AI killing artist?

Jun 27 2023

When artist used paintbrushes, they probably had similar reactions to what we’re experiencing now.

They might have said, “Digital is killing my job. Art is no more. Thus, I refuse digital.”

Replace ‘digital’ with photography, iPad, or AI… it’s the same reaction.

Fast forward to today, do we still have hand-painted art selling for a higher price than digital art?

Are there people interested in learning watercolor?

The same cycle happened to music and film.

What would happen if a musician releases LP record and streams on Youtube? They might sell more LP records.

AI may replace certain jobs but it creates new jobs.

New tech pops up every day. Before I reject a tech, I ask myself these questions:

  1. Is my reaction due to how I get paid? What if I’m doing this for free?
  2. Will this tech make my job better?
  3. If someone is just entering to this field, will they have an easier time with this tech?
  4. Is there a chance that this tech to increase the audience of my other work?
  5. Where can I express my creativity while I use these tech for certain tasks?
  6. Is this tech legal?
  7. Is there a strong community behind this tech?
  8. Will this tech dissappear next year?
  9. What’s the downside if I try this tech?

Excellent Advice for Living Wisdom I Wish I'd Known Earlier

May 04 2023
book summarylife

Learn from those you disagree with or even offend you.

While listening to someone you love keep asking them “Is there more?” until there is no more.

Try stuff instead of making grand plans.

When someone tells you what ticks them off they are telling you what makes them tick.

A major part of travel is to leave stuff behind.

When you are anxious because of your to-do list take comfort in your have-done list.

Treating a person to a meal never fails and is so easy to do.

Movement plus variety equals health.

The advantage of a ridiculously ambitious goal is that it sets the bar very high so even if your effort falls short it may exceed an ordinary success.

We lack rites of passage. Create a memorable family ceremony when your child reaches legal adulthood between eighteen and twenty-one. This moment will become a significant touchstone in their life.

Draw to discover what you see. Write to discover what you think.

Whenever you can’t decide which path to take pick the one that produces change.

If you are the smartest person in the room, you are in the wrong room. Hang out with, and learn

Don’t be the best. Be the only.

Everyone is shy.

Promptness is a sign of respect.

Expand your mind by thinking with your feet on a walk or with your hand in a notebook. Think outside your brain.

“No” is an acceptable answer even without a reason.

Separate the processes of creating from improving. You can’t write and edit or sculpt and polish or make and analyze at the same time. If you do, the editor stops the creator. While you invent, don’t select. While you sketch, don’t inspect. While you write the first draft, don’t reflect. At the start, the creator mind must be unleashed from judgment.

Forgiveness is accepting the apology you will never get.

When crises strike don’t waste them. No problems, no progress.

How to apologize: quickly, specifically, sincerely. Don’t ruin an apology with an excuse.

A better path for most youth is “master something.” Through mastery of one thing you’ll command a viewpoint to steadily find where your bliss

To build strong children reinforce their sense of belonging to a family by articulating exactly what is distinctive about your family. They should be able to say with pride “Our family does X.”

Outlaw the word “you” during domestic arguments.

The urgent is a tyrant. The important should be your king.

If someone is trying to convince you it’s not a pyramid scheme it’s a pyramid scheme.

Don’t create things to make money; make money so you can create things.

In all things— except love— start with the exit strategy. Prepare for the ending.

When a child asks an endless string of “Why?” questions, the smartest reply is “I don’t know, what do you think?”

When you are young have friends who are older; when you are old have friends who are younger.

You will complete your mission in life when you figure out what your mission in life is. Your purpose is to discover your purpose.

When someone tells you something is wrong, they’re usually right. When they tell you how to fix it they’re usually wrong.

You are only as young as the last time you changed your mind.

Breakthroughs are made by those who lack money. If breakthroughs could be bought, then the rich would buy them. Instead, passion, persistence, belief, and ingenuity are required to invent new things qualities the poor and young often have in abundance. Stay hungry.

You can’t tell what you desperately need it’s probably sleep.

Writing down one thing you are grateful for each day is the cheapest possible therapy ever.

Don’t worry how or where you begin. As long as you keep moving, your success will arrive far from where you start.

You’ll learn a lot more if you ask people “how are you sleeping?” instead of “how are you doing?”

Children totally accept —and crave— family rules. “In our family we have a rule for X”

Bad things can happen fast but almost all good things happen slowly.

If your goal does not have a schedule, it is a dream.

Seek out infinite games because they yield unlimited rewards.

Focus on problems with non-obvious solutions.

Cultivate an allergy to average.

Be frugal in all things except in your passions.

The greatest teacher is called “doing.”

Anything you say before the word “but” does not count.

Speak confidently as if you are right but listen carefully as if you are wrong.

Don’t aim for better ways to get through your tasks as quickly as possible. Instead aim for better tasks that you never want to stop doing.

The ability to not give up something till it works the ability to give up something that does not work and the trust in other people to help you distinguish between the two.

Their lucky breaks happened on a detour from their main goal. So embrace detours.

When speaking to an audience pause frequently.

The best way to get a correct answer on the internet is to post an obviously wrong answer

Checking references for a job applicant, their employer may be prohibited from saying anything negative so leave or send a message that says “Get back to me if you highly recommend this applicant as super great.” If they don’t reply, take that as a negative.

When you don’t know how much to pay someone for a particular task ask them, “What would be fair?” and their answer usually is.

The general strategy for real estate is to buy the worst property on the best street.

Wise man said: Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?” At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?” At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?”

The only productive way to answer “What should I do now?” is to first tackle the question of “Who should I become?”

The best investing advice: Average returns, maintained for above-average periods of time will yield extraordinary results. Buy and hold.

For the best results with your children spend only half the money you think you should but double the time with them.

Don’t wait in line to eat something famous. It is rarely worth the wait.

When introduced to someone make eye contact and count to four or say to yourself, “I see you.”

Spend ⅓ of your time on exploring and ⅔ on optimizing and deepening.

Best time to negotiate your salary for a new job is the moment after they say they want you and not before.

Don’t purchase extra insurance if you are renting a car with a credit card.

The trick to making wise decisions is to evaluate your choices as if you were looking back 25 years from today. What would your future self think?

When speaking to an audience it’s better to fix your gaze on a few people than to “spray” your gaze across the room.

Volts hurt, but amps kill.

To have a great trip, head toward an interest rather than to a place. Travel to passions rather than destinations.

Fully embrace “What is the worst that can happen?” at each juncture in life.

Trust the 3-star product reviews because they tell both the good and the bad, which is the real state for most things.

When you keep people waiting they begin to think of all your flaws.

Instead of asking your child what they learned today, ask them who they helped today.

The greatest killer of happiness is comparison. If you must compare, compare yourself to you yesterday.

The natural state of all possessions is to need repair and maintenance. What you own will eventually own you. Choose selectively.

Commit to doing no work no business no income one day a week.

When you are stuck, make a long list of everything that cannot possibly work. On that list will be a seed that leads to a solution that will work.

The chief prevention against getting old is to remain astonished.

How to live - 27 conflicting answers and one weird conclusion

Aug 03 2022
book summaryderek sivers
How to live - 27 conflicting answers and one weird conclusion

Be independent

All misery comes from dependency - income, relationship, feelings.

Most problems are interpersonal. Don’t lose yourself to society, politics, norms, and news.

Avoid the crowd and social media.

Stay unlabeled and unbound.

The only opinion that matters is your own.

Never agree with anything the same day you hear it,

Whoever you blame has power over you, so blame only yourself.

You can’t be free without self-mastery.

Learn the skills you need to be self-reliant. Learn to drive, fly, sail, garden, fish, and camp.

Live where you feel most free. Move symbolically far away from where you grew up.

Own your many source of income with many small customers to avoid depending on any big client. Offer products, not a personal service.


Choose one and cut off other options. Don’t seek for the best.

Commit to habits to create your character.

Enthusiasm is common. Endurance is rare.

Commitment gives you peace of mind.

Commitment gives you integrity and social bonds.

Commitment gives you expertise and power.

Fill your senses

Experience nothing twice.

Learn to sell, and you can go anywhere.

Simple decisions help avoid repetition.

  • Don’t have a home.
  • Never sleep in the same place twice.
  • No kitchen.
  • No cooking.
  • Never go down a road you recognize.
  • Get new clothes in a new style in a new place.

Do nothing

People make bad decisions because they felt they had to decide. It would have been wiser to do nothing.

Skip the actions. Go straight for the emotion.

The longer you go without deciding, the more information is revealed.

Dramatic people are fueled by reactions. When you stop reacting, they go away.

When people give opinions, add a question mark.

Instead of learning more, get wise by learning less. Keep an empty head, so you can observe clearly.

Everything seems more important while you’re thinking of it.

Think super-long-term

Use a time machine in your mind, constantly picturing your future self and your great-grandchildren’s world. Act now to influence that time.

Imagine your future self judging your current life choices. When making a decision, ask yourself how you’ll feel about it when you’re old. What would your future self and family thank you for? Simple actions

Never spend, only invest.

Imagine each choice continuing forever. Eat a cookie, and eventually you’re obese.

Short-term thinking is the root of most of our problems, from pollution to debt, both personal and global.

Intertwine with the world

Understand that there is no “them”. It’s just “us”.

Once a place really feels like home, move somewhere new. Pick a confusing or scary place that you don’t understand.

Master something.

People don’t fail by choosing the wrong path — they fail by not choosing.

Goals don’t improve your future. Goals only improve your present actions.

Real expertise comes only after years of hard work. The challenge is staying on the path.

Your practice ritual is your highest priority — an unbreakable commitment.

When you’re not practicing, remember: someone somewhere is practicing.

During your work time, do nothing but work.

Take tiny breaks when working, to go longer than most.

Focus means head down. Big picture means head up.

Be sharply focused, not well-rounded.

Let randomness rule

Randomness keeps your mind open and observant. You can’t predict, so you see clearly.

When talking with people, ask deep open-ended questions.

Pursue pain

People say they’re not doing the work because it’s hard. But it’s hard because they’re not doing the work.

The right thing to do is never comfortable. How you face pain determines who you are.

Happiness is solving good problems.

Do whatever you want now

Just pay attention to what excites you. If you’re not excited about what you’re doing, move on to something else.

