards at 2 levels: - reward for seekers - getting the required help is a good reward for them - reward for helpers - reward them with swag, connections, friends, influence etc.

Highlight (yellow) - Giving Customers a True Sense of Community > Page 8 · Location 626

without clearly defined membership , an exchange of influence , fulfillment of needs , and a shared emotional connection , it's fair to assume that the strength of community amongst a group is pretty weak .

Highlight (yellow) - The Unrivaled Scalability of Community > Page 9 · Location 651

By giving your customers the opportunity to connect with and support each other , you can deliver exponentially more value at a fraction of the cost of traditional business tactics .

Highlight (yellow) - Community Is an Extension of Your Team > Page 10 · Location 666

Historically , only employees would contribute , and customers would consume . Your marketing team does the marketing , your product team builds the product , your content team creates the content , your support team supports the customer . What community does is it extends the capacity and impact of each of those teams by organizing community members to contribute to the same kinds of projects and goals .

Highlight (yellow) - The Power of Owning a Topic in People's Minds > Page 13 · Location 721

Owning a topic in people's minds is quite simple ( but not easy ) : you need to successfully solve their problem for them enough times that your community becomes the most efficient and trusted place they know of to get an answer , and they form a new habit .

Highlight (yellow) - The Power of Owning a Topic in People's Minds > Page 13 · Location 723

They need to feel confident that if they ask a question in your online community , they will get quality answers in a reasonable amount of time .

Note - The Power of Owning a Topic in People's Minds > Page 13 · Location 724

Promise a 100% response rate and max reply time.

Highlight (yellow) - The One Thing They Can't Copy > Page 14 · Location 735

Community , on the other hand , can't be copied , because community isn't software . Someone can copy the look , feel , and functionality of your forum , but they'll lack the people , relationships , emotional investment , and social identity that an established community has .

Highlight (yellow) - The One Thing They Can't Copy > Page 14 · Location 747

Community adds an emotional layer to switching costs . To leave your product would mean leaving their people , their relationships , and sacrificing the social capital they've earned within your community . There's a social cost to leaving your product .

Note - The One Thing They Can't Copy > Page 14 · Location 749

To increase retention, increase the number of connections a community member makes in the community.

Highlight (yellow) - Good for Business, Good for Humanity > Page 15 · Location 760

There are two things that every community program should focus on : How it creates value , belonging , and emotional safety for members How it creates value and measurable results for the business

Chapter 2: The Fundamentals of Community Strategy

Highlight (yellow) - The Three Levels of Community Strategy > Page 20 · Location 852

The key is to communicate how community engagement is also achieving business goals that impact revenue and growth . They both matter . Business goals without a focus on building an authentic , healthy community will result in low engagement and trust . Community engagement goals without a focus on achieving business goals will result in an underfunded , undersupported community team .

Note - The Three Levels of Community Strategy > Page 21 · Location 856

Focusing on community engagement and achieving business goals are two sides of the same coin.

Highlight (yellow) - The Three Levels of Community Strategy > Page 21 · Location 856

Over the years we've developed a simple system for structuring and measuring your community strategy called the three levels of community strategy ( Table 2.1 ) . TABLE 2.1 The Three Levels of Community Strategy 1 . Business level How your community program will drive revenue for your company . 2 . Community level How your community will grow and become more healthy and engaged over time . 3 . Tactical level The specific initiatives and improvements you work on in order to build a healthy , engaged community , and achieve the business outcomes .

Highlight (yellow) - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 22 · Location 891

The SPACES model was built by our team to help businesses understand the different types of measurable outcomes that are driven by communities . This simple framework has been used by thousands of companies to identify the key business objectives and revenue drivers for their communities .

Highlight (yellow) - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 25 · Location 941

Community isn't meant to replace your existing programs . It's meant to enhance and accelerate it . Look at your support program and think about how community can amplify the work that they're doing by empowering experts to contribute . Look at your marketing programs and think about how community can accelerate growth by activating your biggest advocates .

Highlight (yellow) - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 26 · Location 968

The actual belonging building efforts will be focused on these contributors , and for everyone else , it's all about optimizing your operations to make sure they can find the most relevant information in the right amount of time .

Note - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 27 · Location 970

Focus on developing a sense of belonging for contributors.

Highlight (yellow) - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 28 · Location 1006

Product teams absolutely love having an engaged community that they can always turn to for feedback . Product focused community programs also help earn the trust of a customer - base , who will feel like they're being listened to , and that they have an impact on the product and business .

Highlight (yellow) - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 29 · Location 1024

These kinds of “ distributed leadership ” programs where the company identifies local ambassadors to serve as chapter leaders who can host events for other customers in their region are becoming extremely popular and can be highly effective . The chapter leader gets approval to represent the brand , they're given a playbook for how to run their events , and the company supports them with resources , training , and benefits .

Note - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 29 · Location 1026

Community helping in growth and conversion.

Highlight (yellow) - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 30 · Location 1039

Acquisition is an area that a lot of community teams don't lean into nearly enough . Understandably , they're afraid of making their community too sales - y and losing trust with community members . You should absolutely not come in hard with a cold - sale in a community , certainly not if you haven't established trust already .

Highlight (yellow) - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 32 · Location 1080

Some studies show that 80 percent of the content will be created by 20 percent of the users . And , at a big enough size , it's possible that only 1 percent of your members will be consistent , active contributors . That's why it's so important that you make your contributors successful . A small group can have outsized impact on the rest of your business .

Highlight (yellow) - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 32 · Location 1085

When customers feel like they're truly part of a community , and not just transactional consumers , they're much less likely to switch to a competitor . They're getting social value as well as practical value .

Note - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 32 · Location 1086

If your Community can create social value for your customers, they are less likely to switch to a competitor and risk losing that value.

Highlight (yellow) - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 33 · Location 1103

Our research found that only one third of companies are able to connect their community data to their customer data . 4 Not the worst , but for community teams to be able to continue to grow and get buy - in , this is a non - negotiable . Without the data , you can't say for sure that community is having an impact on your business , and it will be very difficult to justify increasing budget in community .

Note - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 33 · Location 1107

SUPER IMPORTANT: connect community data with customer data. Only way to prove the importance of community to the business.

Highlight (yellow) - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 34 · Location 1109

Community - driven success programs are where you're empowering and facilitating education created by your members for your members . The goal is to help them become more efficient and capable at using your product , and to help them grow in their career through improving skills and strategic abilities . This takes customer support , which can tend to be more reactive and very product focused , to a more proactive approach with a bigger focus on improving skills and strategic abilities .

Highlight (yellow) - The SPACES Model: The Six Business Outcomes of Community > Page 34 · Location 1123

The best part about success programs is that by making your customers into experts and investing in their career , you'll undoubtedly create more passionate advocates who then want to give back to the community and company . You'll create a whole new wave of leaders who will teach classes , host events , support other customers , and invite others into your community . Invest in the success of your community members , and they'll be motivated to invest in your success .

Highlight (yellow) - Metrics and the Attribution Challenge > Page 35 · Location 1145

Community is another touchpoint , and it's a damn powerful one at that . You don't need community to be the single thing that made a person decide to buy your product , to renew a contract , to give you a high customer satisfaction score , or accomplish any of the goals in the SPACES model . You do want to be able to show if and when community was a touchpoint on the journey to that outcome . Then you'll be able to say with confidence that community is meaningfully driving growth and retention .

Highlight (yellow) - Finding Your Community Focus > Page 36 · Location 1176

It's important to focus on just one or two primary objectives for your community program when you're first getting started and your community team is small .

Highlight (yellow) - Finding Your Community Focus > Page 37 · Location 1193

And each objective also requires organizing different groups of members ! Because the members who are motivated and capable of being an expert answering questions in a support forum may be very different from the members who are motivated and capable of being ambassadors and hosting events , or the members who have lots of useful product feedback !

Highlight (yellow) - Choosing a Measurement Framework > Page 42 · Location 1286

All strategic frameworks aim to take a big nebulous goal and make it more specific . They all do this with three elements : The goal you're trying to achieve The measures that will tell you if you've achieved that goal The actions you'll take in order to achieve the goal That's it , it's that simple ! Let's look at those three strategic frameworks and how they fit . OKRs were popularized in the book Measure What Matters by John Doerr . There are three pieces to OKRs : Objectives ( the goal ) Key Results ( the measures ) Initiatives ( the actions )

Note - Choosing a Measurement Framework > Page 42 · Location 1294

The only explanation of OKRs that make sense.

Highlight (yellow) - Choosing a Measurement Framework > Page 44 · Location 1320

The actions from your business - level strategy will become your goals for the community level of your strategy .

Highlight (yellow) - Choosing a Measurement Framework > Page 44 · Location 1332

So you can see how you start with the end in mind . What is the business goal ? From there , you lay out how you'll build community that achieves those goals . You keep getting more specific until you know exactly what you're focusing on this week , month , or quarter , and how that work ultimately impacts the community and the business .

Highlight (yellow) - The Community Investment Journey > Page 46 · Location 1372

The seed is essentially an idea . It's a belief that there's a group of people who don't yet have a space to call their own .

Highlight (yellow) - The Community Investment Journey > Page 47 · Location 1386

The successful communities you see today looked very different when they first started . If you're starting a new community , then look at how other communities started , not how they look in their mature stage today .

Highlight (yellow) - The Community Investment Journey > Page 48 · Location 1405

You need people to create content for members to engage with in the community . But you need people in the community in order to motivate people to create content .

Highlight (yellow) - The Community Investment Journey > Page 49 · Location 1424

In order to get members to contribute , you'll likely have to ask them directly and nudge regularly . They haven't developed a habit of coming to your community yet . There are few examples for how to participate in the community .

Highlight (yellow) - The Community Investment Journey > Page 52 · Location 1495

All groups come from existing groups .

Highlight (yellow) - The Community Investment Journey > Page 53 · Location 1501

Those who refuse to share power will eventually lose power .

Chapter 3: Creating a Social Identity

Highlight (yellow) - The Social Identity Cycle > Page 58 · Location 1589

And Cam was personally welcomed by an admin and a bunch of members in the community .

Note - The Social Identity Cycle > Page 58 · Location 1589

Note importance of personal welcome msgs

Highlight (yellow) - Who Is Your Community Built For? > Page 60 · Location 1628

On the highest level , there are three questions that will help you define the social identity of your community : People : Who are we ? Purpose : What do we believe ? Participation : What do we do ?

Highlight (yellow) - Who Is Your Community Built For? > Page 63 · Location 1679

People may seem well connected but have some part of their identity where they feel isolated .

Highlight (yellow) - Who Is Your Community Built For? > Page 63 · Location 1683

There's a good chance that everyone has some part of their identity where they feel lonely . There's always an opportunity for community .

Highlight (yellow) - Who Doesn't Belong? > Page 65 · Location 1721

Keep in mind that one of the worst feelings in the world for humans is to feel excluded . Especially if it's a group that they believe they should belong to . Exclude with empathy . Exclude with the knowledge that not everyone has a community to turn to , and while yours might not be perfect for them , it might be the closest thing they can find .

Highlight (yellow) - Investing in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from Day One > Page 66 · Location 1747

Being passive isn't going to bring about change . Without taking action , your community will perpetuate these norms . It's the world we live in , and it's very easy to maintain the status quo .

Highlight (yellow) - Investing in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion from Day One > Page 67 · Location 1769

Over time the similar identities in the community will be reinforced , and as it grows it will be more and more difficult to attract diverse members . They'll look around , not see anyone who looks like them , and question whether they'll feel included in your space .

Highlight (yellow) - What Is Your Community's Personality? > Page 69 · Location 1805

Critical feedback was always welcome , of course – but always with the intention of helping the creators out , not putting them down .

Note - What Is Your Community's Personality? > Page 69 · Location 1806

How to ask members to give feedback

Chapter 4: Mapping the Community Participation Journey

Highlight (yellow) - The Commitment Curve > Page 81 · Location 2024

This is where the commitment curve comes in . The idea is that over time , your members ' level of commitment will increase . As their commitment to the community increases , their willingness to make larger and larger contributions to the community goes up . So you need to only make smaller asks of members at the beginning of the curve , and increase the ask as they move up the curve .

Highlight (yellow) - The Four Levels of Participation > Page 85 · Location 2077

Generally , you want to focus your engagement strategy on the inner circles . The Pareto principle applies here , which predicts that roughly 80 percent of the content in your community will be created by 20 percent of your members . While this principle doesn't apply to all communities , it's a common distribution found in large social platforms . So you want to make sure that 20 percent is set up to be really happy , engaged , and successful . You'll grow your community a lot faster by working to get that 20 percent to double their commitment than by trying to get the other 80 percent of your community to increase their commitment by fivefold .

Note - The Four Levels of Participation > Page 85 · Location 2079

To improve engagement focus on top 20%

Highlight (yellow) - How to Attract Members to Your Community > Page 88 · Location 2139

You should make sure your community is listed clearly on your website . If it's a customer community , think about where your community can show up on different parts of your website where your customers are already spending time , like in dashboards or in help documents .

Highlight (yellow) - How to Move Members Up the Commitment Curve > Page 92 · Location 2214

My belief is that you generally can't * get * anyone to do anything that they aren't organically motivated to do . If they don't care about your community , or they don't get value from participating , you can't make them care .

Note - How to Move Members Up the Commitment Curve > Page 92 · Location 2215

Not even with puny financial 'incentives'

Highlight (yellow) - How to Move Members Up the Commitment Curve > Page 92 · Location 2219

Take the time to talk to your members at each level of participation and learn more about their experience . Ask your passive members if they'd be interested in participating more actively , and why they haven't taken that leap yet . Ask your power members if they'd be interested in becoming a leader and why they haven't applied yet .

Highlight (yellow) - Activating Successful Community Leaders > Page 95 · Location 2282

Most parts of your community that you want to keep hands on and personalized , but you can no longer handle yourself , can be handed off to community leaders . In the CMX community , we could no longer keep up with personally welcoming the hundreds of members who were joining every month . So we created an official “ welcome committee ” of community members who volunteer to welcome new members who are at the start of the commitment curve every week , and make sure each member gets a personal message .

Chapter 5: Validation, Rewards, and Incentives

Highlight (yellow) - Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivations > Page 99 · Location 2359

Motivation comes in two forms : intrinsic and extrinsic .

Highlight (yellow) - Extrinsic vs. Intrinsic Motivations > Page 99 · Location 2363

Self - determination theory says that intrinsic motivation is driven by three things : competence , relatedness , and autonomy . 3 We can find all three in communities . People join communities to grow their skills and learn , to connect with other people , and are more likely to contribute when they feel a sense of ownership .

Highlight (yellow) - Avoid Replacing Social Norms with Market Norms > Page 101 · Location 2403

When you bring market norms and extrinsic rewards into a situation that was driven by social norms , the market norm tends to replace the intrinsic motivation .

Highlight (yellow) - Avoid Replacing Social Norms with Market Norms > Page 102 · Location 2416

research shows that when a prize is unexpected , like you surprising a member with a swag package in the mail , it does not have a negative effect on their intrinsic motivation .

Highlight (yellow) - Avoid Replacing Social Norms with Market Norms > Page 102 · Location 2426

Reinforce the intrinsic motivations with praise , social validation , and other extrinsic rewards .

Highlight (yellow) - SNAP! A Framework for Effective Extrinsic Rewards > Page 103 · Location 2432

SNAP ! stands for Status , Networking , Access , and Perks . You can use this framework to brainstorm new ways to reward the members of your community .

Highlight (yellow) - The Thing about Gamification > Page 105 · Location 2489

news . If you're not seeing much engagement in your community now , adding points , badges , swag , levels , or perks won't be much help . Why ? Because gamification rewards like badges and points aren't status , they're proof of status .

Highlight (yellow) - The Thing about Gamification > Page 106 · Location 2506

If you have engagement going in your community already , then gamification can truly accelerate things like throwing gasoline on an open flame . It can move people along the commitment curve faster .

Highlight (yellow) - Come for the Utility, Stay for the Unity > Page 108 · Location 2543

So if you're working to attract new members to your community , figure out the most important practical value that they'll get from the community , and focus on that more so than the emotional value . Tell them what problems you will solve for them .

Highlight (yellow) - Measuring Community Health and Engagement Using the Social Identity Cycle > Page 109 · Location 2558

Going back to the solar system analogy , we can think of members like particles floating in outer space and their “ sense of community ” is like gravity , pulling them together to form planets , solar systems , and galaxies . Like particles in space , as they gather and form a more dense mass , the gravitational pull of that mass increases and attracts more particles .

Note - Measuring Community Health and Engagement Using the Social Identity Cycle > Page 109 · Location 2560

Do your community members feel a "sense of community"?

Highlight (yellow) - Measuring Community Health and Engagement Using the Social Identity Cycle > Page 110 · Location 2589

If you see a 30 % DAU / MAU rate , you're absolutely crushing it , says Hawk . “ Our meta community is around 20 % and it's highly engaged . I've run successful communities at around 8 – 10 % . ”

Highlight (yellow) - Measuring Community Health and Engagement Using the Social Identity Cycle > Page 111 · Location 2593

Those totals will give you an idea if more people are participating in your community , but it won't necessarily tell you if you're retaining your members . It could be a whole new batch of people participating every month . So look at repeat usage and track that over time . For example , you can track how many members have taken at least three actions in your community in the last 30 days . You can also break down metrics based on when members joined . For example , look at activity rates amongst members who signed up in the last 90 days and compare it to members who signed up in the last 30 days to get an idea of your dropoff rates .

Chapter 6: Designing Community Spaces and Experiences

Highlight (yellow) - The Two Kinds of Community Experiences > Page 115 · Location 2701

Although there are a lot of actions a member can take along the commitment curve , the real community magic happens when they participate in a shared experience .

Highlight (yellow) - The Two Kinds of Community Experiences > Page 116 · Location 2716

Asynchronous experiences provide breadth . Synchronous experiences provide depth .

Highlight (yellow) - The Two Kinds of Community Experiences > Page 116 · Location 2722

Bringing members together live enhances the asynchronous experience . Now when members interact on your forum , it won't just be an avatar but an actual person that they've met , talked to , and shared an experience with .

Highlight (yellow) - Repetition, Repetition, Repetition > Page 117 · Location 2728

Music is the perfect metaphor for facilitating community engagement . A great song will have a steady beat with different lyrics , a chorus where everyone knows the words to sing along , and a crescendo where the energy peaks and the crowd goes wild . A great community is the same . It will have a steady cadence of different content and experiences for people to engage with ( the beat ) , regular rituals where everyone knows how to participate ( the chorus ) , and then one or two big energizing experiences every year where the whole community comes together ( the crescendo ) .

Highlight (yellow) - Repetition, Repetition, Repetition > Page 117 · Location 2743

Under each interval , write down at least three ideas for what you can do to engage your community with a recurring experience daily , weekly , monthly , quarterly , and annually .

Highlight (yellow) - Repetition, Repetition, Repetition > Page 118 · Location 2747

A general rule is that the less frequent the experience is hosted , the bigger the production it will be .

Highlight (yellow) - Repetition, Repetition, Repetition > Page 119 · Location 2776

Consistency is incredibly important in communities .

Highlight (yellow) - Repetition, Repetition, Repetition > Page 119 · Location 2778

It helps them build a habit of coming back consistently . It's already on their calendar . They have to do less guessing about what's going to happen when .

Highlight (yellow) - Repetition, Repetition, Repetition > Page 120 · Location 2791

Having variable content and experiences is important , too . It keeps your members on their toes and makes them want to come back to see what they might have missed . While CMX Summit happens around the same time every year , we don't want the experience to be exactly the same .

