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Alibaba Founder Jack Ma: Ideas & Technology Can Change the World

As the world changes, nothing will happen if you don’t act. If you act, you may benefit from that action.

His exposure to Silicon Valley inspired him to do something when he goes back to China.

I believe money could not solve all problems. Money is just an important tactic in problem-solving. So, when people say, “I have money, so I can do this.” That is the start of their failure.

A company’s assets is like the government’s military. You cannot use it lightly, but if ever you need to mobilize it, you must win. Money can’t be spend recklessly. It is wrong to think money alone can solve problems.

He doesn’t understand technology but he respects it. He never argued over technology in the past 14 years of being a CEO at Alibaba. If he understands technology, he will be over the shoulders of his engineers and never get work done.

Outsiders can lead experts, the key is respecting these experts

Since I don’t understand technology, I became the only tester. I tested whether these things were useful or not. My experience with technology is similar to 80{5fcd3cbc9de14e1587c4b983f08e4837fa7ae8985dc66bae235a2c5aa0d68677} of our users. We are not afraid of technology but we respect it. We just need it to be useful. If you can’t use a technology — regardless of how good it is — it is useless.

Our life is a plan that is slowly unfolding

Embrace change. Change is the best plan. But you don’t want to lose your own sense of direction.

If you feel that you are having good luck. Feel free to share it with other people. Sow the seeds of good luck in other people’s yards. Eventually, the seeds will sprout. That will likely bring you more good luck.

Alibaba’s goal was to make it easy for people to do business anywhere. We are here to help entrepreneurs. Because it was very hard for me to start my own business.

We know that small businesses needs consumers. I knew that we didn’t have the right DNA to become a consumer company. The world is changing so fast it’s hard to gauge consumers’ needs. Small businesses know more about the needs of their customers. So we knew what we had to do. We had to empower our power sellers and our SMEs to support their customers. We should use technology to help our small businesses grow and become more adaptable to the future consumer market.

We hope that small businesses can use technology to challenge the large enterprises. The big companies have money, influence, and connections. We hope the every young person as long as he has good ideas won’t need a rich father or a powerful uncle.

You must have a good sense of direction and the right tools

Sometimes a country’s dream can be quite successful, but does it have anything to do with you? Not necessarily. When everyone’s dream come true, society will also prosper.

Make it happen. It doesn’t matter how big your dream is, the key is whether you can do it and do it well.

My proudest moments is when I dine out, someone tells me “Jack Ma, someone took care of your bill”. When I wanter for my car in front a hotel, a guy comes, opens the door and says “Thanks Jack, I work here. My daughter-in-law and my wife own a Taobao store, they make more money than me”

Alibaba is positioned to be the “enabler” of small businesses. They take care of the technology.

Nobody can guarantee success. But nobody can guarantee you’ll fail. Once in your life, try something.



Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills

There is a place, right on the edge of your ability, where you learn best and fastest. It’s called the sweet spot.

[Comfort Zone]
Sensations: Ease, effortlessness. You’re working, but not reaching or struggling.

Percentage of Successful Attempts: 80 percent and above.

[Sweet Spot]
Sensations: Frustration, difficulty, alertness to errors. You’re fully engaged in an intense struggle—as if you’re stretching with all your might for a nearly unreachable goal, brushing it with your fingertips, then reaching again.

Percentage of Successful Attempts: 50–80 percent.

[Survival Zone]
Sensations: Confusion, desperation. You’re overmatched: scrambling, thrashing, and guessing. You guess right sometimes, but it’s mostly luck.

Percentage of Successful Attempts: Below 50 percent.

Each time she made a mistake, she was 1) sensing it and 2) fixing it, welding the right connection in her brain. Each time she repeated the passage, she was strengthening those connections and linking them together. She was not just practicing. She was building her brain. She was in the sweet spot.

Seek out ways to stretch yourself. Play on the edges of your competence.
If you tried your absolute hardest, what could you almost do? Mark the boundary of your current ability, and aim a little beyond it. That’s your spot.

Deep practice is not measured in minutes or hours, but in the number of high-quality reaches and repetitions you make—basically, how many new connections you form in your brain.

Instead of counting minutes or hours, count reaches and reps. Instead of saying, “I’m going to practice piano for twenty minutes,” tell yourself, “I’m going to do five intensive reps of that new song.”

Ignore the clock and get to the sweet spot, even if it’s only for a few minutes, and measure your progress by what counts: reaches and reps.


Every skill is built out of smaller pieces

1) What is the smallest single element of this skill that I can master?

2) What other chunks link to that chunk?

See the whole thing. Break it down to its simplest elements. Put it back together. Repeat.

The real goal isn’t practice; it’s progress.

Never mistake mere activity for accomplishment.

Set a daily SAP: smallest achievable perfection

The point is to take the time to aim at a small, defined target, and then put all your effort toward hitting it.

You are built to improve little by little, connection by connection, rep by rep.

Don’t look for the big, quick improvement. Seek the small improvement one day at a time. That’s the only way it happens—and when it happens, it lasts.


struggle isn’t an option—it’s a biological necessity.

The struggle and frustration you feel at the edges of your abilities—that uncomfortable burn of “almost, almost”—is the sensation of constructing new neural connections, a phenomenon that the UCLA psychologist Robert Bjork calls “desirable difficulty.” Your brain works just like your muscles: no pain, no gain.


Practice on the days that you eat.

establishing a new habit takes about thirty days.

The act of practicing—making time to do it, doing it well—can be thought of as a skill in itself, perhaps the most important skill of all.

If it can be counted, it can be turned into a game.

For example, playing a series of guitar chords as a drill is boring. But if you count the number of times you do it perfectly and give yourself a point for each perfect chord, it can become a game. Track your progress, and see how many points you score over a week. The following week, try to score more.

Solo practice works because it’s the best way to 1) seek out the sweet spot at the edge of your ability, and 2) develop discipline, because it doesn’t depend on others.

your brain spent millions of years evolving to register images more vividly and memorably than abstract ideas.
Whenever possible, create a vivid image for each chunk you want to learn. The images don’t have to be elaborate, just easy to see and feel.


mistakes are our guideposts for improvement

People who pay deeper attention to an error learn significantly more than those who ignore it.

Develop the habit of attending to your errors right away. Don’t wince, don’t close your eyes; look straight at them and see what really happened, and ask yourself what you can do next to improve. Take mistakes seriously, but never personally.

Mistakes aren’t really mistakes, then—they’re the information you use to build the right links.
The more you pay attention to mistakes and fix them, the more of the right connections you’ll be building inside your brain. Visualizing this process as it happens helps you reinterpret mistakes as what they actually are: tools for building skill.

Every time you practice deeply—the wires of your brain get faster.

Smaller practice spaces can deepen practice when they are used to increase the number and intensity of the reps and clarify the goal.

What’s the minimum space needed to make these reaches and reps? Where is extra space hindering fast and easy communication?

“It’s not how fast you can do it. It’s how slowly you can do it correctly.”

Super-slow practice works like a magnifying glass: It lets us sense our errors more clearly, and thus fix them.

Closing your eyes is a swift way to nudge you to the edges of your ability, to get you into your sweet spot. It sweeps away distraction and engages your other senses to provide new feedback. It helps you engrave the blueprint of a task on your brain by making even a familiar skill seem strange and fresh.


Removing everything except the essential action lets you focus on what matters most: making the right reach.


Practice begins when you get it right.

One of the most fulfilling moments of a practice session is when you have your first perfect rep. When this happens, freeze. Rewind the mental tape and play the move again in your mind. Memorize the feeling, the rhythm, the physical and mental sensations. The point is to mark this moment—this is the spot where you want to go again and again. This is not the finish—it’s the new starting line for perfecting the skill until it becomes automatic.
Napping is good for the learning brain, because it helps strengthen the connections formed during practice and prepare the brain for the next session.


Think of the way parents teach their babies new words—they stretch out each sound, overemphasize it, overdo it.

There’s a good reason for this. Going too far helps us understand where the boundaries are.

Don’t be halfhearted. You can always dial back later. Go too far so you can feel the outer edges of the move, and then work on building the skill with precision.
There’s a moment just before every rep when you are faced with a choice: You can either focus your attention on the target (what you want to do) or you can focus on the possible mistake (what you want to avoid). This tip is simple:

Always focus on the positive move, not the negative one.