You don’t need plans. Plans are just predictions about what you might want in the future. But your future self shouldn’t be bound to what your past self predicted.

Most problems are not about the real present moment. They’re anxiety, worried that something bad might happen in the future.

Chase the future

Live in the world of tomorrow. Surround yourself only with what’s brand new and upcoming.

Spend your social time meeting new people.

When something becomes a habit, quit.

Avoid Europe and anywhere that lives in the past.

Avoid religion because faith is not meant to be questioned.

Value only what has endured

The longer something lasts, the longer it will probably last.

These things have lasted because they work so well. Time is the best filter.

Before trying to improve something old, find out why it is the way it is. Never assume people in the past were ignorant. They did it that way for good reasons.


Information doesn’t stick without emotion. You learn better when you’re having fun.

Laugh at life

To laugh at something is to be superior to it.

Prepare for the worst

Comfort reduces your future happiness.

Practice being uncomfortable, even in small ways.

Your biggest enemy is insatiability. Recognize your desire to be entertained

Want nothing, and nothing will disappoint you. Want nothing, and nothing is outside your control.

Live for others

The best way to be connected is to help others be connected.

Get rich

Making money is proof you’re adding value to people’s lives. Aiming to get rich is aiming to be useful to the world.

The world needs more boldness. Refuse the comfortable addiction of a steady paycheck. Boldly jump on opportunities. Take risky action.

Come up with a brand name that can be attached to any business.

Own and control 100% of whatever you create.

Find an old industry and solve an old problem in a new way.

Avoid difficult business problems. Your time is more profitably spent doing what comes easily to you.

Be separate in a category of your own.

Sell your business before you have to. Sell before it peaks. The fun is in creating a business, not maintaining it.

Investing is easy unless you try to beat the market. Settle for average.

Stay 100% focused on creating value.

Say no to more stuff. Say yes to more choices.

Reinvent yourself regularly

The way to live is to regularly reinvent yourself.

Every year or two, change your job and move somewhere new. Change the way you eat, look, and talk. Change your preferences, opinions, and usual responses.


To love something, first you have to connect with it. Give it your full attention.

When they’re succinct, ask them to elaborate. People aren’t used to someone being sincerely interested, so they’ll need some coaxing to continue.


The way to live is to create. Die empty. Get every idea out of your head and into reality.

Which would you rather be? Someone who hasn’t created anything in years because you’re so busy consuming? Or someone who hasn’t consumed anything in years because you’re so busy creating?

Most creations are new combinations of existing ideas. Originality just means hiding your sources.

Charge money to make sure your creations are going to people who really want them. People don’t value what’s free.

Don’t die

Don’t try to be more right. Just be less wrong.

But wasting time brings death quicker. Time is the only thing that can’t be replaced.

Make a million mistakes

Deliberate mistakes are inspiring.

Do what everyone says not to.

You only really learn when you’re surprised— when your previous idea of something was wrong.

Aim for what will probably fail. If you aim for what you know you can do, you’re aiming too low.

Mistakes are the fountain of youth.

Make change.

Begin by righting what’s wrong. Look for what’s ugly: ugly systems, ugly rules, ugly traditions. Look for what bothers you. If you can fix it, do it now.

Remove instead of fixing.

Balance everything

Schedule everything to ensure balance of your time and effort. Scheduling prevents procrastination, distraction, and obsession.

Even creative work needs scheduling. The greatest writers and artists didn’t wait for inspiration. They kept a strict daily schedule for creating their art.

Set an alarm to start and stop on time.

Can you Hack Your Biological Age? | Ben Greenfield

Nov 01 2021

1. Add 100mg theanine to coffee

Balances neurotransmitter that causes jitteriness.

2. 5 minutes hot-cold shower: 20s cold, 10s hot

Get your head cold for blood brain barrier integrity.

In cyro therapy, put your head as low as possible.

3. Breathing

Increase CO2 to push oxygen into your body.

Buteyko Breathing: exhale slowly

Deep belly breathing instead of chest breathing.

Box breathing for stress control.: 4s in, 4s hold, 4s out, 4s hold

4. Eat

Eliminate processed vegetable oil.

Organ meats for B12 and taurine.

5g creatine a day.

10-20mcg of LSD.

Walnut for brain.

Tomatoes and pomegranate for heart.

Avocado for ovaries.

5. Get more sun



6. Train for speed

Heart rate variablity (HRV) training.

Train your muscles for explosive fast twitch power.

7. Deep sleep

Expose to red light at night.

CBD oil.

Foam roll.

8. Burn fat more

  1. Fast for 12-16 hours
  2. Do 20 minutes of aerobic: walk, swim, aerobic.
  3. 2-5 minutes of cold shower.
  4. Add a little of caffeine.

9. Own a routine

Use PSO device for deep tissue massage on abs.

Do a Qigong shaking for 2 minutes when you wake up.

10. Control Glycemic variability.

Drink digestives before meals:

  • Ebo Lebo (Italy).
  • Lemon, ginger, mint, bitter melon.
  • Apple cider vinegar

These will help lower blood glucose after you eat.

Chew 20 times.

Explosive exercise before meal.

Walk within 1 hour after you eat.

11. Recover quickly

Peptide (BPC 157/TB 500) - inject this around the skin to enhance joint ability to heal.

Stem cells.

12. Low level physical activity to boost lymph fluid.

Bouncing, shaking, moving all day long. Get a mini trampoline.

13. Body coil strech by Dr. David Beck.

14. Skin

  1. Weekly clay mask.
  2. Golf ball rolling on your feet.
  3. Eat more collagen


The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness

Apr 21 2021
book summarynavalhow to live
The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness

On Love

If you have nothing in your life, but you have at least one person that loves you unconditionally, it’ll do wonders for your self-esteem.

On Reading

Books make for great friends, because the best thinkers of the last few thousand years tell you their nuggets of wisdom.

There is no skill called “business.” Avoid business magazines and business classes.

Study microeconomics, game theory, psychology, persuasion, ethics, mathematics, and computers.

Reading is faster than listening. Doing is faster than watching.

Read science, math, and philosophy one hour per day.

The means of learning are abundant — it’s the desire to learn that is scarce.

Read what you love until you love to read.

Reading a book isn’t a race - the better the book, the more slowly it should be absorbed.

I’ll start at the beginning, but I’ll move fast. If it’s not interesting, I’ll just start flipping ahead, skimming, or speed reading.

If they wrote it to make money, don’t read it.

Explain what you learned to someone else. Teaching forces learning.

When it comes to reading, make sure your foundation is very, very high quality.

Stick to science and to stick to the basics. Read originals and read classics.

Start treating books as throwaway blog posts or bite-sized tweets or posts. Feel no obligation to finish any book.

On Time

Understand How Wealth Is Created

You should not grind at a lot of hard work until you figure out what you should be working on.

Seek wealth, not money or status. Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep.

Ignore people playing status games.

You’re not going to get rich renting out your time. You must own equity - a piece of a business—to gain your financial freedom.

Pick an industry where you can play long-term games with long-term people.

Play iterated games.

Pick business partners with high intelligence, energy, and, above all, integrity.

Learn to sell. Learn to build. If you can do both, you will be unstoppable.

Specific knowledge

Specific knowledge is knowledge you cannot be trained for.

Specific knowledge is found by pursuing your genuine curiosity and passion rather than whatever is hot right now.

Building specific knowledge will feel like play to you but will look like work to others.

Specific knowledge is often highly technical or creative.

Fortunes require leverage. Business leverage comes from capital, people, and products with no marginal cost of replication (code and media).

Code and media are permissionless leverage. They’re the leverage behind the newly rich. You can create software and media that works for you while you sleep.

If you can’t code, write books and blogs, record videos and podcasts.

Keep uncluttered calendar but be too busy to “do coffee”

Even though who you work with and what you work on are more important than how hard you work.

There are no get-rich-quick schemes. Those are just someone else getting rich off you.

Always ask “Is this authentic to me? Is it myself that I am projecting?” And then, “Am I productizing it? Am I scaling it? Am I scaling with labor or with capital or with code or with media?”

Find and Build Specific Knowledge

Society, business, & money are downstream of technology, which is itself downstream of science.

Escape competition through authenticity.

It’s much more important today to be able to become an expert in a brand-new field in nine to twelve months than to have studied the “right” thing a long time ago.

“What is the foundation required for me to learn this?” Foundations are super important.

Knowing how to be persuasive when speaking is far more important than being an expert digital marketer or click optimizer.

Play Long-Term Games with Long-Term People

You should be very thoughtful and realize in most things (relationships, work, even in learning) what you’re trying to do is find the thing you can go all-in on to earn compound interest.

Take on Accountability

There’s not really that much to fear in terms of failure, so you should take on a lot more accountability than you do.

Find a Position of Leverage

If it entertains you now but will bore you someday, it’s a distraction.

When you do things for their own sake, you create your best work.

The year I generated the most wealth for myself was actually the year I worked the least hard and cared the least about the future.

Follow your intellectual curiosity more than whatever is “hot” right now.

Now, the problem is becoming good at whatever “it” is. It moves around from generation to generation, but a lot of it happens to be in technology.

Code is probably the most powerful form of permissionless leverage. All you need is a computer - you don’t need anyone’s permission.

But ten engineers working ten times as hard, just because they choose the wrong model, the wrong product, wrote it the wrong way, or put in the wrong viral loop, have basically wasted their time.

Knowledge workers function like athletes - train and sprint, then rest and reassess.

Where you don’t want to be is a support role, like customer service. In customer service, unfortunately, inputs and outputs relate relatively close to each other, and the hours you put in matter. Have more accountability.

Avoid is the risk of ruin. Stay out of things that could cause you to lose all of your capital, all of your savings. Don’t gamble everything on one go. Instead, take rationally optimistic bets with big upsides.

Get Paid for Your Judgment

Judgment - especially demonstrated judgment, with high accountability and a clear track record—is critical.

We waste our time with short-term thinking and busywork. Warren Buffett spends a year deciding and a day acting. That act lasts decades.

Prioritize and Focus

Value your time at an hourly rate, and ruthlessly spend to save time at that rate. You will never be worth more than you think you’re worth.