Highlight (yellow) - The 7Ps of Community Experience Design > Page 120 · Location 2799

When designing any shared experience , there's a standard set of pillars we use called The 7Ps : People . Who are we gathering ? Purpose . Why are we gathering ? Place . Where are we gathering ? Participation . What will participants do ? Policy . What are the rules and guidelines ? Promotion . How will you invite members ? Performance . What will success look and feel like ? If you're launching a new forum , use the 7Ps to design your experience first .

Highlight (yellow) - The 7Ps of Community Experience Design > Page 122 · Location 2842

designing for each of these elements can give you a more clear idea of what a space or experience will look and feel like , and help you get clarity on the focus , intention , and expected outcomes of the space or experience .

Highlight (yellow) - Curating the Right People for the Right Purpose > Page 123 · Location 2859

If your goal is to drive word of mouth and referrals , then you can organize a dinner and invite both your most loyal customers and your biggest target prospects so that they can sit and talk to each other .

Highlight (yellow) - Curating the Right People for the Right Purpose > Page 123 · Location 2865

If you want to make people feel like they're a part of something really big and exciting , then it may make sense to bring * everyone * together for a large event . Customers , prospects , audience members , employees , partners … everyone . If you'd like to host a deep , vulnerable conversation , then you might want to only send private invitations , and choose people that you know will be respectful and personally invested in the topic .

Note - Curating the Right People for the Right Purpose > Page 123 · Location 2869

Insight: this is how you grow your community while keeping intimacy. The public forum exists to make people feel part of something bigger than themselves. Small meetups/channels keep things intimate.

Highlight (yellow) - Curating the Right People for the Right Purpose > Page 124 · Location 2871

Any identity that exists in your community is an opportunity to create an intentional , dedicated space .

Highlight (yellow) - Aligning Size with Purpose > Page 124 · Location 2880

A person will be much more willing to be vulnerable in small groups where they know and can see everyone who's listening and there's an expectation of confidentiality .

Note - Aligning Size with Purpose > Page 124 · Location 2882

Note the importance of expectation of confidentiality. ODCB calls it "sacredness".

Highlight (yellow) - Aligning Size with Purpose > Page 124 · Location 2883

The smaller the group , the more safe the members will feel . So if you want to create a community experience where people can be vulnerable , share emotions or secrets , and be really open , you'll want to keep your group small .

Highlight (yellow) - Aligning Size with Purpose > Page 125 · Location 2897

I've found that people generally crave the size of community that they don't have .

Highlight (yellow) - Aligning Size with Purpose > Page 125 · Location 2904

If there are only small events focused on a topic , you probably have an opportunity to build a large gathering . If there's only large gatherings , try building a smaller , more intimate group .

Note - Aligning Size with Purpose > Page 125 · Location 2905

How to get new community idea

Highlight (yellow) - Aligning Size with Purpose > Page 126 · Location 2908

Smaller groups provide the opportunity for more intimacy , but less diversity . Larger groups provide the opportunity for more diversity , but less intimacy .

Highlight (yellow) - Aligning Size with Purpose > Page 126 · Location 2912

Online , a forum with 10 people in it will feel empty , and a chat group with 1,000 in it will feel extremely overwhelming .

Highlight (yellow) - Aligning Size with Purpose > Page 126 · Location 2921

Don't start off with too many subgroups and sections . Get critical mass in a few first , then add more spaces over time .

Note - Aligning Size with Purpose > Page 126 · Location 2922

This is what i did with the dataquest community when i reduced the categories.

Highlight (yellow) - Starting with a BANG! > Page 132 · Location 3039

The asynchronous nature of forums makes it hard to feel like there's a lot of energy pulsing through the space in the early days . So they host big events on the forum to get everyone to sign on at the same time and participate in a big shared experience . It could be as simple as a series of Ask Me Anythings ( AMAs ) where you invite experts to show up in the community and answer questions for an hour .

Note - Starting with a BANG! > Page 132 · Location 3042

Really need to organise an AMA for the dataquest community.

Highlight (yellow) - Creating Peak Moments > Page 133 · Location 3051

You only remember the “ peak ” moments .

Highlight (yellow) - Creating Peak Moments > Page 133 · Location 3057

When you're creating your online community experience or hosting a big event , 99 percent of the details that you're sweating over will not be what people will remember . They'll only remember the absolute best and absolute worst experiences they have .

Highlight (yellow) - Creating Peak Moments > Page 134 · Location 3075

Peak moments can take many different forms . They fall into a few different categories , laid out by the Heath brothers : Elevation : that top of the roller coaster , standing ovation , high - energy moment . Pride : the feeling of accomplishment , getting the spotlight , accomplishing a big goal . Insight : learning something new , getting that ah - ha ! moment . Connection : meeting someone new or forming a deeper relationship with someone . At CMX Summit , we try to create opportunities for all four :

Highlight (yellow) - Facilitating Small-Group Discussions > Page 135 · Location 3098

Every Wednesday , we'd sit down for lunch and have a 90 - minute discussion facilitated by the founders Chad Hamre and Brendan Baker . The format was simple : we'd go around and each share a high and low from our week for the first 45 minutes , then switch to a shared discussion on a single topic .

Highlight (yellow) - Facilitating Small-Group Discussions > Page 136 · Location 3107

That's why small discussion groups have become one of my favorite formats for building community . Hosted regularly , they become a deep and meaningful part of people's lives . They're genuine , and intimate .

Highlight (yellow) - Facilitating Small-Group Discussions > Page 137 · Location 3130

You can also have people arrive in the space by asking members to say hello to a neighbor , all making a sound together , or anything else that makes everyone feel aware of their current environment and takes their mind away from whatever they were doing before .

Note - Facilitating Small-Group Discussions > Page 137 · Location 3131

At ODCB, lais played music as people joined in the first few mins.

Highlight (yellow) - Facilitating Small-Group Discussions > Page 137 · Location 3132

Once everyone is engaged , there are a lot of different formats for kicking off and facilitating small - group discussions . Here are a few ideas I've used with success : Round of intros : Kick off with a round of intros . Spice it up with a “ fun ” question like , “ What cartoon character do you most identify with ? ” Whip - around : An initial question that everyone answers to get everyone involved in the conversation early . A lot of these formats can be considered whip - arounds . They're usually quick answers to a question like , “ What is your goal for this discussion ? ” or , “ What is one thing you're grateful for ? ” Traffic light : Ask everyone to share how they're feeling at that moment , “ red , yellow , green . ” High - and - low : Have each person share a high and a low from their life / work . This is also called “ a rose and a thorn . ” Presentation : Have one or multiple members share their screen and give a short presentation , then open up to discussion . Share a challenge : Each person has a chance to share a challenge that they want feedback on and then gets time for other participants to give them feedback . Topic - based discussion : Have a topic or theme for the call , and leave it open to participants to jump in with their thoughts and opinions . Commitment and next steps : Finish the discussion by asking each participant to share one commitment they will make as a result of the discussion , or a next action they will take .

Highlight (yellow) - Tell Your Members How to Participate > Page 138 · Location 3154

Tell Your Members How to Participate

Highlight (yellow) - Tell Your Members How to Participate > Page 139 · Location 3169

When we welcome new members to the CMX online community , we don't just tell them to introduce themselves , we tell them how to introduce themselves

Highlight (yellow) - Tell Your Members How to Participate > Page 139 · Location 3174

Teach your members how to successfully ask the community for help .

Highlight (yellow) - How to Get Members to Be Open and Vulnerable > Page 140 · Location 3194

Some of the most valuable community experiences a person will have is one where they have a chance to be truly open and vulnerable . We walk around most of our lives keeping things close to the chest .

Highlight (yellow) - My Three Go-To Community Rules > Page 146 · Location 3307

Give More Than You Take

Note - My Three Go-To Community Rules > Page 146 · Location 3307

Answer more questions than you ask

Highlight (yellow) - Using Metrics to Optimize Community Spaces and Experiences > Page 150 · Location 3386

You can take the same approach for any kind of community , online or offline , synchronous or asynchronous , to identify opportunities to improve engagement in your spaces and experiences .

Note - Using Metrics to Optimize Community Spaces and Experiences > Page 150 · Location 3388

Talk to various types of participants.

Chapter 7: Activating Community Engagement

Highlight (yellow) - Engagement Is a Constant Experiment > Page 154 · Location 3431

So don't be afraid of an event not working . Don't be afraid of a post getting no replies . In fact , you should expect things not to work a whole lot before it starts to work . And boom ! When something works , keep doing it !

Highlight (yellow) - Personal Invitations and “Doing Things That Don't Scale” > Page 154 · Location 3441

There's great power in a personal invitation . When you personally invite someone to your community , it lets the person know that they were personally considered and approved . It makes them feel special and creates an understanding of intimacy and quality .

Note - Personal Invitations and “Doing Things That Don't Scale” > Page 154 · Location 3443

Or when you personally invite someone to a program or a discussion.

Highlight (yellow) - Personal Invitations and “Doing Things That Don't Scale” > Page 155 · Location 3454

You can use personal invitations to facilitate engagement as well . In the online communities I run , we always have a rule that every question must get at least three quality answers in 24 hours . If it's not happening organically , we make it happen . I'll start messaging other members privately and ask them to jump in and answer the question . What most people do in this situation is post a comment to the whole community and ask , “ Can anyone help answer this question ? ” It's too easy for everyone to ignore that ask . But if you personally message them and invite them to respond to the post , it will be much more obvious if they ignore it . To the person who asked the question , it still looks like organic growth . They just see that a few people answered their question . To the person I ask to help , they feel good because I let them know that I consider them an expert and that they're helping the community in a meaningful way .

Note - Personal Invitations and “Doing Things That Don't Scale” > Page 155 · Location 3459

THIS IS GOLD! What a great way to get your member's questions answered.

Note - Personal Invitations and “Doing Things That Don't Scale” > Page 155 · Location 3461

THIS IS GOLD!! How to answer every question in your forum

Highlight (yellow) - Personal Invitations and “Doing Things That Don't Scale” > Page 156 · Location 3469

People need to feel seen if they're going to participate . If they can just sit in the back row and blend in with the crowd , they mostly will . No one wants to be the first one to raise their hand .

Highlight (yellow) - Personal Invitations and “Doing Things That Don't Scale” > Page 156 · Location 3474

I remember a long time ago , a speaker came to a startup accelerator I was participating in to teach the companies in our cohort about marketing . At the end of the class , he held out a $ 100 bill and said , “ Who's going to step up and grab the opportunity ? ” encouraging us to get up and grab the bill from his hands . No one moved for a good 15 awkward seconds , until one person slowly got up and grabbed the bill from his hands and everyone laughed . Everyone was so afraid to be the first mover , even if there was a $ 100 reward in it . The speaker was making a point about how we often see opportunities to strike , but we hesitate because we're afraid to be the first mover , afraid of being wrong or getting embarrassed .

Note - Personal Invitations and “Doing Things That Don't Scale” > Page 156 · Location 3479

Love this story! Shows how even when an opportunity strikes, most people hesitate to grab it because of they fear being wrong in the eyes of others.

Highlight (yellow) - Personal Invitations and “Doing Things That Don't Scale” > Page 157 · Location 3488

Every member who enters the community feels personally welcomed . Every person who shows up at the event has someone meaningful to talk to . Every person who posts in your community gets quality responses . You need to be “ behind the curtain ” making introductions , facilitating discussions , and putting in the work to get the wheels of community turning . Over time , your community will develop organic engagement .

Highlight (yellow) - Ask for Permission > Page 157 · Location 3502

A key way you can consistently make your members feel more influential is to always ask for permission when you'd like to do something . It's a subtle but powerful difference in facilitating engagement .

Highlight (yellow) - Don't Fear the Crickets > Page 159 · Location 3532

If you're going to be successful at building community , you have to get over this fear . You have to get comfortable with the idea that some of what you post will not get a lot of engagement , especially in the early days of building community .

Highlight (yellow) - Default to Transparency and Admit Your Mistakes > Page 167 · Location 3708

By trusting your community , you're teaching them to trust you , too .

Highlight (yellow) - Use Your Authentic Voice > Page 169 · Location 3742

The subtle personalization can make all the difference in the world . Maybe it's a “ y'all ” or the overuse of ellipses as I tend to do … whatever is true to you .

No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Mayer

My views:

  • This book decompress the core rules at Netflix. It tells us how Netflix has built a culture of freedom and responsibility that has allowed it to do multiple company-changing transitions.
  • Netflix's founder+CEO co-wrote this book with an outsider who brings a healthy skepticism to the rules at Netflix - making this a fun read!
  • I love how it includes interviews from Netflix's employees who share timely anecdotes.
  • An excellent read about building an amazing culture in an innovation-first company.
  • I am very skeptical about working at big companies because I fear a lack of autonomy. But reading this book, made me realise that Netflix might be an exception!

My highlights:

Notes and highlights for
No Rules Rules
Hastings, Reed; Meyer, Erin

SECTION ONE: First Steps to a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

Highlight (yellow) - 2 THEN INCREASE CANDOR …: Say What You Really Think (with Positive Intent) > Page 18 · Location 516

it is tantamount to being disloyal to the company if you fail to speak up when you disagree with a colleague or have feedback that could be helpful . After all , you could help the business — but you are choosing not to .

Highlight (yellow) - 2 THEN INCREASE CANDOR …: Say What You Really Think (with Positive Intent) > Page 21 · Location 557

The brain is a survival machine , and one of our most successful survival techniques is the desire to find safety in numbers . Our brain is constantly on the watch for signals of group rejection , which back in more primitive times would have led to isolation and potentially death . If someone calls out a mistake you are making in front of your tribe , the amygdala , the most primitive part of the brain , which is on constant watch for danger , sets off a warning : “ This group is about to reject you . ”

Highlight (yellow) - 2 THEN INCREASE CANDOR …: Say What You Really Think (with Positive Intent) > Page 29 · Location 692

A climate of candor doesn’t mean anything goes . The first few times Netflix employees gave me feedback I felt so startled I thought the rules of feedback were something like , “ say what’s on your mind , to hell with the cost . ” But Netflix managers invest significant time teaching their employees the right and wrong way to give feedback . They have documents explaining what effective feedback looks like . They have sections of training programs where people learn how and practice giving and receiving it . You can do this too . After ploughing through all the Netflix materials on candor and hearing dozens of interviewees explain how it works , I’ve found the lessons can be summarized in the following 4A format . 4A FEEDBACK GUIDELINES Giving Feedback 1 . AIM TO ASSIST : Feedback must be given with positive intent . Giving feedback in order to get frustration off your chest , intentionally hurting the other person , or furthering your political agenda is not tolerated . Clearly explain how a specific behavior change will help the individual or the company , not how it will help you . “ The way you pick your teeth in meetings with external partners is irritating ” is wrong feedback . Right feedback would be , “ If you stop picking your teeth in external partner meetings , the partners are more likely to see you as professional , and we’re more likely to build a strong relationship . ” 2 . ACTIONABLE : Your feedback must focus on what the recipient can do differently . Wrong feedback to me in Cuba would have been to stop at the comment , “ Your presentation is undermining its own messages . ” Right feedback was , “ The way you ask the audience for input is resulting in only Americans participating . ” Even better would have been : “ If you can find a way to solicit contributions from other nationalities in the room your presentation will be more powerful . ” Receiving Feedback 3 . APPRECIATE : Natural human inclination is to provide a defense or excuse when receiving criticism ; we all reflexively seek to protect our egos and reputation . When you receive feedback , you need to fight this natural reaction and instead ask yourself , “ How can I show appreciation for this feedback by listening carefully , considering the message with an open mind , and becoming neither defensive nor angry ? ” 4 . ACCEPT OR DISCARD : You will receive lots of feedback from lots of people while at Netflix . You are required to listen and consider all feedback provided . You are not required to follow it . Say “ thank you ” with sincerity . But both you and the provider must understand that the decision to react to the feedback is entirely up to the recipient .

Highlight (yellow) - 2 THEN INCREASE CANDOR …: Say What You Really Think (with Positive Intent) > Page 36 · Location 792

Following other general critical - feedback guidelines — such as “ Never give criticism when you’re still angry ” and “ Use a calm voice when giving corrective feedback ” — could have helped too .

Highlight (yellow) - 3 NOW BEGIN REMOVING CONTROLS …: a. Remove Vacation Policy: b. Remove Travel and Expense Approvals > Page 52 · Location 1029

Giving employees more freedom led them to take more ownership and behave more responsibly . That’s when Patty and I coined the term “ Freedom and Responsibility . ” It’s not just that you need to have them both ; it’s that one leads to the other . It began to dawn on me . Freedom is not the opposite of accountability , as I’d previously considered . Instead , it is a path toward it .

SECTION TWO: Next Steps to a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

Highlight (yellow) - 4 FORTIFY TALENT DENSITY …: Pay Top of Personal Market > Page 79 · Location 1379

We determined that for any type of operational role , where there was a clear cap on how good the work could be , we would pay middle of market rate . But for all creative jobs we would pay one incredible employee at the top of her personal market , instead of using that same money to hire a dozen or more adequate performers .

Note - 4 FORTIFY TALENT DENSITY …: Pay Top of Personal Market > Page 79 · Location 1381

Companies that hire employees through college GPAs, standardised tests or competitive prog Qs are hiring for operational roles.

Highlight (yellow) - 4 FORTIFY TALENT DENSITY …: Pay Top of Personal Market > Page 84 · Location 1462

People are most creative when they have a big enough salary to remove some of the stress from home . But people are less creative when they don’t know whether or not they’ll get paid extra . Big salaries , not merit bonuses , are good for innovation .

Highlight (yellow) - 4 FORTIFY TALENT DENSITY …: Pay Top of Personal Market > Page 98 · Location 1685

The rule at Netflix when recruiters call is : “ Before you say , ‘ No thanks ! ’ ask , ‘ How much ? ’ ”

Highlight (yellow) - 5 PUMP UP CANDOR …: Open the Books > Page 120 · Location 2004

Generally , I believed that if the dilemma is linked to an incident at work , everyone should be informed . But if the dilemma is linked to an employee’s personal situation , it’s up to that person to share details if he chooses .

Highlight (yellow) - 5 PUMP UP CANDOR …: Open the Books > Page 123 · Location 2049

Vulnerability is courage in you and inadequacy in me . ”

Highlight (yellow) - 5 PUMP UP CANDOR …: Open the Books > Page 124 · Location 2062

The pratfall effect is the tendency for someone’s appeal to increase or decrease after making a mistake , depending on his or her perceived ability to perform well in general .

Highlight (yellow) - 6 NOW RELEASE MORE CONTROLS …: No Decision-making Approvals Needed > Page 136 · Location 2206

Netflix does not operate in a safety - critical market , like medicine or nuclear power . In some industries , preventing error is essential . We are in a creative market . Our big threat in the long run is not making a mistake , it’s lack of innovation . Our risk is failing to come up with creative ideas for how to entertain our customers , and therefore becoming irrelevant .

Highlight (yellow) - 6 NOW RELEASE MORE CONTROLS …: No Decision-making Approvals Needed > Page 139 · Location 2256

at Netflix you don’t lose your job because you make a bet that doesn’t work out . Instead you lose your job for not using your chips to make big things happen or for showing consistently poor judgment over time .

