Never Eat Alone- Book Summary/Review

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi is a book about how to become a super-networker. I am not talking about the “networking jerk” he mentions in the book along with the negative connotation that “networking” can have. I am talking about being able to kindle, stoke, and leverage relationships on a massive scale. There are some areas of this book where I do not see myself applying- not to say they are not good, but rather that based on my skill set I do not see myself utilizing. There are a lot of good actionable items in this book that I will try to get captured in here. I took a ton of post-it notes and underlining in the book, so that would be the best place to reference. I will try to include some page numbers on the most important takeaways I had. One of the keys that is brought right up in the preface even is the following formula: SUCCESS IN LIFE = (THE PEOPLE YOU MEET) + (WHAT YOU CREATE TOGETHER). He also mentions that you will get the most out of this book if  your desire to learn is exceeded only by your willingness to act. I am writing this summary in order to cement some of the highlights and actionable items I think I can and should apply  to my personal and professional life (if there is a difference).

Takeaways:

  • “The rule in life that has unprecedented power is that the individual who knows the right people for the right reasons, and utilizes the power of these relationships, can become the member of the “club,” whether he started out as a caddie or not”
  • The importance of people is that business is a human enterprise, driven and determined by people. Skills and strategies that are associated with fostering and building relationships were and are lacking in a lot of students.
  • The power of generosity – it becomes a form of personal karma. go out of your way to do nice things without expecting anything in return.
  • A network functions precisely because there is recognition of mutual need. Relationships are like a muscle- the more you work them the stronger they become. they are solidified by trust, which is created by asking not what people can do for you, but what you can do for others. “the currency of real networking is not greed, but generosity”
  • “A goal is a dream with a deadline”
  • “our achievements grow according to the size of our dreams and the degree to which we are in touch with our mission. Emotionally decide what it is you want to do.”
  • Make a real connection- see Clinton’s story on pg. 41.
  • Build the network before you need it- don’t start networking only when you need something like a job. Do it long before and continuously.
  • Ways to meet people:
    • create company approved project that will force you to meet new people and learn new skills
    • join local alumni club
    • enroll yourself in a class in a local community college
    • take on leadership positions in hobbies and outside organizations you are interested in.
  • Make it a point to meet people who know even more people. Meet “other” people, outside your normal social group.
  • There is genius and kindness in being bold. The worst thing that someone will usually say is “no”. It never hurts to ask
  • “There is no choice between success and failure, it is between choosing risk and striving for greatness, or risking nothing and being certain of mediocrity”
  • Steps to facing fear: like public speaking. Page 53
    • acknowledge that the fear is perfectly normal, you are not alone
    • recognize that getting over that fear is critical t your success
    • Commit to getting better
  • Improving speaking skills: pages 55-57 on DeAnne Rosenberg
    • State the situation
    • Communicate your feelings (emotions and vulnerability can be used to show humanity and elicit symptathy. People are more open with people who are open)
    • Deliver the bottom line
    • Use an opened ended question
  • Make friends with everyone- you have nothing to lose
  • Research people before you meet them: find their interests, passions, extracurriculars, etc.
    • google
    • twitter
    • company public relations
    • annual reports
  • Ask questions and listen carefully when you meet people. Be completely engaged.
  • Take names, remember small details, tell people happy birthday, etc. these things make you stand out and people will know you care.
  • Manage the gatekeeper: the secretary
    • treat them with dignity, thank them, compliment them- they are the ones that will get you into the person you want to talk to’s schedule
    • be candid, vulnerable, and not aggressive- page 97-98 there is an anecdote on this
  • Building relationships should be fun, not time consuming- always try to include others in what you are doing. It is good for them and good for everyone to broaden their circle of friends.
  • Passion is contagious- others respond by letting their guard down, which is why sharing your passion is important in business.
  • Follow up!!! The first follow up the person gets is the one they will remember the most- Following up is the key to success in any field.
    • In the follow up, reiterate commitments everyone has made, then asks when a second follow up meeting can be arranged. – close the loop.
  • Conferences are useful for meeting like-minded people who can help you fulfill your mission and goals. The speakers and info you will learn at them are usually meh.
  • Don’t be the people on pages 134-135:
    • The wallflower
    • the ankle hugger
    • the celebrity hound
    • the smarmy eye darter
    • the card dispenser/amasser
  • Super-connectors!
    • headhunters, lobbyists, fundraisers, politicians, journalists, public relations specialists know everyone and should be the cornerstones to any flourishing network.
  • It doesn’t have to be a strong contact to prove powerful. The most important people in your network are the ones that are acquaintances. “the strength of weak ties”
  • Meet people that look and sound nothing like you
  • Who is the most “plugged in” person in town? – Paul Revere story
  •  3 motivations of all people: pg 174+. Help people achieve their deepest desires. The most successful relationship builders are an amalgam of financial guru, sex therapist, and all around do-gooder. Every person you meet is an opportunity to help or be helped. The following three things engender deep emotional bonds between people.
    • health
    • wealth
    • Children
  • Recognize their importance, make them feel important. Help people achieve higher levels on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs
  • Generalized rules of relationships: page 196. make rating of people based on how close/how often they need to be contacted.
  • Don’t kid yourself, everyone cares about his or her birthday! He actually sings a happy birthday voicemail. this is a huge way to stand out- people will never forget…