Always factor your time into every decision.

Set a very high hourly aspirational rate for yourself and stick to it. It should seem and feel absurdly high. If it doesn’t, it’s not high enough. Whatever you picked, my advice to you would be to raise it.

Optimists actually do better in the long run.

Status is a zero-sum game. It’s a very old game.

The problem is, to win at a status game, you have to put somebody else down.

Spend more time making the big decisions. There are basically three really big decisions you make in your early life: where you live, who you’re with, and what you do.

Figure out what you’re good at, and start helping other people with it. Give it away. Pay it forward.

You’ll never be rich since you’re obviously smart, and someone will always offer you a job that’s just good enough.

Find Work That Feels Like Play

Lusting for money is bad for us because it is a bottomless pit.

The best way to stay away from this constant love of money is to not upgrade your lifestyle as you make money.

For me, freedom is my number one value.

You don’t need to start a company to be successful. The most successful class of people in Silicon Valley on a consistent basis are either the venture capitalists (because they are diversified and control what used to be a scarce resource) or people who are very good at identifying companies that have just hit product/market fit.

For someone who is early in their career (and maybe even later), the single most important thing about a company is the alumni network you’re going to build. Think about who you will work with and what those people are going on to do.

How to Get Lucky

Increase luck by:

  • hustle and persist
  • become the best, weirdest, hardest in your area

In a long-term game, it seems that everybody is making each other rich. And in a short-term game, it seems like everybody is making themselves rich.

Business networking is a complete waste of time. If you’re building something interesting, you will always have more people who will want to know you.

If someone is talking a lot about how honest they are, they’re probably dishonest.

Sharks eat well but live a life surrounded by sharks.

Be Patient

Apply specific knowledge with leverage and eventually, you will get what you deserve. It takes time.

What making money will do is solve your money problems.


To get rich in life in a deterministically predictable way, stay on the bleeding edge of trends and study technology, design, and art - become really good at something.

You get rich by saving your time to make money.

Judgment is underrated.

The direction you’re heading in matters more than how fast you move, especially with leverage.

How to Think Clearly

If someone is using a lot of fancy words and a lot of big concepts, they probably don’t know what they’re talking about.

If you can’t explain it to a child, then you don’t know it.

The smaller you can make your ego, the less conditioned you can make your reactions, the less desires you can have about the outcome you want, the easier it will be to see the reality.

The problem isn’t reality. The problem is their desire is colliding with reality and preventing them from seeing the truth, no matter how much you say it.

It’s actually really important to have empty space. Have a day or two every week where you’re not busy whole day. It’s only after you’re bored you have the great ideas.

Very smart people tend to be weird since they insist on thinking everything through for themselves.

A contrarian reasons independently from the ground up and resists pressure to conform.

Shed Your Identity to See Reality

You absolutely need habits to function. You cannot solve every problem in life as if it is the first time it’s thrown at you.

“I’m Naval. This is the way I am.”

To be honest, speak without identity.

Learn the Skills of Decision-Making

The moment you tell somebody something dishonest, you’ve lied to yourself. Then you’ll start believing your own lie,

I never ask if “I like it” or “I don’t like it.” I think “this is what it is” or “this is what it isn’t.”

Collect Mental Models


I think a lot of modern society can be explained through evolution. One theory is civilization exists to answer the question of who gets to mate.


It’s not about having correct judgment. It’s about avoiding incorrect judgments.


We are very bad at predicting the future.


Microeconomics and game theory are fundamental.

Principal Agent problem

The principal-agent problem is the single most fundamental problem in microeconomics.

When you are the principal, then you are the owner—you care, and you will do a great job.

You optimize for yourself rather than for the principal’s assets.

The more closely you can tie someone’s compensation to the exact value they’re creating, the more you turn them into a principal, and the less you turn them into an agent.

If you cannot decide, the answer is no. And the reason is, modern society is full of options.

If you find yourself creating a spreadsheet for a decision with a list of yes’s and no’s, pros and cons, checks and balances, why this is good or bad…forget it.

Run uphill

If you’re evenly split on a difficult decision, take the path more painful in the short term.

When solving problems: the older the problem, the older the solution.


Happiness Is Learned

Happiness is there when you remove the sense of something missing in your life.

Happiness is the state when nothing is missing.

If I say I’m happy, that means I was sad at some point. You have to view the negative before you can aspire to and appreciate the positive.

Happiness is not about positive thoughts. It’s not about negative thoughts. It’s about the absence of desire,

More important than meditation is acceptance.

Happiness Is a Choice

Happiness, love, and passion…aren’t things you find—they’re choices you make.

Happiness Requires Presence

A lot of our unhappiness comes from comparing things from the past to the present.

Happiness Requires Peace

How I combat anxiety: I don’t try and fight it, I just notice I’m anxious because of all these thoughts. I try to figure out, “Would I rather be having this thought right now, or would I rather have my peace?” Because as long as I have my thoughts, I can’t have my peace.

Every Desire Is a Chosen Unhappiness

The fundamental delusion: There is something out there that will make me happy and fulfilled forever.

It’s way more important to perfect your desires than to try to do something you don’t 100 percent desire.

Success Does Not Earn Happiness

To me, the real winners are the ones who step out of the game entirely, who don’t even play the game, who rise above it.

If you could just sit for thirty minutes and be happy, you are successful.

Today, the way we think you get peace is by resolving all your external problems. But there are unlimited external problems. The only way to actually get peace on the inside is by giving up this idea of problems.

Envy Is the Enemy of Happiness

One of the things I’m trying to get rid of is the word “should.” Whenever the word “should” creeps up in your mind, it’s guilt or social programming.

Perhaps one reason why yoga and meditation are hard to sustain is they have no extrinsic value. Purely single-player games.

Happiness Is Built by Habits

When working, surround yourself with people more successful than you. When playing, surround yourself with people happier than you.

How does someone build the skill of happiness? You can build good habits. Not drinking alcohol will keep your mood more stable. Not eating sugar will keep your mood more stable. Not going on Facebook, Snapchat, or Twitter will keep your mood more stable. Playing video games will make you happier in the short run—and

You’re being fed dopamine and having dopamine withdrawn from you in these little uncontrollable ways. Caffeine is another one where you trade long term for the short term.

The first rule of handling conflict is: Don’t hang around people who constantly engage in conflict.

Just being very aware in every moment. If I catch myself judging somebody, I can stop myself and say, “What’s the positive interpretation of this?”

Every time you catch yourself desiring something, say, “Is it so important to me I’ll be unhappy unless this goes my way?” You’re going to find with the vast majority of things it’s just not true.

Recover time and happiness by minimizing your use of these three smartphone apps: phone, calendar, and alarm clock.

The more secrets you have, the less happy you’re going to be.

A personal metric: how much of the day is spent doing things out of obligation rather than out of interest?

Politics, academia, and social status are all zero-sum games. Positive-sum games create positive people.

Increase serotonin in the brain without drugs: Sunlight, exercise, positive thinking, and tryptophan.

Find Happiness in Acceptance

Pick one big desire in your life at any given time to give yourself purpose and motivation.

Choosing to Be Yourself

Certainly, listen and absorb, but don’t try to emulate.

Your goal in life is to find the people, business, project, or art that needs you the most.

What you don’t want to do is build checklists and decision frameworks built on what other people are doing. You’re never going to be them.

To make an original contribution, you have to be irrationally obsessed with something.

Choosing to Care for Yourself

Eat vegetables with a small amount of meat and berries.

In nature, I find carbs and fat together in coconuts, in mangoes, maybe in bananas, but it’s basically tropical fruits. The combination of sugar and fat together is really deadly. You’ve got to watch out for that in your diet.

If bacteria won’t eat it, should you?

Ditch the extremists and any food invented in the last few hundred years. When it comes to medicine and nutrition, subtract before you add.

The harder the workout, the easier the day. Daily morning workout positively impacts your life.

“I don’t have time” is just another way of saying “It’s not a priority.”

One month of consistent yoga and I feel 10 years younger. To stay flexible is to stay young.

The important thing is to do something every day. It doesn’t matter what it is. The best workout for you is one you’re excited enough to do every day.

If you make the easy choices right now, your overall life will be a lot harder.

Meditation + Mental Strength

And I did so by using the Wim Hof breathing method. It involves hyperventilating to get more oxygen into your blood, which raises your core temperature. Then, you can go into the shower.

Choiceless Awareness, or Nonjudgmental Awareness.

You don’t make any decisions. You don’t judge anything. You just accept everything.

Life-hack: When in bed, meditate. Either you will have a deep meditation or fall asleep. Victory either way.

I recommend meditating one hour each morning because anything less is not enough time to really get deep into it. I would recommend if you really want to try meditation, try sixty days of one hour a day, first thing in the morning.

The ability to singularly focus is related to the ability to lose yourself and be present, happy, and (ironically) more effective.

Hiking is walking meditation. Journaling is writing meditation. Praying is gratitude meditation. Showering is accidental meditation.

Choosing to Build Yourself

Every six months (depending on how fast you can do it), you’re going to break bad habits and pick up good habits.

Impatience with actions, patience with results.

Choosing to Grow Yourself

Set up systems, not goals.

If there’s something you want to do later, do it now. There is no “later.”

Everything that people read these days is designed for social approval.

View yourself as a loser, then you’ll do your own thing and you’re much likely to find a winning path.

One principle to pass down to kids: Read everything you can. Mathematics and persuasion.

Choosing to Free Yourself

Be aware there are no “adults.” Everyone makes it up as they go along.

My old definition was “freedom to.” Freedom to do anything I want.

Now, the freedom I’m looking for is internal freedom. It’s “freedom from.” Freedom from reaction.

Advice to my younger self: “Be exactly who you are.” Holding back means staying in bad relationships and bad jobs for years instead of minutes.

I don’t measure my effectiveness at all. I don’t believe in self-measurement. I feel like this is a form of self-discipline, self-punishment, and self-conflict. [1]

Courage is not caring what other people think.

I don’t like to wait. I hate wasting time.

If you’re not spending your time doing what you want, and you’re not earning, and you’re not learning—what the heck are you doing?

Anger is its own punishment. An angry person trying to push your head below water is drowning at the same time.