Highlight (yellow) - 6 NOW RELEASE MORE CONTROLS …: No Decision-making Approvals Needed > Page 151 · Location 2438

One of the reasons I left Yahoo was that I didn’t feel ownership for anything . Even though I might have come up with an idea and started an initiative , by the time it got approved by everyone and his mother it didn’t feel like mine any more . If it crashed , I’d feel : “ Well , thirty other people agreed ! It’s not my fault ! ”

SECTION THREE: Techniques to Reinforce a Culture of Freedom and Responsibility

Highlight (yellow) - 8 MAX UP CANDOR …: A Circle of Feedback > Page 189 · Location 2929

There is one Netflix guideline that , if practiced religiously , would force everyone to be either radically candid or radically quiet : “ Only say about someone what you will say to their face . ”


Highlight (yellow) - Page 267 · Location 3942

“ Rules and process ” is so familiar a paradigm for coordinating group behavior , it hardly needs any explanation at all . Starting in kindergarten when Mrs . Sanders sat all the other five - year - olds on the green rug and explained in detail what you were and weren’t allowed to do , you were already learning rules and process . Later , when you took that first job bussing dishes at that noodle place by the mall and you learned what color socks you could and couldn’t wear under your uniform and how much would be subtracted from your paycheck if you ate a biscuit during your shift , your apprenticeship in rules and process was progressing . The rules - and - process approach has been the primary way of coordinating group behavior for centuries . But it isn’t the only way ,

Highlight (yellow) - Page 270 · Location 3988

With this in mind , you can consider your objective carefully before deciding when to opt for freedom and responsibility and when rules with process would be a better choice . Here are a set of questions you can ask in order to select the right approach : Are you working in an industry where your employees ’ or customers ’ health or safety depends on everything going just right ? If so , choose rules and process . If you make a mistake , will it end in disaster ? Choose rules and process . Are you running a manufacturing environment where you need to produce a consistently identical product ? Choose rules and process . If you’re leading an emergency room , testing airplanes , managing a coal mine , or delivering just - in - time medication to senior citizens , rules with process is the way to go . This has been the go - to coordination model for the majority of organizations for centuries and , for some , will continue to be the best choice in coming years . But for those of you who are operating in the creative economy , where innovation , speed , and flexibility are the keys to success , consider throwing out the orchestra and focusing instead on making a different kind of music .

Highlight (yellow) - Page 271 · Location 4004

In the industrial era , the goal was to minimize variation . But in creative companies today , maximizing variation is more essential . In these situations , the biggest risk isn’t making a mistake or losing consistency ; it’s failing to attract top talent , to invent new products , or to change direction quickly when the environment shifts .

It Doesn't Have to Be Crazy at Work by David Heinemeier Hanson and Jason Fried

My views:

  • All prominent Silicon Valley figures teach that if you want to change the world, all you must do is eat, sleep, work and exercise. You need to hustle if you want to make it. In this book, David and Jason present a strong opposition to this status quo.

My highlights:

Notes and highlights for
It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work
Fried, Jason


Highlight (yellow) - It’s crazy at work > Page 2 · Location 139

The answer isn’t more hours , it’s less bullshit . Less waste , not more production . And far fewer distractions , less always - on anxiety , and avoiding stress .

Highlight (yellow) - It’s crazy at work > Page 2 · Location 140

Stress is passed from organization to employee , from employee to employee , and then from employee to customer . Stress never stops at the border of work , either . It bleeds into life . It infects your relationships with your friends , your family , your kids .

Note - It’s crazy at work > Page 2 · Location 142

Bad work habits trickle down from the founder

Highlight (yellow) - It’s crazy at work > Page 5 · Location 172

Calm is asynchronous first , real - time second .

Highlight (yellow) - Your company is a product > Page 7 · Location 195

But when you think of the company as a product , you ask different questions : Do people who work here know how to use the company ? Is it simple ? Complex ? Is it obvious how it works ? What’s fast about it ? What’s slow about it ? Are there bugs ? What’s broken that we can fix quickly and what’s going to take a long time ?

Curb Your Ambition

Highlight (yellow) - Bury the hustle > Page 16 · Location 234

Now this opposition mainly comes from a lens focused on the world of creative people . The writers , the programmers , the designers , the makers , the product people .

Highlight (yellow) - Bury the hustle > Page 16 · Location 241

You can play with your kids and still be a successful entrepreneur . You can have a hobby . You can take care of yourself physically . You can read a book . You can watch a silly movie with your partner . You can take the time to cook a proper meal . You can go for a long walk . You can dare to be completely ordinary every now and then .

Highlight (yellow) - Happy pacifists > Page 20 · Location 269

Mark Twain nailed it : “ Comparison is the death of joy . ” We’re with Mark .

Highlight (yellow) - Our goal: No goals > Page 23 · Location 304

Plus , there’s an even darker side to goal setting . Chasing goals often leads companies to compromise their morals , honesty , and integrity to reach those fake numbers .

Highlight (yellow) - Our goal: No goals > Page 27 · Location 315

You can absolutely run a great business without a single goal . You don’t need something fake to do something real . And if you must have a goal , how about just staying in business ? Or serving your customers well ? Or being a delightful place to work ? Just because these goals are harder to quantify does not make them any less important .

Highlight (yellow) - Don’t change the world > Page 28 · Location 327

If you stop thinking that you must change the world , you lift a tremendous burden off yourself and the people around you . There’s no longer this convenient excuse for why it has to be all work all the time .

Highlight (yellow) - Make it up as you go > Page 30 · Location 344

We simply believe that you’re better off steering the ship with a thousand little inputs as you go rather than a few grand sweeping movements made way ahead of time .

Note - Make it up as you go > Page 31 · Location 345

Instead of creating a 1yr plan to change career and figure out what to do, create a 6 week plan.

Highlight (yellow) - Make it up as you go > Page 31 · Location 346

Furthermore , long - term planning instills a false sense of security . The sooner you admit you have no idea what the world will look like in five years , three years , or even one year , the sooner you’ll be able to move forward without the fear of making the wrong big decision years in advance . Nothing looms when you don’t make predictions .

Highlight (yellow) - Comfy’s cool > Page 32 · Location 355

The idea that you have to constantly push yourself out of your comfort zone is the kind of supposedly self - evident nonsense you’ll often find in corporate manifestos .

Note - Comfy’s cool > Page 32 · Location 356

1. This is told to students as well. This is the reason why you should spend long hours studying this topic that you hate just because it is the latest fad or for preparing for this highly competitive exam. Whichever successful person's success you're trying to emulate, got good doing what they loved - not what they found painful. 2. ROADIES!

Highlight (yellow) - Comfy’s cool > Page 32 · Location 357

Requiring discomfort — or pain — to make progress is faulty logic .

Highlight (yellow) - Comfy’s cool > Page 38 · Location 364

Most of the time , if you’re uncomfortable with something , it’s because it isn’t right .

Note - Comfy’s cool > Page 38 · Location 364

If you're uncomfortable studying something, it is probably not meant for you.

Defend Your Time

Highlight (yellow) - 8’s enough, 40’s plenty > Page 40 · Location 391

If you can’t fit everything you want to do within 40 hours per week , you need to get better at picking what to do , not work longer hours .

Highlight (yellow) - Protectionism > Page 42 · Location 410

Time and attention are best spent in large bills ,

Highlight (yellow) - The quality of an hour > Page 44 · Location 419

1 × 60 = 60 2 × 30 = 60 4 × 15 = 60 25 + 10 + 5 + 15 + 5 = 60 All of the above equal 60 , but they’re different kinds of hours entirely .

Highlight (yellow) - The quality of an hour > Page 47 · Location 427

No wonder people who work like that can be short - or ill - tempered .

Highlight (yellow) - Effective > Productive > Page 48 · Location 442

Machines can work 24 / 7 , humans can’t . When people focus on productivity , they end up focusing on being busy . Filling every moment with something to do . And there’s always more to do !

Highlight (yellow) - Effective > Productive > Page 49 · Location 449

If you’ve only got three hours of work to do on a given day , then stop . Don’t fill your day with five more just to stay busy or feel productive . Not doing something that isn’t worth doing is a wonderful way to spend your time .

Highlight (yellow) - The outwork myth > Page 51 · Location 461

So how do people get ahead if it’s not about outworking everyone else ? People make it because they’re talented , they’re lucky , they’re in the right place at the right time , they know how to work with other people , they know how to sell an idea , they know what moves people , they can tell a story , they know which details matter and which don’t , they can see the big and small pictures in every situation , and they know how to do something with an opportunity .

Highlight (yellow) - Office hours > Page 55 · Location 502

What’s worse , they don’t know when these questions might come up . You can’t plan your own day if everyone else is using it up randomly .

Feed Your Culture

Highlight (yellow) - We’re not family > Page 75 · Location 612

They’re usually not referring to how the company is going to protect you no matter what or love you unconditionally . You know , like healthy families would . Their motive is rather more likely to be a unidirectional form of sacrifice : yours .

Highlight (yellow) - They’ll do as you do > Page 78 · Location 640

Workaholism is a contagious disease .

Highlight (yellow) - The owner’s word weighs a ton > Page 86 · Location 687

There’s no such thing as a casual suggestion when it comes from the owner of the business .

Highlight (yellow) - Hire the work, not the résumé > Page 101 · Location 807

There’s no arbitrary “ years of experience ” cut to prevent a fast learner from applying to a senior position .

Highlight (yellow) - Ignore the talent war > Page 105 · Location 846

We’ve found that nurturing untapped potential is far more exhilarating than finding someone who’s already at their peak . We hired many of our best people not because of who they were but because of who they could become .

Note - Ignore the talent war > Page 105 · Location 848

Tobi - In a secondary talent market, hire for future potential.

Highlight (yellow) - Don’t negotiate salaries > Page 113 · Location 907

There’s a fountain of happiness and productivity in working with a stable crew . It’s absolutely key to how we’re able to do so much with so few at Basecamp . We’re baffled that such a competitive advantage isn’t more diligently sought .

Dissect Your Process

Highlight (yellow) - The wrong time for real-time > Page 132 · Location 1039

Important topics need time , traction , and separation from the rest of the chatter . If something is being discussed in a chat room and it’s clearly too important to process one line at a time , we ask people to “ write it up ” instead . This goes together with the rule “ If everyone needs to see it , don’t chat about it . ” Give the discussion a dedicated , permanent home that won’t scroll away in five minutes .

Highlight (yellow) - Dreadlines > Page 134 · Location 1055

Our deadlines remain fixed and fair . They are fundamental to our process — and making progress . If it’s due on November 20 , then it’s due on November 20 . The date won’t move up and the date won’t move back . What’s variable is the scope of the problem — the work itself . But only on the downside . You can’t fix a deadline and then add more work to it . That’s not fair . Our projects can only get smaller over time , not larger . As we progress , we separate the must - haves from the nice - to - haves and toss out the nonessentials .

Highlight (yellow) - Watch out for 12-day weeks > Page 139 · Location 1108

when you’ve worked all week and you’re forced to work the weekend , the following Monday is the eighth day of the last week , not the first day of next week . This means that if you keep working through that following week , you’re working 12 - day weeks .

Highlight (yellow) - Compromise on quality > Page 154 · Location 1216

Think of it this way . If you do one thing at 100 percent , you’ve spent 100 percent to get that one thing . If you spend 20 percent each on getting five things to 80 percent , well , then , you’ve done five things ! We’ll almost always take that trade .

Highlight (yellow) - Have less to do > Page 170 · Location 1341

rearranging your daily patterns to find more time for work isn’t the problem . Too much shit to do is the problem . The only way to get more done is to have less to do . Saying no is the only way to claw back time .

Highlight (yellow) - Three’s company > Page 173 · Location 1373

Just like work expands to fill the time available , work expands to fill the team available .

Highlight (yellow) - Stick with it > Page 175 · Location 1392

Having a box full of stale work is no fun . Happiness is shipping : finishing good work , sending it off , and then moving on to the next idea .

Highlight (yellow) - Know no > Page 176 · Location 1398

No is easier to do , yes is easier to say . No is no to one thing . Yes is no to a thousand things .

Highlight (yellow) - Know no > Page 176 · Location 1404

When you say no to one thing , it’s a choice that breeds choices . Tomorrow you can be as open to new opportunities as you were today . When you say yes to one thing , you’ve spent that choice . The door is shut on a whole host of alternative possibilities and tomorrow is that much more limited .

Mind Your Business

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Change is often seen as stressful , but the polar opposite , monotony , can be even worse . You can only work exactly the same way , at the same pace , doing the same work for so long before monotony bites .

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Be it in hours , degrees of difficulty , or even specific benefits that emphasize seasonality , find ways to melt the monotony of work . People grow dull and stiff if they stay in the same swing for too long .

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When someone copies you , they are copying a moment in time . They don’t know the thinking that went into getting you to that moment in time , and they won’t know the thinking that’ll help you have a million more moments in time . They’re stuck with what you left behind .

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Jean - Louis Gassée , who used to run Apple France , describes this situation as the choice between two tokens . When you deal with people who have trouble , you can either choose to take the token that says “ It’s no big deal ” or the token that says “ It’s the end of the world . ” Whichever token you pick , they’ll take the other .

How to Fly a Horse by Kevin Ashton

My views:

  • I picked up this book after Tobi Lutke recommended it on a podcast.
  • This book breaks down the creation and innovation to remove the intimidating aspects of it. It shows how thinking is as natural to humans as walking is.
  • In order to debunk the general narrative of the extraordinarily gifted genius creatives, Kevin argues that creation comes from ordinary people and ordinary work.
  • In every chapter, Kevin deconstructs one aspect of how creativity works. What makes those theories especially compelling are the numerous real-world examples that accompany them. That's why I love this book!

My highlights:

Notes and highlights for
How To Fly A Horse
Ashton, Kevin

Chapter 1: Creating is Ordinary

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Most of our world is made of innovations inherited from people long forgotten — not people who were rare but people who were common .

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Then , 50,000 years ago , something happened . The crude , barely recognizable stone tools Homo sapiens had been using began to change — and change quickly . Until this moment , this species , like all other animals , did not innovate . Their tools were the same as their parents ’ tools and their grandparents ’ tools and their great - grandparents ’ tools . They made them , but they didn’t make them better . The tools were inherited , instinctive , and immutable — products of evolution , not conscious creation .

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Creative activity appears simply to be a special class of problem - solving activity characterized by novelty , unconventionality , persistence , and difficulty in problem formulation .

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Creation is destination , the consequence of acts that appear inconsequential by themselves but that , when accumulated , change the world . Creating is an ordinary act , creation its extraordinary outcome .

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Magic is instant , genius an accident of birth . Take them away and what is left is work .

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When we ask writers about their process or scientists about their methods or inventors where they get their ideas from , we are hoping for something that doesn’t exist : a trick , recipe , or ritual to summon the magic — an alternative to work . There isn’t one .

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The creativity myth is a mistake born of a need to explain extraordinary outcomes with extraordinary acts and extraordinary characters , a misunderstanding of the truth that creation comes from ordinary people and ordinary work .

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The virtue of a first sketch is that it breaks the blank page . It is the spark of life in the swamp . Its quality is not important . The only bad draft is the one we do not write .

Chapter 2: Thinking is Like Walking

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human thought has an essence unaffected by scale , subject , or thinker — that our minds all work the same way . It was radical and controversial , and it shifted the shape of psychology .

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We all use the same process for thinking , just as we all use the same process for walking . It is the same whether the problem is big or small , whether the solution is something new or something logical , whether the thinker is a Nobel laureate or a child . There is no “ creative thinking , ” just as there is no “ creative walking . ” Creation is a result — a place thinking may lead us .

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Minds do not leap . Observation , evaluation , and iteration , not sudden shifts of perception , solve problems and lead us to creation .

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Everyone who thinks of using the tack box gets there the same way . After eliminating other ideas , they think of building a platform out of nails , then think of using the tack box as the platform . There is no sudden shift of perception . We move from known to new in small steps . In every case , the pattern is the same : begin with something familiar , evaluate it , solve any problems , and repeat until a satisfactory solution is found .

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Creating is taking steps , not making leaps : find a problem , solve it , and repeat . Most steps wins . The best artists , scientists , engineers , inventors , entrepreneurs , and other creators are the ones who keep taking steps by finding new problems , new solutions , and then new problems again . The root of innovation is exactly the same as it was when our species was born : looking at something and thinking , “ I can make this better . ”

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Karl Duncker wrote that the act of creation starts with one of two questions : “ ‘ Why doesn’t it work ? ’ or , ‘ What should I change to make it work ? 41 ’ ”

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The creativity myth confuses having ideas with the actual work of creating .

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Research into brainstorming has a clear conclusion . The best way to create is to work alone and evaluate solutions as they occur . The worst way to create is to work in large groups and defer criticism .

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Because everything arises from steps , not leaps , most things are invented in several places simultaneously when different people walk the same path , each unaware of the others .

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Having ideas is not the same thing as being creative . Creation is execution , not inspiration . Many people have ideas ; few take the steps to make the thing they imagine .

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Creating is the result of thinking like walking . Left foot , problem . Right foot , solution . Repeat until you arrive . It is not the size of your strides that determines your success but how many you take .

Chapter 3: Expect Adversity

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Creation is not a moment of inspiration but a lifetime of endurance . The drawers of the world are full of things begun . Unfinished sketches , pieces of invention , incomplete product ideas , notebooks with half - formulated hypotheses , abandoned patents , partial manuscripts . Creating is more monotony than adventure .

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“ If your idea succeeds , everybody says you’re persistent . If it doesn’t succeed , you’re stubborn . ”

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Unfortunately , anyone who loves your idea the first time they hear it either loves you or wants something . What to expect when you’re inventing is rejection . Build a better mousetrap and the world will not beat a path to your door . You must beat a path to the world .

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Rejecting is a reflex . We do not only reject other people’s creative instincts ; often , we reject our own , too .

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even though we say we want creation , we tend to reject it .

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Uncertainty is an aversive state : we avoid it if we can . 54 Psychologists can show this in experiments . 55 Feelings of uncertainty bias us against new things , make us prefer familiarity , and stop us from recognizing creative ideas . This happens even when we value creation or think we are good at creating .

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we know it is socially unacceptable to “ dislike ” creation , we sincerely believe we “ like ” creation , but when presented with a specific creative idea , we are more likely to reject it than we realize .

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It is human nature to say no to new .

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Rejection is a reflex that evolved to protect us . No matter what we may gain , our first reactions to new are suspicion , skepticism , and fear .

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Great creators know that the best step forward is often a step back — to scrutinize , analyze , and assess , to find faults and flaws , to challenge and to change . You cannot escape a maze if you only move forward . Sometimes the path ahead is behind .

Chapter 4: How We See

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“ There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact . ”

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Creating is thinking . Attention is what we think about . The more we experience , the less we think — whether in chess , radiography , painting , science , or anything else . Expertise is efficiency : experts use fewer problem - solution loops because experts do not consider unlikely solutions .

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A paradigm is stable for a time , and scientists work on proving things that the paradigm predicts , but eventually exceptions appear . Scientists treat the exceptions as unanswered questions at first , but if enough of them are discovered and the questions are important enough , their paradigm is thrown into “ crisis . ” The crisis continues until a new paradigm emerges .

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a new paradigm is not an improved version of its predecessor . New paradigms vanquish old paradigms altogether

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Paradigms are a form of selective attention . What changes during one of Kuhn’s “ scientific revolutions ” is what scientists see .

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Confidence is belief in yourself . Certainty is belief in your beliefs . Confidence is a bridge . Certainty is a barricade .

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Confidence is a cycle , not a steady state , a muscle that must be strengthened daily , a feeling we renew and increase by enduring the adversity of creation . Certainty is constant . Confidence comes and goes .

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"confidence comes and goes" for confident people too?!

