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