I think it’s actually very bad for your happiness. To me, the mind should be a servant and a tool, not a master. My monkey mind should not control and drive me 24/7.

The modern struggle: Lone individuals summoning inhuman willpower, fasting, meditating, and exercising… Up against armies of scientists and statisticians weaponizing abundant food, screens, and medicine into junk food, clickbait news, infinite porn, endless games, and addictive drugs.

Live by Your Values

Before you can lie to another, you must first lie to yourself.

I don’t believe in hierarchical relationships. I don’t want to be above anybody, and I don’t want to be below anybody.

Skip the line

Mar 26 2021
book summaryjames-altucherhow to live
Skip the line

The key to skipping the line is to constantly live in the world of “not knowing. To constantly be curious but not threatened by what’s next.

The 1 Percent Rule

1 percent up or 1 percent down each day will define you long term.

10,000 Experiments

What makes a good experiment?

  1. Easy to set-up and do
  2. Little downside
  3. Huge potential upside
  4. Never been done before
  5. You’re learning something

Become the Scientist of Your Own Life

You know something is a valid experiment when you take what you normally do, get curious about an idea, as in “What if I try … ,” and then, you suddenly feel fear.

Borrow Hours

The way to become a giving and generous person is to become detached from the results of experiments, to become detached from the needs of others.

Plus, Minus, Equals

Plus: Get a mentor. Reading turns every author into a virtual mentor.

Don’t ask your mentor “What do you need?“. You’re giving them homework assignment. Overpromise and overdeliver.

Minus: Teach someone with fewer skills.

Equals: Learn by competing, outlearning and challenging peers.

Parenting style

Keep them busy, keep them tired, give them something to be proud of, and once they find something they are interested in, double down on it.

Who Are You? Why Are You? Why Now?

Doing > thinking.

To find purpose in life, you have to do things. Experiment.

Obsession is the first clue toward finding your purpose.

And you have more than one purpose.

Lean in to the fear.

If you’re afraid to publish an article, you’re moving the needle of your life.

List all the ways you can spend more and more of your day involved. Find a community

Exercise the Possibility Muscle

There are two types of failure:

  1. Omission: If you don’t try at all, then you’ve failed.
  2. Commission: Your business failed.

Only ‘omission’ is real failure because you didn’t learn anything.

Idea Calculus

Idea Addition: Take an old idea, one that is big and popular. Add something to it - often the wackier, the better.

Idea Subtraction: Take an idea that seems impossible to implement. Subtract the reason you can’t do it and see what’s left that you can still work with.

E.g. “I wrote a book but can’t find a publisher.” That’s OK. Self-publish.

Idea Multiplication: Take one idea. Show that it works. And then change one item, like the location, and replicate it. I can go to dentists in every other region of the country and say, “Here’s what I did for this dentist. For x dollars I can do it for you now.” Then do a webinar titled “Here’s how I made a million dollars helping dentists”.

Idea Division: Make an idea smaller. We divided our idea down into a niche we could dominate. Suddenly we were the guys for the entertainment industry.


Frame Control

In every high-stakes situation, one person has the frame and the rest in the room do not.

If you lose the frame in a legal case to the other lawyer, you’re going to lose the case.

First, consider this: How many things are you doing to appease the person you are speaking with?

Second, ask yourself: How far are you willing to go to appease this person?

Be Aware of Validation Vacuums

A validation vacuum occurs when a person who regularly validates you stops doing so.

Prizing: Or Get Others to Qualify Themselves to You

People will qualify themselves to hold an authority position.

An easy way to illicit this response from people is to ask questions that are aimed at them providing information on how they know what they know and why you should trust them.


Don’t give too much power to one without absorbing it.

Shaping: Praise Another for a Quality You Want Them to Possess

Have you ever noticed that if you ask someone, “Why are you getting so mad?” they quickly become upset even if they were not upset before?

If you suspect someone has social anxiety, tell them you appreciate how their calm demeanor is making you feel more calm. They will begin to act more calm.

If you want a friend to act in a particular way, just say you appreciate how they are already acting strong, calm, friendly, confident, happy, etc.

In a sales meeting, find a way to slip in, “I’m so glad you guys see the benefits of X.”

Tribe Building

In any situation where you know you’re coming in at a lower status or having difficulty with others, find something in common and attempt to reidentify yourself to others with this quality.

“We’re all dealing with this weather today. You staying dry?”

“This was a rough winter for me. Was yours too?”

“Who here has experienced what I just spoke about?”


When a person is trying to take back control of the frame, this is your opportunity to take back the frame by “labeling” their behavior.

You can say, “Did you just change the subject? How come?” Or, “Are you not answering the question for a reason?”

Either way, don’t let them off the hook. Don’t let them change the question or the subject. Don’t let them answer a different question. Always label it: “Did you just answer a different question?

Say no

One quick guideline for learning to say no is to ask yourself, “If I say yes to this, will I learn something new?”

If you are saying yes because you are afraid of what someone else will think or you are saying yes just for the money… then that’s the wrong reason to say yes.

Know Your Inferiority narrative

Remind yourself: You have earned the right to be here, in this moment. Even if you are on a public stage, giving a talk, and it appears you are losing the interest of the crowd (i.e., losing the frame), remind yourself that you are on the stage because you have more experience than anyone else in the room.

Steer clear

Remain clearheaded and unemotional is the only way to ensure you continue to hold the frame.

If you can’t reframe the conversation, leave or take a break. You’ve already lost by staying in negotiation.

Distrupt pattern

Be nonreactive to retain control.

“Assume he’s guilty, which means you probably think X, Y, and Z.” And then challenge those assumptions.

Simply be silent. State what you want and don’t speak.

Choose Your Frame or It Will Be Chosen for You

Convincing others of a different point of view is not gaining frame.

Your desire to convince other people makes you less valuable.

The more you try to convince another person, the more you are reinforcing the higher value of their frame.

Instead, be willing to take no as an answer from someone as long as they’ve done the required work to convince you that their no is worth taking.

A good way to elicit this is to simply ask, “Can you walk me through your reasoning here?”

Find the Conspiracy Number (or How to Know if an Idea Is Good or Bad)

When deciding on something, always ask, “How many things have to conspire to make this a good idea?” The number of things that have to conspire is the “conspiracy number.”

The best chess players in the world use: go for breadth instead of depth.

First, list in your head the six to ten possibilities before looking too seriously down any one move. Then, after you’ve identified all the possible moves, pick one and look (with breadth) at all of your opponent’s possible choices before going down any one path. And so on. List all your choices. Then start thinking.

If you go too deeply down one of the choices first, you might miss the obvious and waste valuable time.

When making decision:

  1. List all the possibilities.
  2. Use conspiracy numbers to analyze each one. How many things need to conspire for you to get to the goal you want?
  3. Pick the decision with the lowest conspiracy number. It should be so low that the downside/upside ratio should look like an experiment.

Microskills Everyone Should Learn

The Advice Technique

People don’t like being told what to do. Ever. So I don’t tell anyone what to do.

Counter by asking “What advice would you give me in terms of how I value this?”

I’m also saying he’s the “expert” at these things and that I trust him. All of these are further giving him a feeling of status over me.

He’s primed to help me.

“Well, I was thinking of [ridiculously high number], but [insert advice technique here].” That’s called “anchoring bias.”

So I ask for their advice. Give respect and acknowledge the other person’s status.

Remember that everyone has an agenda. But their primary agenda is to boost their self-worth and maintain their place in line (the hierarchy). When you interact with others, never try to boost your own self-worth. Always help people increase their own significance and their own self-worth.

Give them the power to help you. They will.

Six Minute Networking

  1. Scroll down your text and find people you’ve not texted in a while.
  2. Text them. Texts have a 90 percent open rate and emails only have about an 8 percent
  3. Don’t ask for anything. Just say, “I just saw XYZ and it reminded me of that project ABC you were working on. It gave me an idea you should do JKL. In any case, hope all is well. Talk to you soon.”

The idea, he said, is that you don’t want anything from these people at all. You just want to be top of mind. At the end of the month, you’ll have about another hundred people you are top of mind for.

Dig the well before you’re thirsty.

If someone had written, “Hey, can we jump on a call for a few minutes?” and I never responded seven years ago, I might respond, “OK, how about Tuesday?” as if no time had passed at all.

Permission Marketing

Get permission on both sides before connecting them.

Eliminate the time wasters that drag people down. Two ways to do this:

  1. Never go to a “general” networking event unless it’s for a specific topic or purpose
  2. Create software to optimize your networking time. E.g. Contactually


I never disagree with people. What for? Who cares if you manage to change their mind?

The best way to get smarter is to find people of differing opinions and listen to them. I don’t let myself disagree with someone until I can argue for their position even better than they can.

Google Technique: Give credit to everyone

Be the credit card: give everyone the credit they deserve. Then they keep coming back to the source.

Google makes the best motorcycle sites look good. Google measures its success by how quickly its users leave

Every day find someone to help. Find someone to give credit to. Find someone for whom you can selflessly figure out how to make their lives easier. Need no credit ever and everyone will give you credit forever.

Attention Diet

  • Never hit Home on Facebook or Twitter.
  • Get my news from books.
  • If someone says, “Can you believe what is happening?” I always say, “Yes,” and then I don’t listen after that.
  • If someone wants to pitch me an idea, I ignore it.
  • If someone wants to meet me for coffee because “I’m sure you’d enjoy it,” I ignore it.
  • If someone gives me advice about finance, comedy, writing, economics, I ignore it.
  • If someone disagrees with me, I ignore it unless I know them and it’s face-to-face.
  • Only 10 percent of communication is verbal.

Shouldn’t you be aware of what’s happening in your own country so you can create impact?” Instead of doing that, I can help the five or six homeless people who live within a block of me.

Having impact on the things immediately around me is the best way to contribute value and alleviate suffering.

“Yes, and…”

If someone presents an idea, the key is to say, “Yes, and…” Help them explore their idea. Help them be creative about their idea. “Yes, and…” is the first rule of good improv for a reason. It allows others to create something new.

Then give constructive criticism:

  • List what’s good.
  • Offer how you would improve upon the idea.
  • Restate the core idea, its intention, and its purpose.
  • Be open to the fact that you might be wrong. Always, always you might be wrong.
  • Don’t listen to destructive criticism or give it.