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When you can change your mind , you can change anything .

Chapter 5: Where Credit is Due

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No creator deserves too much credit because every creator is in so much debt .

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If everybody sees further because they are standing on the shoulders of giants , then there are no giants , just a tower of people , each one standing on the shoulders of another . Giants , like geniuses , are a myth .

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A human generation is about twenty - five years long .

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Equality brings justice to some and wealth to all .

Chapter 6: Chains of Consequence

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The Luddites — their name came from the then - famous , possibly fictional machine breaker Ned Ludd — have become icons of both restraint in the face of new technology and entrenched fear of change . They were driven by neither : they were just men desperate to keep their jobs . Their battle was against capital , not technology .

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The number of individuals who know how to make a can of Coke is zero . The number of individual nations that could produce a can of Coke is zero .

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A system of apprenticeship arose to meet this need : master weavers taught teenage children the skill of textile making . Weaving apprenticeships were a common form of schooling in the days before public education : in 1812 , the year of the Luddites ’ attack on William Cartwright’s mill , around one in twenty English teenagers living in or near mill towns became weavers ’ apprentices .

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Notice how economic demand created supply which created schooling

Chapter 7: The Gas in Your Tank

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Music business veterans call this second album syndrome — the one after the breakthrough that costs more , takes longer , tries harder , and fails .

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When Harlow introduced a reward — food — into the process , the monkeys ’ puzzle solving got worse . In his own words : it “ tended to disrupt , not facilitate the performances of the experimental subjects . ” 22 This was a surprising finding . It was one of the first times anybody noticed that external rewards could demotivate rather than invigorate .

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The relationship between reward and motivation is not as simple as “ rewards reduce performance . ” There are more than a hundred studies besides Amabile’s and Glucksberg’s . 26 They reach no consensus . Some find that rewards help , some find that they hurt ; some find that they make no difference .

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In this experiment , reward did lead to the most creative work — by the choice – reward group . But the least creative work was also caused by reward — it came from the no choice – reward group .

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The least creative group’s problem was easily diagnosed : members of the no choice – reward group reported feeling the most pressure . No choice – reward is the condition most of us are in when we go to work .

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Writer’s block is the mistake of believing in constant peak performance . Peaks cannot be constant ; they are , by definition , exceptional . You will have good days and less good days , but the only bad work you can do is the work you do not do .

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Unfulfilled passion creates a cavity between our present and our potential — a void that can drip with destruction and despair . It stagnates . It manifests as might - have - beens . If we do not chase our dreams , they will pursue us as nightmares .

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We are inclined to regard passion as positive and addiction as negative , but they are indistinguishable apart from their outcomes . Addiction destroys , passion creates , and that is the only difference between them .

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The first beginning will feel wrong . We are not used to being with ourselves uninterrupted . We do not know the way first things look . We have imagined our creations finished but never begun . A thing begun is less right than wrong , more flaw than finesse , all problem and no solution . Nothing begins good , but everything good begins . Everything can be revised , erased , or rearranged later . The courage of creation is making bad beginnings .

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interruption slows us down . No matter how little time is stolen by interruption , we lose even more time reconnecting to our work . Interruption causes twice as many mistakes . Interruption makes us angry . Interruption makes us anxious . These effects are the same among men and women . Creation knows no multitasking .

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Make your workday have long blocks of time. Dont splinter it with meetings.

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Creation is selection . Everything , whether nature or culture , was created by this process . Every peach , every orchid , every starling , like every successful act of art , or science , or engineering , or business , is made of a thousand failures and extinctions . Creation is selection , iteration , and rejection .

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The main virtue of a first sketch is that it breaks the blank page . It is a spark of life in the swamp , beautiful if only because it is a beginning .

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Selection is a bloody process . Beautiful work , maybe months in the making , is culled in moments . This is the hardest part of all . We are the sum of our time and dreams and deeds , and our art is all three . Abandoning an idea can seem like losing a limb . But it is not nearly as serious , and it has to be done . The herd must be thinned or it faces extinction , and any new work that does not suffer selection faces an equivalent fate : it is unlikely to pass peer review , or be produced or patented , exhibited , or published . The world will always be more hostile to our work than we are .

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No eurekas or flashes of inspiration . Innovation is whatever remains when all our failures are removed .

Chapter 8: Creating Organizations

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small , isolated , highly motivated group is the best kind of team for creation .

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Intellectually secure people do not need to show anyone how smart they are . They are empirical and seek truth . Intellectually insecure people need to show everyone how smart they are . They are egotistical and seek triumph .

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They know what they know and enjoy people who know more .

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This is commonly called out as a requirement for being a good CEO. Maybe, its a requirement for being good at any profession.

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These apparently impossible constraints gave us the model creative organization .

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Power of constraints

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The social skills that enable creation through cooperation — and the antisocial behavior that can result when creation is excessively controlled — are things we all have as children but that are educated out of most of us as we grow up .

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Talking while acting is useful , but talking about acting is not — or , at least , not often , and not for long . This is why “ Show me ” is such a powerful thing to say . “ Show me ” stops speculation and starts action .

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You cannot learn much by looking at an organization from the sky . Organizations exist only on the ground . They are not , as is commonly claimed , made of people . Organizations are made of people interacting . What an organization organizes is everyday human interactions .

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creation is doing , not saying . The most creative organizations prioritize rituals of doing ; the least creative organizations prioritize rituals of saying , the most common of which is the meeting .

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the more creative an organization is , the fewer internal meetings it tends to have , and the fewer people tend to be at those meetings

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Being too rigid about making things happen the way you planned stops you from reacting to emerging problems and causes you to miss unexpected opportunities .

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You cannot build a plan that predicts your setbacks — like the engine expert being arrested as a spy , or his engine exploding the first time you turn it on — but you can build an organization that executes anyway .

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We learn the hidden curriculum as children , when our minds are eager , we hunger for friends , and we are most afraid of shame . We learn it without knowing : the hidden curriculum is a set of unwritten rules , implied , often at odds with what we are told . We learn the opposite of the official curriculum : that originality ostracizes , imagination isolates , risk is ridiculed . You faced a choice as a child you may not remember : to be yourself and be alone or to be like others and be with others . Education is homogenization . This is why nerds are targets and friends move in herds .

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We carry this lesson through life . Education may be forgotten , but experience gets ingrained . What we divide into discrete periods like “ high school , ” “ college , ” and “ work ” is in fact a continuum . And so the hidden curriculum operates in all organizations , from corporations to nations .

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do what the CEO does , not what the CEO says . Talk about innovating and taking risks , but do not do it .

Chapter 9: Good-Bye, Genius

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Creating is to humans as flying is to birds . It is our nature , our spirit .

Influence by Robert Cialdini

My views:

  • I bought this book after listening to Tobi Lutke, Naval Ravikant, Scott Adams, Tim Ferriss and countless other leaders sing of its praises on podcasts.
  • Influence was one of the first 2 business books that Tobi Lutke read and he believes that it would rank in the top five books he has ever read.

    "Everybody should read it, memorize it, understand that the way that people influence other people is consistency, liking authority, social proofs, scarcity and reciprocity. Once you know that, any time you’re trying to persuade anybody of anything, you can use those to your benefit," says Naval Ravikant.

    Scott Adams said that although this book is not so well-known with the general public, every highly successful person, he knows, has read it.
  • I am stunned after reading this book. It feels like I can, now, explain the bizarre human behaviour around me. Yes, it is one of those books that has changed how I look at things.
  • No book has ever got my brain so excited. Every time I sat down to read this book, I had some important realisation.
  • I took SO many notes!

My highlights:

Notes and highlights for
Influence (Collins Business Essentials)
Cialdini PhD, Robert B.


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The evidence suggests that the ever - accelerating pace and informational crush of modern life will make this particular form of unthinking compliance more and more prevalent in the future . It will be increasingly important for the society , therefore , to understand the how and why of automatic influence .

Chapter 1: Weapons of Influence

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A well - known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason . People simply like to have reasons for what they do .

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You and I exist in an extraordinarily complicated stimulus environment , easily the most rapidly moving and complex that has ever existed on this planet . To deal with it , we need shortcuts .

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we must very often use our stereotypes , our rules of thumb to classify things according to a few key features and then to respond mindlessly when one or another of these trigger features is present .

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recognized this inescapable quality of modern life when he asserted that “ civilization advances by extending the number of operations we can perform without thinking about them . ”

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Google maps - I can navigate the roads without thinking about them. Macbook is a good experience because it allows me to do a lot of little things without thinking about them. Similarly, you can advance when you adopt technologies or systems that allow you to think less.

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There is a principle in human perception , the contrast principle , that affects the way we see the difference between two things that are presented one after another . Simply put , if the second item is fairly different from the first , we will tend to see it as more different than it actually is .

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In fact , studies done on the contrast principle at Arizona State and Montana State universities suggest that we may be less satisfied with the physical attractiveness of our own lovers because of the way the popular media bombard us with examples of unrealistically attractive models .

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OMG this is why Instagram makes you feel less about your own life!!! This is also why when I come back to my city and my home after a trip, it feels so less.

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The point is that the same thing — in this instance , room - temperature water — can be made to seem very different , depending on the nature of the event that precedes it .

Chapter 2: Reciprocation: The Old Give and Take … and Take

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The rule says that we should try to repay , in kind , what another person has provided us .

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Indeed , it may well be that a developed system of indebtedness flowing from the rule for reciprocation is a unique property of human culture .

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it meant that one person could give something ( for example , food , energy , care ) to another with confidence that it was not being lost . For the first time in evolutionary history , one individual could give away any of a variety of resources without actually giving them away . The result was the lowering of the natural inhibitions against transactions that must be begun by one person’s providing personal resources to another .

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Make no mistake , human societies derive a truly significant competitive advantage from the reciprocity rule , and consequently they make sure their members are trained to comply with and believe in it .

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The rule possesses awesome strength , often producing a “ yes ” response to a request that , except for an existing feeling of indebtedness , would have surely been refused .

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Hence the advice - "Learn to say no". Complying is human instinct but not-complying and acting in self-interest has to be learned.

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before a donation is requested , the target person is given a “ gift ” — a book ( usually the Bhagavad Gita ) , the Back to Godhead magazine of the Society , or , in the most cost - effective version , a flower .

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This is so true that even the beggars of kolkata have adopted it. Children sing a song in the crowded bus before they beg.

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A favorite place for free samples is the supermarket , where customers are frequently provided with small cubes of a certain variety of cheese or meat to try . Many people find it difficult to accept a sample from the always - smiling attendant ,

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I had the same experience when travelling in a train. A vendor insisted A LOT to try his bhujia for free and was smiling as he did it. He gave such samples to the entire compartment before he asked them to buy it. A lot of them did, including me.

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Although the obligation to repay constitutes the essence of the reciprocity rule , it is the obligation to receive that makes the rule so easy to exploit . The obligation to receive reduces our ability to choose whom we wish to be indebted to and puts that power in the hands of others .

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Of course , one could say that the subject had the choice of saying no to both of Joe’s offers . But those would have been tough choices . To have said no at either point would have required the subject to go against the natural cultural forces

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"Learn to say no".

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There is a strong cultural pressure to reciprocate a gift , even an unwanted one ; but there is no such pressure to purchase an unwanted commercial product .

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Free trials should be called gifts! While building a business you should give something valueable for free as a gift. Then, ask the user to buy a paid product as a favour AND because it is better than free.

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Another consequence of the rule , however , is an obligation to make a concession to someone who has made a concession to us .

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One way to increase your chances would be first to make a larger request of me , one that I will most likely turn down . Then , after I have refused , you would make the smaller request that you were really interested in all along .

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1. This feels like a derivative of the contrast principle. 2. For SaaS produts. Bring back your customers using this technique.

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the party who has made the extreme first request is not seen to be bargaining in good faith . Any subsequent retreat from that wholly unrealistic initial position is not viewed as a genuine concession and thus is not reciprocated .

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Take strong position for the first request. Provde a "because" for the extreme request.

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“ Well , if it is your feeling that a fine set of encyclopedias is not right for you at this time , perhaps you could help me by giving me the names of some others who might wish to take advantage of our company’s great offer . What would be the names of some of these people you know ? ”

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Ask this to every churned customer

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by first requesting ten dollars and then retreating to five dollars , I will have simultaneously engaged the force of the reciprocity rule and the contrast principle .

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Even for future favors , the rejection - then - retreat strategy proved superior .

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second previously puzzling feature of the rejection - then - retreat tactic — the ability to prompt its victims to agree to further requests . Since the tactic uses a concession to bring about compliance , the victim is likely to feel more satisfied with the arrangement

Chapter 3: Commitment and Consistency: Hobgoblins of the Mind

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we all fool ourselves from time to time in order to keep our thoughts and beliefs consistent with what we have already done or decided .

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before taking his stroll , the accomplice would simply ask the subject to please “ watch my things , ”

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This actually works!!

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If I can get you to make a commitment ( that is , to take a stand , to go on record ) , I will have set the stage for your automatic and ill - considered consistency with that earlier commitment . Once a stand is taken , there is a natural tendency to behave in ways that are stubbornly consistent with the stand .

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Use this technique for one on one reach outs for growing by word of mouth.

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prisoners were frequently asked to make statements so mildly anti - American or pro - Communist as to seem inconsequential ( “ The United States is not perfect . ” “ In a Communist country , unemployment is not a problem . ” ) . But once these minor requests were complied with , the men found themselves pushed to submit to related yet more substantive requests . A man who had just agreed with his Chinese interrogator that the United States is not perfect might then be asked to indicate some of the ways in which he thought this was the case . Once he had so explained himself , he might be asked to make a list of these “ problems with America ” and to sign his name to it . Later he might be asked to read his list in a discussion group with other prisoners . “ After all , it’s what you really believe , isn’t it ? ” Still later he might be asked to write an essay expanding on his list and discussing these problems in greater detail . The Chinese might then use his name and his essay in an anti - American radio broadcast

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1. Use this technique to signup customers personally through one on one conversations. 2. Use this to get people to give thorough reviews. 3. Use this to motivate people to learn something.

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The tactic of starting with a little request in order to gain eventual compliance with related larger requests has a name : the foot - in - the - door technique .

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You can use small commitments to manipulate a person’s self - image ;

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once you’ve got a man’s self - image where you want it , he should comply naturally with a whole range of your requests that are consistent with this view of himself .

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Our best evidence of what people truly feel and believe comes less from their words than from their deeds .

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the mere knowledge that someone viewed them as charitable caused these women to make their actions consistent with another’s perception of them .

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Whatever the goal , the important thing is that you set it , so you’ve got something for which to aim — and that you write it down . There is something magical about writing things down . So set a goal and write it down . When you reach that goal , set another and write that down . You’ll be off and running .

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The contestant is to compose a short personal statement that begins with the words , “ Why I like … ” and goes on to laud the features of whatever

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But they know that for an essay to have any chance of winning at all , it must include praise for the product . So they find praiseworthy features of the product and describe them in their essays .

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we are truest to our decisions if we have bound ourselves to them publicly

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the more effort that goes into a commitment , the greater is its ability to influence the attitudes of the person who made it .

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“ persons who go through a great deal of trouble or pain to attain something tend to value it more highly than persons who attain the same thing with a minimum of effort . ”

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people like and believe in what they have struggled to get ,

Note - Page 90 · Location 1532

Veteran programmers or teachers who had to struggle with less sophisticated tools believe that these tools are necessary and undermine the ease of new tools.

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severity of an initiation ceremony significantly heightens the newcomer’s commitment to the group ,

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valuable information about commitment . It appears that commitments are most effective in changing a person’s self - image and future behavior when they are active , public , and effortful .

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Social scientists have determined that we accept inner responsibility for a behavior when we think we have chosen to perform it in the absence of strong outside pressures . A large reward is one such external pressure . It may get us to perform a certain action , but it won’t get us to accept inner responsibility for the act .

Highlight (yellow) - Page 93 · Location 1588

The same is true of a strong threat ; it may motivate immediate compliance , but it is unlikely to produce long - term commitment .

Highlight (yellow) - Page 94 · Location 1590

we should never heavily bribe or threaten our children to do the things we want them truly to believe in .

Chapter 4: Social Proof: Truths Are Us

Highlight (yellow) - Page 116 · Location 1935

the principle of social proof . It states that one means we use to determine what is correct is to find out what other people think is correct . The principle applies especially to the way we decide what constitutes correct behavior .

Note - Page 116 · Location 1936

Another reason why social learning is more effective than lonely self-learning.

Highlight (yellow) - Page 128 · Location 2147

All the weapons of influence discussed in this book work better under some conditions than under others .

Note - Page 128 · Location 2148

Create a "Best condition" for all the influence weapons.

Highlight (yellow) - Page 129 · Location 2151

In general , when we are unsure of ourselves , when the situation is unclear or ambiguous , when uncertainty reigns , we are most likely to look to and accept the actions of others as correct .

Highlight (yellow) - Page 138 · Location 2299

isolate one individual from the crowd : Stare , speak , and point directly at that person and no one else : “ You , sir , in the blue jacket , I need help . Call an ambulance . ” With that one utterance you should dispel all the uncertainties that might prevent or delay help .

Highlight (yellow) - Page 139 · Location 2322

Not only was this help rapid and solicitous , it was infectious . After drivers entering the intersection from the other direction saw cars stopping for me , they stopped and began tending to the other victim . The principle of social proof was working for us now . The trick had been to get the ball rolling in the direction of aid .

Highlight (yellow) - Page 140 · Location 2330

The principle of social proof operates most powerfully when we are observing the behavior of people just like us .

Highlight (yellow) - Page 143 · Location 2372

Of course , it would be to little Tommy , not to a six - foot - two - inch graduate student , that Chris would look for the most relevant information about what he could or should do .

Note - Page 143 · Location 2374

Remember this for social learning as well!

Highlight (yellow) - Page 151 · Location 2473

the odds for survival when we travel change measurably for a time following the publication of certain kinds of front - page suicide stories .

Highlight (yellow) - Page 154 · Location 2525

In a country like Guyana , there were no similar others for a Jonestown resident but the people of Jonestown itself . What was right for a member of the community was determined to a disproportionate degree by what other community members — influenced heavily by Jones — did and believed .

Note - Page 154 · Location 2527

This principle takes place in everyday life all the time!!! People in JU are influenced by what others around them do, no matter how stupid. People in one culture/religion strongly believe the same things. These strong beliefs are different in every culture. This is why Twitter is so powerful. My social beliefs as a Twitter user are influenced by those of founders across continents.

Highlight (yellow) - Page 156 · Location 2546

No leader can hope to persuade , regularly and single - handedly , all the members of the group . A forceful leader can reasonably expect , however , to persuade some sizable proportion of group members . Then the raw information that a substantial number of group members has been convinced can , by itself , convince the rest . Thus the most influential leaders are those who know how to arrange group conditions to allow the principle of social proof to work maximally in their favor .

Chapter 5: Liking: The Friendly Thief

Highlight (yellow) - Page 170 · Location 2760

professionals seek to benefit from the rule even when already formed friendships are not present for them to employ . Under these circumstances , the professionals ’ compliance strategy is quite direct : They first get us to like them .

Note - Page 170 · Location 2761

The importance of informal chit-chat before getting down to 'serious' business.

Highlight (yellow) - Page 171 · Location 2777

Although it is generally acknowledged that good - looking people have an advantage in social interaction , recent findings indicate that we may have sorely underestimated the size and reach of that advantage .

Highlight (yellow) - Page 173 · Location 2817

We like people who are similar to us . This fact seems to hold true whether the similarity is in the area of opinions , personality traits , background , or life - style .

