2016 Q4 - Anything You Want, Smartcuts, Ego Is The Enemy,
Anything You Want by Derek Sivers
Ever wonder what someone learns from starting a company from scratch and then selling it for millions of dollars in 10 years? Curious about the mindset of someone who started a company by accident? If you answered "yes" to either of those questions, then you'll enjoy this book at least as much as I do. The advice and real-world applications mentioned serve as a guide and an exercise in continually focusing on what matters most. It's 84 pages. And, it's packed full of actionable advice/ideas and empirical lessons.
Smartcuts by Shane Smith
Shane wants you to "think of smartcuts as shortcuts with integrity. Working smarter and achieving more - without creating negative externalities." The book is divided into 3 sections: Shorten, Leverage, and Soar.
Shorten dives into the ins & outs of "hacking the ladder", mentorship, and rapid feedback. One of my favorite quotes from this section was an excerpt from a story in which the main character "listed the seven blunders he believed led to violence:
Wealth without work.
Pleasure without conscience.
Knowledge without character.
Commerce without morality.
Science without humanity.
Religion without sacrifice.
Politics without principle."
Leverage explores the power & utility of platforms, waves (metaphorical), and superconnectors. This section led me to David Heinemeier Hansson (aka DHH). DHH is a fascinating guy - he went from not having a driver's license until the age of 25 to winning the famous 24-hour Le Mans race 9 years later; and, also happens to be a major figure in the world of computer programming (creator of Ruby on Rails). Check out his interview on The Tim Ferris Show - it's a bit long, in depth, and completely worth the listen. DHH is my favorite example of someone living a life (business & personal) based the Smartcuts philosophy.
Soar introduces the importance of momentum, simplicity, and "10x thinking". This was the first time I ran across the concept of "10x thinking" - a novel way of enticing yourself to stretch your imagination beyond current conventions of thoughts & beliefs.
Smartcuts was an excellent read on people and companies who achieve extraordinary levels of progress in a surprisingly short amount of time. This book is about thinking very differently from anyone who says "you have to pay your dues" or "you gotta climb that ladder one step at a time of you want to get to the top".
Ego Is The Enemy by Ryan Holiday
Ryan Holiday is a modern day stoic. His thinking is sharp, clear, and immediately applicable. He breaks down the effects of the Ego in our Aspirations, Successes, and Failures. If you've ever wondered if you are the reason things haven't worked out the way you've imagined, then you might get a lot out of this book. For the rest you who think you lead selfless lives, this book will provide a nice gut check.
Much of Ryan's words are intentionally sharp and provocative. At the very least, it will generate new perspectives from within. A sampling of interesting quotes:
"Our cultural values almost try to make us dependent on validation, entitled, and ruled by our emotions. For a generation, parents and teachers have focused on building up everyone's self-esteem. From there, the themes of our gurus and public figures have been almost exclusively aimed at inspiring, encouraging, and assuring us that we can do whatever we set our minds to. In reality, this makes us weak."
"Research shows that while goal visualization is important, after a certain point our mind begins to confuse it with actual progress. The same goes for verbalization."
"The only relationship between work and chatter is that one kills the other."
"The pretense of knowledge is our most dangerous vice, because it prevents us from getting any better."
"How can someone be busy and not accomplish anything? Well, that's the passion paradox."
"Clear the path for the people above you and you will eventually create a path for yourself."
"The more creative we are, the easier it is to lose the thread that guides us."
"To think of a number is to live in a conditional future."
"If you're not still learning, you're already dying."
I'll be coming back to this book periodically; it serves as a litmus test on impact & presence of Ego in my life. His previous book, The Obstacle Is The Way, is an excellent read.