Psychologists call this “positive framing,”

The point is, it always works better to reach for what you want to accomplish, not away from what you want to avoid.

Learning is reaching. Passively reading a book—a relatively effortless process, letting the words wash over you like a warm bath—doesn’t put you in the sweet spot. Less reaching equals less learning.

On the other hand, closing the book and writing a summary forces you to figure out the key points (one set of reaches), process and organize those ideas so they make sense (more reaches), and write them on the page (still more reaches, along with repetition). The equation is always the same: More reaching equals more learning.

What’s the best way to make sure you don’t repeat mistakes? One way is to employ the sandwich technique. It goes like this:
1. Make the correct move.
2. Make the incorrect move.
3. Make the correct move again.

The goal is to reinforce the correct move and to put a spotlight on the mistake, preventing it from slipping past undetected and becoming wired into your circuitry.
our brains make stronger connections when they’re stimulated three times with a rest period of ten minutes between each stimulation

The real-world translation: To learn something most effectively, practice it three times, with ten-minute breaks between each rep.

To invent a good test, ask yourself: What’s one key element of this skill? How can I isolate my accuracy or reliability, and measure it? How can I make it fun, quick, and repeatable, so I can track my progress?


This tip provides a way to measure practice effectiveness. It’s called the R.E.P.S. gauge. Each letter stands for a key element of deep practice.
R: Reaching and Repeating Does the practice have you operating on the edge of your ability, reaching and repeating?
E: Engagement Is the practice immersive? Does it command your attention? Does it use emotion to propel you toward a goal?
P: Purposefulness Does the task directly connect to the skill you want to build?
S: Strong, Speedy Feedback. Does the learner receive a stream of accurate information about his performance—where he succeeded and where he made mistakes?

Does the learner receive a stream of accurate information about his performance—where he succeeded and where he made mistakes?

The idea of this gauge is simple: When given a choice between two practice methods, or when you’re inventing a new test or game, pick the one that maximizes these four qualities, the one with the most R.E.P.S. The larger lesson here is to pay attention to the design of your practice. Small changes in method can create large increases in learning velocity.

Exhaustion is the enemy. Fatigue slows brains. It triggers errors, lessens concentration, and leads to shortcuts that create bad habits. It’s no coincidence that most talent hotbeds put a premium on practicing when people are fresh, usually in the morning, if possible. When exhaustion creeps in, it’s time to quit.

“I always achieve my most productive practice after an actual round. Then, the mistakes are fresh in my mind and I can go to the practice tee and work specifically on those mistakes.”

Just before falling asleep, they play a movie of their idealized performance in their heads. A wide body of research supports this idea, linking visualization to improved performance, motivation, mental toughness, and confidence. Treat it as a way to rev the engine of your unconscious mind, so it spends more time churning toward your goals.


A practice session should end like a good meal—with a small, sweet reward.

Use the First Few Seconds to Connect on an Emotional Level

Effective teaching is built on trust, and when it comes to trust, we humans are consistent: We decide if we’re going to trust someone in the first few seconds of the interaction.

Communicate with precise nouns and numbers—things you can see and touch and measure—and avoid adjectives and adverbs, which don’t tell you precisely what to do.

Make a Scorecard for Learning

The solution is to create your own scorecard. Pick a metric that measures the skill you want to develop, and start keeping track of it. Use that measure to motivate and orient your learners. As a saying goes, “You are what you count.”

Reachfulness is the essence of learning. It happens when the learner is leaning forward, stretching, struggling, and improving.

Sustaining Progress

Repetition is the single most powerful lever we have to improve our skills, because it uses the built-in mechanism for making the wires of our brains faster and more accurate

Embracing repetition means changing your mindset; instead of viewing it as a chore, view it as your most powerful tool.
They get up in the morning and go to work every day, whether they feel like it or not.

As the artist Chuck Close says, “Inspiration is for amateurs.”

The presence of other people diminishes an appetite for risks, nudging you away from the sweet spot.

Games encourage players, coaches, and parents to judge success by the scoreboard rather than by how much was learned.

The solution is to ignore the bad habit and put your energy toward building a new habit that will override the old one.
* Override bad habits

One of the first workouts for a Shyness Clinic client is to walk up to a stranger and ask for the time. Each day the workout grows more strenuous—soon clients are asking five strangers for the time, making phone calls to acquaintances, or chatting with a stranger in an elevator.

To build new habits, start slowly. Expect to feel stupid and clumsy and frustrated at first—after all, the new wires haven’t been built yet, and your brain still wants to follow the old pattern. Build the new habit by gradually increasing the difficulty, little by little. It takes time, but it’s the only way new habits grow. For more insights on this process, read The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg.

when you communicate a skill to someone, you come to understand it more deeply yourself.

“Doers who teach do better.”


1) Constructing and honing neural circuitry takes time, no matter who you are; and 2) Resilience and grit are vital tools, particularly in the early phases of learning. Don’t make judgments too early. Keep at it, even if you don’t feel immediate improvement. Give your talent (that is, your brain) the time it needs to grow.


A plateau happens when your brain achieves a level of automaticity; in other words, when you can perform a skill on autopilot, without conscious thought.

The best way past a plateau is to jostle yourself beyond it; to change your practice method so you disrupt your autopilot and rebuild a faster, better circuit.

Preventing plateau
– speed things up—to force yourself to do the task faster than you normally would.
– slow things down—going so slowly that you highlight previously undetected mistakes
– do the task in reverse order, turn it inside out or upside down.

Grit is that mix of passion, perseverance, and self-discipline that keeps us moving forward in spite of obstacles. It’s not flashy, and that’s precisely the point.

Grit isn’t inborn. It’s developed, like a muscle, and that development starts with awareness.

For instance, when you hit an obstacle, how do you react? Do you tend to focus on a long-term goal, or move from interest to interest? What are you seeking in the long run? Begin to pay attention to places in your life where you’ve got grit, and celebrate them in yourself and others.


Telling others about your big goals makes them less likely to happen, because it creates an unconscious payoff—tricking our brains into thinking we’ve already accomplished the goal. Keeping our big goals to ourselves is one of the smartest goals we can set.

Think patiently, without judgment. Work steadily, strategically, knowing that each piece connects to a larger whole.
Deep practice (n), also called deliberate practice: The form of learning marked by 1) the willingness to operate on the edge of your ability, aiming for targets that are just out of reach, and 2) the embrace of attentive repetition.

Ignition (n): The motivational process that occurs when your identity becomes linked to a long-term vision of your future. Triggers significant amounts of unconscious energy; usually marked by the realization That is who I want to be.
Reach (v): The act of stretching slightly beyond your current abilities toward a target, which causes the brain to form new connections. Reaching invariably creates mistakes, which are the guideposts you use to improve the next attempt.
Rep (n, abbreviation for repetition): The act of attentively repeating an action, often with slight variances at gradually increasing difficulty, which causes the brain’s pathways to increase speed and improve accuracy.

Rule of Ten Thousand Hours (n): The scientific finding that all world-class experts in every field have spent a minimum of ten thousand hours intensively practicing their craft. While this number is sometimes misinterpreted as a magical threshold, in reality it functions as a rule of thumb underlining a larger truth: Greatness is not born, but grown through deep practice, no matter who you are.

Shallow practice (n): The opposite of deep practice, marked by lack of intensity, vagueness of goal, and/or the unwillingness to reach beyond current abilities. Often caused by an aversion to making mistakes; results in vastly slowed skill acquisition and learning.

Sweet spot (n): The zone on the edge of current ability where learning happens fastest. Marked by a frequency of mistakes, and also by the recognition of those mistakes (see Tip #13).

Notes from The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle

Read on: December 2014

I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things

The way I think of it is that we are exploring, we are trying to find out as much as we can about the world.

Whatever way it comes out, nature is there and she’s going to come out the way she is.

Therefore, when we go to investigate it, we shouldn’t pre-decide what it is we’re trying to do except to find out more about it.

You see, one thing is: I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing

I think it’s much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong

I have aproximate answers, and possible beliefs, and different degrees of certainty about different things, but I’m not absolutely sure of anything, and there are many things I don’t know anything about

But I don’t have to know an answer. I don’t feel frightened by not knowing things, by being lost in the mysterious universe without having any purpose which is the way it really is as far I could tell possible.

