October Favorite Listens, Reads, and Areas of Further Research…

October 2021 explorations, readings, podcasts, thoughts for further research…

  1. Podcast – Robert Cialdini on Knowledge Project: Knowledge Project: Robert Cialdini

One of my favorite books, “Influence” by Robert Cialdini. This was a great interview on how the principles he wrote about so long ago are still as effective as ever.

Some great examples throughout the discussion.

  • Warren Buffett starts his annual letters highlighting an investment mistake they made. This is called a “credibility enhancer”. Demonstrated honesty, his investors will believe what he says next. 
  • Say, “Of course, I was glad to help. It’s what long-term partners do for one another. If the situation was reversed, you’d do the same.”
  1. Podcast – First Million: My First Million

“Ramon Van Meer (@RamonVanMeer) joins Shaan Puri (@ShaanVP) to discuss why he prefers to buy businesses rather than build them, his best tools for new business research, how to make sure you’re not buying a lemon, learning to code in a week, and much more.”

I am continually fascinated by buying internet businesses. This was a great discussion on how to start, different resources and specific companies like Centurica that can be helpful in the due diligence. 

  1. Podcast – Tim Ferris: #541: Eric Schmidt – The Promises and Perils of AI, the Future of Warfare, Profound Revolutions on the Horizon, and Exploring the Meaning of Life: #541: Eric Schmidt

I am going to listen to this one again. It is a great overview of the different phases AI has gone through and what we may expect. I particularly appreciated the part on how AI can be used to benefit society. A lot to digest and think about. 

  1. Podcast – Founder’s Field Guide: Gabby Dizon, co-Founder of Yield Guild Games – “Mapping the Metaverse Economy”: Gabby Dizon – Mapping the Metaverse Economy

A deep dive into the Metaverse economy. This is a great listen for those trying to understand the developing world that pays users to play. Helping me understand what are truly digital assets and how to value/think about going forward. 

  1. Book I started: Robert Greene’s new book, The Daily Laws: 366 Meditations on Power, Seduction, Mastery, Strategy, and Human Nature
  2. Article: The Internet is Having a Kodak Moment – Part 1 (Chrisrempel.com)

        Going to start soon, Part 2: Creating The New Frontier – Part 2          (chrisrempel.com)



“The Practice: Shipping Creative Work” (Seth Godin)

Book Summary and Highlights. Great work for those looking to start something new…

“The Practice: Shipping Creative Work” (Seth Godin)

Review and highlights

Seth Godin’s most recent book, “The Practice: Shipping Creative Work” captures a central theme in all his writings, podcasts, presentations, and blogs. The professional becomes a professional only when consistently putting themselves on the line by creating consistent content and sharing it regularly with ship dates.

This is a helpful guide, reminder, and motivator to anyone looking to start a practice in creating their own art. When re-reading my highlighted sections I was quite inspired to do “something”. It is a call to action like many of his works.

Seth breaks his work into 219 specific thoughts, each its own point but all supporting the overall credo.

Some of my highlights and thoughts:

  • Shipping, because it doesn’t count if you don’t share it.
  • Creative, because you’re not a cog in the system. You’re a creator, a problem solver, a generous leader who is making things better by producing a new way forward.

Seth is clearly calling EVERYONE to action and making us accountable to the lives we have been gifted and the responsibility we have to make our work matter.

I think the following is the most crucial reminder for anyone embarking on creative work:

  • The practice is not the means to the output, the practice is the output, because the practice is all we can control.
  • The practice demands that we approach our process with commitment. It acknowledges that creativity is not an event, it’s simply what we do, whether or not we’re in the mood.

We are all conditioned to only focus on the outcome. That defines our success and the drives us to hide and supports our fear. This way of thinking is very freeing. Seth is reminding us of the freedom we have to not worry about the outcome. Our commitment, consistency, and sharing are all drivers of our true impact.

  • For the work we’d like to do, the reward comes from the fact that there is no guarantee, that the path isn’t well lit, that we cannot possibly be sure it’s going to work.

This is Art

  • Not painting, but art: the act of doing something that might not work, simply because it’s a generous thing to do.
  • Artists make change happen. You’re an artist as soon as you announce you are.
  • Art is what we call it whenwe’re able to create something new that changes someone.
  • If you want to change your story, change your actions first.

Another key to understanding Seth’s work is to understand that we are all “artists”. He refines the definition by explaining that art is about creating anything that can change someone. If we think of our work, our passion, our voice as “art” we can be free to be more generous in being our natural selves. It is not something forced, it not something of perfection. It is something we create because our voice needs to create and share ourselves in some small way.