Note - Page 173 · Location 2818

Note: polymaths are best-positioned to use this without seeming disingenuous.

Highlight (yellow) - Page 174 · Location 2834

even small similarities can be effective in producing a positive response to another and because a veneer of similarity can be so easily manufactured ,

Highlight (yellow) - Page 175 · Location 2851

an important fact about human nature : We are phenomenal suckers for flattery .

Highlight (yellow) - Page 178 · Location 2907

this teaching process guarantees that the children will not learn to like and understand each other . Conjure up your own experience . If you knew the right answer and the teacher called on someone else , you probably hoped that he or she would make a mistake so that you would have a chance to display your knowledge . If you were called on and failed , or if you didn’t even raise your hand to compete , you probably envied and resented your classmates who knew the answer .

Chapter 6: Authority: Directed Deference

Highlight (yellow) - Page 215 · Location 3486

extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority

Highlight (yellow) - Page 218 · Location 3522

We rarely agonize to such a degree over the pros and cons of authority’s demands . In fact , our obedience frequently takes place in a click , whirr fashion , with little or no conscious deliberation . Information from a recognized authority can provide us a valuable shortcut for deciding how to act in a situation .

Highlight (yellow) - Page 223 · Location 3595

It was found that with each increase in status , the same man grew in perceived height by an average of a half inch , so that as the “ professor ” he was seen as two and a half inches taller than as the “ student . ”

Note - Page 223 · Location 3596

I wonder if this applies to other aspects of physical attractiveness too. If yes, this can be a good way to excercise the likeability principle too.

Highlight (yellow) - Page 223 · Location 3601

Even though all cards were exactly the same size , those that had the more extreme values — positive or negative — were seen as physically larger . Thus it is not necessarily the pleasantness of a thing that makes it seem bigger to us , it is its importance .

Highlight (yellow) - Page 224 · Location 3613

There are two lessons for us here . One is specific to the association between size and status . The connection of those two things can be profitably employed by individuals who are able to fake the first to gain the appearance of the second . This is precisely why con men , even those of average or slightly above - average height , commonly wear lifts in their shoes .

Note - Page 224 · Location 3616

Is there a similar connection with women's heels?

Highlight (yellow) - Page 225 · Location 3635

That 95 percent of regular staff nurses complied unhesitatingly with a patently improper instruction of this sort must give us all great reason for concern as potential hospital patients .

Note - Page 225 · Location 3636

Note for the next time you go to a doc or hospital - you have a very good reason to doubt the doctor's 'prescription'

Highlight (yellow) - Page 226 · Location 3653

A second kind of authority symbol that can trigger our mechanical compliance is clothing .

Note - Page 226 · Location 3653

Always wear good clothes. It's not a good idea to be conciously careless in your clothing.

Chapter 7: Scarcity: The Rule of the Few

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opportunities seem more valuable to us when their availability is limited

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people seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value .

Note - Page 238 · Location 3853

So does that mean that punishments are better than rewards?

Highlight (yellow) - Page 245 · Location 3955

As opportunities become less available , we lose freedoms ; and we hate to lose the freedoms we already have .

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whenever free choice is limited or threatened , the need to retain our freedoms makes us desire them ( as well as the goods and services associated with them ) significantly more than previously . So when increasing scarcity — or anything else — interferes with our prior access to some item , we will react against the interference by wanting and trying to possess the item more than before .

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we rarely recognize that psychological reactance has caused us to want the item more ; all we know is that we want it . Still , we need to make sense of our desire for the item , so we begin to assign it positive qualities to justify the desire .

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clever individuals holding a weak or unpopular position can get us to agree with that position by arranging to have their message restricted . The irony is that for such people — members of fringe political groups , for example — the most effective strategy may not be to publicize their unpopular views , but to get those views officially censored and then to publicize the censorship .

Highlight (yellow) - Page 255 · Location 4118

We react to information restriction there , as usual , by valuing the banned information more than ever .

Note - Page 255 · Location 4119

Combine this with reciprocation rule by offering a concession on the ban

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According to the scarcity principle , then , we will find a piece of information more persuasive if we think we can’t get it elsewhere .

Note - Page 255 · Location 4123

Same for those exclusive experiences: - Overvaluing university education because it is scarce - overvaluing SF for creating startups

Highlight (yellow) - Page 257 · Location 4160

The drop from abundance to scarcity produced a decidedly more positive reaction to the cookies than did constant scarcity .

Note - Page 257 · Location 4161

Contrast principle at work here.

Highlight (yellow) - Page 259 · Location 4195

When it comes to freedoms , it is more dangerous to have given for a while than never to have given at all .

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Freedoms once granted will not be relinquished without a fight .

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parents who enforce discipline inconsistently produce generally rebellious children .

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extreme caution is advised whenever we encounter the devilish construction of scarcity plus rivalry .

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Even though the scarce cookies were rated as significantly more desirable , they were not rated as any better - tasting than the abundant cookies . So despite the increased yearning that scarcity caused ( the raters said they wanted to have more of the scarce cookies in the future and would pay a greater price for them ) , it did not make the cookies taste one whit better . Therein lies an important insight . The joy is not in experiencing a scarce commodity but in possessing it .

Epilogue Instant Influence: Primitive Consent for an Automatic Age

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With the sophisticated mental apparatus we have used to build world eminence as a species , we have created an environment so complex , fast - paced , and information - laden that we must increasingly deal with it in the fashion of the animals we long ago transcended .

Note - Page 275 · Location 4422

Think about minless scrolling on social media feeds.

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unprecedented and increasing rapidity of modern daily life : We travel more and faster ; we relocate more frequently to new residences , which are built and torn down more quickly ; we contact more people and have shorter relationships with them ; in the supermarket , car showroom , and shopping mall , we are faced with an array of choices among styles and products that were unheard of the previous year

Note - Page 276 · Location 4435

Lockdowns during the pandemic restricted access to all of these! Is this the reason why we were feeling surprisingly better staying at home?

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we will find ourselves in the position of the lower animals — with a mental apparatus that is unequipped to deal thoroughly with the intricacy and richness of the outside environment .

Note - Page 277 · Location 4456

Social Media feeds

Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hanson

My views:

  • If you aspire to build something to change the world or start a business and have read blogs from venture capitalists, you should read Rework next. You will find Rework's recipe for building a business a lot more straightforward, doable and empowering.
  • I find it incredible that David and Jason have laid out the exact cookbook that they follow to run their successful business. From building products to marketing to culture to hiring, this book shows all of Basecamp's secrets.
  • True to their words, this book is actually how the authors run Basecamp to this day! You can often find David picking a fight on Twitter or Jason saying the same things as a guest in some podcast or them teaching something cool through their blog.
  • I especially love the part where they call for embracing constraints.

Kindle Highlights and Notes:

Notebook for
Fried, Jason
Citation (APA): Fried, J. (2010). ReWork [Kindle Android version]. Retrieved from

Highlight (yellow) - Page 10
They say you need a PR firm to make it into the pages of Time, Business Week, Inc., Fast Company, the New York Times, the Financial Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Atlantic, Entrepreneur, and Wired. They’re wrong.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 10
They say you can’t share your recipes and bare your secrets and still withstand the competition. Wrong again.
Highlight (yellow) - Learning from mistakes is overrated > Page 18
Another common misconception: You need to learn from your mistakes. What do you really learn from mistakes? You might learn what not to do again, but how valuable is that? You still don’t know what you should do next.
Highlight (yellow) - Learning from mistakes is overrated > Page 18
Contrast that with learning from your successes. Success gives you real ammunition. When something succeeds, you know what worked— and you can do it again. And the next time, you’ll probably do it even better.
Highlight (yellow) - Learning from mistakes is overrated > Page 18
entrepreneurs whose companies failed the first time had almost the same follow- on success rate as people starting a company for the first time: just 23 percent.
Highlight (yellow) - Planning is guessing > Page 20
Give up on the guesswork. Decide what you’re going to do this week, not this year. Figure out the next most important thing and do that. Make decisions right before you do something, not far in advance.
Highlight (yellow) - Why grow? > Page 22
Maybe the right size for your company is five people. Maybe it’s forty. Maybe it’s two hundred. Or maybe it’s just you and a laptop. Don’t make assumptions about how big you should be ahead of time.
Highlight (yellow) - Workaholism > Page 23
Working more doesn’t mean you care more or get more done. It just means you work more.
Highlight (yellow) - Workaholism > Page 23
They try to fix problems by throwing sheer hours at them. They try to make up for intellectual laziness with brute force. This results in inelegant solutions. They even create crises. They don’t look for ways to be more efficient because they actually like working overtime. They enjoy feeling like heroes. They create problems (often unwittingly) just so they can get off on working more.
Highlight (yellow) - Workaholism > Page 24
If all you do is work, you’re unlikely to have sound judgments. Your values and decision making wind up skewed.
Highlight (yellow) - Enough with “entrepreneurs” > Page 26
You just need an idea, a touch of confidence, and a push to get started.
Highlight (yellow) - Scratch your own itch > Page 31
The easiest, most straightforward way to create a great product or service is to make something you want to use.
Highlight (yellow) - Scratch your own itch > Page 32
Best of all, this “solve your own problem” approach lets you fall in love with what you’re making. You know the problem and the value of its solution intimately.
Highlight (yellow) - Start making something > Page 34
Think your idea’s that valuable? Then go try to sell it and see what you get for it. Not much is probably the answer. Until you actually start making something, your brilliant idea is just that, an idea. And everyone’s got one of those.
Highlight (yellow) - No time is no excuse > Page 35
We’re not talking about all- nighters or sixteen- hour days— we’re talking about squeezing out a few extra hours a week. That’s enough time to get something going.
Highlight (yellow) - No time is no excuse > Page 35
When you want something bad enough, you make the time— regardless of your other obligations. The truth is most people just don’t want it bad enough. Then they protect their ego with the excuse of time.
Highlight (yellow) - Draw a line in the sand > Page 37
Great businesses have a point of view, not just a product or service. You have to believe in something. You need to have a backbone. You need to know what you’re willing to fight for. And then you need to show the world.
Highlight (yellow) - Draw a line in the sand > Page 37
A strong stand is how you attract superfans. They point to you and defend you. And they spread the word further, wider, and more passionately than any advertising could.
Highlight (yellow) - Draw a line in the sand > Page 37
When you don’t know what you believe, everything becomes an argument. Everything is debatable. But when you stand for something, decisions are obvious.
Highlight (yellow) - Outside money is Plan Z > Page 42
We’re in a service economy now. Service businesses (e.g., consultants, software companies, wedding planners, graphic designers, and hundreds of others) don’t require much to get going.
Highlight (yellow) - You need less than you think > Page 46
We didn’t advertise; we promoted by sharing our experiences online.
Highlight (yellow) - Less mass > Page 52
Embrace the idea of having less mass. Right now, you’re the smallest, the leanest, and the fastest you’ll ever be. From here on out, you’ll start accumulating mass. And the more massive an object, the more energy required to change its direction. It’s as true in the business world as it is in the physical world.
Highlight (yellow) - Embrace constraints > Page 54
“I DON’T HAVE enough time/ money/ people/ experience.” Stop whining. Less is a good thing. Constraints are advantages in disguise. Limited resources force you to make do with what you’ve got. There’s no room for waste. And that forces you to be creative.
Highlight (yellow) - Embrace constraints > Page 54
Writers use constraints to force creativity all the time. Shakespeare reveled in the limitations of sonnets (fourteen- line lyric poems in iambic pentameter with a specific rhyme scheme). Haiku and limericks also have strict rules that lead to creative results. Writers like Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver found that forcing themselves to use simple, clear language helped them deliver maximum impact.
Note - Embrace constraints > Page 54
Twitter is the biggest testament to this truth. It created an artifcial 140/280 character limit. Now the best intellectuals of the world use it to share their thoughts. Not Facebook.
Highlight (yellow) - Start at the epicenter > Page 59
The way to find the epicenter is to ask yourself this question: “If I took this away, would what I’m selling still exist?”
Highlight (yellow) - Start at the epicenter > Page 59
If you can continue to get by without this thing or that thing, then those things aren’t the epicenter. When you find it, you’ll know. Then focus all your energy on making it the best it can be. Everything else you do depends on that foundation.
Highlight (yellow) - Ignore the details early on > Page 61
When we start designing something, we sketch out ideas with a big, thick Sharpie marker, instead of a ballpoint pen. Why? Pen points are too fine. They’re too high- resolution.
Highlight (yellow) - Making the call is making progress > Page 63
Whenever you can, swap “Let’s think about it” for “Let’s decide on it.” Commit to making decisions. Don’t wait for the perfect solution. Decide and move forward. You want to get into the rhythm of making choices. When you get in that flow of making decision after decision, you build momentum and boost morale.
Highlight (yellow) - Throw less at the problem > Page 67
When things aren’t working, the natural inclination is to throw more at the problem. More people, time, and money. All that ends up doing is making the problem bigger. The right way to go is the opposite direction: Cut back.
Highlight (yellow) - Sell your by-products > Page 73
When you make something, you always make something else. You can’t make just one thing. Everything has a by- product. Observant and creative business minds spot these by- products and see opportunities.
Highlight (yellow) - Illusions of agreement > Page 80
If you need to explain something, try getting real with it. Instead of describing what something looks like, draw it. Instead of explaining what something sounds like, hum it. Do everything you can to remove layers of abstraction.
Highlight (yellow) - Reasons to quit > Page 82
Why are you doing this? Ever find yourself working on something without knowing exactly why? Someone just told you to do it. It’s pretty common, actually. That’s why it’s important to ask why you’re working on____. What is this for? Who benefits? What’s the motivation behind it? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you better understand the work itself. What problem are you solving? What’s the problem? Are customers confused? Are you confused? Is something not clear enough? Was something not possible before that should be possible now? Sometimes when you ask these questions, you’ll find you’re solving an imaginary problem. That’s when it’s time to stop and reevaluate what the hell you’re doing. Is this actually useful? Are you making something useful or just making something? It’s easy to confuse enthusiasm with usefulness. Sometimes it’s fine to play a bit and build something cool. But eventually you’ve got to stop and ask yourself if it’s useful, too. Cool wears off. Useful never does.
Highlight (yellow) - Interruption is the enemy of productivity > Page 84
Interruption is not collaboration, it’s just interruption.
Highlight (yellow) - Interruption is the enemy of productivity > Page 84
Interruptions break your workday into a series of work moments.
Highlight (yellow) - Good enough is fine > Page 88
When good enough gets the job done, go for it. It’s way better than wasting resources or, even worse, doing nothing because you can’t afford the complex solution. And remember, you can usually turn good enough into great later.
Highlight (yellow) - Quick wins > Page 90
The longer something takes, the less likely it is that you’re going to finish it.
Highlight (yellow) - Decommoditize your product > Page 105
If you’re successful, people will try to copy what you do. It’s just a fact of life. But there’s a great way to protect yourself from copycats: Make you part of your product or service. Inject what’s unique about the way you think into what you sell. Decommoditize your product. Make it something no one else can offer.
Highlight (yellow) - Decommoditize your product > Page 105
Pour yourself into your product and everything around your product too: how you sell it, how you support it, how you explain it, and how you deliver it. Competitors can never copy the you in your product.
Highlight (yellow) - Pick a fight > Page 107
If you think a competitor sucks, say so. When you do that, you’ll find that others who agree with you will rally to your side. Being the anti-______ is a great way to differentiate yourself and attract followers.
Highlight (yellow) - Pick a fight > Page 107
You can even pit yourself as the opponent of an entire industry.
Highlight (yellow) - Pick a fight > Page 107
Having an enemy gives you a great story to tell customers, too. Taking a stand always stands out. People get stoked by conflict. They take sides. Passions are ignited. And that’s a good way to get people to take notice.
Highlight (yellow) - Underdo your competition > Page 110
Don’t shy away from the fact that your product or service does less. Highlight it. Be proud of it. Sell it as aggressively as competitors sell their extensive feature lists.
Highlight (yellow) - Who cares what they’re doing? > Page 112
Focus on competitors too much and you wind up diluting your own vision. Your chances of coming up with something fresh go way down when you keep feeding your brain other people’s ideas. You become reactionary instead of visionary. You wind up offering your competitor’s products with a different coat of paint.
Highlight (yellow) - Say no by default > Page 113
If I’d listened to customers, I’d have given them a faster horse.—HENRY FORD
Highlight (yellow) - Don’t confuse enthusiasm with priority > Page 119
So let your latest grand ideas cool off for a while first. By all means, have as many great ideas as you can. Get excited about them. Just don’t act in the heat of the moment. Write them down and park them for a few days. Then, evaluate their actual priority with a calm mind.
Highlight (yellow) - Build an audience > Page 126
All companies have customers. Lucky companies have fans. But the most fortunate companies have audiences.
Highlight (yellow) - Build an audience > Page 126
Instead of going out to reach people, you want people to come to you. An audience returns often— on its own— to see what you have to say. This is the most receptive group of customers and potential customers you’ll ever have.
Highlight (yellow) - Out-teach your competition > Page 129
Teach and you’ll form a bond you just don’t get from traditional marketing tactics. Buying people’s attention with a magazine or online banner ad is one thing. Earning their loyalty by teaching them forms a whole different connection.
Highlight (yellow) - Press releases are spam > Page 137
Instead, call someone. Write a personal note. If you read a story about a similar company or product, contact the journalist who wrote it. Pitch her with some passion, some interest, some life. Do something meaningful. Be remarkable. Stand out. Be unforgettable. That’s how you’ll get the best coverage.
Highlight (yellow) - Drug dealers get it right > Page 141
Don’t be afraid to give a little away for free— as long as you’ve got something else to sell. Be confident in what you’re offering. You should know that people will come back for more. If you’re not confident about that, you haven’t created a strong enough product.
Highlight (yellow) - Marketing is not a department > Page 142
Accounting is a department. Marketing isn’t. Marketing is something everyone in your company is doing 24/ 7/ 365. Just as you cannot not communicate, you cannot not market:
Highlight (yellow) - Do it yourself first > Page 147
You may feel out of your element at times. You might even feel like you suck. That’s all right. You can hire your way out of that feeling or you can learn your way out of it. Try learning first. What you give up in initial execution will be repaid many times over by the wisdom you gain.
Highlight (yellow) - Pass on great people > Page 151
Problems start when you have more people than you need. You start inventing work to keep everyone busy. Artificial work leads to artificial projects. And those artificial projects lead to real costs and complexity.
Note - Pass on great people > Page 151
Faced this at Innovaccer
Highlight (yellow) - Resumés are ridiculous > Page 155
Worst of all, they’re too easy. Anyone can create a decent- enough resumé. That’s why half- assed applicants love them so much. They can shotgun out hundreds at a time to potential employers. It’s another form of spam. They don’t care about landing your job; they just care about landing any job.
Highlight (yellow) - Hire managers of one > Page 161
Managers of one are people who come up with their own goals and execute them.
Highlight (yellow) - Hire managers of one > Page 161
These people free you from oversight. They set their own direction. When you leave them alone, they surprise you with how much they’ve gotten done. They don’t need a lot of hand- holding or supervision.
Highlight (yellow) - Hire great writers > Page 164
being a good writer is about more than writing. Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking. Great writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They know what to omit.
Damage Control
Highlight (yellow) - How to say you’re sorry > Page 174
One of the worst ways is the non- apology apology, which sounds like an apology but doesn’t really accept any blame. For example, “We’re sorry if this upset you.” Or “I’m sorry that you don’t feel we lived up to your expectations.” Whatever.
Highlight (yellow) - Take a deep breath > Page 180
Sometimes that initial negative reaction is more of a primal response. That’s why you’ll sometimes hear things like, “It’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen.” No, it’s not. It’s a minor change. Come on.
Highlight (yellow) - You don’t create a culture > Page 183
You don’t create a culture. It happens. This is why new companies don’t have a culture. Culture is the by- product of consistent behavior. If you encourage people to share, then sharing will be built into your culture. If you reward trust, then trust will be built in. If you treat customers right, then treating customers right becomes your culture.
Highlight (yellow) - Decisions are temporary > Page 184
it’s silly to worry about whether or not your concept will scale from five to five thousand people
Highlight (yellow) - Send people home at 5 > Page 190
You want busy people. People who have a life outside of work. People who care about more than one thing. You shouldn’t expect the job to be someone’s entire life—
Highlight (yellow) - Inspiration is perishable > Page 199
Inspiration is perishable WE ALL HAVE ideas. Ideas are immortal. They last forever. What doesn’t last forever is inspiration. Inspiration is like fresh fruit or milk: It has an expiration date. If you want to do something, you’ve got to do it now. You can’t put it on a shelf and wait two months to get around to it. You can’t just say you’ll do it later. Later, you won’t be pumped up about it anymore. If you’re inspired on a Friday, swear off the weekend and dive into the project. When you’re high on inspiration, you can get two weeks of work done in twenty- four hours. Inspiration is a time machine in that way. Inspiration is a magical thing, a productivity multiplier, a motivator. But it won’t wait for you. Inspiration is a now thing. If it grabs you, grab it right back and put it to work.