It doesn’t frighten me

— Dr. Richard Feynman

Data is a liability

The solution we at Richie advocate is simple. You don’t start with the raw data. You start with the questions you want answered. Then you collect the data you need (and just the data you need) to answer those questions.

Think this way for a while, and you notice a key factor: old data usually isn’t very interesting. You’ll be much more interested in what your users are doing right now than what they were doing a year ago. Sure, spotting trends in historical data might be cool, but in all likelihood it isn’t actionable. Today’s data is.

This is the same with YNAB principle that old data doesn’t mean a thing now, you only budget what you have now.

Only collect necessary data if you want a specific question you want answers to.

Excerpts from

The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything … Fast.

A Portrait of the Author as a Learning Junkie

Deconstructing a skill into the smallest possible subskills; Learning enough about each subskill to be able to practice intelligently and self-correct during practice; Removing physical, mental, and emotional barriers that get in the way of practice; Practicing the most important subskills for at least twenty hours.

World-class mastery may take ten thousand hours of focused effort, but developing the capacity to perform well enough for your own purposes usually requires far less of an investment.

Embracing the idea of sufficiency is the key to rapid skill acquisition.

We’re going to start with twenty hours of concentrated, intelligent, focused effort.

Rapid skill acquisition is a process—a way of breaking down the skill you’re trying to acquire into the smallest possible parts, identifying which of those parts are most important, then deliberately practicing those elements first.

You simply decide what to practice, figure out the best way to practice, make time to practice, then practice until you reach your target level of performance.

On the other hand, I learned everything the hard way. You could certainly reach my level of competence in these skills in much less than fifteen years if you approached the topic in a systematic way.

The amount of time it will take you to acquire a new skill is largely a matter of how much concentrated time you’re willing to invest in deliberate practice and smart experimentation and how good you need to become to perform at the level you desire.

language acquisition is different from language learning.

Learning concepts related to a skill helps you self-edit or self-correct as you’re practicing.

Learning helps you plan, edit, and correct yourself as you practice.

The trouble comes when we confuse learning with skill acquisition.

If you want to acquire a new skill, you must practice it in context. Learning enhances practice, but it doesn’t replace it. If performance matters, learning alone is never enough.

Training, in this context, means improving a skill you’ve already acquired through repetition.

There’s also a huge difference between skill acquisition and training.                                That exertion and strengthening process is training. The more you train, the stronger you become, and the faster you complete the marathon.

Without a certain amount of skill acquisition, training isn’t possible or useful.

Skill Acquisition vs. Education and Credentialing

But notice the emphasis: most of the effort of obtaining a credential is devoted to the process of meeting the requirements. Whether or not those requirements actually help you acquire the skills you need to perform in the real world is a tertiary concern at best.

If you want to get good at anything where real-life performance matters, you have to actually practice that skill in context. Study, by itself, is never enough.

neurons that fire together wire together

three-stage model” of skill acquisition,

Cognitive (Early) Stage—understanding what you’re trying to do, researching, thinking about the process, and breaking the skill into manageable parts. Associative (Intermediate) Stage—practicing the task, noticing environmental feedback, and adjusting your approach based on that feedback. Autonomous (Late) Stage—performing the skill effectively and efficiently without thinking about it or paying unnecessary attention to the process.

Your mind is like a muscle: the more you use it, the more it grows.” The more you practice, the more efficient, effective, and automatic the skill becomes. Same with money? But spending it wisely siguro

Ten Principles of Rapid Skill Acquisition

Here are the ten major principles of rapid skill acquisition: Choose a lovable project. Focus your energy on one skill at a time. Define your target performance level. Deconstruct the skill into subskills. Obtain critical tools. Eliminate barriers to practice. Make dedicated time for practice. Create fast feedback loops. Practice by the clock in short bursts. Emphasize quantity and speed.

One of the easiest mistakes to make when acquiring new skills is attempting to acquire too many skills at the same time.

temporary obsession.” Rapid skill acquisition happens naturally when you become so curious and interested in something that other concerns fall away, at least temporarily.

Think of these principles as ways to identify a skill worthy of temporary obsession, focus on it, and remove distractions or barriers that distract you from effective practice.

The best thing that can happen to a human being is to find a problem, to fall in love with that problem, and to live trying to solve that problem, unless another problem even more lovable appears.

You naturally learn things you care about faster than things you don’t.

Pick one, and only one, new skill you wish to acquire. Put all of your spare focus and energy into acquiring that skill, and place other skills on temporary hold.

Focusing on one prime skill at a time is absolutely necessary for rapid skill acquisition. You’re not giving up on the other skills permanently, you’re just saving them for later.

what “good enough” looks like.

Think of it as a single sentence description of what you’re trying to achieve, and what you’ll be able to do when you’re done. The more specific your target performance level is, the better.

Once you determine exactly how good you want or need to be, it’s easier to figure out how to get there.

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”

the more relaxed your target performance level, the more rapidly you can acquire the associated skill.

Significant prepractice effort. Such as misplacing your tools, not acquiring the correct tools before practicing, or skipping setup requirements. Intermittent resource availability. Such as using borrowed equipment or relying on a resource that has limited operating hours. Environmental distractions. Such as television, ringing phones, and incoming e-mail. Emotional blocks. Such as fear, doubt, and embarrassment.

coaches and mentors can give you immediate feedback on how you’re performing and recommend necessary adjustments.

Capture devices, like video cameras, can help you watch yourself as you perform. Tools like computer programs, training aides, and other devices can immediately indicate when you make a mistake or something is amiss.

The solution for this is to practice by the clock. Buy a decent countdown timer3 and set it for twenty minutes.

Skill is the result of deliberate, consistent practice, and in early-stage practice, quantity and speed trump absolute quality. The faster and more often you practice, the more rapidly you’ll acquire the skill.

First, ensure you’re practicing using form that’s good enough to satisfy your target performance level. Once you’re practicing in good form at least 80 to 90 percent of the time, crank up the speed for faster skill acquisition.

completely changing your environment in a way that results in constant deliberate practice.

Ten Principles of Effective Learning

Once you’ve found what appear to be the most useful techniques, you can experiment with them in your own kitchen, saving you a ton of trial and error.

you’ll naturally begin to notice patterns: ideas and techniques that come up over and over again. These concepts are called mental model

What if you did everything wrong? What if you got the worst possible outcome? This is a problem-solving technique called inversion,

Talking to people who have acquired the skill before you will help dispel myths and misconceptions before you invest your time and energy. By knowing what you can expect to see as you progress, you’ll find it much easier to sustain your interest in practice, and avoid becoming discouraged early in the process.

Checklists are handy for remembering things that must be done every time you practice. They’re a way to systematize the process, which frees your attention to focus on more important matters. Scaffolds are structures that ensure you approach the skill the same way every time. Think of the basketball player who establishes a pre–free throw routine. Wipe hands on pants, loosen the shoulders, catch the ball from the ref, bounce three times, pause for three seconds, and shoot. That’s a scaffold.

Ten Principles of Effective Learning

  1. Research the skill and related topics.The goal is to identify at least three books, instructional DVDs, courses, or other resources that appear to be connected to the skill you’re trying to acquire.

    The more you know in advance about the skill, the more intelligently you can prepare.

    For rapid skill acquisition, skimming is better than deep reading. By noticing ideas and tools that come up over and over again in different texts, you can trust the accuracy of the patterns you notice and prepare your practice accordingly.

  2. Jump in over your head.Noticing you’re confused is valuable. Recognizing confusion can help you define exactly what you’re confused about, which helps you figure out what you’ll need to research or do next to resolve that confusion.

    If you start to feel intimidated or hesitant about the pace you’re attempting, you’re on the right track.

  3. Identify mental models and mental hooks.Once Dad learned that a server is a special computer that delivers a web page to people who request it, and that the server was a different computer than the machine we were using, he found it much easier to understand what we were doing. In this case, server is a mental model—once you’re familiar with the term, it’s easier to understand the process of publishing a website.

    mental hooks: analogies and metaphors you can use to remember new concepts.