Finding Your Passion

  • Our passion is simply the work we’ve trusted ourselves to do.
  • The strategy of “seeking your calling” gives you a marvelous place to hide.
  • “Do what you love” is for amateurs. “Love what you do” is the mantra for professionals.

Passion is an excuse, something we do to delay doing the work or “practice”. This is revealing of human nature. It is so easy to wait for your passion to find you. We are obligated to start the work and passion will follow. This can be really counterintuitive and not something we were naturally made to practice in formal education settings.

  • The practice has nothing at all to do with being sure the work is going to be successful. That’s a trap.

Start Where You Are

  • The only choice we have is to begin. And the only place to begin is where we are. Simply begin. But begin.
  • Effective goals aren’t based on the end result: they are commitments to the process.
  • Instead of planning, simply become.
  • Trust earns you patience, because once you trust yourself, you can stick with a practice that most people can’t handle.
  • The world conspires to hold us back, but it can’t do that without our permission.

The first take-away from this book is “just start”. It reminds me of a book I read of the same title. Many “overnight” successes are people who started small with experiments. They got feedback from these small starts and adjusted their journey. Too much planning, trying to minimize risk holds us back from doing anything. Seth suggests that by just committing to one small practice will ensure we eventually hit a consistent stride.

Hoarding Is Toxic

  • Abundance multiplies. Scarcity subtracts.

The Best Reason to Say “No”

  • It might be that the most generous thing to do is to disappoint someone in the short run.
  • Generous doesn’t always mean saying yes to the urgent or failing to prioritize.

Practical Empathy

  • It’s impossible to be appropriately generous to everyone. Change someone. And, as Hugh MacLeod said, “Ignore everyone.”

Shun the Nonbelievers

  • Choose to make work that matters a great deal to someone.

Selling Is Difficult

  • But what if you recast your profession as a chance to actually solve someone’s problem?

Where Is Your Hour?

  • The difficult part is becoming the kind of person who goes to the gym every day.
  • You manage to find an hour every day to bathe, to eat, to commute, to watch Netflix, to check your email, to hang out, to swipe at your phone, to read the news, to clean the kitchen. 
  • At least once you’ve said or done something insightful, generous, and original.
  • At least once you’ve solved a problem or given someone a hand by shining a light.
  • The practice simply asks you to do it more than once, to do it often enough that it becomes your practice.

Setting a time is the key to starting a practice. Put it on your calendar and keep it sacred. If you miss once, don’t miss twice.

Generous Doesn’t Mean Free

  • Too often, we come to believe that giving it away, removing money from the interaction, is the most generous thing we can do. But that’s not the case.
  • Money supports our commitment to the practice.
  • Money is how our society signifies enrollment.
  • The person who has paid for your scarce time and scarce output is more likely to value it, to share it, and to take it seriously.

Choose Your Clients, Choose Your Future

  • To please the masses, you must pander to average.
  • Better clients demand better work.
  • Better clients want you to push the envelope, win awards, and challenge their expectations.
  • Better clients pay on time.
  • Better clients talk about you and your work.

I could not agree with this more. No matter who your clients are, what your product is, or what your market is, people are people. Choosing who you want to serve will help drive your art. Great clients give you more than stable cash flow. They can challenge you, teach you, and help make your work even more powerful.

Who Can You Reach?

  • First, find ten. Ten people who care enough about your work to enroll in the journey and then to bring others along.

                You Can’t Reach Everyone

More and More Specific, Please

What’s It for?

Consistency Is the Way Forward

  • Not sameness. Not repetition. Simply work that rhymes.
  • That sounds like you.
  • We make a promise and we keep it.

Where Do We Put the Tired?

  • The only difference between the tens of thousands of people who finish the marathon and those that don’t is that the finishers figured out where to put their tired. And the same goes for our art.
  • Forward motion is the only sort of motion that we’re interested in.
  • When we stop worrying about whether we’ve done it perfectly, we can focus on the process instead.
  • We don’t write because we feel like it. We feel like it because we write.

Write until You’re No Longer Afraid to Write

  • Write about your audience, your craft, your challenges.
  • Write about the trade-offs, the industry, and your genre.
  • Write about your dreams and your fears.
  • Write about what’s funny and what’s not.
  • Write to clarify.
  • Write to challenge yourself.
  • Write on a regular schedule.
  • Writing isn’t the same as talking, because writing is organized and permanent.
  • Writing puts you on the hook. Don’t you want to be on the hook?

This is a great place to start! Take one bullet above each day and start writing daily, at a given time, and share everything. These are great prompts and will help keep you going.

Chop Wood and Carry Water

  • Merely do the work without commentary. Chop wood, carry water. Anchor up. “Yes, and.”
  • Ignore the parts you can’t control.