Reality is Broken by Jane McGonigal

My views:

  • This book is divided into 3 parts:
    * the first part has chapters where Jane tries to break down the essence of all games, the things that make them so addictive and how it's all related to the innate human psychology.
    * the second and third parts explore ways in the essence of games can be applied to real life situations to make real life more enjoyable.
  • Reading the first part of this book has given me a new way of thinking. I feel like it has enlightened me to a new truth that I, now, see everywhere in the world. A truth that I cannot unsee, now.
"Games make us happy because they are hard work that we choose for ourselves, and it turns out that almost nothing makes us happier than good, hard work."
  • I found the second and third parts drastically less interesting. That's probably because the first brings out the essence of what works very successfuly in popular games. On the other hand, the second and third parts try to explore ways in which this essence has been applied to real life, almost unsuccessfuly.
  • That's the reason why I left the second and third parts midway. They felt almost prescriptive.

Kindle Highlights and Notes:

Notebook for
Reality is Broken
McGonigal, Jane
Citation (APA): McGonigal, J. (2011). Reality is Broken [Kindle Android version]. Retrieved from

Introduction: Reality Is Broken
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When Atys was king of Lydia in Asia Minor some three thousand years ago, a great scarcity threatened his realm. For a while people accepted their lot without complaining, in the hope that times of plenty would return. But when things failed to get better, the Lydians devised a strange remedy for their problem. The plan adopted against the famine was to engage in games one day so entirely as not to feel any craving for food . . . and the next day to eat and abstain from games. In this way they passed eighteen years, and along the way they invented the dice, knuckle- bones, the ball, and all the games which are common.
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Whether Herodotus’ story of an eighteen- year famine survived through gameplay is true or, as some modern historians believe, apocryphal, its moral truths reveal something important about the essence of games.
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As for the future, your task is not to see it, but to enable it.
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If we take everything game developers have learned about optimizing human experience and organizing collaborative communities and apply it to real life, I foresee games that make us wake up in the morning and feel thrilled to start our day. I foresee games that reduce our stress at work and dramatically increase our career satisfaction. I foresee games that fix our educational systems. I foresee games that treat depression, obesity, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder. I foresee games that help the elderly feel engaged and socially connected. I foresee games that raise rates of democratic participation. I foresee games that tackle global- scale problems like climate change and poverty. In short, I foresee games that augment our most essential human capabilities— to be happy, resilient, creative— and empower us to change the world in meaningful ways.
Part One: Why Games Make Us Happy
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When you strip away the genre differences and the technological complexities, all games share four defining traits: a goal, rules, a feedback system, and voluntary participation.
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The goal is the specific outcome that players will work to achieve.
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It focuses their attention and continually orients their participation throughout the game. The goal provides players with a sense of purpose.
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The rules place limitations on how players can achieve the goal.
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They unleash creativity and foster strategic thinking.
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The feedback system tells players how close they are to achieving the goal.
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Real- time feedback serves as a promise to the players that the goal is definitely achievable, and it provides motivation to keep playing.
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voluntary participation requires that everyone who is playing the game knowingly and willingly accepts the goal, the rules, and the feedback.
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the freedom to enter or leave a game at will ensures that intentionally stressful and challenging work is experienced as safe and pleasurable activity.
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Playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.
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In computer and video games, the interactive loop is satisfyingly tight. There seems to be no gap between your actions and the game’s responses.
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in a good computer or video game you’re always playing on the very edge of your skill level, always on the brink of falling off. When you do fall off, you feel the urge to climb back on. That’s because there is virtually nothing as engaging as this state of working at the very limits of your ability— or what both game designers and psychologists call “flow”. 4 When you are in a state of flow, you want to stay there: both quitting and winning are equally unsatisfying outcomes.
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A game like Portal turns our definition of a game on its head, but doesn’t destroy it. The four core elements of goals, rules, feedback, and voluntary participation remain the same— they just play out in a different order. It used to be that we were spoon- fed the goal and the rules, and we would then seek feedback on our progress. But increasingly, the feedback systems are what we learn first. They guide us toward the goal and help us decode the rules. And that’s as powerful a motivation to play as any: discovering exactly what is possible in this brand- new virtual world.
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We will play until we utterly exhaust our own abilities, or until we exhaust the challenge.
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Games make us happy because they are hard work that we choose for ourselves, and it turns out that almost nothing makes us happier than good, hard work.
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“The opposite of play isn’t work. It’s depression.” 6
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When we’re depressed, according to the clinical definition, we suffer from two things: a pessimistic sense of inadequacy and a despondent lack of activity.
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A game is an opportunity to focus our energy, with relentless optimism, at something we’re good at (or getting better at) and enjoy. In other words, gameplay is the direct emotional opposite of depression.
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In our real lives, hard work is too often something we do because we have to do it— to make a living, to get ahead, to meet someone else’s expectations, or simply because someone else gave us a job to do. We resent that kind of work. It stresses us out. It takes time away from our friends and family. It comes with too much criticism. We’re afraid of failing. We often don’t get to see the direct impact of our efforts, so we rarely feel satisfied. Or, worse, our real- world work isn’t hard enough. We’re bored out of our minds. We feel completely underutilized. We feel unappreciated. We are wasting our lives.
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There’s high- stakes work, which is what many people think of first when it comes to video games.
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But there’s also busywork, which is completely predictable and monotonous.
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it actually helps us feel quite contented and productive. When we’re swapping multicolored jewels in a casual game like Bejeweled or harvesting virtual crops in a social game like FarmVille, we’re happy just to keep our hands and mind occupied with focused activity that produces a clear result.
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There’s discovery work, which is all about the pleasure of actively investigating unfamiliar objects and spaces.
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Increasingly in computer and video games today there’s teamwork, which emphasizes collaboration, cooperation, and contributions to a larger group. When we carve out special duties for ourselves in a complex mission like the twenty- five- player team raids in World of Warcraft, or when we’re defending our friends’ lives in a four- player cooperative game of the comic adventure Castle Crashers, we take great satisfaction in knowing we have a unique and important role to play in a much bigger effort.
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there’s creative work. When we do creative work, we get to make meaningful decisions and feel proud of something we’ve made.
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When we seek out passive entertainment and low- engagement activities, we’re using them as a counterbalance to how stimulated and overwhelmed we feel. But by trying to have easy fun, we actually often wind up moving ourselves too far in the opposite direction. We go from stress and anxiety straight to boredom and depression.
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within the limits of our own endurance, we would rather work hard than be entertained.
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Fiero is what we feel after we triumph over adversity. You know it when you feel it— and when you see it. That’s because we almost all express fiero in exactly the same way: we throw our arms over our head and yell.
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Scientists have recently documented that fiero is one of the most powerful neurochemical highs we can experience.
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Csíkszentmihályi (pronounced cheek- SENT- me- high) found a depressing lack of flow in everyday life, but an overwhelming abundance of it in games and gamelike activities. His favorite examples of flow- inducing activities were chess, basketball, rock climbing, and partner dancing: all challenging endeavors with a clear goal, well- established rules for action, and the potential for increased difficulty and improvement over time. Most importantly, flow activities were done for pure enjoyment rather than for status, money, or obligation.
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the failure of schools, offices, factories, and other everyday environments to provide flow was a serious moral issue, one of the most urgent problems facing humanity.
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“Alienated children in the suburbs and bored housewives in the homes need to experience flow. If they cannot get it, they will find substitutes in the form of escape.”
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the directors and designers of major game studios are drawing directly on research findings from positive psychology to make better games.
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This was a whole different business, nothing like I’d ever known, like night and day. . . . Thirty seconds of play, and I’m on a whole new plane of being, all my synapses wailing.
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as Sudnow and millions of other early gamers discovered, video games made it possible to experience flow almost immediately.
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much faster cycle of learning and reward,
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Flow and fiero are the original rewards of video gameplay,
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Flow is exhilarating in the moment. It makes us feel energized. A major flow experience can improve our mood for hours, or even days, afterward. But because it’s such a state of extreme engagement, it eventually uses up our physical and mental resources. We can’t sustain flow indefinitely— as much as we might want to.
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the researchers identified fiero as the most likely underlying cause of why some gamers feel “addicted” to their favorite games.
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seeking out external rewards is a sure path to sabotaging our own happiness.
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when we set out to make our own happiness, we’re focused on activity that generates intrinsic rewards— the positive emotions, personal strengths, and social connections that we build by engaging intensely with the world around us. We’re not looking for praise or payouts. The very act of what we’re doing, the enjoyment of being fully engaged, is enough.
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As long as we are regularly immersed in self- rewarding hard work, we will be happy more often than not— no matter what else is going on in our lives.
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It contradicts what so many of us have been taught to believe— that we need life to be a certain way in order for us to be happy, and that the easier life is the happier we are.
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When we make someone else laugh or smile, our brain is flooded with dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward.
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Every time we coordinate or synchronize our physical movements with others, such as in dance or sports, we release oxytocin into our bloodstream, a neurochemical that makes us feel blissed out and ecstatic.
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And if we provoke our curiosity by exposing ourselves to ambiguous visual stimulus, like a wrapped present or a door that is just barely ajar, we experience a rush of “interest” biochemicals also known as “internal opiates.” These include endorphins, which make us feel powerful and in control, and beta- endorphin, a “well- being” neurotransmitter that is eighty times more powerful than morphine.
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we’ve also developed many external shortcuts to triggering our hardwired happiness systems: addictive drugs and alcohol, rich but unhealthy food, and chronic shopping, to name a few.
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In the absence of actionable steps, our motivation to solve a problem might not be enough to make real progress. Well- designed work, on the other hand, leaves no doubt that progress will be made. There is a guarantee of productivity built in, and that’s what makes it so appealing.
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When a clear goal is attached to a specific task, she explains, it gives us an energizing push, a sense of purpose. That’s why receiving more quests every time we complete one in World of Warcraft is more of a reward than the experience points and the gold we’ve earned.
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The real payoff for our work in WoW is to be rewarded with more opportunities for work.
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This is in Bhagwad Gita: "Hard work is its own reward"!!
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These microincreases in challenge are just big enough to keep sparking your interest and motivation— but never big enough to create anxiety or the sense of an ability gap.
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Players may join what are called “guilds,” or long- term alliances with other players, to complete the most difficult raids.
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As the guild’s raid statistics and achievement statistics measurably improve, the satisfaction of resource building is amplified by celebrating it with so many others.
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We’re not only improving our characters; we’re improving the whole world. As one player writes in an enthusiastic review of the phasing content, “Whether this is achieved though technical wizardry or just straight- up magic is unclear. Its integration is seamless, and it’s incredibly satisfying. You feel like your actions are having a significant impact on the world around you.”
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When we don’t have visible results that we can clearly link to our own efforts, it is impossible to take real satisfaction in our work.
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That’s what it takes for work to satisfy us: it must present us with clear, immediately actionable goals as well as direct, vivid feedback.
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Every time I completed a quest, I racked up experience points and gold. But more important than the points or treasure, from the moment I entered the online Kingdom of Azeroth, I was rich with goals.
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playing games can give us a taste of that elusive sense of individual agency and impact in a world where the work we do may be challenging, but our efforts often seem fruitless.
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how is it that gamers can spend 80 percent of the time failing, and still love what they’re doing?”
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the right kind of failure feedback is a reward. It makes us more engaged and more optimistic about our odds of success.
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If failure feels random or passive, we lose our sense of agency— and optimism goes down the drain.
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you have to show players their own power in the game world, and if possible elicit a smile or a laugh. As long as our failure is interesting, we will keep trying— and remain hopeful that we will succeed eventually.
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Because being really good at something is less fun than being not quite good enough— yet.
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Learning to stay urgently optimistic in the face of failure is an important emotional strength that we can learn in games and apply in our real lives.
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when we’re in an optimistic state of mind, we pay more attention, think more clearly, and learn faster.
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When we practice flexible optimism, we see more opportunities for success— but we don’t overstate our abilities, and we don’t overestimate the amount of control we have over an outcome. And we reduce our optimism when we get feedback that we’re pursuing unattainable goals or operating in a low- control environment. We recognize that our time and energy would be better spent elsewhere.
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It’s depressing to spend our lives pursuing unrealistic goals. For anyone who wants to opt out of this culture of extreme dreaming, games help enormously: they shift our attention away from depressing goals and train us to be more flexibly optimistic.
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you also get a bit of crucial information every time you wipe out on a song: an exact percentage readout of how far in the song you got before being booed off the stage. This information shows you what you’ve positively accomplished— even if it’s only 33 percent, you’ve survived a third of the way through the song. You haven’t so much failed as achieved partial success. And the higher your percentage gets, the more capable and confident you feel— and the desire for one more go at the song kicks in.
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You can actually fail and be revived by other band members twice before you get booed off for good. And, crucially, saves are dependent on the successful effort of another band member. One member’s failure pushes the others to do better.
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For all the positive feedback that a game can give us, we crave the praise and admiration of our friends and family even more.
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Compared with games, reality is disconnected. Games build stronger social bonds and lead to more active social networks. The more time we spend interacting within our social networks, the more likely we are to generate a subset of positive emotions known as “prosocial emotions.”
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posited that introverted players were more likely to enjoy playing alone
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Meaning is the feeling that we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves. It’s the belief that our actions matter beyond our own individual lives.
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To experience real meaning, we don’t have to contribute something of real value. We just have to be given the opportunity to contribute at all. We need a way to connect with others who care about the same massively scaled goal we do, no matter how arbitrary the goal. And we need a chance to reflect on the truly epic scale of what we’re doing together.
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A good working definition for “epic” is something that far surpasses the ordinary, especially in size, scale, and intensity. Something epic is of heroic proportions.
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Awe is what we feel when we recognize that we’re in the presence of something bigger than ourselves. It’s closely linked with feelings of spirituality, love, and gratitude— and more importantly, a desire to serve.
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Today’s best game designers are experts at giving individuals the chance to be a part of something bigger— and no one is better at it than the creators of Halo.
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One of the best examples of innovative collective context building is the Halo Museum of Humanity, an online museum that purports to be from the twenty- seventh century, dedicated to “all who fought bravely in the Great War.” Of course, it’s not a real museum; it was developed by the Xbox marketing group to build a more meaningful context for Halo 3.
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Something that marketing does!
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And that’s what players are appreciating when they get goose bumps from Halo: the unprecedented achievement it represents as a work of computer design and engineering. Gamers aren’t so much in awe of the environment itself as they are in awe of the work and dedication and vision required to create it.
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these stone cathedrals served an important purpose in the evolution of human civilization. They actually inspired and enabled human society to become dramatically more cooperative, completely reinventing civilization as it once existed.
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Scholars have long believed that only after people learned to farm and live in settled communities did they have the time, organization and resources to construct temples and support complicated social structures. But . . . [perhaps] it was the other way around: the extensive, coordinated effort to build the monoliths literally laid the groundwork for the development of complex societies.
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Epic environments inspire us to undertake epic projects, because they are a tangible demonstration of what is humanly possible when we all work together.
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This site serves one purpose: shall help players at all skill levels improve and/ or find even more enjoyment in their Halo 3 online experience. Share what you know. Let others share what they know with you. We must get even the most skilled players to share their knowledge. The end result shall be that we all raise our skills and fun together. Let’s try to visit the limits of our abilities!
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If you were able to focus the attention of the entire planet on a single goal, even if just for one day, and even if it just involved dispatching aliens in a video game, it would be a truly awe- inspiring occasion. It would be the single biggest collective experience ever undertaken in the whole of human history. It would give the whole earth goose bumps.
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What happened on janta curfew day india with claps and plates
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“It isn’t normal to know what we want. It is a rare and difficult psychological achievement.”
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Games are showing us exactly what we want out of life: more satisfying work, better hope of success, stronger social connectivity, and the chance to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Part Two: Reinventing Reality
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To participate wholeheartedly in something means to be self- motivated and self- directed, intensely interested and genuinely enthusiastic. If we’re forced to do something, or if we do it halfheartedly, we’re not really participating. If we don’t care how it all turns out, we’re not really participating. If we’re passively waiting it out, we’re not really participating.
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And the less we fully participate in our everyday lives, the fewer opportunities we have to be happy. It’s that plain and simple.
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like any good game, an ARG must always be optional. You can bet that if you required someone to play Chore Wars, it would lose a large part of its appeal and effectiveness. An alternate reality game has to remain a true “alternate” for it to work.
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Quest opened its doors in the fall of 2009 after two years of curriculum design and strategic planning, directed by a joint team of educators and professional game developers, and made possible by funding from the MacArthur Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
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Leveling up is a much more egalitarian model of success than a traditional letter grading system based on the bell curve. Everyone can level up, as long as they keep working hard. Leveling up can replace or complement traditional letter grades that students have just one shot at earning. And if you fail a quest, there’s no permanent damage done to your report card. You just have to try more quests to earn enough points to get the score you want. This system of “grading” replaces negative stress with positive stress, helping students focus more on learning and less on performing.
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The expertise exchange works just like video game social network profiles that advertise what games you’re good at and like to play, as well as the online matchmaking systems that help players find new teammates. These systems are designed to encourage and facilitate collaboration. By identifying your strengths and interests publicly, you increase the chances that you’ll be called on to do work that you’re good at. In the classroom, this means students are more likely to find ways to contribute successfully to team projects. And the chance to do something you’re good at as part of a larger project helps students build real esteem among their peers— not empty self- esteem based on nothing other than wanting to feel good about yourself, but actual respect and high regard based on contributions you’ve made.
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At Quest, these teachable agents replace quizzes, easing the anxiety associated with having to perform under pressure. With a teachable agent, you’re not being tested to see if you’ve really learned something. Instead, you’re mentoring someone because you really have learned something, and this is your chance to show it. There’s a powerful element of naches— vicarious pride— involved here: the more a student learns, the more he or she can pass it on. This is a core dynamic of how learning works in good video games,
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Teaching others who are a level below you - it can be a source of motivation
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Compared with games, reality is lonely and isolating. Games help us band together and create powerful communities from scratch.
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It’s hard to pin down the difference between a community and a crowd, but we know it when we feel it. Community feels good. It feels like belonging, fitting in, and actively caring about something together. Community typically arises when a group of people who have a common interest start to interact with each other in order to further that interest. It requires positive participation from everyone in the group.
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When we have community, we feel what anthropologists call “communitas,” or spirit of community. 3 Communitas is a powerful sense of togetherness, solidarity, and social connection. And it protects against loneliness and alienation.
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To become a member of any community, you need to understand the goals of the community and the accepted strategies and practices for advancing those goals.
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It turns out that knowing what makes us happy isn’t enough. We have to act on that knowledge, and not just once, but often.
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Just as knowing what us learn better isn't enough. We have to act on that knowledge, and not just once, but often.
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We need help implementing new happiness habits— and we can’t just help ourselves. In fact, when it comes to improving our collective happiness levels, self- help rarely works. Outside the structure and social support of a clinical trial or classroom, these self- help recommendations are surprisingly hard to implement on our own.
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Just like it is with "learning habits"!
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The Palace of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

My views:

  • Chitra retells the epic of Mahabharatha from the eyes of Draupadi and shows how her quest for a very justified revenge led to her ultimate downfall. Felt SO real and heartbreaking. She could not have done a better job of conveying the futility of revenge.
  • Mahabharatha was written at a time when the Indian society had strict rules of patriarchy, monarchy, misogyny and caste system. Chitra expertly questions all those orthodox norms by retelling the story with a female character as the lead protagonist.
  • Even though Mahabharatha takes place in the backdrop of a rigid and orthodox society, reading Chitra's version will allow you to appreciate the deeper, philosophical questions that are expertly addressed in the original epic. It is those lessons that have made Mahabharatha survive through milleniums and be evergreen.