How to handle rejection

Most people who have an opinion are probably wrong. If people don’t know who you are, they are more likely to reject you. Nobody wakes up and says, “Today is the day I make some unknown person a superstar!”

People are stupid.

A billion people are standing in the way of what you want to.

You have to experiment every single day.

The 50/1 Rule (or How to Be Infinitely Productive)

You don’t really make money from the value you create.

The 80/20 Rule is the idea that 20 percent of the time you spend on a project creates 80 percent of the value.

Going further, the 50/1 Rule states one of your employees is generating approximately 50 percent of the value of your company.

Measure what matters.

My number one rule in investing: always invest alongside people smarter than me.

Find the right 1% that create 50% of your income. Then you have freedom to pursue new ideas.


When you call someone by their name it humanizes them. So a defense attorney will always use the client’s name, while the prosecutor will try to dehumanize by referring to my clients as ‘the defendant.’

Even a single thought where you are concerned about your own self-worth will block any chances of success in your passion. Always pursue making the others around you look as good as possible.

Wobble Without Falling Down

“Progress” is skipping the line.

“Perfection” means you’re going to wait in line forever.

Don’t be afraid to wobble.

Lean in to fear to create growth.

Don’t hit publish on an article unless you’re afraid of what people will think of you.

Exit the Line

A job won’t protect you. What protects people is an ability to find new pursuits and new meaning in their lives, and to quickly get good enough at these new endeavors to provide for themselves and their families.

One important thing to remember: your best new clients are your old clients.

Don’t try to get brand-new clients - try to provide more services or products to your old clients.

Another way to diversify is by expanding what I call your “status hierarchies.”

The way to not be a monkey and have more opportunities to increase your happy chemicals is to be in more than one tribe.

Become an Entrepreneur

Products are always more valuable than services.

99.9999 percent of people never change.

Don’t invest if two founders are arguing in front of strangers.

People have an energy between each other.

Underpromising is lying. Don’t lie to your customers. Don’t lie to anyone. You win the job by saying the truth (five days). And you push yourself and challenge yourself to do it in four days.

Don’t waste time building a product at first. Get one person who wants to experience what you have to offer. Sell them your services.

Just get one customer. Execution of an idea starts with the customer, not with building the product.

Every day we’d add new features.

Be a Voice in the Industry

Whenever I have a business, I ask myself every single day: Is this good? Why? What problem does it solve? Who really wants to pay for this?

Don’t just start one business and throw everything you’ve got into it.

Start your email list right now.

Only talk when you have something unique to say. Otherwise, listen.

The Spoke and Wheel (or How to Monetize Anything)

Blog: Difficult to monetize. But you can potentially take your blog posts and syndicate them onto other platforms (LinkedIn, Medium, Huffington Post, Quora, investing websites, etc.) to build out your brand.

Social media: Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube. You need huge audiences to monetize on each of these platforms, but these are good ways to connect to and interact with different If you don’t interact with each of these platforms, you’ll miss opportunities to build more audience.

Email list: Offer a special report for free—all people have to do is sign up for your email list. Now they get, for free, all of your content no matter what medium you post it on. This way, your most interested readers get to consume your content without searching all over the internet for it.

Three Ways to Make a Billion-Dollar Business

But ultimately any good business is going to be about service to others.

1. The Access Economy Model

Uber of …

The three parts of the access economy model are:

  1. Excess: Some people have an excessive amount of an item, call it X.
  2. Want: Some people want X.
  3. Platform: A platform in the middle helps people who want X discover it, buy it, transact securely, have customer service, deal with security, keep track of good customers and bad, etc.

Sell pitchfork to mine gold, e.g. Airbnb managers.

Think what items might have an imbalance between excess, people who want that excess.

2. The God ➔ Humans ➔ Data Model

A great example is the art world. Art was initially prized based on how accurate it was to real life.

Every industry starts with a belief in God (or gods) as the expert, then humans, then data.

What industries or practices have not yet taken that final leap from humanism to dataism? What gaps can data fill?

3. The Bottom One-Third Model

If you can find a business model that serves the bottom third, you could be the only player in the space, and that’s worth billions.

The Incerto Technique

The key to skipping the line is often to go to the room least crowded.

Fooled by Randomness: This is a reminder to wake up each morning and say, “I’m quite possibly the stupidest person ever.” Not “definitely” but “quite possibly.”

The Black Swan Black swans are rare. But they do exist.

Antifragility is the essence of skipping the line. If you build up the skip-the-line techniques, it allows you to reach for higher and higher

The 30/150/Millions Rule

Thirty: that’s the number of people we can directly know.

You indirectly have 150 connections.

If you tell a good story and two people from opposite sides of the world trust that story, then they can work together. Hence religion.

What to Tell Your Kids (Rules of living)

  1. Always go to the place least crowded.
  2. Being secretly good to people = superhero. Being famous for the sake of being famous = loser.
  3. Good relationships = good life. Bad relationships = bad life.
  4. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten.
  5. Sleep and rest. Put it in your online calendar: twenty minutes in the morning and twenty minutes in the afternoon where you put the phone down, pause the computer, daydream,
  6. Bad things will happen. Treat them like opportunities.
  7. Don’t feel sorry for yourself ever. See above.
  8. Be creative every day.
  9. Live life as if today might be your last day.
  10. Eat 80% of your capacity to live longer. Hara hachi bun me.
  11. Don’t “cant’” If there’s something you passionately want, there’s always some way to get it or get close to it.
  12. Double park with impunity.
  13. Buy conveniece.
  14. Skip the news
  15. Read
  16. Everything worthwhile need skills
  17. If someone doesn’t like you, ignore them.
  18. Decide what you believe in and don’t compromise.
  19. Don’t believe something because other people believes it.
  20. Don’t outsource self-esteem. Limit the number of people you look to for validation.
  21. There’s always a good reason and a real reason.
  22. Call often


Mar 19 2021
book summarywillpower

The highest possible stage in moral culture is when we recognize that we ought to control our thoughts.

The Radish Experiment

To avoid smirking at the next meeting, refrain from any strenuous mental exercises beforehand.

And feel free to think about all the white bears you want. Because controlling not to think about the about white bears deplete your willpower.

The Mystery of the Dirty Socks

The more willpower people expended, the more likely they became to yield to the next temptation that came along.

Lessons from the Street and the Lab

  1. You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it.
  2. You use the same stock of willpower for all manner of tasks.
  3. Focus on one project at a time.

If you set more than one self-improvement goal, you may succeed for a while by drawing on reserves to power through, but that just leaves you more depleted and more prone to serious mistakes later.

People who are trying to quit smoking, for example, will have their best shot at succeeding if they aren’t changing other behaviors at the same time.

A better plan is to make one resolution and stick to it.

Eat Your Way to Willpower

Glucose depletion can turn the most charming companion into a monster. The old advice about eating a good breakfast applies all day long.

If you have a test, an important meeting, or a vital project, don’t take it on without glucose.

Better off eating foods with a low glycemic index: most vegetables, nuts (like peanuts and cashews), many raw fruits (like apples, blueberries, and pears), cheese, fish, meat, olive oil, and other “good” fats.

When you’re tired, sleep.

The first step in self-control is to set a clear goal.

For most of us, though, the problem is not a lack of goals but rather too many of them.

Which Goals?

A short-term perspective can make you more likely to become addicted, and then the addiction can further shrink your horizons as you focus on quick rewards.

Fuzzy Versus Fussy

One mess at a time is all you can handle. Two messes at a time, you’re screwed.

Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at their colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket, and can’t resist the car dealer’s offer to rustproof their new sedan.

The Judge’s Dilemma (and the Prisoner’s Distress)

Decision making depletes your willpower, and once your willpower is depleted, you’re less able to make decisions. If your work requires you to make hard decisions all day long, at some point you’re going to be depleted and start looking for ways to conserve energy. You’ll look for excuses to avoid or postpone decisions. You’ll look for the easiest and safest option.

Often we’re so eager to keep options open that we don’t see the long-term price that we’re paying. Say no.

Not-So-Invidious Comparisons

“I make tons of weird goals for myself. Like, when I’m jogging in the park in the bike lane, whenever I go over a drawing of a biker, I have to step on it.”

Getting your brain wired into little goals and achieving them, that helps you achieve the bigger things you shouldn’t be able to do

Willpower Workouts

Practicing emotional control does not strengthen your willpower.

The key is to concentrate on changing a habitual behavior. Like using a different hand for routine tasks.

Another training strategy is to change your speech habits.

The Empathy Gap

Willpower is humans’ greatest strength, but the best strategy is not to rely on it in all situations. Save it for emergencies. As Stanley discovered, there are mental tricks that enable you to conserve willpower for those moments when it’s indispensable. Paradoxically, these techniques require willpower to implement, but in the long run they leave you less depleted for those moments when it takes a strong core to survive.

Precommitment: The Ties That Bind

But the act of writing it was part of a strategy to conserve willpower that he used over and over with great success: precommitment.

The essence of this strategy is to lock yourself into a virtuous path.

What began as a precommitment turned into something permanent and more valuable: a habit.

The Brain on Autopilot

Orderly habits like shaving can actually improve self-control in the long run by triggering automatic mental processes that don’t require much energy.

The clear implication was that the best advice for young writers and aspiring professors is: Write every day. Use your self-control to form a daily habit, and you’ll produce more with less effort in the long run.

Higher order thoughts

Focus on higher order thoughts.

“Why” questions push the mind up to higher levels of thinking and a focus on the future.

“How”questions bring the mind down to low levels of thinking and a focus on the present.

Self-control improved among people who were encouraged to think in high-level terms.

From Self-esteem to Narcissism

There seem to be only two clearly demonstrated benefits of high self-esteem, according to the review panel:

  1. It increases initiative, probably because it lends confidence. People with high self-esteem are more willing to act on their beliefs.
  2. It feels good. High self-esteem seems to operate like a bank of positive emotions.

Exceptional Asians

Forget about self-esteem. Work on self-control.

How do you calmly, consistently discipline the children? Start with setting goals and standards.