You Don’t Need More Good Ideas, You Need More Bad Ideas

  • First, focus on making something worth sharing. How small can you make it and still do something you’re proud of?
  • People who will draw up plans. People who will go first.
  • We promise to ship, we don’t promise the result.
  • What will I tell my friends? Begin with genre. Understand it. Master it. Then change it.

A Roundup of Tips and Tricks for Creators

  • Build streaks.
  • Do the work every single day.
  • Blog daily. Write daily. Ship daily. Show up daily.
  • Find your streak and maintain it.
  • Talk about your streaks to keep honest.
  • Seek the smallest viable audience. Make it for someone, not everyone.
  • Avoid shortcuts. Seek the most direct path instead.
  • Find and embrace genre.
  • Seek out desirable difficulty.
  • Don’t talk about your dreams with people who want to protect you from heartache.
  • Make Assertions
  • Attitude. The best swimmers bring a different attitude to their training. They choose to find delight in the parts that other swimmers avoid. This is their practice.
  • In the powerful, horizontal organization, each of us decides what to learn next, who to talk with next, and what to move up on the agenda.
  • This new freedom requires us to find a habit that will lead us to share our voices, even when it’s inconvenient or frightening.

Overall, this book is a calling for everyone and anyone. Setting the practice consistently without excuses and providing a structure for success. Seth is an inspiration not because he writes about his success or others. He is an inspiration because he looks at the world in a unique way and reminds us that we are all humans who have a responsibility to be generous with our true selves.

Psychology of Money (Morgan Housel) – Brief Book Review

Psychology of Money (Morgan Housel) – Brief Book Review (February 2020)

Morgan Housel’s “Psychology of Money” is easy to read and typical to his style in sharing his point of view through specific stories.  This is a compact book on behavioral finance; however, not relying on new ground. One of the main themes is that financial success is not a hard science that relies on complex math-based skills. It is a soft skill where success relies more on our behavior than what we know. He explores behavioral biases humans have when it comes to money, overreliance on studying extreme examples of success and failure, how humans assess risk, and several others.

The stories are meant to re-enforce the role our behavior plays in investment and life success and outlines ways we can better frame decisions we make. Some of the more useful discussions were discussions on compounding, “The first rule of compounding is to never interrupt it unnecessarily.”; the role that “tails” play in outcomes, “Tails drive everything.”; and timely, “Bubbles form when the momentum of short-term returns attracts enough money that the makeup of investors shifts from mostly long-term to mostly short-term.” Also, what we learn when we are surprised by something, we want to make sure we don’t repeat that “mistake”. However, “…the world is difficult to anticipate. That’s the correct lesson to learn from surprises: that the world is surprising. We should use past surprises as an admission that we have no idea what might happen next.”

Overall, there is no new material in this book. However, Morgan does a great job of breaking down some of the key behavioral limitations all people face and how we can make better decisions in regard to investing, saving, and succeeding. This is a great book also for a teenager or those just learning about finance/investing.

Book List (Updated 11/10/20)

Sharing a list of books I have read and recommend in several different areas. The beauty of this list is that is a reflection of all the generosity of others sharing their ideas and suggestions.

These books represent my ongoing education. I look forward to hearing some of your suggestions, please share!

Book List (updated 11/10/2020)


The Great Mental Models (Shane Parrish)

A Championship Season at Notre Dame – The Fighting Spirit (Lou Holtz with John Heisler)

The Talent Code – Greatness Isn’t Born, It’s Grown, Here’s How (Daniel Coy)

Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind (Yuval Noah Harari)
Our Boys – A Perfect Season on The Plains with the Smith Center Redmen (Joe Drape)


Steve Jobs (Walter Isaacson)

John Adams (David McCullough)

Chapters In My Life (Frederick Taylor Gates)

Titan – John Rockefeller (Ron Chernow)

Life Is So Good (LeVar Burton, George Dawson)

Jack Welch: Winning (Welch)

Sales/Marketing Skills:

This is Marketing (Seth Godin)

What to Do When It’s Your Turn (And it’s Always Your Turn) (Seth Godin)

Little Red Book of Selling (Jeffrey Gitomer)

The New Strategic Selling: The Unique Sales System Proven Successful by the World’s Best Companies (Robert Miller, Stephen Heiman)


How to Win Friends and Influence People (Dale Carnegie)

The Magic of Thinking Big (David Schwartz, PhD)

Influence (Robert Cialdini)

Stillness is The Key (Ryan Holiday)

Atomic Habits (James Clear)

Grit (Angela Duckworth)

Just Start: Take Action, Embrace Uncertainty, Create the Future (Leonard Schlesinger)

The War of Art (Steven Pressfield)
Tools of Titans (Tim Ferris)