How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big by Scott Adams

My views:

  • I bought a hard copy of this book five months after reading it because I realized just how much the ideas presented in the book have shaped my thinking. I often find myself revisiting them in my head.
  • Given the depth and value of ideas presented in this book, it is a remarkably simple read. It is dense yet easy.

Kindle Highlights and Notes:

Notebook for
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
Adams, Scott
Citation (APA): Adams, S. (2013). How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big [Kindle Android version]. Retrieved from

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I’m not too proud to admit that given a choice between saying what’s true and saying what’s funny, I’ll take the path with the greatest entertainment value.
How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big
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But you can say your passion was a key to your success, because everyone can be passionate about something or other. Passion sounds more accessible. If you’re dumb, there’s not much you can do about it, but passion is something we think anyone can generate in the right circumstances. Passion feels very democratic. It is the people’s talent, available to all.
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Success caused passion more than passion caused success.
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But after a few drinks I think he’d say his success was a combination of desire, luck, hard work, determination, brains, and appetite for risk.
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You already know that when your energy is right you perform better at everything you do, including school, work, sports, and even your personal life. Energy is good. Passion is bullshit.
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failing toward success,
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spent almost every night and every weekend for two years trying to teach myself enough about programming to create a space- themed, arcade- type game.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER SIX: Goals Versus Systems > Page 32
goal- oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary. That feeling wears on you. In time, it becomes heavy and uncomfortable. It might even drive you out of the game.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER SIX: Goals Versus Systems > Page 32
If you achieve your goal, you celebrate and feel terrific, but only until you realize you just lost the thing that gave you purpose and direction. Your options are to feel empty and useless, perhaps enjoying the spoils of your success until they bore you, or set new goals and reenter the cycle of permanent presuccess failure.
Note - CHAPTER SIX: Goals Versus Systems > Page 32
"Goals are for losers" - focus on systems instead of goals
Note - CHAPTER SIX: Goals Versus Systems > Page 32
"Goals are for losers" - focus on systems instead of goals
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER SIX: Goals Versus Systems > Page 32
Goal- oriented people exist in a state of continuous presuccess failure at best, and permanent failure at worst if things never work out. Systems people succeed every time they apply their systems, in the sense that they did what they intended to do. The goals people are fighting the feeling of discouragement at each turn. The systems people are feeling good every time they apply their system. That’s a big difference in terms of maintaining your personal energy in the right direction.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER SIX: Goals Versus Systems > Page 33
If you do something every day, it’s a system. If you’re waiting to achieve it someday in the future, it’s a goal.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER SEVEN: My System > Page 40
easy to reproduce in unlimited quantities.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER SEVEN: My System > Page 40
In the near term it would mean one failure after another. In the long term I was creating a situation that would allow luck to find me.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER SEVEN: My System > Page 40
focus is always important.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER NINE: Deciding Versus Wanting > Page 46
If you want success, figure out the price, then pay it.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER NINE: Deciding Versus Wanting > Page 46
Success always has a price, but the reality is that the price is negotiable. If you pick the right system, the price will be a lot nearer what you’re willing to pay.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TEN: The Selfishness Illusion > Page 48
The most important form of selfishness involves spending time on your fitness, eating right, pursuing your career, and still spending quality time with your family and friends. If you neglect your health or your career, you slip into the second category— stupid— which is a short slide to becoming a burden on society.
Note - CHAPTER TEN: The Selfishness Illusion > Page 48
Something for the future-me to never forget
Note - CHAPTER TEN: The Selfishness Illusion > Page 48
Something for the future-me to never forget
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TEN: The Selfishness Illusion > Page 48
We humans are wired to be easily influenced by the people who are in relationships with us, no matter what those relationships are. Sometimes we call that influence peer pressure. Sometimes it’s called modeling or imitating. Sometimes it’s learning by example. And most of the time it’s just something we do automatically, without thinking.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER ELEVEN: The Energy Metric > Page 51
The way I approach the problem of multiple priorities is by focusing on just one main metric: my energy. I make choices that maximize my personal energy because that makes it easier to manage all of the other priorities. Maximizing my personal energy means eating right, exercising, avoiding unnecessary stress, getting enough sleep, and all of the obvious steps. But it also means having something in my life that makes me excited to wake up. When I get my personal energy right, the quality of my work is better, and I can complete it faster. That keeps my career on track. And when all of that is working, and I feel relaxed and energetic, my personal life is better too.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER ELEVEN: The Energy Metric > Page 52
So while writing takes me away from my friends and family for a bit, it makes me a better person when I’m with them. I’m happier and more satisfied with my life.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER ELEVEN: The Energy Metric > Page 54
Everyone is different, but you’ll discover that most writers work either early in the morning or past midnight. That’s when the creative writing juices flow most easily.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER ELEVEN: The Energy Metric > Page 55
You might not think you’re an early- morning person. I didn’t think I was either. But once you get used to it, you might never want to go back. You can accomplish more by the time other people wake up than most people accomplish all day.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER ELEVEN: The Energy Metric > Page 64
Priorities are the things you need to get right so the things you love can thrive.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWELVE: Managing Your Attitude > Page 66
try daydreaming of wonderful things in your future.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWELVE: Managing Your Attitude > Page 66
baseline level of happiness,
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWELVE: Managing Your Attitude > Page 72
My main point about perceptions is that you shouldn’t hesitate to modify your perceptions to whatever makes you happy, because you’re probably wrong about the underlying nature of reality anyway.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY: Managing Your Odds for Success > Page 96
The Success Formula: Every Skill You Acquire Doubles Your Odds of Success
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY: Managing Your Odds for Success > Page 96
Successwise, you’re better off being good at two complementary skills than being excellent at one.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY: Managing Your Odds for Success > Page 99
Everything you learn becomes a shortcut for understanding something else.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY: Managing Your Odds for Success > Page 100
mental hooks upon which you can hang future knowledge.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY: Managing Your Odds for Success > Page 100
The Knowledge Formula: The More You Know, the More You Can Know
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY: Managing Your Odds for Success > Page 100
Don’t think of the news as information. Think of it as a source of energy.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: The Math of Success > Page 103
Public speaking Psychology Business writing Accounting Design (the basics) Conversation Overcoming shyness Second language Golf Proper grammar Persuasion Technology (hobby level) Proper voice technique
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: The Math of Success > Page 116
I no longer see reason as the driver of behavior. I see simple cause and effect, similar to the way machines operate. If you believe people use reason for the important decisions in life, you will go through life feeling confused and frustrated that others seem to have bad reasoning skills. The reality is that reason is just one of the drivers of our decisions, and often the smallest one.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: The Math of Success > Page 126
The basic parts of a good party story are:
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: The Math of Success > Page 139
Energy is contagious.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: The Math of Success > Page 140
In any kind of negotiation, the worst thing you can do is act reasonable. Reasonable people generally cave in to irrational people because it seems like the path of least resistance.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: The Math of Success > Page 142
While most of us will never be able to speak like Morgan Freeman no matter how diligently we train our voices, we’re all capable of improving how we speak, and that’s probably worth the effort.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE: The Math of Success > Page 143
8 If you put your hand on your belly button and breathe correctly, that’s the only part of your torso that should be rising and falling. If your upper chest is expanding when you breathe normally, you’re doing it wrong.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO: Pattern Recognition > Page 147
Do you know what the unemployment rate is for engineers? It is nearly zero. Do you know how many engineers like their jobs? Most of them do,
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE: Association Programming > Page 169
There are probably dozens of ways we absorb energy, inspiration, skills, and character traits from those around us. Sometimes we learn by example. Sometimes success appears more approachable and ordinary because we see normal people achieve it, and perhaps that encourages us to pursue schemes with higher payoffs.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY: Happiness > Page 174
Step one in your search for happiness is to continually work toward having control of your schedule.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY: Happiness > Page 174
Happiness has more to do with where you’re heading than where you are.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY: Happiness > Page 175
Pessimism is often a failure of imagination. If you can imagine the future being brighter, it lifts your energy and gooses the chemistry in your body that produces a sensation of happiness. If you can’t even imagine an improved future, you won’t be happy no matter how well your life is going right now.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY: Happiness > Page 175
It’s easy to blame your environment because you know you can interpret almost anything as bad news or potential bad news. Just add pessimism and cynicism to any observation and you can manufacture bad news out of thin air. If you know anyone who routinely interprets good news as bad, you know how easily it can be done.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY: Happiness > Page 176
No one wants to believe that the formula for happiness is as simple as daydreaming, controlling your schedule, napping, eating right, and being active every day.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY: Happiness > Page 177
Of the big five factors in happiness— flexible schedule, imagination, diet, exercise, and sleep— my pick for the most important is exercise.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE: Diet > Page 188
For a few months, eat as much as you want of anything that is not a simple carb. That frees up your willpower so you can use it to avoid those delicious and convenient simple carbs.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE: Diet > Page 191
The main thing I learned is that nutrition presents itself as science but is perhaps 60 percent bullshit, guessing, bad assumptions, and marketing.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE: Diet > Page 192
A Diet Template from Your Smart( ish) Friend
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE: Diet > Page 202
But if success is your dream and operating at peak mental performance is something you want, coffee is a good bet. I highly recommend it. In fact, I recommend it so strongly that I literally feel sorry for anyone who hasn’t developed the habit.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO: Fitness > Page 207
In the long run, any system that depends on your willpower will fail. Or worse, some other part of your life will suffer as you focus your limited stockpile of willpower on fitness.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO: Fitness > Page 207
The most important and powerful part of the “Be active every day” system is the “every day” part.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO: Fitness > Page 210
If you want to make a habit of something, the worst thing you can do is pick and choose which days of the week you do it and which ones you don’t. Exercise becomes a habit when you do it every day without fail.
Highlight (yellow) - CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN: A Final Note About Affirmations > Page 226
Whether you are a born optimist or you become one through affirmations, prayer, or positive thinking, you end up with several advantages that make it easier for luck to find you. Optimists notice more opportunities, have more energy because of their imagined future successes, and take more risks. Optimists make themselves an easy target for luck to find them.

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

My views:

  • Although Ben writes this book addressing a founder or a CEO, most of his advice is just as applicable on any person who takes her work seriously and loves doing it. I think that's what he meant when he gave the book such a generalized title.
  • I want to write a whole article on the school of thought I presented above!

Kindle Highlights and Notes:

Notebook for
The Hard Thing About Hard Things
Horowitz, Ben
Citation (APA): Horowitz, B. (2014). The Hard Thing About Hard Things [Kindle Android version]. Retrieved from

Chapter 3: This Time with Feeling
Highlight (yellow) - Page 51
Sloppiness would not be tolerated.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 52
Note to self: It’s a good idea to ask, “What am I not doing?”
Chapter 4: When Things Fall Apart
Highlight (yellow) - The Struggle > Page 61
Highlight (yellow) - Nobody Cares > Page 91
Because, you see, nobody cares. When things go wrong in your company, nobody cares. The media don’t care, your investors don’t care, your board doesn’t care, your employees don’t care, and even your mama doesn’t care. Nobody cares.
Highlight (yellow) - Nobody Cares > Page 92
All the mental energy you use to elaborate your misery would be far better used trying to find the one seemingly impossible way out of your current mess. Spend zero time on what you could have done, and devote all of your time on what you might do. Because in the end, nobody cares; just run your company.
Chapter 5: Take Care of the People, the Products, and the Profits—in That Order
Highlight (yellow) - A Good Place to Work > Page 102
When things go well, the reasons to stay at a company are many:  Your career path is wide open because as the company grows lots of interesting jobs naturally open up.  Your friends and family think you are a genius for choosing to work at the “it” company before anyone else knew it was “it.”  Your résumé gets stronger by working at a blue- chip company in its heyday.  Oh, and you are getting rich.
Highlight (yellow) - A Good Place to Work > Page 103
When things go poorly, all those reasons become reasons to leave. In fact, the only thing that keeps an employee at a company when things go horribly wrong— other than needing a job— is that she likes her job.
Highlight (yellow) - Why Startups Should Train Their People > Page 109
The first thing to recognize is that no startup has time to do optional things.
Highlight (yellow) - Why Startups Should Train Their People > Page 112
Good product managers communicate crisply to engineering in writing as well as verbally.
Highlight (yellow) - Why Startups Should Train Their People > Page 112
Once bad product managers fail, they point out that they predicted they would fail.
Highlight (yellow) - Why Startups Should Train Their People > Page 113
Good product managers send their status reports in on time every week, because they are disciplined. Bad product managers forget to send in their status reports on time, because they don’t value discipline.
Chapter 6: Concerning the Going Concern
Highlight (yellow) - The Right Kind of Ambition > Page 157
They will tend to be far more interested in how your company will win than in how they will be compensated or what their career path will be. When asked about a previously failed company, they will generally feel such great responsibility that they will describe in detail their own misjudgments and bad decisions.
Highlight (yellow) - Titles and Promotions > Page 161
Ideally, the promotion process should yield a result similar to the very best karate dojos. In top dojos, in order to achieve the next level (for example, being promoted from a brown belt to a black belt), you must defeat an opponent in combat at that level. This guarantees that a new black belt is never a worse fighter than the worst current black belt.
Highlight (yellow) - When Smart People Are Bad Employees > Page 165
Any sizable company produces some number of strategies, projects, processes, promotions, and other activities that don’t make sense.
Highlight (yellow) - When Smart People Are Bad Employees > Page 166
sometimes a really smart employee develops an agenda other than improving the company. Rather than identifying weaknesses so that he can fix them, he looks for faults to build his case. Specifically, he builds his case that the company is hopeless and run by a bunch of morons. The smarter the employee, the more destructive this type of behavior can be. Simply put, it takes a really smart person to be maximally destructive, because otherwise nobody else will listen to him.
Highlight (yellow) - One-on-One > Page 176
Perhaps the CEO’s most important operational responsibility is designing and implementing the communication architecture for her company. The architecture might include the organizational design, meetings, processes, email, yammer, and even one- on- one meetings with managers and employees.
Highlight (yellow) - One-on-One > Page 176
Absent a well- designed communication architecture, information and ideas will stagnate, and your company will degenerate into a bad place to work.
Highlight (yellow) - One-on-One > Page 176
The key to a good one- on- one meeting is the understanding that it is the employee’s meeting rather than the manager’s meeting. This is the free- form meeting for all the pressing issues, brilliant ideas, and chronic frustrations that do not fit neatly into status reports, email, and other less personal and intimate mechanisms.
Highlight (yellow) - Taking the Mystery Out of Scaling a Company > Page 188
The first rule of organizational design is that all organizational designs are bad.
Highlight (yellow) - Taking the Mystery Out of Scaling a Company > Page 191
Who should design a process? The people who are already doing the work in an ad hoc manner. They know what needs to be communicated and to whom. Naturally they will be the right group to formalize the existing process and make it scalable.
Note - Taking the Mystery Out of Scaling a Company > Page 191
Idea: communicating trough writing as an alternative to building a process.
Note - Taking the Mystery Out of Scaling a Company > Page 191
Idea: communicating trough writing as an alternative to building a process.
Chapter 7: How to Lead Even When You Don’t Know Where You Are Going
Highlight (yellow) - Taking the Mystery Out of Scaling a Company > Page 200
Investing in courage and determination was an easy decision for me.”
Highlight (yellow) - The Most Difficult CEO Skill > Page 207
Get it out of your head and onto paper. When I had to explain to my board that, since we were a public company, I thought that it would be best if we sold all of our customers and all of our revenue and changed business, it was messing with my mind. In order to finalize that decision, I wrote down a detailed explanation of my logic. The process of writing that document separated me from my own psychology and enabled me to make the decision swiftly.
Highlight (yellow) - The Most Difficult CEO Skill > Page 207
When someone learns to drive a race car, one of the first lessons taught is that when you are going around a curve at 200 mph, do not focus on the wall; focus on the road. If you focus on the wall, you will drive right into it. If you focus on the road, you will follow the road.
Highlight (yellow) - The Fine Line Between Fear and Courage > Page 209
“I tell my kids, what is the difference between a hero and a coward? What is the difference between being yellow and being brave? No difference. Only what you do. They both feel the same. They both fear dying and getting hurt. The man who is yellow refuses to face up to what he’s got to face. The hero is more disciplined and he fights those feelings off and he does what he has to do. But they both feel the same, the hero and the coward. People who watch you judge you on what you do, not how you feel.”
Highlight (yellow) - The Fine Line Between Fear and Courage > Page 212
In life, everybody faces choices between doing what’s popular, easy, and wrong versus doing what’s lonely, difficult, and right.
Highlight (yellow) - The Fine Line Between Fear and Courage > Page 213
Life Excuse CEO Excuse Other smart people made the same mistake. It was a close call. All my friends wanted to do it. The team was against me and I couldn’t go against the team. All the cool kids are doing it. It was industry best practice; I didn’t realize it was illegal. It wasn’t perfect, so I decided not to compete. We never achieved total product- market fit, so we never tried to sell our product.
Highlight (yellow) - The Fine Line Between Fear and Courage > Page 213
Every time you make the hard, correct decision you become a bit more courageous and every time you make the easy, wrong decision you become a bit more cowardly.
Highlight (yellow) - Ones and Twos > Page 214
I will focus the discussion on two core skills for running an organization: First, knowing what to do. Second, getting the company to do what you know. While being a great CEO requires both skills, most CEOs tend to be more comfortable with one or the other. I call managers who are happier setting the direction of the company Ones and those who more enjoy making the company perform at the highest level Twos.
Highlight (yellow) - Follow the Leader > Page 219
the quantity, quality, and diversity of people who want to follow her.
Highlight (yellow) - Follow the Leader > Page 220
Truly great leaders create an environment where the employees feel that the CEO cares more about the employees than she cares about herself. In this kind of environment, an amazing thing happens: A huge number of employees believe it’s their company and behave accordingly.
Highlight (yellow) - Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO > Page 225
Peacetime in business means those times when a company has a large advantage over the competition in its core market, and its market is growing.
Highlight (yellow) - Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO > Page 225
In wartime, a company is fending off an imminent existential threat. Such a threat can come from a wide range of sources, including competition, dramatic macroeconomic change, market change, supply chain change, and so forth.
Highlight (yellow) - Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO > Page 227
Wartime CEO is too busy fighting the enemy to read management books written by consultants who have never managed a fruit stand.
Highlight (yellow) - Peacetime CEO/Wartime CEO > Page 228
Be aware that management books tend to be written by management consultants who study successful companies during their times of peace. As a result, the resulting books describe the methods of peacetime CEOs.
Highlight (yellow) - Making Yourself a CEO > Page 232
If you think somebody’s presentation sucks, don’t say, “It’s really good, but could use one more pass to tighten up the conclusion.” While it may seem harsh, it’s much better to say, “I couldn’t follow it and I didn’t understand your point and here are the reasons why.”
Highlight (yellow) - Making Yourself a CEO > Page 233
You may be the CEO and you may be telling somebody about something that you don’t like or disagree with, but that doesn’t mean you’re right. Your employee should know more about her function than you. She should have more data than you. You may be wrong.
Highlight (yellow) - Making Yourself a CEO > Page 233
Encourage people to challenge your judgment and argue the point to conclusion.
Highlight (yellow) - Making Yourself a CEO > Page 233
As CEO, you should have an opinion on absolutely everything. You should have an opinion on every forecast, every product plan, every presentation, and even every comment. Let people know what you think. If you like someone’s comment, give her the feedback. If you disagree, give her the feedback. Say what you think. Express yourself.
Highlight (yellow) - How to Evaluate CEOs > Page 237
Some employees make products, some make sales; the CEO makes decisions. Therefore, a CEO can most accurately be measured by the speed and quality of those decisions. Great decisions come from CEOs who display an elite mixture of intelligence, logic, and courage.
Highlight (yellow) - How to Evaluate CEOs > Page 240
In well- run organizations, people can focus on their work (as opposed to politics and bureaucratic procedures) and have confidence that if they get their work done, good things will happen both for the company and for them personally.
Highlight (yellow) - How to Evaluate CEOs > Page 242
All people, including CEOs, will perform better on a test if they know the questions ahead of time.
Chapter 9: The End of the Beginning
Highlight (yellow) - How to Evaluate CEOs > Page 276
When I first became a CEO, I genuinely thought that I was the only one struggling. Whenever I spoke to other CEOs, they all seemed like they had everything under control. Their businesses were always going “fantastic” and their experience was inevitably “amazing.” I thought that maybe growing up in Berkeley with Communist grandparents might not have been the best background for running a company. But as I watched my peers’ fantastic, amazing businesses go bankrupt and sell for cheap, I realized that I was probably not the only one struggling.
Highlight (yellow) - How to Evaluate CEOs > Page 276
Embrace your weirdness, your background, your instinct. If the keys are not in there, they do not exist. I can relate to what they’re going through, but I cannot tell them what to do. I can only help them find it in themselves. And sometimes they can find peace where I could not.