Rules for Babies and Vampires

Instead of immediately feeding the crying child, the mother lets the child know that the signal has been received but then waits for her or him to quiet down before offering the breast or the bottle.

Just remember that if you want to instill self-control, you need to be consistent in whatever rewards you give.

Playing to Win

To control your weight, you need the discipline to follow these three rules:

  1. Never go on a diet.
  2. Never vow to give up chocolate or any other food.
  3. Whether you’re judging yourself or judging others, never equate being overweight with having weak willpower.

Let Me Count the Weighs (and the Calories)

The more carefully and frequently you monitor yourself, the better you’ll control yourself.

Never Say Never

To promise not to do a thing is the surest way in the world to make a body want to go and do that very thing.

Tell yourself you’ll pleasure yourself later.

Know Your Limits

Choosing what to have for dinner, where to go on vacation, whom to hire, how much to spend—these all take willpower. Even hypothetical decisions deplete energy.

What matters is the exertion, not the outcome. If you struggle with temptation and then give in, you’re still depleted because you struggled. Giving in does not replenish the willpower you have already expended. All it does is save you from expending any more.

Watch for Symptoms

There’s no obvious “feeling” of depletion. Hence you need to watch yourself for subtle, easily misinterpreted signs.

Do things seem to bother you more than they should? Has the volume somehow been turned up on your life so that things are felt more strongly than usual?

Beware the Planning Fallacy (Underestimating time required)

One way to avoid the planning fallacy is to force yourself to think about your past experience.

If you only get goals one and two done, but not three, that’s fine, but you can’t go off working on other goals until you’ve done the top three.

Don’t Forget the Basics (like Changing Your Socks)

People exert less self-control after seeing a messy desk than after seeing a clean desk.

To break a really entrenched bad habit like smoking, do it on vacation, when you’re far away from the people and places and events you associate with cigarettes.

The Power of Positive Procrastination

This “I’ll have it later” trick can work for other temptations.

Write a to-do list for the week and put these tasks below your top priority.

The Nothing Alternative (and Other Tricks of Offense)

Write or nothing. If I can’t write, I will do nothing.

Reward Often

When you set a goal, set a reward for reaching it.

Copywriting Secrets

Jan 21 2021
book summarycopywriting
Copywriting Secrets

Secret #1 What Is Copywriting?

People buy when they feel like something will make them feel better or help them get what they want. Because it uses familiar, comfortable words. Again, sales copy is like a conversation with a friend or a trusted advisor.

People love to buy. Sales copy helps them buy from you!

Secret #2 One Man’s Journey With Sales Copy

Read the classics like Scientific Advertising.

Secret #3 Without A Strong Why, People Don’t Buy

Ten reasons people buy.

  1. Make money
  2. Save money
  3. Save time
  4. Avoid effort
  5. Escape mental or physical pain
  6. Get more comfort
  7. Achieve greater cleanliness or hygiene to attain better health
  8. Gain praise
  9. Feel more loved
  10. Increase their popularity or social status

The key here is to tie multiple reasons to why people buy, not just one.

  1. What are five ways my product or service will help them make money?
  2. How can I or my product or service help them save money over the next week, month, or year?
  3. How much time can I save them and what else could they do with that time?
  4. What is something they don’t have to do anymore once they get my product or service?
  5. What physical pain do I eliminate for them and what does that mean for their life and business?
  6. How does my product or service eliminate mental pain or worry for them?
  7. What are three ways I or my product can help them feel more comfortable?
  8. How does my product or service make it easier for them to achieve greater cleanliness or hygiene?
  9. How does my product or service help them feel more healthy or more alive?
  10. What are three ways my product or service is going to help them be the envy of their friends and feel more loved by their family?
  11. How will buying my product make them feel more popular and increase their social status?

Secret #4 Nobody Cares About You In Your Sales Copy

Just go back through your copy, look for any time you’ve used the words “I, me, my, we, ours,” and change the perspective. Change the verbiage.

Secret #5 The Most Valuable Skill You’ll Ever Learn

Every product has a unique personality and it is your job to find it.

First, you have to commit. Second, you have to practice. Third, you have to do it every single day

First Step: Become great at creating headlines.

Second Step: Become good at writing bullets.

Secret #6 The #1 Single Most Important Piece of Sales Copy Ever!

The secret of a great headline is one that connects emotionally with the person who represents your perfect prospect.

Here are some headline templates you can use immediately.

  • How To Get ____
  • How To ____ In As Little As ____
  • How To ____ In As Little As ____ … even if you ____!
  • How Every ____ Can ____
  • 5 Quick And Easy Ways To ____
  • 3 Fast Ways To Get ____ And Avoid ____
  • Which Of These ____ Mistakes Will You Make?
  • ____ Mistakes All ____ Need To Avoid!
  • ____ Mistakes Every ____ Needs To Avoid!
  • WARNING: Here’s What Every ____ Needs To Know About ____
  • WARNING: Don’t Even Think About Trying To ____ Until You Read This
  • Here’s The Perfect Solution If You Want ____
  • Here’s The Perfect Solution If You Want ____ (even if 46 ____)
  • My Proven ____ Method To ____

Secret #7 It’s NEVER “One Size Fits All”

If your prospect is aware of your product and has realized that it can satisfy this desire, your headline starts with the product.

If he is not aware 49 of your product but only has the desire itself, your headline starts with the desire.

If he is not yet aware of what he really seeks but is concerned with the general problem, your headline starts with the problem and crystallizes

So if they’re focused on problems, you start the conversation with the problem to get in sync.

The fastest way to figure this out is to think through the conversations you could have with hot, warm, and cold people about your product or service.

Don’t be lazy and fall into the trap of one-size-fits-all with your sales messages.

Secret #8 Meet F.R.E.D. (Your Ideal Customer)

I prefer the term “niche” instead of target audience because niche refers to a specific group.

People will buy from you one person at a time.

I prefer using psychographics. Psychographics refers to what’s going on inside of a person’s head. What are they thinking? What’s motivating them?

Fears, Results, Expectations, and Desires (F.R.E.D.).

People buy what they want, NOT what they need.

Don’t talk about what people need. Talk about what people want.

Sell them with what they want; and you include what they need.

PQR2 (Problems Questions Roadblocks Results) is the secret code to your audience’s brain.

Paint the picture for your avatar of the cool stuff they will learn as well as the fun they will have. Don’t discount the fun part.

Go from a large niche down to sub-niches then to micro-niches.

Next, identify and write down Fred’s top two problems.

Then, what are 67 Fred’s top two questions? Then, what are his two big roadblocks?

Finally, what are the top two results that Fred desires?


  • Discover The New Way To Find Great Deals Fast.
  • How To Find Great Deals Fast, So You Can Avoid Buying A Poison House That Destroys Your Business!
  • Find great deals in half the time. Two shortcuts for real estate investing.
  • Here’s an example of what works to find great deals.
  • Here’s your house flipping checklist.

Secret #9 The Ultimate Bullet Formula

You do not write copy, you assemble it.

Bullets: Build curiosity so you can create pressure inside people to get them to 71 buy faster.

The interesting thing is that when most people create bullets, they only include features.

People buy the benefits.

Summarize what people will see in a video. Give people a preview of your blog post. List the benefits.

What they want is not the hole in the wall; they want their wife to stop bitching at them because they haven’t hung that picture yet.

What we need to drill down to is the meaning of each benefit.

Basic Bullet Formula Formula: It ____ so you can ____

Benefit = what it does Meaning = what it means to the buyer / reader / prospect Formula: It ____ so you can ___ which means ___.

Secret #10 What REALLY Sells People (It’s NOT What You Think)

Meaning is the next level of connecting with people on a gut level.

How do you find the meaning? Easy! Every time you see a claim, feature, or benefit, ask yourself some questions: “Why is that important?”

Make them feel cool by owning that drill. Make them feel smart by having that drill.

As soon as you make a statement about what something is or what it does, you use those two magic words “which means…”

Love for _ (family, self, country, community, etc.) Hate Fear of _ (failure, making mistakes, death, loss, etc.) Vanity Pride Longing for _ (fulfillment, peace, completion, etc.) 80 Greed Freedom

Secret #11 Why Good Enough Makes You (and keeps you) Poor!

You never test more than one variable at a time.

Secret #12 Don’t Reinvent The Wheel—Great Copy Leaves Clues

Amazon is my number one source for research.

Look at the comments that people make and their feedback (or lack of feedback) on every product. I read the five-star reviews to see what gets people excited.

Read the one-star reviews to see what has people pissed

If you don’t use the words they use, if you don’t resonate with them, they will not buy from you.

Writing copy is a game of momentum. You need to get your copywriting engine warmed up before you write. Kickstart that process by reading other people’s text and the feedback from customers on the related things they buy.

Secret #15 3 Sales Formulas That Never Fail

  1. Formula #1: Problem/Agitate/Solve.
  2. Formula #2: If you want 3X benefit, then do this.
  3. Formula #3: The Before/After/Bridge.

Secret #16 It’s All Ice Cream, But What Flavor Should I Choose?

Any time I go into the marketplace, a video sales letter is the fastest way for me to do this.

Start with the headline.

Insert your video.

Add a Buy button,

Add 4-6 awesome, curiosity-inducing bullets under the buy button.

Give the guarantee. Summarize what they’ll get. Insert another Buy button. Closing copy.

The Postscript (P.S.). Restate the main benefits stated in the video sales letter.

That’s the pattern I use for anything under a couple of hundred bucks.

You use the long copy to sell a higher priced item and if people need more information to make a purchase decision.

Secret #17 How To Write An Amazing Sales Letter—FAST

Your headline in a video sales letter or a spoken script are those first couple of sentences. So the first part grabbed their attention, then you identified yourself, and finally you let them know what to expect.

Define the Problem

Here’s the problem you face **___**.


“They don’t buy if it don’t hurt!” Jim Edwards This step is where you pour on the pain. You make it worse by using

“which means you _.”

Which means you’ll never share your message with the world and when you die, your message dies with you.

Present The Solution

“Luckily for you, there’s now a solution. Let me introduce you to _.”

Use Bullets To Arouse Curiosity

Credibility Statement About You


“But don’t just take my word for it. Take a look at this.”