Tribe of Mentors (Tim Ferris)

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen Covey)

Business General:

Shoe Dog (Phil Knight)

Linchpin (Seth Godin)

The Icarus Deception (Seth Godin)

Good to Great (Jim Collins)

Built to Last (Jim Collins)

Halo Effect (Phil Rosenzweig)

The Monk and The Riddle: The Education of a Silicon Valley Entrepreneur (Randy Komisar)

Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World (David Epstein)

Red Notice (Bill Browder)

The Trusted Advisor (David Maister)

The Black Swan (Nassim Nicholas Taleb)

Moneyball (Michael Lewis)

Barbarians at the Gate (Bryan Burrough and John Heylar)


The Psychology of Money (Morgan Housel)

More Money Than God (Sebastian Mallaby)

The Little Book That Beats the Market (Joel Greenblatt)

The Big Short (Michael Lewis)

The Intelligent Investor (Benjamin Graham)

Pioneering Portfolio Management (David Swensen)

What Works on Wall Street (James O’Shaughnessy)

Margin of Safety (Seth Klarman)

Devil Take the Hindmost (Edward Chancellor)

Liars Poker (Michael Lewis)


The Wealth of Nations (Adam Smith)

Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand)

The World is Flat (Friedman)


Never Eat Alone (Keith Ferrazzi)

The Little Black Book of Connections (Jeffrey Gitomer)


The Almanack of Naval Ravikant (Eric Jorgenson)

Man’s Search for Meaning (Viktor Frankl)

Chop Wood, Carry Water (Joshua Medcalf)

12 Rules For Life (Jordan Peterson)

Letters from a Stoic (Seneca)

The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living (Ryan Holiday)


Parent Effectiveness Training (Dr. Thomas Gordon)

The Nurture Assumption (Judith Rich Harris, Paula Parker)


Caste: The Origins of Our Disconnects (Isabel Wilkerson)

Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland (Patirck Radden Keefe)

The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (Fareed Zakaria)

The Republic (Plato)

“The Great Mental Models: General Thinking Concepts” (Shane Parrish, Rhiannon Beaubien)

These are my favorite parts of this insightful look into how we think and make decisions:

In life and business, the person with the fewest blind spots wins.

This book is about avoiding problems.

Contrary to what we’re led to believe, thinking better isn’t about being a genius. It is about the processes we use to uncover reality and the choices we make once we do.

First, we’re so afraid about what others will say about us that we fail to put our ideas out there and subject them to criticism. This way we can always be right. Second, if we do put our ideas out there and they are criticized, our ego steps in to protect us. We become invested in defending instead of upgrading our ideas.

Most geniuses—especially those who lead others—prosper not by deconstructing intricate complexities but by exploiting unrecognized simplicities.

What you need is to understand the principles, so that when the details change you are still able to identify what is really going on. This is part of what makes the Great Mental Models so valuable—understanding the principles, you can easily change tactics to apply the ones you need.

The map of reality is not reality. Even the best maps are imperfect.

In order to use a map or model as accurately as possible, we should take three important considerations into account: Reality is the ultimate update. Consider the cartographer. Maps can influence territories.

A circle of competence cannot be built quickly.

Three key practices needed in order to build and maintain a circle of competence: curiosity and a desire to learn, monitoring, and feedback.

First principles thinking is one of the best ways to reverse-engineer complicated situations and unleash creative possibility.

Socratic questioning generally follows this process: Clarifying your thinking and explaining the origins of your ideas. (Why do I think this? What exactly do I think?)

Challenging assumptions. (How do I know this is true? What if I thought the opposite?)

Looking for evidence. (How can I back this up? What are the sources?)

Considering alternative perspectives. (What might others think? How do I know I am correct?)

Examining consequences and implications. (What if I am wrong? What are the consequences if I am?)

Questioning the original questions. (Why did I think that? Was I correct? What conclusions can I draw from the reasoning process?)

If they end up with a “because I said so” or “it just is”, you know you have landed on an assumption that may be based on popular opinion, cultural myth, or dogma. These are not first principles.

Second-order thinking is thinking farther ahead and thinking holistically. It requires us to not only consider our actions and their immediate consequences, but the subsequent effects of those actions as well.

Two areas where second-order thinking can be used to great benefit: Prioritizing long-term interests over immediate gains. Constructing effective arguments.

Probabilistic thinking is essentially trying to estimate, using some tools of math and logic, the likelihood of any specific outcome coming to pass.

Think about not only what you could do to solve a problem, but what you could do to make it worse—and then avoid doing that or eliminate the conditions that perpetuate it.

Simply invert, always invert, when you are stuck.