  4. Imagine the opposite of what you want.By studying the opposite of what you want, you can identify important elements that aren’t immediately obvious. Ano yung ayaw mo mangyari? What skills do you need to prevent that?
  5. Talk to practitioners to set expectations.
  6. Eliminate distractions in your environment.Distractions are enemy number one of rapid skill acquisition. Distractions kill focused practice, and lack of focused practice leads to slow (or nonexistent) skill acquisition.
  7. Use spaced repetition and reinforcement for memorization.Whenever you learn something new, you’ll probably forget it unless you review the concept within a certain period of time. This repetition reinforces the idea, and helps your brain consolidate it into long-term memory.

    By creating flash cards as you’re deconstructing the skill, you’re killing two birds with one stone.

  8. Create scaffolds and checklists.Many skills involve some sort of routine: setting up, preparing, maintaining, putting away, et cetera. Creating a simple system is the best way to ensure these important elements happen with as little additional effort as possible.
  9. Make and test predictions.The true test of useful learning is prediction. Based on what you know, can you guess how a change or experiment will turn out before you do it?

    Observations—what are you currently observing? Knowns—what do you know about the topic already? Hypotheses—what do you think will improve your performance? Tests—what are you going to try next?

    I recommend using a notebook or other reference tool to track your experiments and form hypotheses as you practice.

  10. Honor your biology.the optimal learning cycle appears to be approximately ninety minutes of focused concentration

    By setting your timer for sixty to ninety minutes before you start practicing or researching, it will be easier to remember to take a break when you’re done.

    Research the skill and related topics. Jump in over your head. Identify mental models and mental hooks. Imagine the opposite of what you want. Talk to practitioners to set expectations. Eliminate distractions in your environment. Use spaced repetition and reinforcement for memorization. Create scaffolds and checklists. Make and test predictions. Honor your biology.

Excerpts From Josh, Kaufman. “The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything … Fast.”

Read on: March 2015

Hacking strength: Gaining muscle with least resistance

Least resistance

  1. Reduce transaction costs to engaging in productive behavior
  2. Erect transaction cost to engaging counter-productive behavior
  3. Minimize opportunity cost. Do what you’re best doing, and partner with specialists when you need to do something else

Growing muscles

  1. To gain weight, you must eat more calories than you burn.
  2. When you gain weight, some will be fat and some will be muscle.
  3. To gain muscle, you must eat protein.
  4. To boost the ratio of muscle to fat gain, you must exercise.
  5. To gain muscle and strength, you must engage in resistance exercise.
  6. To prioritize strength over size gains, aim for 2-6 repetitions per exercise, where failure occurs on the last repetition.
  7. To prioritize size over strength gains, aim for 8-12 repetitions per exercise, where failure occurs on the last repetition.
  8. To maximize gains per unit of exercise, do not work the same muscle group two days in a row.

Basic Rules

  1. To continue gaining strength, you must increase resistance.
  2. To optimize strength and size gains, vary repetitions over time.
  3. To improve bodyfat percentage and gain weight, you must cycle through phases of gaining muscle and losing fat.
  4. Rest thoroughly.

Form the habit first

  • Developing an exercise habit is more important than the specific exercise you do.
  • Do it on three non-consecutive days a week for about half an hour.
  • Eat protein every meal, and before and after exercise
    • 0.8 – 2 grams per kilogram of bodyweight per day
    • Hydrolized whey, “pre-digested.”
  • While gaining weight, I aim for about 20 sets of 8-12 reps to failure.
  • While cutting fat, I aim for about 15 sets of 4-8 reps to failure.
  • If it can handle more sets, do more sets. If you’re sore days later, do less.


  • Creatine
  • Whey Protein
  • Vitamin D

Measuring progress

  • Keep a spreadsheet to track 1, 5, 8, 10 and 12 rep maximums.
  • Record the weight at which the muscle fails for the given number of reps.
  • Track maximums to ensure progressive overload.

If you hit 12 reps, it’s time to increase the weight.

Notes from

Stretching, Rewiring, and Growing Geometrically

Overlapping of time and schema

Using one thing to learn another thing

Almost everything I did, I did part-time. Overlapping them.

Taking the first step

  • I noticed so many people talk about doing things but don’t actually take the first step
  • They don’t make that phone call and make an appointment
  • Let’s say you want to learn to fly, nobody goes down and make an appointment at a flight school
  • That’s what they don’t do. They don’t go down there and meet with somebody that kick start the whole thing

Sit there and watch other people and ask the right questions. And before you know it you start getting the method.

Exposure lead to a lot interest, interests lead to a lot of desire, after getting answers I would start integrating those answers

It’s not if you doing the 12 things, it’s how much you’re doing them. It’s how consistently you’re doing them.

The 3 real drivers:

  1. Desire / Interest
  2. Ability to learn
  3. Support of other people

It’s not that we’re not interested, we’re interested sometimes.

How do we get insanely interested? If you know yourself and you figure out what your real motivations are If you really know what you like

Once you’re really excited and interested in something, interests releases energy

The first way to build desire is to find out what you’re interested in, and try to set that up

Try to do things that are aligned with your interest

How can I ramp up the interest?

  • Hang around people who are passionate about things
  • Their excitements gonna rub off on you
  • It’s so easy to get excited when everybody around you is getting excited

Notes from Jason Randal: Stretching, Rewiring & Growing Geometrically.

Freelance Bootcamp

Lesson 1: Mindset

  1. Fear
    • Uncertainty (It’s ususally worst on the head)
    • It’s ok not to figure it out all
    • Breathe (inhale 3s, exhale 6s, close eyed)
    • Frame things in positive light to see more options (Psychology)
  2. Consistency
    • The only tactics that will work for you are those you do consistently
    • For feedback to know what works
  3. Pro
    • Treat freelancing as a business
    • Go about your work as a professional

Lesson 2: Have a great offer

  1. Focus on profit
    • Forget about perfection. Get feedback.
  2. Be specific with your offer
    • Describe what you do in one sentence
  3. Narrow
    • Narrow in to what you specifically do
    • Clients hire freelancers for their specific problems
    • Look for a niche
    • Narrow by: Geography, Demography, Income, Industry

Lesson 3: Developing portfolio

  1. Case studies of previous works done and clients that you have
    • 3 – 5 examples
    • Clients are busy
  2. Results
    • Providing results for real people, humans
    • Have testimonials (have faces)
  3. Work for free. Do 1-3 projects for free. Get better at your craft.

Lesson 4: Getting your first client

It changes everything

  1. Network
    • Come from people you already know
    • Inform that your services are available
  2. Benefits
    • Client doesn’t really care if you like your idea
    • They want solutions to their problems
    • They need to hear the benefits of working with you
    • Let’s say you design presentations
      • I can get you presentation at a reasonable price
      • They’re not looking for low-cost way to do it
      • “I deliver presentations on time every time when you don’t have time to do it”
      • This is the benefit they want
      • Focus on the benefit of the client
      • Target  to specific need

Lesson 5: Empathy mapping – understanding customers

  • Once you understand what your customer really wants
    • You can imagine how to craft what they need
  • They can imagine life with you as their freelancer
  • Ask yourself these questions
  • Who is the ideal person I want to work with?
  • What is her job?
  • Who surrounds her?
  • What types of pitches and offers does she see daily?
  • What types of problems does she encounter?
    • Understand the problems clients are facing
    • Clients hire people who could deliver solutions
  • Who influences her?
  • What is important to her?
  • What are her dreams and aspirations?
    • Can you help them get there?
    • If you can make that a reality, you’re going to be an easy hire
  • What are her biggest frustrations?
  • What stands in the way of what she wants to achieve?
  • How does she measure success?
    • What are they really looking for
  • What are some strategies that might help her achieve her goals?
  • If you can help answer any of these question and make like easier for customers that’s a powerful thing
  • How can you make it easier for them
  • The more you make it about them the more you’re going to have success as a freelancer

Lesson 6: Determine price / Pricing

  1. Baseline price _ Rate calculator _ Talk to other freelancer
  2. Price tiers _ Packages at different price levels _ Feel out what customers are willing to pay for _ Change customer mindset to pay you or not to what should I pay you _ Don’t make a decision for yourself
  3. Avoid hourly rates _ Start charging project _ Start charging per chunk (per 2 weeks, per month)