Sum Up The Offer And Give Price

Whatever it is, tell them exactly what they’re going to get, when they’re going to get it, how they’re going to get it, and how much it costs. Let’s

You want people to feel like they’re getting a great deal, and this is the place to do it.

Bonuses And Pot Sweeteners

“Jim, if you really want to make your offer amazing, take your competitor’s USP (unique selling proposition) and turn it into a free bonus with your offer.”


Call Them To Action

Postscript (P.S.)

Restate the benefits and tell them again to act now.

P.S. This gem will sell for $49. This introductory price of $29 is a “Buy it now before it’s gone” offer, so act fast! P.P.S. Let’s be blunt: If you pass on this offer, in a week from today will you have an e-book written or not? Probably not! You’ll still wish and want it, but you won’t write it or make money from it. Face it. Most of what you need is instruction and encouragement. Get this book now and have your e-book as fast as one week from Secret #18 How To Write Killer Email Teasers—FAST

Most people make the mistake of selling the offer in the email teaser. Don’t!

A great email teaser breaks down like this:

  • Great subject line
  • Salutation
  • Shocking statement (Did you know that…)

Secret #19 The Hardest Draft You’ll Ever Write

There is a secret every professional artist knows that the amateurs don’t: being original is overrated. The most creative minds in the world are not especially creative; they’re just better at rearrangement.

Think and write in chunks.

Secret #20 Make ‘Em More Thirsty

Five types of stories:

  1. actual stories
  2. case studies
  3. Examples
  4. The Three M’s of Content,
  • dispelling a myth.
  • misconception.
  • mistakes
  1. Future pacing. These types of stories explain what life will be like when they take specific actions. You explain how your product, service, software—whatever—will help them. Example:

“I want you to imagine having your own unique book with your name on it as the author.”

Ways you can sell when creating content

  1. give something valuable for free that naturally leads to an additional purchase. You teach somebody something or provide something that automatically creates the need for what you’re selling.
  2. Tell them what to do and why they should do. Then sell them the how and what.
  3. Teach all the steps leading to what you want them to purchase.
  4. Make them thirsty by teaching them the manual way of doing something. Then sell them the tools.

Secret #21 Love Me; Hate Me. There’s No Money In The Middle

The fastest way to establish that persona is to take a stand, to have a position or an opinion, and you need to be secure about it.

Secret #22 “Oh Damn—I Got To Have That!”

Headline is your most important component. The promise of any product or service, often contained in that headline, is the key to selling.

Formula for creating a profitable promise:

  1. the hurdle
  2. the prize
  3. the timing
  4. the eliminator.

Hurdle: how to create, how to use, or how to access. What do they want to do? What is the action or the verb they desire? The actions are the hurdles.

Timing: when will I get it? When will it show up?

Eliminator: let them off the hook, as in “it’s not their fault”. Remember that you never say it’s their fault. You have to remove what’s holding the person back in order to get the sale. And when you remove what’s holding them back, your offer will be incredible because this formula forces you to think creatively.

“How to write and publish your own outrageously profitable e-book in as little as seven days.” That has three of the parts, but no eliminator. The reader says, “Oh, that’s awesome. But I’m not a writer, so this won’t work for me.”

“…even if you can’t write, can’t type, and failed high school English class.” That’s your eliminator.

“How to make a thousand dollars as a _ or with _or doing _.” And you can forgive past mistakes. “Even if you’ve tried before and failed.”

Now, in what niche groups of people does this formula work? It works with everyone who needs a problem solved or has an intense desire.

Secret #23 Put Lipstick On The Pig

Is your headline about you or your audience?

Is there a big, bold benefit or promise?

Is the offer clear? Does the buyer understand what they will get? Is it crystal clear?

Is there a clear reason to buy now?

Use what’s called future pacing. “Hey, if you don’t buy this, here’s what’s going to happen: You won’t be able to do this or have that.

Do you have an emotion to grab people right at the beginning of your copy?

Nine times out of ten, from my experience, people buy out of dissatisfaction with their current.

Each major point or idea in your sales copy should have an accompanying graphic.

Secret #24 Should I Join The Dark Side?

Use the negative going on inside of their head to get in sync with them.

“Are you dealing with problem customers?” You lead with a negative like this.

So once they know you’re paying attention to them because you acknowledged their problem, then you demonstrate the solution to the problem.

“Now some of our competitors will tell you _, but that’s just not true. Here are the facts you need to know.”

Never go negative by attacking someone or a company by name.

Secret #25 “Stealth” Closes—The Secret To Selling Without Selling

Often, you start a Stealth Close with these three words: “By the way.”

Now, what does the Video Secrets workshop have to do with the newspaper column? Absolutely nothing. But I whack them out of the blue after I’ve given them value.

Where do you use a Stealth Close to get the best results? They work exceptionally well in email teasers.

Hook them in with the promise (and delivery) of value. Give them tips.

“Didja know there are three ways to create and publish a book without writing? Absolutely. Here they are.”

By the way, did you know that you can _ with _? Yep, it’s true. Go here for more information.

Secret #27 The Magic Desk

Become a student of markets not products

Tune to other people needs by understanding “What’s In It For Me.”

If you can identify a person’s emotional greed, which they are afraid to admit, then you can offer them more of what they want.

Write down specific questions to ask yourself ahead of time.

“My intention for conducting this session is to get in touch with my prospect’s major problems and fears when it comes to writing their book.”

Secret #28 The One And Only Purpose of An Online Ad

Anything else, such as branding or the other BS people spout, is entirely untrue. The only purpose of an online ad is to get the right people to stop and click.

The second truth about ads Curiosity is key. It is the number one way you get the right people to

If you don’t know where to start when writing an ad, ask a question.


  1. Use emotion to grab their attention. Talk about payoffs or penalties. Talk about outcomes or obstacles. Talk about the things they want or don’t want.
  2. Create curiosity. Show them a picture or text designed to make them ask, “What is this? How can they do that?”
  3. CTA

From my experience, it can take ten to fifty ad tests to find one that works well enough to be profitable.

Change your copywriting mindset to one where you want to “fail fast” with the losers and don’t give up until you find the winners.

Secret #29 You Can’t Catch Fish Without A Hook

“One-legged golfer outdrives Tiger Woods.” The USP could be, “Our three-minute video fixes 90 percent of long drive problems.”

Hooks are often “hidden” stories or angles.

A hook is often a one-sentence story about you, about someone else,

Some formulas:

  • Unlikely character plus timing plus results. “Former janitor goes from bankrupt to paid-off house in eighteen months with profits from his e-book business.”
  • Result plus timing minus pain. “Lose all the weight you want in the next thirty days without diet or

Secret #30 Create Your Own Swipe File

“The Grand Theft Auto Vice City secrets you’re not supposed to know.”

Secret #31 Polish Your Sales Copy transcribes your video.

Everything Else You Need To Know About Sales Copywriting

  1. What makes the copy so good they can’t refuse to buy?

The short answer is your copy makes them believe they’re going to get the result they want from what you’re selling.

When you are talking about cold traffic, a negative headline or fear-based headline, a headline that enters the conversation that’s already going on inside of their head revolving around their problem or pain, will typically convert better. Why? Because it grabs and holds their attention.

When we’re talking about warm traffic, these are people who are looking for a solution. They know there has to be a solution out there somewhere.

With hot traffic, you not only phrase it around the solution, but also you phrase it around yourself and your product.

You need to use the words your audience uses.

Use copy connectors, which are transitions between blocks of copy. What do I mean?

“At this point, you might wonder, who am I to make these claims about being able to help you with writing your book?”

“But don’t just take my word for it, take a look at this.” Or you might say “But I’m not the only one . .

“Now, at this point, you might wonder how much this will cost?”

“But before you make a decision, let me sweeten the pot even more,”

At the end, you might use a connector like, “Oh, one more thing,” to introduce everything at the end with a P.S., “Now it’s time to choose.”

For digital product, I would talk about how they will solve their problem or satisfy their desire by using the digital product.

For consultancy, talk about how they will fulfill their desire by hiring the consultant.

The easiest takeaway to use is: “Now, this isn’t for everybody. This is only for people who are _.”

The Courage to Be Disliked

May 22 2020
book summary
The Courage to Be Disliked

Adlerian psychology can be summarised into these points:

  • Self-acceptance
  • have confidence in others
  • separate tasks
  • build horizontal relationships by accepting other’s differences and use encouragement instead of praises or rebuke.
  • contribute to the community
  • be present

Trauma doesn’t exist. Trauma isn’t created by the experiences but by us giving meaning to them.

Anger is fabricated so that people can fulfill the goal of shouting.

People can change - they just don’t have the courage to change. So they continue to wrap themselves in unhappiness.

Weakness can be powerful. The strongest person in our culture is the baby. Braggarts are just feeling inferiority.

When challenged to a power struggle, never be drawn in. It’ll lead to revenge and a solution isn’t a long lasting solution. Step away and do not answer their action with reaction. Believe in the power of language and logic.

Admitting fault is not defeat. When someone is convinced “I am right” in a relationship, one has stepped into a power struggle.

The objectives of living: to be self-reliant and live in harmony with society. I have the ability and aware that people are my comrades.

Restrictions are reflection of distrust.

People are extremely selfish creatures who are capable of finding any number of flaws and shortcomings in others whenever the mood strikes them. So don’t make up flaws in others so that you can avoid tasks. You are in control.

Separate tasks by asking “Who ultimately is going to receive the result brought about by the choice that is made?”

The choice of a child to study is his task. Parents can let him know that it’s his task and they are ready to assist him whenever he has the urge to study. When the child doesn’t request, the parents shouldn’t meddle in things.

Real freedom is being disliked by people. Conducting oneself to not be disliked by anyone is an unfree way of living.

Do not rebuke or praise. It’s manipulation.

When someone says “Good job!” to you, you feel a sense of being talked down to. Praising is the passing of judgment by a person of ability on a person of no ability. This creates an unwanted hierarchical relationship.

What can we do in a horizontal relationship? Say thanks.

Offer assistance but never intervene. Instead of commanding the child to study, act so that he can gain confidence to take care of his own studies and face his tasks on his own.

When one can’t follow through on his task, it’s not because of his ability. It’s him losing courage to face his tasks.