“Anybody can make the simple complicated. Creativity is making the complicated simple.” Charles Mingus

Simpler explanations are more likely to be true than complicated ones. This is the essence of Occam’s Razor, a classic principle of logic and problem-solving.

With limited time and resources, focusing on simplicity when all others are focused on complexity is a hallmark of genius, and it’s easier said than done.

Hanlon’s Razor – We over-conclude based on the available information. We have no trouble packaging in unrelated factors if they happen to occur in proximity to what we already believe.

“Stillness Is They Key”, by Ryan Holiday

“To be steady while the world spins around you. To act without frenzy. To hear only what needs to be heard. To possess quietude – exterior and interior – on command.”

I finished this book in late February and the irony of its timing was not lost on me. It provides a clear insight into the unharnessed power of being still. Not something I am very good at, so caught my interest from the beginning. How can being still enhance our individual effort and help me get the most out of my life and work? In today’s confusing time of semi-isolation from our routines and daily systems, the message was well appreciated. I have already introduced several of these ideas into my new quarantine routine and hope they will become permanent habits.

Below are a few of my favorite passages, highlights and notes:

“All of humanity’s problems,” Blaise Pascal said in 1654, “stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room lone.”


“People don’t understand that the hardest thing is actually doing something that is close to nothing.”

“Remember, there’s no greatness in the future. Or clarity. Or insight. Or happiness. Or peace. There is only this moment.”

“Make what you can of what you have been given. Live what can be lived. That’s what excellence is.”


“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention” – Herbert Simon

In his mediations, Marcus Aurelius says, “Ask yourself at every moment, ‘Is this necessary?”


Epictetus, Marcus’s philosophical predecessor, was in fact speaking about sports when he said, “If we’re anxious or nervous when we make the catch or throw, what will become of the game, and how can one maintain one’s composure; how can one see what is coming next?”

We’ve all experienced that—Don’t mess up. Don’t mess up. Don’t forget, we say to ourselves—and what happens? We do exactly what we were trying not to do!


Wisdom is a sense of the big picture, the accumulation of experience and the ability to rise above the biases, the traps that catch lazier thinkers.

Put yourself in tough situations. Accept challenges. Familiarize yourself with the unfamiliar.


Confident people know what matters. They know when to ignore other people’s opinions. They don’t boast or lie to get ahead (and then struggle to deliver).

Confidence is the freedom to set your own standards and unshackle yourself from the need to prove yourself.

Don’t feed insecurity. Don’t feed delusions of grandeur. Both are obstacles to stillness. Be confident. You’ve earned it.


Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward. Work not for the reward; but never cease to do thy work.

What we need in life, in the arts, in sports, is to loosen up, to become flexible, to get to a place where there is nothing in our way—including our own obsession with certain outcomes.

We’ll get the stillness we need if we focus on the individual steps, if we embrace the process, and give up chasing.

We’ll think better if we aren’t thinking so hard.


The essence of greatness is the perception that virtue is enough.

Virtue, the Stoics believed, was the highest good—the summum bonum—and should be the principle behind all our actions.

Virtue is not holiness, but rather moral and civic excellence in the course of daily life.

When we’re going into a tough assignment, we can say to ourselves over and over again, “Strength and courage.”

Virtue, on the other hand, as crazy as it might seem, is a far more attainable and sustainable way to succeed.

Give more. Give what you didn’t get. Love more. Drop the old story. Try it, if you can.


“When you realize there is nothing lacking,” Lao Tzu says, “the whole world belongs to you.”

If you believe there is ever some point where you will feel like you’ve “made it,” when you’ll finally be good, you are in for an unpleasant surprise.

You will never feel okay by way of external accomplishments. Enough comes from the inside.


Because Step 2 isn’t really about God. It’s about surrender. It’s about faith.

You have to believe in something. You just have to. Or else everything is empty and cold.

It’s not that we need to believe that God is great, only that God is greater than us.


Being close to and connecting with other people challenges every facet of our soul.

We have to be active for the stillness to have any meaning.


Churchill’s best biographers, would write, “The balance he maintained between flat-out work and creative and restorative leisure is worth study by anyone holding a top position.”

“Every night,” he said, “I try myself by court martial to see if I have done anything effective during the day. I don’t mean just pawing the ground—anyone can go through the motions—but something really effective.”

Epicurus once said that the wise will accomplish three things in their life: leave written works behind them, be financially prudent and provide for the future, and cherish country living.


“The advantages of nonaction. Few in the world attain these.” —THE DAODEJING

“No, because if I said yes to you, I’d have to say yes to everyone.”

When we know what to say no to, we can say yes to the things that matter.


Life is a path, he liked to say, we have to walk it.

Get lost. Be unreachable. Go slowly.