Lesson 7: Finding better clients

  • Excited working with you
  • They know what they want
  • They’ll pay you more, pay you more often
  1. Network
    • Network the right people
    • Reach out to another freelancer
    • People love talking about themselves
  2. Make you and your services easy to find
    • Build a website
    • SEO
    • LinkedIn

Lesson 8: Negotiation

  • Client usually don’t know the right rates to charge for a project
  1. It’s only asking questions
  2. It’s your responsibility
    • What the rate you’re going after
  3. “How much does it cost?”
    • Every project is unique, I tailor all my solutions to particular clients
    • into negotiations
  4. What’s your budget for this particular project?
  5. “Surprise”
    • If the budget is too low
  6. Fair
  • Silence is your friend

Lesson 9: Getting clients to say Yes to your freelance services

  1. Do the work for them
    • Every time there’s something to be done
  2. Read free report attached
  3. Example email

Lesson 10: Marketing

  1. Consistently
    • Do marketing consistently
    • Targeted
  2. One on one
    • Networking
    • Personal connection to individual who needs your services / bring business
    • Meeting in-person
    • Take someone to lunch
    • Do whatever works for you that you can be consistent on
  3. Online
    • Social media
    • Email list

Lesson 11: Legal Stuff

  1. Business Checking account
  2. Taxes
  3. Insurance

Lesson 12: Referrals

  1. Partners
    • Senders
    • Access
    • Networking
    • Reach out to partners by — focus sa benefits nila / mutual benefit
    • Reciprocity
  2. Customers
    • Timing
    • After project ask for introduction
    • Network
    • Wording
    • Don’t use jargons
    • Buying phrases
    • Phrases buyers use

Lesson 13: Raising Rate

  • Emotional issue
    • If I raise my rate my client will go away, I’m not worth that much
    • Raising rates is natural part of business
  1. Just raise it
    • You can always go back
  2. Price Tiers
  3. Schedule
    • After 5 clients, etc
  4. Value
    • Based on value you provide to clients
    • Develop better portfolio
    • Focus on results delivering
    • Value will be just an after thought

Lesson 14: Basic principles of freelancing

  1. Get a freelance mentor
    • Accountable
    • Wisdom and experience
    • Guide towards success
    • How to get a mentor
    • Be comfortable of networking
    • Be comfortable of critics
    • Feedback

My notes from

Watched on: April 2014


A goal stood before Siddhartha, a single goal: to become empty, empty of thirst, empty of wishing, empty of dreams, empty of joy and sorrow.

I was afraid of myself, I was fleeing from myself! I searched Atman, I searched Brahman, I was willing to to dissect my self and peel off all of its layers, to find the core of all peels in its unknown interior, the Atman, life, the divine part, the ultimate part. But I have lost myself in the process.”

develop previous thoughts in to new ones

everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.”

Writing is good, thinking is better. Being smart is good, being patient is better.

He saw mankind going through life in a childlike or animal-like manner, which he loved and also despised at the same time. He saw them toiling, saw them suffering, and becoming gray for the sake of things which seemed to him to entirely unworthy of this price, for money, for little pleasures, for being slightly honoured, he saw them scolding and insulting each other, he saw them complaining about pain at which a Samana would only smile, and suffering because of deprivations which a Samana would not feel.

You are like me, you are different from most people. You are Kamala, nothing else, and inside of you, there is a peace and refuge, to which you can go at every hour of the day and be at home at yourself, as I can also do. Few people have this, and yet all could have it

Most people, Kamala, are like a falling leaf, which is blown and is turning around through the air, and wavers, and tumbles to the ground. But others, a few, are like stars, they go on a fixed course, no wind reaches them, in themselves they have their law and their course

Perhaps, people of our kind can’t love. The childlike people can; that’s their secret

It was still the art of thinking, of waiting, of fasting, which guided his life

moderate living, joy of thinking, hours of meditation, secret knowledge of the self, of his eternal entity, which is neither body nor consciousness.

he envied them, envied them just the more, the more similar he became to them

He envied them for the one thing that was missing from him and that they had, the importance they were able to attach to their lives, the amount of passion in their joys and fears, the fearful but sweet happiness of being constantly in love

His face was still smarter and more spiritual than others, but it rarely laughed, and assumed, one after another, those features which are so often found in the faces of rich people, those features of discontent, of sickliness, of ill-humour, of sloth, of a lack of love.

Slowly the disease of the soul, which rich people have, grabbed hold of him.

something like an intoxication, something like an elevated form of life in the midst of his saturated, lukewarm, dull life.

In this pointless cycle he ran, growing tired, growing old, growing ill.

when every obtained knowledge only kindled new thirst in him,

Thinking was hard on him, he did not really feel like it, but he forced himself.

learned to love my stomach, learned to please my senses.

let his soul die of thirst;

lust for the world and riches do not belong to the good things

Too much knowledge had held him back

was just listening

it is good to strive downwards, to sink, to seek depth

Most of all, he learned from it to listen, to pay close attention with a quiet heart, with a waiting, opened soul, without passion, without a wish, without judgement, without an opinion.

They were both masters of patience.

This he had learned by the river, this one thing: waiting, having patience, listening attentively.

Neither one talked about what had happened today, neither one mentioned the boy’s name, neither one spoke about him running away, neither one spoke about the wound.

he understood and shared their life, which was not guided by thoughts and insight, but solely by urges and wishes

to be able to feel and inhale the oneness

Perhaps that you’re searching far too much? That in all that searching, you don’t find the time for finding?”

When someone is searching,” said Siddhartha, “then it might easily happen that the only thing his eyes still see is that what he searches for, that he is unable to find anything, to let anything enter his mind, because he always thinks of nothing but the object of his search, because he has a goal, because he is obsessed by the goal. Searching means: having a goal. But finding means: being free, being open, having no goal. You, oh venerable one, are perhaps indeed a searcher, because, striving for your goal, there are many things you don’t see, which are directly in front of your eyes.”

The world, my friend Govinda, is not imperfect, or on a slow path towards perfection: no, it is perfect in every moment

Therefore, I see whatever exists as good, death is to me like life, sin like holiness, wisdom like foolishness, everything has to be as it is, everything only requires my consent, only my willingness, my loving agreement, to be good for me, to do nothing but work for my benefit, to be unable to ever harm me.

wisdom cannot be passed on. Wisdom which a wise man tries to pass on to someone always sounds like foolishness.”

it cannot be expressed in words and taught.

The opposite of every truth is just as true! That’s like this: any truth can only be expressed and put into words when it is one-sided. Everything is one-sided which can be thought with thoughts and said with words, it’s all one-sided, all just one half, all lacks completeness, roundness, oneness.

I needed lust, the desire for possessions, vanity, and needed the most shameful despair, in order to learn how to give up all resistance, in order to learn how to love the world, in order to stop comparing it to some world I wished, I imagined, some kind of perfection I had made up, but to leave it as it is and to love it and to enjoy being a part of it.—These, oh Govinda, are some of the thoughts which have come into my mind.”

The words are not good for the secret meaning, everything always becomes a bit different, as soon as it is put into words, gets distorted a bit, a bit silly—yes, and this is also very good, and I like it a lot, I also very much agree with this, that this what is one man’s treasure and wisdom always sounds like foolishness to another person.”

place more importance on his acts and life than on his speeches, more on the gestures of his hand than his opinions.

eternal not-finding

Excerpt from Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

Read on: July 2014

Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success

Introduction: “How Do They Move So Fast?”

PRETEND YOU ARE DRIVING a car in the middle of a thunderstorm and you happen upon three people on the side of the road. One of them is a frail old woman, who looks on the verge of collapse. Another is a friend who once saved your life. The other is the romantic interest of your dreams, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet him or her. You have only one other seat in the car. Who do you pick up? There’s a good reason to choose any of the three. The old woman needs help. The friend deserves your payback. And clearly, a happy future with the man or woman of your dreams will have an enormous long-term impact on your life. So, who should you pick? The old woman, of course. Then, give the car keys to your friend, and stay behind with the romantic interest to wait for the bus! This dilemma is an exercise in lateral thinking. It’s the kind of puzzle in which the most elegant solution is revealed only when you attack it sideways. New ideas emerge when you question the assumptions upon which a problem is based

The warp doesn’t mean you’re going to win, or that you deserve to. It just means you don’t have to slog through stages you already know you can beat.

