May 26, 2017 - Comments Off on Commonplace #0051

Commonplace #0051

As you set out for Ithaka
hope the voyage is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
angry Poseidon—don’t be afraid of them:
you’ll never find things like that on your way
as long as you keep your thoughts raised high,
as long as a rare excitement
stirs your spirit and your body.
Laistrygonians and Cyclops,
wild Poseidon—you won’t encounter them
unless you bring them along inside your soul,
unless your soul sets them up in front of you. Hope the voyage is a long one.
May there be many a summer morning when,
with what pleasure, what joy,
you come into harbors seen for the first time;
may you stop at Phoenician trading stations
to buy fine things,
mother of pearl and coral, amber and ebony,
sensual perfume of every kind—
as many sensual perfumes as you can;
and may you visit many Egyptian cities
to gather stores of knowledge from their scholars. Keep Ithaka always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaka to make you rich. Ithaka gave you the marvelous journey.
Without her you would not have set out.
She has nothing left to give you now. And if you find her poor, Ithaka won’t have fooled you.
Wise as you will have become, so full of experience,
you will have understood by then what these Ithakas mean.

May 6, 2017 - Comments Off on Commonplace #0050

Commonplace #0050

Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.

If you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. In simpler language, the simplest solution is correct.

The simpler a hypothesis is, the more easily it can be proved or falsified. A complex explanation for a phenomenon involves many factors which can be difficult to test or lead to issues with the repeatability of an experiment. As a consequence, the simplest solution which is consistent with the existing data is preferred.

May 1, 2017 - Comments Off on Commonplace #0049

Commonplace #0049

What gets measured gets done.

Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by incompetence.

You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts; And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime. And in much of your talking, your thinking is half murdered. 
For thought is a bird of space, that in a case of words may indeed unfold its wings but cannot fly. There are those among you who seek the talkative through fear of being alone. 
The silence of aloneness reveals to their eyes their naked selves and they would escape. 
And there are those who talk, and without knowledge or forethought reveal a truth which they themselves do not understand. 
And there are those who have the truth within them, but they tell it not in words.

April 19, 2017 - Comments Off on Commonplace #0048

Commonplace #0048

In the works of great writers we find our own neglected thoughts.

At the lowest socioeconomic level, lower-lower class, the time perspective was often only a few hours, or minutes, such as in the case of the hopeless alcoholic or drug addict, who thinks only about the next drink or dose.

At the highest level, those who were second- or third-generation wealthy, their time perspective was many years, decades, even generations into the future. It turns out that successful people are intensely future oriented. They think about the future most of the time.

The very act of thinking long term sharpens your perspective and dramatically improves the quality of your short-term decision making.

Resolve today to develop long-time perspective. Become intensely future oriented. Think about the future most of the time. Consider the consequences of your decisions and actions. What is likely to happen? And then what could happen? And then what? Practice self-discipline, self-mastery, and self-control. Be willing to pay the price today in order to enjoy the rewards of a better future tomorrow.

The very act of stopping to think before you say or do anything almost always improves the quality of your ultimate response. It is an indispensable requirement for success.

Beware of endeavoring to be a great man in a hurry. One such attempt in ten thousand may succeed: these are fearful odds.

We first determine that it is a good business opportunity. Then we ask, ‘What is the worst possible thing that could happen to us in this business opportunity?’ We then go to work to make sure that the worst possible outcome does not occur.

The best measure of quality thinking is your ability to accurately predict the consequences of your ideas and subsequent actions.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.

If you don’t pay appropriate attention to what has your attention, it will take more of your attention than it deserves.

(Knowledge) can never be acquired unless one has chosen a goal for one’s studies. One must conduct oneself as in everyday life; one must know what one wants to be. In the latter endeavors irresolution produces false steps, and in the life of the mind confused ideas.

It sometimes happens that work and study force genius to declare itself, like the fruits that art produces in a soil where nature did not intend it, but these efforts of art are nearly as rare as natural genius itself. The vast majority of thinking men — the others, the geniuses, are in a class of their own — need to search within themselves for their talent. They know the difficulties of each art, and the mistakes of those who engage in each one, but they lack the courage that is not disheartened by such reflections, and the superiority that would enable them to overcome such difficulties. Mediocrity is, even among the elect, the lot of the greatest number.