The greats know that complete freedom is a nightmare. They know that order is a prerequisite of excellence and that in an unpredictable world, good habits are a safe haven of certainty.

Discipline, then, is how we maintain that freedom.


“For property is poverty and fear; only to have possessed something and to have let go of it means carefree ownership.” – Rainer Maria Rilke

“If a man can reduce his needs to zero,” he said, “he is truly free: there is nothing that can be taken from him and nothing anyone can do to hurt him” (Seneca)


It’s difficult to understand yourself if you are never by yourself.


Good decisions are not made by those who are running on empty.



Leisure is not the absence of activity, it is activity. What is absent is external justification – you can’t do leisure for pay, you can’t do it to impress people. You have to do it for you.

Leisure can be anything.

When we take something relaxing and turn it into a compulsion, it’s not leisure, because we’re no longer choosing it. There is no stillness in that.

We must be disciplined about our discipline and moderate in our moderation.



“To see people who will notice a need in the world and do something about it…Those are my heroes.” – Fred Rogers

Action is what matters.


The prognosis is terminal for each and every person and has been from the moment we were born. Our heart beats without fail for an uncertain amount of time, and then one day, suddenly, it is still.

“The Talent Code” By: Daniel Coyle

(Review & Highlights)

An interesting book which explores how talent is developed. The author (Daniel Coyle) illustrates using examples and studies done that suggest talent has less to do with your genetic and that it’s actually born through the biological process of building and strengthening the biological structure, Myelin.

Myelin is a mixture of proteins and phospholipids that form a whitish insulating sheath around many nerve fibers, increasing the speed at which impulses are conducted. As described in the book, the more we fire a particular circuit, the more myelin optimizes that circuit, and the stronger, faster, and more fluent our movements and thoughts become. “Skill is myelin insulation that wraps neural circuits and that grows according to certain signals.”

Coyle studies “talent hotbeds” to find out what creates these specific areas of greatness; whether soccer players in Brazil or women golfers in Korea. How they seemingly come out of nowhere and produce amazing hotbeds of talent. He uses specific examples of how greatness can be grown through “deep practice”.

Deep Practice

In order to get your skill circuit to fire optimally, you must by definition fire the circuit suboptimally, this is the essence of “deep practice”. This is how talent is grown; through specific highly targeted, error-focused process.

The best example of deep practice is the game of “futsal”, popular among Brazilian soccer players. Futsal is played with a ball half the size of a regulation soccer ball and is twice as heavy; and played on a field that is much smaller. This allows the players to experience deep practice in two important ways.

The smaller field provides greater interaction; and requires greater precision of movements. The heavier ball requires players to become more creative and skilled with their ball skills. When the players play on a regulation filed, their deep practice shows because they feel like they have much more room.

Deep practice requires lots of energy. This leads us to the second element of the talent code, “ignition”.


The only way to develop talent is to make tons of mistakes, and correct mistakes throughout practice, mistakes need to be embraced. Without making mistakes, you cannot build enough or strong enough myelin, and you cannot be truly skilled.

Ignition supplies the energy, while deep practice translates that energy over time into forward progress. Ignition is typically a response to a signal that arrived in the form of an image.

The book suggests that talent requires deep practice, deep practice requires vast amounts of energy, and primal cues trigger huge outpourings of energy.

The KIPP school is used as an example of how the ignition can be triggered. The primal cues the school provides immediately to new students helps them fall into three categories: You belong to a group, your group is together in a strange and dangerous new world, that new world is shaped like a mountain, with the paradise of college at the top. The only way to reach them is to change the way they see themselves.


The book highlights some examples of “master coaches” that have mastered methods for providing the ignition in their students. The examples don’t fit the stereotypical behaviors of what one may think of when they think of effective coaches. Coyle highlights, John Wooden (UCLA) who uses an “error-centered, well-planned, information-rich” approach. Wooden would tailor his message in short, pinpointed specific instructions, “crisp passes, really snap them.” Importantly, he listened way more than he spoke and was not known for giving loud impassioned speeches.

Another “talent whisper” Coyle compared to Wooden was a piano teacher, Mary Epperson. She was a good teacher because she could create and sustain motivation. She did this by treating children as miniature adults and doesn’t shy away from pointed truths. She praises just enough, provides specific instruction and keeps the students engaged in doing it until it is perfect.

The book provides good support for the author’s thesis that the development of myelin through specific deep practice can lead to talent development. The “ignition” needed for this type of deep practice is something I believe needs further study; how it develops in some and how we can use it to develop talent for specific people. It would also be interesting to study how much genetics play a role if myelin development is truly the key to mastering talent.

“This Is Marketing: You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See” Seth Godin (Book Notes/Thoughts)

Marketing has long been synonymous with “advertising”. This mispresents the true responsibility of marketing.  Real marketing is genuine, generous and about true connections.