Despite leaps in what we can do, most of us still follow comfortable, pre-prescribed paths. We work hard, but hardly question whether we’re working smart.

Lateral thinking doesn’t replace hard work; it eliminates unnecessary cycles.
how momentum—not experience—is the single biggest predictor of business and personal success.

Part I: Shorten

You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.

1. Hacking the Ladder: “Bored Mormons”

Bigger or Better illustrates an interesting fact: people are generally willing to take a chance on something if it only feels like a small stretch. That’s how a group of bored students transformed a toothpick into a TV, and remarkably quicker than if they’d worked their seven-dollar-per-hour college-town jobs and saved up for one. With each trade, the players exchanged or provided value—including entertainment value.

Single night, builds momentum

Researchers call this the psychology of “small wins.”
Focus on a bunch of small wins

In Bigger or Better, the parlay never stops. Players don’t wait an arbitrary period of time before moving on to the next trade, and they don’t mind if the result of a trade was only a slightly more desirable object, so long as the game keeps moving.
So long as there is progress

“Once a small win has been accomplished,” Weick continues, “forces are set in motion that favor another small win.”


When a door was shut to them, they immediately picked another one.

The key to Bigger or Better, in other words, is the “or.”
they work hard in their field, then switch ladders and level up,
being “a strong and decisive leader” is the number one characteristic a presidential candidate can have.

Sinatra-style credibility

If I can make it here, I can make it anywhere else

2. Training with Masters: “The Vocal Thief”

The more vulnerability is shown in the relationship, the more critical details become available for a student to pick up on, and assimilate. And, crucially, a mentor with whom we have that kind of relationship will be more likely to tell us “no” when we need it—and we’ll be more likely to listen.

Ferrari technicians worked in silence. In contrast, hospital handovers were full of chatter; they not only talked through what was happening (“Ventilator is reattached!”) but just chatted during the procedure.
Informal mentoring,” Underhill found, “produced a larger and more significant effect on career outcomes than formal mentoring.”
asking someone to formally mentor you is like asking a celebrity for an autograph; it’s stiff, inorganic, and often doesn’t work out.
This waiting for luck to strike is the antithesis of lateral thinking.
They managed to build an organic bond with the Formula 1 pit crews. By the time the handover problems had been fixed, the relationship between the doctors and racers had developed beyond what Elliott and Goldman originally envisioned. They had gone to Formula 1 seeking technical help, and ended up becoming friends.
But long-term success of the hospital was accelerated by the deep relationship.

The racers became invested in the success of Great Ormond Street as a whole.

There’s a big difference, in other words, between having a mentor guide our practice and having a mentor guide our journey.
On the other hand, a smartcut-savvy mentee approaches things a bit differently. She develops personal relationships with her mentors, asks their advice on other aspects of life, not just the formal challenge at hand.

vulnerability. It’s the key, he says, to developing a deep and organic relationship that leads to journey-focused mentorship and not just a focus on practice. Both the teacher and the student must be able to open up about their fears, and that builds trust, which in turn accelerates learning.

This allows us to at least study the moves that make masters great—which is a start.

Some people are naturally good at making this work. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, studied and stole moves from master retailers fabulously well. He openly admitted it. “Most everything I’ve done, I’ve copied from someone else,” he said.

The problem is that two people can study the same business model, watch the same video, or even take the same advice from a mentor, and one person might pick up critical details that the other misses. The late literary giant Saul Bellow would call someone with the ability to spot important details among noise a “first-class noticer.” This is a key difference between those who learn more quickly than others.
Which brings us back to that troubling question. How do people accelerate success when they don’t have personal access to great mentors, when they can do nothing but watch their videos and read their biographies? Especially when first-class noticing doesn’t come naturally?

Siegel cared more about his long-term journey than his short-term paycheck; she screened every offer through the lens of, “Will this help Jimmy get SNL one day?” He said “no” to television sitcoms, “no” to acting jobs that might take him too far away from SNL.

another deep relationship: the one he’d spent his entire life developing with comedians he hadn’t met. From a young age, he’d studied their videos obsessively, learned everything about their lives and what they were like.

3. Rapid Feedback: “The F Word”

Wealth without work. Pleasure without conscience. Knowledge without character. Commerce without morality. Science without humanity. Religion without sacrifice. Politics without principle.
the advice of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “failure makes you wiser” isn’t actually true.

For the first year, Leonard explains, The Second City’s goal is to get students used to anticipating negative feedback and to get them out of their own heads. This is about building confidence and creating a “safe” environment in which it’s OK to screw up. Then, second-year classes ratchet up the feedback, putting actors in a succession of situations where they will fail small in front of live crowds. It’s one thing for your coactor or director to tell you a joke is funny, but it’s entirely another to hear the pins drop when a live audience disagrees. Or conversely to hear wild cackling from the crowd at something that may have seemed like a bad idea on paper. Every laugh or lack thereof becomes a data point that the actors can use to better themselves. By embracing all these tiny failures, there is no actual failure.*

The filmmaker had posted the documentary under the headline, “My Last Days: Meet Zach Sobiech.” Though descriptive, it was suboptimal packaging. In the ADD world of Facebook and Twitter, it’s no surprise that few people clicked. Upworthy reposted the video with a new title: “We Lost This Kid 80 Years Too Early. I’m Glad He Went Out with a Bang,” and shared it with a small number of its subscribers, then waited to see who clicked. Meanwhile, Upworthy sent the same video with a handful of other headlines to different subscribers. For example, “I Cried Through This Entire Video. That’s OK Though, Because This Kid’s Life Was Wonderful” and “The Happiest Story about a Kid Dying of Cancer I’ve Ever Seen.” Upworthy watched the “feedback” pour in, monitoring both the percentage of people who clicked each headline and the number who shared it with their friends. It was a perfect, dispassionate science experiment, where the feedback could show Upworthy editors exactly which packaging would have the biggest impact—before they released it to the rest of the world. In moments, the results became clear: people clicked on the third headline 20 percent more often than the original. But that[…]

But with many things, the actual, long-term consequences of failure are negligible.

So, failing in business doesn’t make us better or smarter. But succeeding makes us more likely to continue to succeed.

But what’s really interesting is what happened to the surgeons who saw their colleagues fail at the new CABG procedure. These showed significant increases in their own success rates with every failure that they saw another doctor experience. Further perplexing, however: seeing a colleague perform a successful surgery didn’t seem to translate to one’s own future success.

Screwups got worse. When colleagues screwed up, observers got better.
When interpreting their own failures,” Staats explains, “individuals tend to make external attributions, pointing to factors that are outside of their direct control, such as luck. As a result, their motivation to exert effort on the same task in the future is reduced
Even though an individual failure experience may contain valuable knowledge,” Staats says, “without subsequent effort to reflect upon that experience, the potential learning will remain untapped
Further, since individuals tend to seek knowledge about themselves in ways designed to yield flattering results, even if someone were to engage in reflection after failing, he might seek knowledge to explain away the failure

This is a survival mechanism. We externalize our mistakes because we need to live with ourselves afterward

People tend to attribute their own success to their effort and ability. Since they have control over their own effort and actions, these attributions motivate them to exert effort in subsequent tasks so that they can continue improving and learning

However, when failure isn’t personal, we often do the opposite. When someone else fails, we blame his or her lack of effort or ability. When we see people succeed, we tend to attribute it to situational forces beyond their control, namely luck.

Since it was that guy’s fault, fellow surgeons instinctually zeroed in on the mistakes. “I’ll make sure not to do that,” they said subconsciously.

The difference was how much the feedback caused a person to focus on himself rather than the task.

All that feedback made you worse at bowling. Not because it wasn’t decent advice, but because a high-pressure feedback barrage tends to make us self-conscious

the closer feedback moves our attention to ourselves, the worse it is for us.

people who were masters at a trade—vastly preferred negative feedback to positive. It spurred the most improvement. That was because criticism is generally more actionable than compliments.

Crucially, experts tended to be able to turn off the part of their egos that took legitimate feedback personally when it came to their craft, and they were confident enough to parse helpful feedback from incorrect feedback. Meanwhile novices psyched themselves out. They needed encouragement and feared failure.