When receiving praise becomes one’s goal, one is choosing a way of living that is in line with another person’s system of values.

First, do the separation of tasks. Then, while accepting each other’s differences, build equal horizontal relationships. Encouragement is the approach that comes next.

Judging others comes out from vertical relationships. Use words of gratitude, respect and joy.

A horizontal hierarchy in a company will have space for you to refuse, and there should also be space to propose a better way of doing things.

There is no need to go out of one’s way to be positive and affirm oneself. It’s not self-affirmation that we are concerned with, but self-acceptance.

The basis of interpersonal relations is founded not on trust but on confidence. Trust implies a set of condition. I trust you with my money - condition on you not losing all my money.

Confidence is believing unconditionally without concerning oneself with such things as security. You need the courage to overcome the fear of being taken advantage. And the courage comes from self-acceptance.

The essence of work is a contribution to the common good.

Instead of thinking about what others can do for me, I want to think about, and put into practice, what I can do for other people. Just by having that feeling of contribution, the reality right in front of me will take on a completely different hue.

If I’m faced with a mountain of dishes and the whole family is watching TV, think of what I can do for my comrades. I can hum away to myself and wash the dishes in good spirits, the children might come and give me a hand. At the very least, I’d be creating an atmosphere in which it is easier for them to offer their help.

I will get a sense of contribution because I see my family as comrades.

Workaholism is a way of avoiding responsibility.

You can be happy now by having a sense of contribution.

Have the courage to be normal. People who wants to be special cannot accept one’s normal self. A bad child in class is a pursuit of easy superiority.

Look at life as a series of moments, not path. Life is a series of dots rather than lines.

If your goal is to climb a mountain, the greater part of life would be ‘en route’. When starting a journey, the journey starts the moment you step out of house.

Life in general has no meaning. It’s you who assign meaning to it.

When one attempts to choose freedom, it is only natural that one may lose one’s way. The guiding star is ’contribution to others‘.

If I change, the world will change. No one else will change the world for me. Start with no regard of whether others are cooperative or not.


Dec 21 2019
book summarybusinessbasecamp


The real world isn’t a place, it’s an excuse. It’s a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you.

Unless you’re a fortune-teller, long-term business planning is a fantasy.

Start referring to your business plans as business guesses.

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.


To do great work, you need to feel that you’re making a difference.

You should feel an urgency about this too.

Ideas are cheap and plentiful. The original pitch idea is such a small part of a business that it’s almost negligible. The real question is how well you execute.

When you want something bad enough, you make the time.


As you get going, keep in mind why you’re doing what you’re doing. 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.

A strong stand is how you attract superfans.

Standing for something isn’t just about writing it down. It’s about believing it and living it.

On funding

You give up control. When you turn to outsiders for funding, you have to answer to them too.

“Cashing out” begins to trump building a quality business.

It’s usually a bad deal. When you’re just beginning, you have no leverage.

Thinking on exit

You should be thinking about how to make your project grow and succeed, not how you’re going to jump ship.

Instead of focusing on getting customers to love you, you worry about who’s going to buy you. That’s the wrong thing to obsess over.


Constraints are advantages in disguise. Limited resources force you to make do with what you’ve got.

Cut your ambition in half. You’re better off with a kick-ass half than a half-assed whole.

The epicenter

The way to find the epicenter is to ask yourself this question: “If I took this away, would what I’m selling still exist?”

Ignore the details—for a while. Nail the basics first and worry about the specifics later.

You don’t have to live with a decision forever. If you make a mistake, you can correct it later.

Cut, simplify

Long projects zap morale. The longer it takes to develop, the less likely it is to launch.

It’s the stuff you leave out that matters. So constantly look for things to remove, simplify, and streamline. Be a curator.

Gordon Ramsay’s first step is nearly always to trim the menu.

People use equipment as a crutch. They don’t want to put in the hours on the driving range so they spend a ton in the pro shop.

What really matters is how to actually get customers and make money.

Reach out

Software companies don’t usually think about writing books.

There’s probably something you haven’t thought about that you could sell too. Think about it this way: If you had to launch your business in two weeks, what would you cut out?


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.

Before working on something…

It’s easy to put your head down and just work on what you think needs to be done. It’s a lot harder to pull your head up and ask why.


  • Why are you doing this?
  • Why you’reworking on this?
  • What is this for?
  • Who benefits?
  • What’s the motivation behind it?
  • What problem are you solving?
  • What’s the problem?
  • Is this actually useful?
  • Are you making something useful or just making something?
  • Are you adding value? Adding something is easy; adding value is hard.
  • Will this change behavior? Don’t add something unless it has a real impact on how people use your product.
  • Is there an easier way?
  • What could you be doing instead?
  • What can’t you do because you’re doing this?
  • Is it really worth it?


Interruption is the enemy of productivity

When you do collaborate, try to use passive communication tools, like e-mail, that don’t require an instant reply.

Simple solutions

Find a judo solution, one that delivers maximum efficiency with minimum effort.

Problems can usually be solved with simple, mundane solutions. That means there’s no glamorous work. You don’t get to show off your amazing skills.

Finding momentum

The way you build momentum is by getting something done and then moving on to the next thing. No one likes to be stuck on an endless project

The longer something takes, the less likely it is that you’re going to finish it.

That’s why estimates that stretch weeks, months, and years into the future are fantasies. The truth is you just don’t know what’s going to happen that far in advance.

Break the big thing into smaller things.

Prioritize visually. Put the most important thing at the top.


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.

Pick a fight

If you think a competitor sucks, say so.

Worrying about the competition quickly turns into an obsession. What are they doing right now? Where are they going next? How should we react?

Focus on yourself instead. What’s going on in here is way more important than what’s going on out there.

You can’t beat someone who’s making the rules. You need to redefine the rules, not just build something slightly better.


Say no by default

How should you keep track of what customers want? Don’t. Listen, but then forget what people said. Seriously.

The requests that really matter are the ones you’ll hear over and over.


Being obscure is a great position to be in. Be happy you’re in the shadows.

Instead of going out to reach people, you want people to come to you.

Speak, write, blog, tweet, make videos—whatever. Share information that’s valuable and you’ll slowly but surely build a loyal audience.

Instead of trying to outspend, outsell, or outsponsor competitors, try to out-teach them.

Chefs share everything they know. They put their recipes in cookbooks and show their techniques on cooking shows.

Give people a backstage pass and show them how your business works.

Be human

Don’t be afraid to show your flaws. Imperfections are real and people respond to real.

Wabi-sabi values character and uniqueness over a shiny facade.

Pare down to the essence, but don’t remove the poetry. Keep things clean and unencumbered but don’t sterilize.*

Press release

There’s nothing exciting about them. Journalists sift through dozens a day.

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.

You’re better off focusing on getting your story into a trade publication or picked up by a niche blogger.

Emulate drug dealers. Make your product so good, so addictive, so “can’t miss” that giving customers a small, free taste makes them come back with cash in hand.

Marketing is not a department

A customer support call is marketing. Every email is marketing.

Slow growth

Trade the dream of overnight success for slow, measured growth.

Start building your audience today. Start getting people interested in what you have to say.


Never hire anyone to do a job until you’ve tried to do it yourself first.

Don’t hire for pleasure; hire to kill pain.

Always ask yourself: What if we don’t hire anyone? Is that extra work that’s burdening us really necessary? Can we solve the problem with a slice of software or a change of practice instead? What if we just don’t do it?


They’re too easy. Anyone can create a decent-enough resumé.

They don’t care about landing your job; they just care about landing any job.

So how do you find these candidates? First step: Check the cover letter. In a cover letter, you get actual communication instead of a list of skills, verbs, and years of irrelevance.

Cover letter is a much better test than a resumé.

6 months of experience

There’s surprisingly little difference between a candidate with six months of experience and one with six years.

How long someone’s been doing it is overrated. What matters is how well they’ve been doing it.

Hire managers of one Managers of one are people who come up with their own goals and execute them.

They’ve run something on their own or launched some kind of project.

Choose the better writer

Clear writing is a sign of clear thinking.

Remote team

To make sure your remote team stays in touch, have at least a few hours a day of real-time overlap.

Two to four hours of overlap should be plenty.

Give test jobs

Hire them for a miniproject, even if it’s for just twenty or forty hours. You’ll see how they make decisions. You’ll see if you get along. You’ll see what kind of questions they ask. You’ll get to judge them by their actions instead of just their words.

Damage Control

Getting back to people quickly is probably the most important thing you can do when it comes to customer service.

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.”

A good apology accepts responsibility. It has no conditional if phrase attached.

This is the worst: “We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.”

Show that you understand the severity of what happened.

An “I” apology is a lot stronger than a “we” apology.

It’s not an inconvenience. It’s a crisis. An inconvenience is a long line at the grocery store.

“May” here implies there might not be anything wrong at all.

Most important thing to make an apology sincere: How would you feel about the apology if you were on the other end?

When people complain, let things simmer for a while.


You don’t create a culture. It happens. This is why new companies don’t have a culture.

Cut the crap and you’ll find that people are waiting to do great work. They just need to be given the chance.

When everything constantly needs approval, you create a culture of nonthinkers.

That time doesn’t magically convert to work. They’ll just find some other diversion.

You’re not going to get a full eight hours a day out of people anyway. That’s a myth.


Policies are organizational scar tissue. They are codified overreactions to situations that are unlikely to happen again.

So don’t scar on the first cut. Don’t create a policy because one person did something wrong once. Policies are only meant for situations that come up over and over again.

Four letters words

There are four-letter words you should never use in business: need, must, can’t, easy, just, only, and fast.

Need. Very few things actually need to get done. Instead ask “What do you think about this?”

Can’t. When you say “can’t,” you probably can.

Easy. “That should be easy for you to do, right?” But notice how rarely people describe their own tasks as easy.

Also watch out for their cousins: everyone, no one, always, and never.

This is the worst paragraph you can say:

“We need to add this feature now. We can’t launch without this feature. Everyone wants it. It’s only one little thing so it will be easy. You should be able to get it in there fast!” Only thirty-six words, but a hundred assumptions. That’s a recipe for disaster.

And if you add ASAP to the end of every request, you’re saying everything is high priority.


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.

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