Seth’ book highlights the importance for everyone (and everyone is truly a ‘marketer’) to make this shift in how they think about the responsibility of marketing.

Here are some of the most impactful ideas from the book and what they mean to me:

People aren’t going to spread the word because it’s important to you. They’ll only do it because it’s important to them.”

I am not aware of a more important statement about the key to successful marketing, networking, selling, influencing. This is a key reason why people fail in marketing. It is against human nature to shift the focus from “me” and focus on “someone else”. I believe that the closer you can get to truly understanding the person you are trying to market to the more successful you will be. It seems the most effective way is to market something worth marketing.

“We sell feelings, status, and connection, not tasks or stuff.”

This is the essence of understanding who you are looking to serve. Understand how they want to feel and what will make them feel that way. Give them that! Don’t market leveraging lower prices, or products that are easy for you to leverage to the masses. Start with how you want people to feel and work backwards on trying to find out how you can make them feel good, give them a higher sense of status, and connect them more genuinely.  

“Show up—regularly, consistently, and generously, for years and years—to organize and lead and build confidence in the change you seek to make.”

Several times in the book Seth connects marketing to making change. If you can make real change, you can effectively market. Showing up consistently is key because it builds trust. When people trust you, they want to be influenced by you and they want to follow you.

“Perhaps it makes more sense to begin with a hurdle you can leap.”

Like anything else, marketing takes practice. Starting with a huge obstacle can be counterproductive. Better to start with something you can build early success and confidence with and build from there. The more important part is to start. Start when you are not ready.

“Find a position on the map where you, and you alone, are the perfect answer.”

This is key, the combination of unique and something valued gives you the strongest marketing starting point. This is the work, finding this position. Spend your time exploring where you can find your unique position on the map.

“Your work is not for everyone. It’s only for those who signed up for the journey.”

This is related to the last quote, find a unique spot where you can be the perfect answer for the perfect few. Making something wonderful for just the “few” is more rewarding, more generous, and definitely more genuine.

“Perhaps instead of talking about prospects and customers, we could call them your “students” instead.”

Teaching without expecting anything back can be a very effective marketing strategy. Teach what you want to learn, chances are these people you seek want to learn something similar. These small changes in our mindset, how we define our work (students vs. prospects) can create real changes in our success.

“Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance” By Angela Duckworth


I could not wait to finish this book so I could share with as many people as possible. Our society has over emphasized someone’s “natural” talents and has not given enough credit to “effort”. Most importantly consistently applied effort through struggle, something referred to as “grit”.

I strongly recommend this book for anyone. The principle of “grit” is a mindset that anyone can accept as soon as they accept its powerful effect.

This helped me see more clearly why I have always seen the best results in my life from something I have always referred to as “consistency”. This can be described as the principle of “just keep showing up”; no matter the task or what you were trying to accomplish. Any success I have had has been directly related to how committed to doing something consistently; it has never been because I was born with some specific skill.

Here are some highlights, my full book notes attached:

  • Talent is no guarantee of grit.
  • Society’s focus on “talent” distracts us from something that is at least as important, and that is EFFORT. Effort counts twice.
  • Talent is how quickly your skills improve when you invest effort. Achievement is what happens when you take your acquired skills and use them.
  • Will Smith: “The only thing that I see that is distinctly different about me is: I’m not afraid to die on a treadmill. I will not be outworked, period. You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, you might be sexier than me. You might be all of those things. You got it on me in nine categories. But if we get on the treadmill together, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die. It’s really that simple.”
  • Even more than the effort a gritty person puts in on a single day, what matters is that they wake up the next day, and the next, ready to get on that treadmill and keep going.
  • Grit is about working on something you care about so much that you’re willing to stay loyal to it.
  • There’s no single gene for grit, or indeed any other psychological trait.
  • Imperative that you identify your work as both personally interesting and, at the same time, integrally connected to the well-being of others.
  • Without experimenting, you can’t figure out which interests will stick, and which won’t.
  • So, parents, parents-to-be, and non-parents of all ages, I have a message for you: Before hard work comes play.
  • If you’d like to follow your passion but haven’t yet fostered one, you must begin at the beginning: discovery.
  • Unlike the answers to crossword puzzles, there isn’t just one thing you can do that might develop into a passion. There are many. You don’t have to find the “right” one, or even the “best” one—just a direction that feels good.
  • Type of practice matters:
  • (Spelling Bee study): Deliberate practice predicted advancing to further rounds in final competition far better than any other kind of preparation.
  • Spellers rated deliberate practice as significantly more effortful, and significantly less enjoyable, than anything else they did to prepare for competition.
  • Grittier kids reported working harder than other kids when doing deliberate practice but, at the same time, said they enjoyed it more than other kids, too.
  • When you have a habit of practicing at the same time and in the same place every day, you hardly have to think about getting started. You just do.
  • However they say it, the message is the same: the long days and evenings of toil, the setbacks and disappointments and struggle, the sacrifice—all this is worth it because, ultimately, their efforts pay dividends to other people.
  • Grittier people are dramatically more motivated than others to seek a meaningful, other-centered life.
  • “Imagine yourself fifteen years from now. What do you think will be most important to you then?
  • There’s an old Japanese saying: Fall seven, rise eight.
  • How do grit paragons think about setbacks? Overwhelmingly, I’ve found that they explain events optimistically.
  • “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.
  • If you experience adversity—something pretty potent—that you overcome on your own during your youth, you develop a different way of dealing with adversity later on.
  • When kids are playing sports or music or rehearsing for the school play, they’re both challenged and having fun. There’s no other experience in the lives of young people that reliably provides this combination of challenge and intrinsic motivation.
  • But only for kids who participate in activities for two years rather than one.
  • Following through on hard things teaches a young person powerful, transferable lessons.
  • In our family, we live by the Hard Thing Rule.
    • This brings me to the second part of the Hard Thing Rule: You can quit. But you can’t quit until the season is over, the tuition payment is up, or some other “natural” stopping point has arrived.
    • In other words, you can’t quit on a day when your teacher yells at you, or you lose a race, or you have to miss a sleepover because of a recital the next morning. You can’t quit on a bad day.
    • And, finally, the Hard Thing Rule states that you get to pick your hard thing.
    • A fourth requirement will be added: each girl must commit to at least one activity, either something new or the piano and viola they’ve already started, for at least two years.
  • “That there’s a hard way to get grit and an easy way. The hard way is to do it by yourself. The easy way is to use conformity—the basic human drive to fit in—because if you’re around a lot of people who are gritty, you’re going to act grittier.”
  • “Success is never final; failure is never fatal. It’s courage that counts.”
  • Supportive and demanding parenting is psychologically wise and encourages children to emulate their parents.



Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg

Great read for anyone. Best insights:http://bit.ly/2cGhJcB

on Motivation…

“Motivation is more like a skill, akin to reading or writing, that can be learned and honed.”

“To motivate ourselves, we must feel like we are in control.”

“I hand out a number of compliments, and all of them are designed to be unexpected.”

“We praise people for doing things that are hard. That’s how they learn to believe they can do them.”

on Optimizing Teams….

“‘Psychological safety’, how do you convince people to feel safe while also encouraging them to be willing to disagree?”

Individual intelligence didn’t correlate with team performance.

It was the norms, not the people that made teams so smart.

Two behaviors that all the good teams shared.

• First, all the members of the good teams spoke in roughly the same proportion, a phenomenon the researchers referred to as “equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking.”

“As long as everyone got a chance to talk, the team did well,

• Second, the good teams tested as having “high average social sensitivity”—a fancy way of saying that the groups were skilled at intuiting how members felt based on their tone of voice, how people held themselves, and the expressions on their faces.

“Leaders should not interrupt teammates during conversations, because that will establish an interrupting norm.”

on Productivity…

Making a decision and moving on to the next question feels productive.

A high need for closure has been shown to trigger close-mindedness, authoritarian impulses, and a preference for conflict over cooperation.

Even the plants’ senior executives, the consultants found, had fallen prey to an obsession with achievable but inconsequential goals, and were focused on unimportant short-term objectives rather than more ambitious plans.

“You get into this mindset where crossing things off your to-do list becomes more important than asking yourself if you’re doing the right things

If you’re being constantly told to focus on achievable results, you’re only going to think of achievable goals. You’re not going to dream big.

If you do know how to get there—it’s not a stretch target.

We spend hours answering unimportant emails instead of writing a big, thoughtful memo—because it feels so satisfying to clean out our in-box.

on Decision Making…

The paradox of learning how to make better decisions is that it requires developing a comfort with doubt.

Losers, Howard said, are always looking for certainty at the table. Winners are comfortable admitting to themselves what they don’t know. In fact, knowing what you don’t know is a huge advantage—something that can be used against other players.

on Creativity…

Creative papers had at least one thing in common: They were usually combinations of previously known ideas mixed together in new ways.

Within biology, this has become known as the intermediate disturbance hypothesis, which holds that “local species diversity is maximized when ecological disturbance is neither too rare nor too frequent.

Second, recognize that the panic and stress you feel as you try to create isn’t a sign that everything is falling apart. Rather, it’s the condition that helps make us flexible enough to seize something new.