 

Actionable

  • Real networking is finding a way to make other people more successful
  • By simply reaching out to others and recognizing that no one does it alone will create astounding results in itself very quickly.
  • It is better to give before you receive. 3 types of people in the world: page 182-184
    • takers- hoard resources and look for ways others can serve them
    • givers – give more than receive without expectation
    • matchers- keep score, want to make sure every good deed/favor is equal
    • A specific type of giver: maintain a high degree of self interest. strategic in their giving  and in the long run it protects them from becoming doormats and washing out. focus on finding ‘bargains’ five minute favors
  • All successful people have a zeal for goal setting- they know what they want in life and they go after it.
  • To find your passion- it is the most important thing you can do. Methods for doing this on pages 28-29.
    • Look inside: passions, activities, interests
    • Look outside: ask people who know you best about your greatest strengths/ weaknesses.
  • Put Goals to paper – pg. 30-33
    • develop the goals
    • connect the goals to the people, places, and things that will help you gel the job done
    • determine the best way to reach out to the people who will help you accomplish your goals.
    • Create smart goals
    • Share your goals with others
    • Create a personal board of advisors
      • friends, mentors, family
  • Create a mission statement for yourself- page 37. Run through the exercise!
    • he created a 12 pager with strengths, weaknesses, industry opportunities, people he wanted to meet, people he knew, leaders he could turn to, companies he admired, left all of his options open for careers.
  • Commit yourself to initiate a meeting w/ one new person per week
  • Turn the cold call into a warm call: page 86
    • Convey credibility
    • state your value proposition
    • impart urgency and convenience
    • be prepared to offer a compromise
    • You need to establish trust. – page 87 solve their problems, talk a little but say a lot
  • Use compromise -try for a lot, it will help you settle for what you really need. This really plays into the anchoring bias – look up the term as it is hugely important!!!
  • Join a toastmasters club, become a speaker at conferences
    • the more speeches one gives, the higher one’s income bracket tends to be
    • you need something to say, develop a niche
  • If you are at a conference, make sure you ask the first question, make it an insightful one, introduce yourself first, etc. pg. 123
  • Looking into the Susan Cain story about speaking as an introvert page 124
  • Small talk- chapter 17 pages 152-
    • Conversation is an acquired skill, if you have the determination, proper information, conversation just like any other skill can be learned!
    • GPA has no bearing on success, it is dictated on “verbal fluency”
    • Vulnerability is one of the most under appreciated assets in business today
    • Being up front with people confers respect
    • Bree Brown Ted talk: Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change. Watch it!!
    • Charm is simply the matter of being yourself
    • The power of nonverbal cues- we are genetically conditioned to be afraid of strangers. Page 161 for list of nonverbal cues
    • Share your passion, but don’t preach it
    • Adjust your Johari window based on who you are talking to – pg 163-164. adjust your behavior to mirror the person you are talking and they will immediately feel more comfortable.
    • The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated. Always take the initiative to be the first person to say hello.
    • Five words that will never fail: “your wonderful. Tell me more”
    • pg. 168 on Dale Carnegie
  • Don’t wait to be asked, just do a favor. it show you care, and that even if it doesn’t work out you made the extra effort without asking.
  • Help people help themselves. Creates career karma
  • You can become more successful in two months by becoming really interested in other peoples’ success than you can in two years to get other people interested in your success.
  • Throw dinner parties, find anchor tenants that pull people to parties that would not otherwise come. 6-10 guests and make it a pretty diverse group. keep the wine flowing
    • Rules for a dinner party page 211
    • create a theme, use invitations create atmosphere, don’t seat couples together, relax, informal, interesting quote on back of seat placeholder cards
  • Relationship action plan- have your goals front and center that directs the evolution of your network and how you are using social media
  • Emphasize diversity: example of a room full of doctors not being as intelligent as a diverse group of backgrounds. even though there the doctors have a higher average IQ. This can be applied to your network, hiring, etc.
  • Sharing information is a great way to provide value
  • Book mentioned “The Start-Up of You”  by Reid Hoffman- make at least on equality introduction per month- see page 234 for more info on how to use LinkedIn.
  • The Algebra of Trust: GENEROSITY + VULNERABILITY + ACCOUNTABILITY + CANDOR = TRUST. or GVAC. see page 237. The more you can be yourself, the more people will trust that your giving them the straight dope. James Altucher has made a name for himself by doing exactly this. being up front about his failures and shortcomings. People want to hear about your humanity.