Appreciation over expectation.

To become more successful at everything you do in life, you need to do three things: reduce the amount of time you waste, be more organized, and get rid of the “mental clutter” that distracts you, preoccupies you, and stresses you out.

One of the most prominent current theories through which psychologists explain differences in political beliefs is called Moral Foundations Theory, or MFT. MFT posits that there are five foundations to moral beliefs: care/harm (whether other beings are being hurt); fairness/cheating (whether people are treating others fairly); loyalty/betrayal (whether people are exhibiting loyalty to their group); authority/subversion (whether people are playing by the rules); and sanctity/degradation (whether people are sullying physical or spiritual things that are sacred). According to the theory, liberals and conservatives view these concerns differently. For liberals, care/harm and fairness/cheating are the most important of the five, while conservatives are more into loyalty/betrayal, authority/subversion, and sanctity/degradation.

Self-justification is a portrayal of the brain that, despite its stated goals or desires, is not interested in truth, but rather self-preservation. Admitting you were wrong may save relationships and lives, it may prevent distress and war, but it will also force you to admit that the narrative you have constructed about yourself is wrong. And depending on how committed you are to that narrative, you may be unable to even see that you made a mistake, let alone confront it.

Self-justification has costs and benefits. By itself, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. It lets us sleep at night. Without it, we would prolong the awful pangs of embarrassment. We would torture ourselves with regret over the road not taken or over how badly we navigated the road we did take. … Yet mindless self-justification, like quicksand, can draw us deeper into disaster. It blocks our ability to even see our errors, let alone correct them. It distorts reality, keeping us from getting all the information we need and assessing issues clearly. It prolongs and widens rifts between lovers, friends, and nations. It keeps us from letting go of unhealthy habits. It permits the guilty to avoid taking responsibility for their deeds. And it keeps many professionals from changing outdated attitudes and procedures that can harm the public.

April 3, 2017 - Comments Off on Commonplace #0047

Commonplace #0047

If you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything.

Try acting like a hero; maybe people will come to believe you.

The metagame is this psychological game that exists among players, involving adjustments – adjustments based on how an opponent is likely to interpret a given set of actions. Better players adjust their strategies and styles to those of particular opponents, always analyzing how the opponents are playing in terms of how the opponents believe they're playing.

Maintaining a well-balanced strategy, while deciphering your opponents' strategies, is the key to the metagame. If you comprehend the concept of the metagame, accurately perceive the flow of your table and then tournament, and stay alerted to and aware of current strategy trends, you'll be able to successfully mix up your play when considering your image and that of your opponents. In return, your game will be highly unpredictable and difficult to read, which should be your ultimate goal.

The trouble is that the performance of a company always depends on both skill and luck, which means that a given strategy will succeed only part of the time. So attributing success to any strategy may be wrong simply because you’re sampling only the winners. The more important question is: How many of the companies that tried that strategy actually succeeded?

Pattern recognition is an essential skill in venture capital. While the elements of success in the venture business do not repeat themselves precisely, they often rhyme. In evaluating companies, the successful venture capitalist will often see something that reminds them of patterns they have seen before. It might be the style, chemistry or composition of the team or the nature of the business plan. Some things will be fundamentally different but other things may be familiar. While the pattern will be similar, something in what the team is doing will seem to break a rule. Part of the pattern that is being recognized is a rule breaking innovation of some kind which drives new value.

The great entrepreneurs tend to be persistent, obsessive and relentless, but the really great entrepreneurs also seem to have a gift for looking at the world from a customer’s viewpoint.

These entrepreneurs seem to know instinctively what the customer wants.

The best entrepreneurs are the ones who are passionate about solving a problem because they’ve had it or seen others have it, love those customers, love solving that problem or have been domain experts. Those are authentic entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs, at their heart, are artists. … What comes out from the great artists is something completely unexpected. World class entrepreneurs understand something that is driven by passion.