The Everything Store by Brad Stone

My views:

  • I read this book at a time when there was a huge backlash against the large monopolies (Amazon, Google, Facebook) and I single-mindedly believed in this school of thought. Reading this book made me rethink how these monopolies can be huge forces just efficiently working for the public.
  • Jeff Bezos is a relatively quiet founder and CEO. I haven't seen a lot of speeches/interviews/podcasts from him. Reading this book was an insight into how his mind works, how he built Amazon and his ruthless genius. I am just so glad that to have read it.
  • How long can a vision get?

Kindle Highlights and Notes:

Notebook for
The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon
Stone, Brad
Citation (APA): Stone, B. (2013). The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon [Kindle Android version]. Retrieved from

Part II—Literary Influences
Highlight (yellow) - Chapter 6: Chaos Theory > Page 168
Microsoft took a top- down management approach with layers of middle managers, a system that ended up slowing decisions and stifling innovation.
Highlight (yellow) - Chapter 6: Chaos Theory > Page 168
So he framed the kind of employees he wanted in simple terms. All new hires had to directly improve the outcome of the company. He wanted doers— engineers, developers, perhaps merchandise buyers, but not managers. “We didn’t want to be a monolithic army of program managers, à la Microsoft. We wanted independent teams to be entrepreneurial,” says Neil Roseman. Or, as Roseman also put it: “Autonomous working units are good. Things to manage working units are bad.”
Part III—Missionary or Mercenary?
Highlight (yellow) - Chapter 9: Liftoff! > Page 278
As suppliers had learned over the past decade, no matter the category, Amazon wielded its market power neither lightly nor gracefully, employing every bit of leverage to improve its own margins and pass along savings to its customers.
Highlight (yellow) - Chapter 10: Expedient Convictions > Page 303
Some of the retailers who sell via the Amazon Marketplace seem to have a schizophrenic relationship with the company, particularly if they have no unique and sustainable selling point, such as an exclusive on a particular product. Amazon closely monitors what they sell, notices any briskly selling items, and often starts selling those products itself. By paying Amazon commissions and helping it source hot products, retailers on the Amazon Marketplace are in effect aiding their most ferocious competitor.
Highlight (yellow) - Chapter 10: Expedient Convictions > Page 304
“In a world where consumers had limited choice, you needed to compete for locations,” says Ross, who went on to cofound eCommera, a British e- commerce advisory firm. “But in a world where consumers have unlimited choice, you need to compete for attention. And this requires something more than selling other people’s products.”
Highlight (yellow) - Chapter 11: The Kingdom of the Question Mark > Page 325
The question mark e- mails, often called escalations, are Bezos’s way to ensure that potential problems are addressed and that the customer’s voice is always heard inside Amazon.
Highlight (yellow) - Chapter 11: The Kingdom of the Question Mark > Page 336
“If you look at why Amazon is so different than almost any other company that started early on the Internet, it’s because Jeff approached it from the very beginning with that long- term vision,” Hillis continues. “It was a multidecade project. The notion that he can accomplish a huge amount with a larger time frame, if he is steady about it, is fundamentally his philosophy.”
Highlight (yellow) - Chapter 11: The Kingdom of the Question Mark > Page 342
For years, customer service reps were graded on a formula that attempted to measure their productivity, taking into account how many calls they took per hour and the average length of each call. Then Amazon started putting more weight on the most desired outcome: customer satisfaction. Now an associate’s job performance is based almost entirely on how customers answer an e- mailed survey they receive after they hang up the phone.
Highlight (yellow) - Chapter 11: The Kingdom of the Question Mark > Page 350
16 Justin Hibbard, “Wal- Mart v. The

Remote: Office Not Required by David Heinemeier Hanson and Jason Fried

My views:

  • This book's ideas on remote are ahead of its time - the focus on forty hour work week, equal pay for equal work, high-trust management and a culture of writing.
  • The writing is surprisingly simple. It's like David just turned a casual conversation with his co-founder into a book.
  • I read this book right before I joined my remote job (because I joined my remote job). All remote workers should give it a read!

Kindle Highlight and Notes:

Notebook for
Heinemeier Hansson, David; Fried, Jason
Citation (APA): Heinemeier Hansson, D., & Fried, J. (2013). Remote [Kindle Android version]. Retrieved from

Highlight (yellow) - Page 9
The missing upgrade is for the human mind.
The Time is Right for Remote Work
Highlight (yellow) - The new luxury > Page 28
Your life no longer needs to be divided into arbitrary phases of work and retirement. You can blend the two for fun and profit— design a better lifestyle that makes work enjoyable because it’s not the only thing on the menu.
Highlight (yellow) - The new luxury > Page 29
The new luxury is the luxury of freedom and time. Once you’ve had a taste of that life, no corner office or fancy chef will be able to drag you back.
Highlight (yellow) - You’re probably already doing it > Page 48
Worth counting too is the number of days you spend at the office emailing someone who sits only three desks away. People go to the office all the time and act as though they’re working remotely: emailing, instant messaging, secluding themselves to get work done. At the end of the day, was it really worth coming to the office for it?
Dealing with Excuses
Highlight (yellow) - If I can’t see them, how do I know they’re working? > Page 55
“If we’re struggling with trust issues, it means we made a poor hiring decision. If a team member isn’t producing good results or can’t manage their own schedule and workload, we aren’t going to continue to work with that person. It’s as simple as that. We employ team members who are skilled professionals, capable of managing their own schedules and making a valuable contribution to the organization. We have no desire to be babysitters during the day.”
Highlight (yellow) - Who will answer the phone? > Page 67
False equality benefits nobody.
How to Collaborate Remotely
Highlight (yellow) - All out in the open > Page 97
If Pratik in London has to wait five hours for someone in Chicago to come online in order to know what he should work on next, that’s half a workday lost. A company won’t waste time like that for long before declaring that “remote working just doesn’t work.”
Highlight (yellow) - The virtual water cooler > Page 100
The idea is to have a single, permanent chat room where everyone hangs out all day to shoot the breeze, post funny pictures, and generally goof around. Yes, it can also be used to answer questions about work, but its primary function is to provide social cohesion.
Highlight (yellow) - Forward motion > Page 105
It’s also a lot harder to bullshit your peers than your boss.
Hiring and Keeping the Best
Highlight (yellow) - Life moves on > Page 149
Remember, doing great work with great people is one of the most durable sources of happiness we humans can tap into.
Highlight (yellow) - Keep the good times going > Page 151
What are we talking about? Well, in the same way that New York cracked down in the ’90s on even innocuous offenses like throwing rocks through windows or jumping the turnstile, a manager of remote workers needs to make an example of even the small stuff— things like snippy comments or passive- aggressive responses. While this responsibility naturally falls to those in charge, it works even better if policed by everyone in the company.
Highlight (yellow) - Seeking a human > Page 154
That sets a challenge for a manager directing a remote workforce. He has to ensure that this diversity of human experience happens for his troops as well. The job starts with putting together a team of people who are naturally interested in more than just their work— and it continues with encouraging those other interests to bloom.
Highlight (yellow) - Seeking a human > Page 155
When you’re seeking remote workers, you have to do even more to encourage and nurture diversity and personal development. It’s a small price to pay for a more interesting workplace and to keep people engaged for the long term.
Highlight (yellow) - The cost of thriving > Page 163
These days few companies offer remote work (though, of course, the point of this book is that remote work is on the rise), and even fewer do so with equal pay for equal work across geographies. The ones that do are at an almost unfair advantage in attracting and keeping the best people in the world. So don’t look at remote work as a way to skimp on salaries; you’ll save on lots of other things. Your star designer out in the sticks is just as valuable (maybe more so) to the team as those working from the big- city home office. Make sure she feels that way. By the same token, as a remote worker, you shouldn’t let employers get away with paying you less just because you live in a cheaper city. “Equal pay for equal work” might be a dusty slogan, but it works for a reason. If with regard to compensation you accept being treated as a second- class worker based on location, you’re opening the door to being treated poorly on other matters as well.
Highlight (yellow) - On writing well > Page 167
Being a good writer is an essential part of being a good remote worker. When most arguments are settled over email or chat or discussion boards, you’d better show up equipped for the task. So, as a company owner or manager, you might as well filter for this quality right from the get- go.
Highlight (yellow) - Test project > Page 172
We don’t believe in asking people to solve puzzles. Solving real problems is a lot more interesting— and enlightening.
Managing Remote Workers
Highlight (yellow) - Remove the roadblocks > Page 198
Start by empowering everyone to make decisions on their own. If the company is full of people whom nobody trusts to make decisions without layers of managerial review, then the company is full of the wrong people.
Highlight (yellow) - Remove the roadblocks > Page 199
Second, you must make sure that people have access, by default, to everything they need. Most companies start out by adopting the reverse policy: everyone is only granted access to information and applications on a need- to- know basis. That’s completely unnecessary.
Highlight (yellow) - Remove the roadblocks > Page 199
Mr. or Ms. Roadblock.
Highlight (yellow) - Remove the roadblocks > Page 200
Second, workers at 37signals needn’t ask permission to go on vacation or specify how much time they’ll take. We tell them: just be reasonable, put it on the calendar, and coordinate with your coworkers. If you let them, humans have an amazing power to live up to your high expectations of reasonableness and responsibility.
Highlight (yellow) - Be on the lookout for overwork, not underwork > Page 204
If work is all- consuming, the worker is far more likely to burn out. This is true even if the person loves what he does. Perhaps especially if he loves what he does, since it won’t seem like a problem until it’s too late.
Highlight (yellow) - Using scarcity to your advantage > Page 205
Whereas before they’d been the perfect opportunity for a high- value exchange of information, they start to become routine, tired, played out, and, ultimately, an enormous waste of time. Questions that could have been answered in a few minutes via email or the phone turn into forty- five minute in- person conversations. Once in a while these gabfests are fine, but when they become the norm— when they’re abundant— you’ve got a problem.
Note - Using scarcity to your advantage > Page 205
Also, problem with the culture of waiting for such interactions. At innovaccer - waiting the whole day for a meeting - waiting hours for a 5 minute facetime
Note - Using scarcity to your advantage > Page 205
Also, problem with the culture of waiting for such interactions. At innovaccer - waiting the whole day for a meeting - waiting hours for a 5 minute facetime
Life as a Remote Worker
Highlight (yellow) - Building a routine > Page 210
This doesn’t mean you have to dress up in a suit every day (but if that’s what floats your boat, get that bow tie spinning!). We’re merely suggesting that you demarcate the difference between work and play.
Highlight (yellow) - Building a routine > Page 210
Another hack is to divide the day into chunks like Catch- up, Collaboration, and Serious Work. Some people prefer to use the mornings to catch up on email, industry news, and other low- intensity tasks, and then put their game face on for tearing through the tough stuff after lunch.
Highlight (yellow) - Staying motivated > Page 221
Trying to conjure motivation by means of rewards or threats is terribly ineffective. In fact, it’s downright counterproductive. Rather, the only reliable way to muster motivation is by encouraging people to work on the stuff they like and care about, with people they like and care about. There are no shortcuts.
Highlight (yellow) - Staying motivated > Page 222
So instead of trying to treat motivation as something that can be artificially ginned up with just the right tricks, treat it as a barometer of the quality of work and the work environment.
Highlight (yellow) - Nomadic freedom > Page 226
But it’s a choice available to remote workers that would have seemed ludicrous not too long ago: the luxury to see the world without being independently wealthy or giving up your career.
Highlight (yellow) - A change of scenery > Page 228
Waking up at the same time, taking the same transportation, traveling the same route, plopping down in the same chair at the same desk in the same office over and over and over isn’t exactly a prescription for inspiration.
Highlight (yellow) - A change of scenery > Page 230
Instead, look at the remote option as an opportunity to be influenced by more things and to take in more perspectives than you normally might if you had to be in the same place at the same time every day.

Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert T. Kiyosaki

My views:

  • This book gave me a fundamental way of thinking about wealth - something that grows in value while you sleep.
  • I do not find the way author becomes rich enticing - just focussing on amassing more wealth is boring.

Kindle highlights and notes:

Notebook for
Rich Dad Poor Dad
Kiyosaki, Robert T.
Citation (APA): Kiyosaki, R. T. (2017). Rich Dad Poor Dad [Kindle Android version]. Retrieved from

Title Page
Bookmark - Page viii
20 Years... 20/20 Hindsight: It Was 20 Years Ago Today...
Bookmark - Page 7
Introduction: Rich Dad Poor Dad
Highlight (yellow) - Page 9
choice of contrasting points of view:
Highlight (yellow) - Page 11
fanatical about exercising your mind,
Highlight (yellow) - Page 11
Proper physical exercise increases your chances for health, and proper mental exercise increases your chances for wealth.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 13
I noticed that people really do shape their lives through their thoughts.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 13
“There is a difference between being poor and being broke. Broke is temporary. Poor is eternal.”
Highlight (yellow) - Page 13
important to be aware of my thoughts and how I expressed myself.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 14
The other encouraged me to study to be rich, to understand how money works, and to learn how to have it work for me.
Chapter One: Lesson 1: The Rich Don’t Work for Money
Highlight (yellow) - Page 24
More and more people are competing for good deals.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 30
I’ve learned to focus on what I do have control over: myself.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 32
for passion is anger and love combined.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 38
understood that every person has a weak and needy part of their soul that can be bought, and he knew that every individual also had a part of their soul that was resilient and could never be bought. It was only a question of which one was stronger.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 39
First, the fear of being without money motivates us to work hard, and then once we get that paycheck, greed or desire starts us thinking about all the wonderful things money can buy.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 39
pattern of get up, go to work, pay bills; get up, go to work, pay bills.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 40
again they react, instead of think.”
Highlight (yellow) - Page 45
The donkey’s owner may be going where he wants to, but the donkey is chasing an illusion.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 45
human’s life is a struggle between ignorance and illumination.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 47
Prices go up because of greed and fear caused by ignorance.
Chapter Five: Lesson 5: The Rich Invent Money
Highlight (yellow) - Page 164
The idea in anything is to use your technical knowledge, wisdom, and love of the game to cut the odds down, to lower the risk. Of course, there is always risk. It is financial intelligence that improves the odds. Thus, what is risky for one person is less risky to someone else.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 164
The smarter you are, the better chance you have of beating the odds.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 168
It is what you know that is your greatest wealth. It is what you do not know that is your greatest risk.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 168
There is always risk, so learn to manage risk instead of
Highlight (yellow) - Page 168
avoiding it.
Chapter Six: Lesson 6: Work to Learn—Don’t Work for Money
Highlight (yellow) - Page 181
“They are one skill away from great wealth.”
Highlight (yellow) - Page 182
Most teachers lack real- world experience— they have not
Highlight (yellow) - Page 182
done what they teach. They haven’t actually experienced what they teach, made mistakes, learned from those mistakes, and applied what they’ve learned as they continue to practice and get better and better.
Note - Page 182
Idea: professionalS who teach
Note - Page 182
Idea: professionalS who teach
Highlight (yellow) - Page 185
“Workers work hard enough to not be fired, and owners pay just enough so that workers won’t quit.”
Highlight (yellow) - Page 188
“I’m not interested in going to the gym, but I go because I want to feel better and live longer.”
Highlight (yellow) - Page 189
“How many of you can cook a better hamburger than McDonald’s?” almost all the students raise their hands. I then ask, “So if most of you can cook a better hamburger, how come McDonald’s makes more
Highlight (yellow) - Page 189
money than you?”
Highlight (yellow) - Page 192
I advise them to just spend a year learning to sell. Even if they earn nothing, their communication skills will improve. And that is priceless.
Chapter Seven: Overcoming Obstacles
Highlight (yellow) - Page 205
And in all my years, I have never met a rich person who has never lost money. But I have met a lot of poor people who have never lost a dime—
Highlight (yellow) - Page 209
The main reason that over 90 percent of the American public struggles financially is because they play not to lose. They don’t play to win.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 216
If they aren’t busy at work or with the kids, they’re often busy watching TV, fishing, playing golf, or shopping. Yet deep down they know they are avoiding something important. That’s the most common form of laziness: laziness by staying busy.
Chapter Eight: Getting Started
Highlight (yellow) - Page 237
Arrogant or critical people are often people with low self- esteem who are afraid of taking risks.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 252
Copying or emulating heroes is true power learning.
Highlight (yellow) - Page 253
My rich dad would often say, “Poor people are more greedy than rich people.” He would explain that if a person was rich, that person was providing something that other people wanted.