  • Speak the language that matters- example of the “moderate carb diet” that nobody has ever heard of until it was rebranded the “south beach diet”
  • The best subject lines speak to and tease one of two human needs: Utility or curiosity.
  • On Vulnerability- if you are brave enough to be vulnerable you can become irreplaceable. the only way to do that is by putting yourself out there.
  • Go Public with Failure “being open about the fact that you’ve made mistakes tells people that you’ve got nothing to hide. Aside from that, if we would all just own up to our failures we could stop perpetuating the crippling illusion that the ultra-successful get that way by succeeding over and over again. NO! they get that way by failing over and over again, in increasingly ambitious experiments until they succeed and succeed big. So be brave enough to put it all out there. people will trust you for your experience and your honesty.
  • Take a bold position and stay the course in the face of criticism and fear!!!!
  • Always represent your authentic self
  • Candor- Authenticity – the unvarnished presentation of truth!! extremely valuable and and the essence of leadership, sales, marketing and any discipline involved in motivating humans to do anything. Make sure you do it as a matter of habit.
  • The magical moments when people are publicly, brazenly candid ring out like a shot.
  • Share the process!
  • Be able to engineer serendipity- put yourself in the positions so that you can engineer the opportunities to speak with the right people. become a highly visible leader in associations and philanthropic organizations.
    • Be open to opportunities driven by chance
    • Read the book “the power of Pull by John Hagel et. al
    • Geography does still matter- you have a better chance of running into Stephen Spielberg in a coffeeshop in holly wood if you are a screenwriter….
    • Travel is an incredible way to open yourself to new experiences and insights.
    • Forcefield that supports serendipity:
      • Curiosity
      • generosity
      • passion
      • humility
    • Approach things with a beginners mind
    • Don’t plan your entire life. or you cannot get lucky by definition
  • Be Interesting
    • have a unique point of view, conversationalist, be able to speak beyond yourself
    • Ask the question “If I could use some magical potion in this situation, what could i do with all of this new information”- open it up as a discussion with others
    • Find a niche or emerging technology/expertise to master and go after it. Become the company expert and it will provide value to your network and company.
      • analyze trends and opportunities on the cutting edge
      • ask seemingly stupid questions, the most basic ones: is this product useful?
      • Know yourself and your talents
      • always learn
      • Stay healthy
      • expose yourself to unusual experiences
      • Don’t get discouraged- rejection is to be expected, and necessary- push through it!!!
      • Develop a niche
      • Know the new technology
      • Follow the money- all great ideas are meaningless in business until someone pays for them.
    • Clear concise vision and how does it relate to you. Drive and inspire passion to create results.
      • Action is driven by passion and feeling vs. a logical agreement.
      • Create context, then inspire- pg. 288
      • Become a storyteller
    • Build your brand – Chapter 26
      • make sure that what you do adds value
      • Keys to pursuing WOW in everything you do
      • – shake things up, find your value, obsess on your image.
      • what do you want people to think when they hear your name?
      • take on projects no one wants to work on
      • become invaluable
  • Promote yourself- if you don’t, nobody will.
    • make sure people know your work as well as the quality of it.
    • Pissing people off or making them happy has a very similar result. just make sure it is something that matters.
    • Create a buzz, work the media. Who are the “influentials”in your target industry?
    • When dealing with the media, you have to show them why it is relevant now, or it will be shelved. rewrite the intros and make it relevant to articles that have been printed recently.
    • Never say “no comment” be open and a reliable source of information to the media.
    • A press release is two or three paragraphs describing what’s memorable about your story.
    • more about broadcasting in the “broadcast your brand” chapter
  • Think big!
    • Achieve great things through risk, passion, focus, hard work, and positive attitudes
    • “as long as you’re going to think anyway, think big”- Donald Trump
  • What is your USP: “unique selling position”
    • create a group/in person to think through topics/share professional interests.
    • Ben Franklin “Junto”- group of like-minded, achievement oriented individuals can dramatically leverage each others success to do things otherwise impossible.
  • You learn in your twenties, and earn in your thirties.
  • Look into Vipassana meditation

There was a lot in there. It should be a decent outline of my biggest takeaways and actionable pieces.