Founders fit the definition of a composer: they see something no one else does. And to help them create it from nothing, they surround themselves with world-class performers. This concept of creating something that few others see – and the reality distortion field necessary to recruit the team to build it – is at the heart of what startup founders do. It is a very different skill than science, engineering, or management. Entrepreneurial employees are the talented performers who hear the siren song of a founder’s vision. Joining a startup while it is still searching for a business model, they too see the promise of what can be and join the founder to bring the vision to life.

Total Time to Product/Market Fit has to be less than 1-2 years or else your startup will implode. Ask anyone who’s been working on a product for more than 2 years and doesn’t have traction to show: It really, really sucks. The first 6 months can be fun because it feels like you’re painting on a blank canvas, but soon enough, there’s just fatigue and the window of opportunity shifts. Platforms change, investors get disengaged, your employees start getting excited about other companies. So if you miss your window, then you’ll run out of money or energy or both.”

When you understand something, you know how to break the rules.

Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.

To achieve something you’ve never achieved before, you must learn and practice something that you’ve never done before.

Rich people are always looking for ways to create value, to develop and produce products and services that enrich and enhance the lives and work of other people.

They are always willing to put in before they take out. They do not believe in easy money or something for nothing. Rich people believe that you have to justly earn and pay for, in terms of toil and treasure, any rewards and riches that you desire.

Poor people lack this fundamental understanding, the direct relationship between what you put in and what you get out. They are always seeking to get something for nothing or for as little as possible. They want success without achievement, riches without labor, money without effort, and fame without talent.

Poor people gamble, buy lottery tickets, come to work at the last possible moment, waste time while they are there, and then leave work at the first possible minute. They line up by the hundreds and thousands to audition for programs like American Idol, thinking that they can become rich and famous without ever having paid the price necessary to develop the level of talent and ability that enables them to rise above their competitors.

One of the great secrets of becoming wealthy is to always do more than you are paid for. If you do, you will always be paid more than you’re getting today. And there is no other way.

Go the extra mile. Be willing to put in far more than you are taking out. There are never any traffic jams on the extra mile

I will study and prepare myself and someday my chance will come.

There are no secrets of success. There are simply timeless truths and universal principles that have been discovered and rediscovered throughout human history. All you have to do is to learn and practice them to enjoy all the success that you could desire.

Thought is the original source of all wealth, all success, all material gain, all great discoveries and inventions, and of all achievement.

If you don’t delight a customer you don’t create a viral effect because delight is the greatest form of virality.

In technology, one company can dominate a market due to network effects, so losing focus on delighting customers can be a fatal mistake.

Network effects often drive virality. But another thing that drives virality is delight.

Network effects exist when a product gets more valuable the more people use it. Network effects are about increasing value and drive business success by increasing the size of a business’s moat. Virality is about increasing speed of adoption and lowering customer acquisition cost (CAC).

Products that exhibit viral growth depend on person-to-person transmission as a necessary consequence of normal product use. Growth happens automatically as a side effect of customers using the product.

Growth should ideally be driven by a natural byproduct of customers generating core product value from their use of the product. The less optional the sharing activity the more naturally viral the product is. Customer should derive value from sharing the product with others without the process feeling forced.

If, after several turns in your career and life, you return to the same idea, pursue it. Your creation is as much an act of self-expression at that point.

Build the stuff that makes the real world easier to use.

You can’t wait for another company to make the technology you need to build what you’re destined to build. You must develop it yourself.

If your core idea is your North Star, go ahead and build a constellation around it. Just avoid adding stars that’ll shine alone in another galaxy—they rarely get as bright.

January 27, 2017 - Comments Off on Commonplace #0046

Commonplace #0046

Write the book you want to read.

The brain works in mysterious ways. By stepping aside, finding other projects and actively ignoring something, our subconscious creates space for ideas to grow.

Diversity is insurance of the mind.

While regular practice might include mindless repetitions, deliberate practice requires focused attention and is conducted with the specific goal of improving performance.

Mindless activity is the enemy of deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice always follows the same pattern: break the overall process down into parts, identify your weaknesses, test new strategies for each section, and then integrate your learning into the overall process.

You are not beaten until you admit it.

Do your duty as you see it, and damn the consequences.

The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.

Never stop being ambitious. You have but one life, live it to the fullest of glory and be willing to pay any price.