The tough part about negative feedback is in separating ourselves from the perceived failure and turning our experiences into objective experiments. But when we do that, feedback becomes much more powerful.
The Second City teaches its students to take such things in stride, to become scientists who see audience reaction as commentary on the joke, not the jokester. To turn off the part of their brains that says “I fail” when they get negative feedback. And then the school has students continuously parlay up to harder audiences and harsher feedback as they grow more comfortable. This forces them to both toughen up and push creative boundaries.

With this process, The Second City transforms failure (something that implies finality) into simply feedback (something that can be used to improve). Hundreds of times a week.

THE SECOND CITY MANAGES to accomplish three things to accelerate its performers’ growth: (1) it gives them rapid feedback; (2) it depersonalizes the feedback; and (3) it lowers the stakes and pressure, so students take risks that force them to improve.

They know, because they got the feedback early, and often.

Rapid feedback forces students to constantly write new material, to push boundaries—both as actors and in the jokes they tell. That’s why so many of the students I observed had such repulsive jokes; they were exploring the “line” from a safe environment. “Sometimes I put things in to burn them,” Anne, the teacher with the glasses, confessed to me before her class got on stage. She’ll give the go-ahead on scenes she knows the audience will not laugh at, because her students don’t become funnier by being prevented from taking risks.

4. Platforms: “The Laziest Programmer”

DHH find and build layers of abstraction in business and life that allow them to multiply their effort. I call these layers platforms.
the same set of drivers still dominated the lower leagues. He came back and effortlessly beat them.

this world,” David Heinemeier Hansson told me. “Somebody goes in and does that hard, ground level science based work. “And then on top of that,” he smiles, “you build the art.”

All because David Heinemeier Hansson hates to do work he doesn’t have to do.

That’s what computer programming is like. Like a highway, computers are layers on layers of code that make them increasingly easy to use. Computer scientists call this abstraction.

methodically searching for the least wasteful way to learn something or level up

My whole thing was, if I can put in 5 percent of the effort of somebody getting an A, and I can get a C minus, that’s amazing,” he explains. “It’s certainly good enough, right? [Then] I can take the other 95 percent of the time and invest it in something I really care about.”
Despite several layers of abstraction, Ruby (and all other code languages) forces programmers to make countless unimportant decisions. What do you name your databases? How do you want to configure your server? Those little things added up. And many programs required repetitive coding of the same basic components every time.

A lot of programmers took pride in the Protestant work ethic, like it has to be hard otherwise it’s not right,” DHH says.

He thought that was stupid. “I could do a lot of other interesting things with my life,” he decided. “So if programming has to be it, it has to be awesome.”

A traditional software company might have built Twitter on a lower layer like C and taken months or years to polish it before even knowing if people would use it. Twitter—and many other successful companies—used the Rails platform to launch and validate a business idea in days. Rails translated what Twitter’s programmers wanted to tell all those computer transistors to do—with relatively little effort. And that allowed them to build a company fast. In the world of high tech—like in racing—a tiny time advantage can mean the difference between winning and getting passed.

Finnish students entered school one year later than most others. They took fewer classes and spent less time in school per day. They had fewer tests and less homework. And they thought school was fun.
This is what that MIT mathematician Seymour Papert calls constructionism, or learning by making and manipulating objects. It’s incredibly effective for concept mastery and recall, and it’s almost always aided by platforms.

And while we may need deep expertise in our industries to become innovators, we actually need only higher-order thinking and the ability to use platforms to do everything else.

It is better to know how to learn than to know.

Edward de Bono, who coined the term “lateral thinking” in 1967, put the “Einstein” quote a bit differently: “You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper.”

Initially, he finished in the middle of the pack with the other novices. But after studying videos of master drivers, he started placing higher. High enough that after six races, he was allowed to enter into GT3 races (the next level up), despite zero first-place wins. In GT3, he raced another six times, placing first once, third another time. He immediately parlayed up to GTE (the “E” is for “endurance”). While other racers duked it out the traditional way, spending a year in each league, and only advancing after becoming league champion, DHH “would spend exactly the shortest amount of time in any given series that I could before it was good enough to move up to the next thing.”

Once you stop thinking you have to follow the path that’s laid out,” he says, “you can really turn up the speed.”

You can accelerate your training if you know how to train properly, but you still don’t need to be that special. I don’t think I’m that special of a programmer or a businessperson or a race car driver. I just know how to train.

Platforms are why so many aspiring actors migrate to Los Angeles and why budding fashion bloggers move to New York. Platforms are why Harvard Law graduates have easier times finding jobs than those from other schools.

Platforms are how Twitter could build Twitter in mere days while running a separate company. And platforms are why Finland made all its teachers get master’s degrees and its students learn with hands-on tools that made learning better.

Effort for the sake of effort is as foolish a tradition as paying dues. How much better is hard work when it’s amplified by a lever? Platforms teach us skills and allow us to focus on being great, rather than reinventing wheels or repeating ourselves.

You can build on top of a lot of things that exist

5. Waves: “Moore and Moore”

First movers take on the burden of educating customers, setting up infrastructure, getting regulatory approvals, and making mistakes—getting feedback and adjusting. Fast followers, on the other hand, benefit from free-rider effects. The pioneers clear the way in terms of market education and infrastructure and learn the hard lessons, so the next guys can steal what works, learn objectively from the first movers’ failures, and spend more effort elsewhere. The first wave clears the way for a more powerful ride.

Surfers make it look easy. The good ones can recognize the roll of incoming waves, so they can position themselves in the perfect spot to catch them. And at the last minute, a surfer will paddle vigorously to align herself with the wave and match its speed.

Luck is often talked about as “being in the right place at the right time.” But like a surfer, some people—and companies—are adept at placing themselves at the right place at the right time. They seek out opportunity rather than wait for it.

There are two ways to catch a wave: exhausting hard work—paddling—and pattern recognition—spotting a wave early and casually drifting to the sweet spot.

The surprise came on the analytical test, where the high- and low-expertise students scored nearly the same, and better than the high-expertise students’ intuition.

the familiarity that leads to pattern recognition seems to come with experience and practice.

while logging hours of practice helps us see patterns subconsciously, we can often do just as well by deliberately looking for them.
Deliberate pattern spotting can compensate for experience. But we often don’t even give it a shot.

Through deliberate analysis, the little guy can spot waves better than the big company that relies on experience and instinct once it’s at the top. And a wave can take an amateur farther faster than an expert can swim.

sometimes the biggest waves form out of seemingly nowhere. A superwave can show up on a regular surf day when random smaller waves align. When that happens, the only people who can possibly ride it are the ones who actually went to the beach that day. The ones who actually got in the water.

This kind of budgeted experimentation helps businesses avoid being disrupted

The best way to be in the water when the wave comes is to budget time for swimming.

Did Moore beat Conlogue because the former studied the waves harder that day, while the latter took her experience in these waves for granted? It appears so.

Perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to learn, then, that being the first mover is not much of an advantage in business either.

You’re Better Off Being a Fast Follower Than an Originator
when market and technology growth are smooth and steady, the first mover gets the inertia and an advantage. When industry change is choppy, the fast follower—the second mover—gets the benefits of the first mover’s pioneering work and often catches a bigger wave, unencumbered.

Sonny actively experimented with trends when they were still early—the Web, social networks, scream-singing, EDM—sticking his toe in different waters until he recognized incoming waves.

Conventional thinking leads talented and driven people to believe that if they simply work hard, luck will eventually strike. That’s like saying if a surfer treads water in the same spot for long enough, a wave will come; it certainly happens to some people, once in a while, but it’s not the most effective strategy for success. Paradoxically, it’s actually a lazier move.

A business can work five times harder and longer than its neighbors and still lose to rivals that read the market better. Just like a pro surfer never wins by staying in one spot.

6. Superconnectors: “Space, Wars, and Storytellers”

WHICH IS EASIER—MAKING FRIENDS with a thousand people one by one or making friends with someone who already has a thousand friends? Which is faster—going door to door with a message or broadcasting the message to a million homes at once?

This is the idea behind what I call superconnecting, the act of making mass connections by tapping into hubs with many spokes. It’s what Castro needed to do if he ever wanted to convert the Cuban people to his cause.