RG

Current State -May 2016

I have been thinking a lot. About a lot. For a bit of a timeline January 1 2015 I committed to doing Yoga every single day. There were tons of reasons to do it, but honestly when I think about the biggest things that drove me to do it was that I could. I wanted to prove it to myself that I could, any ‘reason’ I can come up with to say I couldn’t was just part of the script of bullshit that is just running in the back of my mind. I eat every day, brush my teeth every day, I sleep every day, if I am saying something is important to me why wouldn’t I commit to a daily practice. 2015 came and went staying true to the commitment I made. I made a significant 2-week trip to Chile after which I came back engaged. While on the trip we met several people from around the world that were traveling for extended periods: 4 months, 6 months, 9 months, etc. all of it seemed crazy to me. “who can afford this?” “how did they just leave everything behind” “will they have a job when they get back?”. My whole life I have been extremely risk-averse. I have always wanted predictability, stability, etc. I started investing for retirement at 16 years old if that gives you any sense of how my mind works. I had a coworker take a year off of work to sail about the world- this was also fascinating to me. 2015 came to a close, one of my friends went on a trip around the world basically for a year (they are still on the trip right now). All of my other friends and myself included could not believe it. Asked ourselves all of the questions above about the people we met in Chile. I found out a few weeks ago that the inspiration behind the trip was partly due to Tim Ferriss’ book The Four Hour Work Week.

2016 started up really smooth and predictable. My daily/weekly routines were well defined, when I was not doing something specific I was watching TV. A side not about me is that I hate TV. I had this seed in my mind that there was something more, I wanted to expand myself. WTF does that mean? I didn’t properly define it, but I saw where I was: 26 years old, I have a good job making good money, getting married to my best friend in the fall, but I realized I have become extremely comfortable. I could easily have steady incremental personal growth, retire at 58 years old a millionaire several times over (because I have been saving since 16), blah blah blah… What really solidified this need to change was a discussion I had with a friend that lives in North Carolina. He talked about selling his truck to help fund his business, the opportunities he is going after, talked about The Tim Ferriss Show and 4HWW. This is what got me hooked on the TF Show podcast- I started listening to it the next week and found the interviews to be fascinating. Then in one of them he mentioned setting up a “self directed MBA” this phrase stuck with me and immediately started googling different SDMBA guides that already exist out there. I found the Thumotic one, which I think is a good one for everything I am looking at doing.

There was one final event that really made me question everything I am currently doing. My friends started their Yoga studio. I have helped them along the way to develop a financial plan and business plan for their studio. In the process it made me realize how achievable starting a business is, and the most important ingredient is passion. A lot of other things go into it, but any kind of success is driven by passion.

Something interesting has happened in the last two months that I didn’t expect.

I have been doing a ton of reading, listening, and digesting everything which has led me to discover some underlying themes I have been missing.

The Good Life-Most of the books so far have talked about “the good life” in some form. None of these books were necessarily driving that premise, they were about productivity, maximizing your abilities, learning, how to act, etc. What I have found is that there is a consistent thread between all of these books and podcasts is the search for this “good life” and understanding of what it even is. I can honestly say that i have never defined what success is- in the past I would say something like “achieving your goals”. But it needs to go deeper than that what are your goals and why do they matter to you? It sounds obvious, but if your goals do not contribute positively to your life, they don’t really matter that much. If your vision of “success” is defined by achieving your goals, you presume the underlying assumption that your goals matter.

Serendipity-My safe lifestyle has become too predictable, not enough serendipity, if I think about it, what am I doing with my life?? I read this quote once: “Your comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing grows there”. I was at a point where I didn’t see myself growing, I didn’t have an inspiring 3 year personal vision, I was going to wake up one day and realize I was 60 years old and haven’t lived. In more than one of the books I have read the Ben Franklin quote: “most people die at 25 and aren’t buried until 75”

Success-Success isn’t correlated with $$$. I have always heard this and understood it from a certain level. But it wasn’t until today actually that I truly understood it. The concept of time wealth and experiences making a full life are what makes a person successful. Also, not only that, but adversity is where you grow the most. I need to read some of the Stoics, but I think they are on to something by seeing negative experiences. A quote from Marcus Aurelius: “the universe is change; our life is what our thoughts make of it”

Meditation-Meditation is extremely important. Almost all of the TF Show interviews have mentioned something about meditation habits. I started daily meditation about 45 days ago today.

Passion-Passion is an important driver in having a full life. My new rule is that if you are not passionate about what you are doing, make a plan for that to change significantly in the next 6-12 months.