Always do more than is required of you.

By perseverance, and study, and eternal desire, any man can become great.

January 15, 2017 - Comments Off on Commonplace #0045

Commonplace #0045

Don’t invest too much time engaging with the wrong people. When approaching someone, begin with a litmus test. Similar to those color-changing strips from science class, these social tests quickly tell you about a person’s personality. Organizational psychologist and famed Wharton professor Adam Grant suggests asking people, “How much does the average employee steal from a crash register in a year?” The higher the number the more likely they are to be dishonest. The reason, Grant explains, is that people assume others are like them, and will act as they would. This is of course not definitive but suggestive. If you want to find out if a person is adventurous, ask them: “What’s the wildest thing that you have done on a dare?” If you wave at someone from across the room and they wave back, they’re friendly, you can approach. One way to tell if someone’s self-centered is to ask them to draw an E on their forehead. According to Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino, author of Sidetracked, if the E faces you, they focus on others, if it faces them, they’re probably self-centered.

January 1, 2017 - Comments Off on Commonplace #0044

Commonplace #0044

Is that a dream or a goal? Because there’s a difference.

A writer’s brain is like a magician’s hat. If you’re going to get anything out of it, you have to put something in first.

Curiosity is anti-fragile, like an addiction it is magnified by attempts to satisfy it.

Our libraries are not cloisters for an elite. They are for the people, and if they are not used, the fault belongs to those who do not take advantage of their wealth. If one does not move on from what merely amuses to what interests, the fault lies in the reader, for everything is there.

Personally, I do not believe the human mind has any limits but those we impose ourselves. I believe that creativity and inventiveness are there for anybody willing to apply himself. I do not believe that man has even begun to realize who he is or what he can become. So far he has been playing it by ear, following paths of least resistance, getting by — because most others were just getting by too. I believe that man has been living in a Neanderthal state of mind. Mentally, we are still flaking rocks for scraping stones or chipping them for arrowheads. We simply must free the mind from its fetters and permit it to function without restraint. Many of us have learned to supply ourselves with the raw materials and then allow the subconscious to take over. This is what creativity is. One must condition oneself for the process and then let it proceed.

Imagine how our coffee situation might change if there was a public list where each person wrote their name when they took a cup of coffee, and maybe put a star next to it when they made a pot of coffee. Then you would know who left this last bit of black goo (and think a bit less of them) or who made that gleaming new potful (and think a bit better of them). The solution lies in aligning self-interest a little more closely with the community interest.

The leaders who make the biggest difference in office, and change millions of lives for the better, are the ones who collaborate, delegate, and negotiate—the ones who recognize that no one person can or should have all the answers.

Redefining leaders radically change the political landscape, not by seeking centre ground but by moving the centre in their direction.

Transformational leaders go a step further by fundamentally transforming the political or economic system itself. They are the ones who leave their country a completely different place than they found it.

Tell me something I don’t know.

December 18, 2016 - Comments Off on Commonplace #0043

Commonplace #0043

perception is power.

form follows function, and geometry dictates the layout of the product.

your faith has got to be greater than your fear.

the first impression of a company is made when people walk through the door.

master fear.

the brand is a narrative — it’s an idea that people both inside and outside the company have to buy into. my role is to shape the narrative: ‘what do we stand for? why are we here? how do we think and feel and act?

December 3, 2016 - Comments Off on Commonplace #0042

Commonplace #0042

A CEO’s first job is to build a product users love; the second job is to build a company to maximize the opportunity that the product has surfaced; and the third is to harvest the profits of the core business to invest in transformative new product ideas. Your First Creation is a Product, Your Second Creation is a Company.

CEOs who are most effective in developing and communicating strategy take the time to write their strategy out, in long form.

Do not compromise creatively and take care of people.

When I’m at my best, 50% of my time is unscheduled. That’s the time I use to think, drop in on the people I want to speak with, and let my curiosity roam. It’s my time to be creative. Without this free time, I would never be able to stay ahead of the company. To lead a company, you’ve always got to be two steps ahead. There’s no way to lead a company from behind.

That's how you fight monsters. You lure them in close to you, you look them in the eye, you smack them down.