Tapping networks is not as easy as simply shouting a message. Guevara became a successful superconnector not because he broadcast, but because he managed to build a relationship with the people.
The number one problem with networking is people are out for themselves,

Superconnecting is about learning what people need, then talking about ‘how do we create something of value.

No matter the medium or method, giving is the timeless smartcut for harnessing superconnectors and creating serendipity.

PAUL VASQUEZ WASN’T TRYING to make a funny viral video when he filmed “Double Rainbow.” He hadn’t intended to become famous overnight. His video backlog consisted of random home videos of things he’d seen in his yard. When the Internet’s millions barreled down his virtual street, Vasquez was caught staring into the headlights. So, he made a few bucks from advertisements, got to be on TV, and stopped at the second set of Olympic rings, where the superconnectors deposited him. Michelle Phan, on the other hand, spent years building up potential energy. She worked hard to hone her craft, stealing from the master tutorialist Bob Ross, studying the wave patterns of YouTube’s homepage, and superconnecting with media companies and the fans of famous pop icons by giving and teaching. She hacked the ladder from blogger to YouTube star to makeup spokesperson to cosmetics designer to entrepreneur.

7. Momentum: “Depressed Billionaires”

This is Isaac Newton’s first law of motion at work: objects in motion tend to stay in motion, unless acted on by external forces. Once you start swinging, it’s easier to keep swinging than to slow down.
this is the same reason that only one-third of Americans are happy at their jobs. When there’s no forward momentum in our careers, we get depressed, too.

As Newton pointed out, an object at rest tends to stay at rest.
what affects people’s “inner” work lives the most dramatically.
A sense of forward motion. Regardless how small.
To motivate stuck employees, as Amabile and her colleague Steven J. Kramer suggest in their book, The Progress Principle, businesses need to help their workers experience lots of tiny wins.
breaking up big challenges into tiny ones also speeds up progress.
They don’t have to do something Bigger or Better to be happy. They just have to keep moving.

Each parlayed his momentum into something that kept the wheels of life turning.

MOMENTUM ISN’T JUST A powerful ingredient of success. It’s also a powerful predictor of success.

The Oreo tweet case study proves that the perception of momentum is often as good as momentum.

capitalize on the wave

This is the part where most lucky breakers, like Bear Vasquez, would enjoy the ride until the momentum dissipated.

Typical non-business thinking

But instead of fading away after the fad was over, something else happened to Phan’s momentum: the people who watched the Lady Gaga tutorial started watching Phan’s other tutorials—which were excellent. Her unknown older work benefited from the spillover.

caused by waves and superconnectors and capture it.

Phan’s backlog of content allowed her to take the momentum
“Most YouTubers just kind of drop off around a certain time; it’s hard to keep that momentum,” Phan says. “I [had] to strike while the iron’s hot.”

None of them were overnight successes. But each of their backlogs became reservoirs, ready to become torrents as soon as the dam was removed.

the secret to harnessing momentum is to build up potential energy, so that unexpected opportunities can be amplified.

Phan’s tower was a backlog of quality content.

This is how innovators like Sal Khan (who published 1,000 math lessons online before being discovered by Bill Gates, who thrust him into the spotlight and propelled him to build a groundbreaking digital school called Khan Academy),

The 30-million-view Lady Gaga tutorial was not Phan’s first great video, but it was her inflection point. She had been winding up for a big swing for a long time.

simplification often makes the difference between good and amazing.
to soar, we need to simplify.

OFTEN, THE THING HOLDING us back from success is our inability to say no

8. Simplicity: “Hot Babes and Paradise”

Blam became untethered, able to move on to better things.
Now that I do know it I shall do my best to forget it
What the deuce is it to me?” said Holmes. “You say that we go round the sun. If we went round the moon it would not make a pennyworth of difference to me or to my work

He got to be the best by focusing on what he needed to know, knowing how to figure out what he didn’t know, and forgetting about everything else.

Like Holmes, hackers strip the unnecessary from their lives. They zero in on what matters.

I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make

making lots of tiny choices depletes one’s subsequent self-control

Apparently, patience and willpower, even creativity, are exhaustible resources.

That’s why so many busy and powerful people practice mind-clearing meditation and stick to rigid daily routines: to minimize distractions and maximize good decision making.

Creativity comes easier within constraints.

Specs are constraints

Constraints make the haiku one of the world’s most moving poetic forms. They give us boundaries that direct our focus and allow us to be more creative.

Boundaries that direct our focus

Over the decades, Finnish education, in fact, had gotten simpler. Instead of teaching kids a little about a lot of things—like most schools do—the Finns started teaching deeply in fewer subjects. Rather than emphasizing general knowledge students would promptly forget, they cut filler and taught vocational skills.

Geniuses and presidents strip meaningless choices from their day, so they can simplify their lives and think. Inventors and entrepreneurs ask, How could we make this product simpler? The answer transforms good to incredible.

9. 10x Thinking: “The Rocketeer”

It’s often easier to make something 10 times better than it is to make it 10 percent better.

In order to get really big improvements, you usually have to start over in one or more ways. You have to break some of the basic assumptions and, of course, you can’t know ahead of time. It’s by definition counterintuitive.”

10x goals force you to come up with smartcuts.
In the 1800s 10 percent style thinking for faster personal transportation translated into trying to breed stronger horses.
First principles would suggest instead thinking about the physics of forward movement, then building up from there, leveraging the latest technology—like the internal combustion engine.
First principles force us to let go of paradigms. “You can trade in a ton of effort in exchange for just the right perspective,”
But the really, the best thing to do would be to move around until you got the trees lined up. That process of not spending all of your time shooting the arrows, but trying to reframe the problem
we’re less likely to perform at our peak potential when we’re reaching for low-hanging fruit. That’s in part because there’s more competition at the bottom of the tree than at the top. And competition in large numbers doesn’t just decrease general odds of winning. It creates underperformance.

Without fail, the students competing in smaller clusters scored higher.
with few competitors, students pushed themselves harder, without even realizing it.

some people are completely able to block social comparison out. But in general, humans are good at seeking the easy path and are deeply affected by our social surroundings at a subconscious level.

The “high-hanging fruit” approach, the big swing, is more technically challenging than going after low-hanging fruit, but the diminished number of competitors in the upper branches (not to mention the necessary expertise of those that make it that high) provides fuel for 10x Thinking, and brings out our potential.

Why is this? The simple explanation is that human nature makes us surprisingly willing to support big ideals and big swings.
You have to tell provocative stories.

These were smart people, working and preaching desperately hard for what they believed in. People who realized that striving toward a massive goal and rallying people around a rethinking of life’s rules and expectations and conventions were actually easier than working for small change.

The first step is to establish that something is possible; then probability will occur.”

He galvanized people in their lowest of lows.

If, on the other hand, you make something ten times better for a large number of people—you really produce huge amounts of new value—the money’s gonna come find you. Because it would be hard not to make money if you’re really adding that much value.

Generally speaking, if you’re gonna make something ten percent better than the way things currently are, you better be great in sales and marketing, because you’re gonna have to talk people into changing their behavior for a very marginal increase in value

People are generally willing to support other people’s small dreams with kind words. But we’re willing to invest lives and money into huge dreams. The bigger the potential, the more people are willing to back it. That’s why Musk was able to win over investors at the last moment when Falcon 1 needed one more shot; they saw the enormous potential upside and they believed in his story.


He learned more about people by observing than really talking to them. He learned more through observation. That was kind of a gift that was given to him, [and] he learned a lot more about people and a lot more about himself.

When you’re the brand first, you approach life differently. If you’re the brand, you want to protect your brand. You want to clean up what your Facebook looks like.

who you make part of your circle that really matters.
he became a first-class noticer, a master of tiny details about how shoes are put together and how consumers on the street think about them.

He used Reebok’s rejection to push himself to become better instead of considering himself a failure.

He constrained the class to just a few weeks’ time in order to instill urgency and focus on what’s core

This huge vision gained him rabid support and forced him to teach his students more than just design, the deep life skills that they’ll need to thrive in the shoe industry. And this is what makes PENSOLE special.

Excerpts From “Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.” by Shane Snow

Read on: January 2015

2020 © Jerico Aragon