Growth-I have heard this and read this over and over again: “if you are not growing, your dying”

Dreams-In the manga/anime Berserk Griffith’s speech about dreams is great. This is a rough quote from the anime “Dreams can vary- they can breathe life into men, and can cage them in suffering. Men live and die by their dreams, but long after they have been abandoned they still smolder in their hearts. Never rely on another’s dream. Have your own reason for living and put your heart and sole into that dream.”

Anyways, now I am on this journey. I feel like a caterpillar that crawled into its cocoon for a transformation with no clue of the beauty that lay ahead. If this is the shift in perspective I have had after 4.5 books and 40 podcasts, I cannot wait to see what is to come.

RG

Rolf Potts Podcast Summary

I am pasting this here due to the amount of content and depth they go into.

Rolf Potts- Author of Vagabonding. This is a dangerous podcast, I could probably write a whole blog post on this. What I mean by “dangerous” is that it pushes me toward a trip vagabonding around the world. When Erika and I went to Chile for two weeks we met tons of people from around the world that were traveling for 4-6 months. We kept talking about how we had no idea how this would even work. I found out a couple of weeks ago a friend mentioned that The 4 Hour Workweek was the inspiration behind my friend’s trip around the world (read about their trip here: http://www.thedecisivelife.com/author/jennajonaitis/. Vagabonding is basically long term travel: at least 6 months. He talks about how you need to view your money as a resource for the experiences. There are travel bloggers out there with several kids and a low to medium paying job. “war is god’s way of teaching Americans Geography.” If you look at Mexico and realize the drug violence is isolated and there are a lot of safe areas. You can travel there for very little money and have a great experience. There are a lot of great traveler communities: they create community and support for people. BootsNall.com is one of these online communities- helps talk you through and gives resources for people’s fears, they are happy to help. I should go through the exercise to lay out: how much money would it take to survive per day, how much would it cost to go for one year. Couch surfing, AirBnB: 15 years ago, you were going to walk in, see the room, haggle the pricing (physically leave if the owner doesn’t give a price you want). It is easy to go online and know exactly where you are staying every night, but it takes us away from the serendipity of being able to find things by surprise. Loneliness and boredom force you to get off the phone and get out and meet people, forces you to be an extrovert. The cheapest place isn’t necessarily going to be a hostel. hostels, AirBnB, couchsurfing, Dwellable etc. are good resources. There is now a virtual hostel room where you are talking to hundreds of travelers that are online. The concept of “time wealth” and that we can get swept away from our idea that we want to optimize everything for efficiency: would you want to optimize an authentic Italian dinner for efficiency? Serendipity is at risk when we cannot unplug, it is the unexpected good experiences that change you to the core of your being. You are making an optimized efficiency and you will be selling yourself short if you are optimizing for efficiency. Throw yourself open to the travel experience. Focus on appreciation vs. achievement, focus on slow, long meals with larger groups of friends. Do not rely on self discipline- do not bring your laptop: if you want to use your laptop, use an internet cafe: make it inconvenient to engage in “masturbatory computer use”. If you have access to the internet you will use it. Concept of “staycation” – you want to introduce yourself to a “beginners mind” –  which is the most emotionally daunting and exciting things. When you are traveling you are like a 5 year old: you can hardly read, its dangerous to cross the street, etc… its the wonder of childhood that allows you to engage in a new way. Talks about the importance of even just a vacation: how your creative mind needs vacations in order to see the most growth. TF’s habit was to go for a walk on a small island wave down someone to tell him where to find a cafe/bakery. Listen to the old men talking and try to have a conversation with them to help learn the language: seek out uncomfortable situations. For the old men, a foreigner coming in and talking to them is the most exciting thing that has happened to them all week. when in doubt, just walk until your day becomes interesting. Being a flaneur- someone who is “just wandering” break out of your tourist habits, break out of your normal habits, etc. For example, Paris is the most Touristed city in the world, but if you just wander around you will find something that catches your language. Towards the end of the podcast he talks about Dave Chappelle and John Hughes as examples of people that have hit a pinnacle of “success” and turned it down because they are going after what is truly important to them and makes them happy.

The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead: Book Review

The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Getting Ahead, by Charles Murray

This is a short book on the basic guidelines to live your life by in the corporate world. It is the “dos and Don’ts of Right Behavior, tough thinking, clear writing, and living a good life.” Charles Murray starts off by saying he himself is a Curmudgeon, the premise is that most corporate organizations are run by Curmudgeons like him. A Curmudgeon as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary: “Full Definition of curmudgeon. 1 archaic : miser. 2 : a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man.” A better, more telling definition is “Crotchety old man.” What is this books relevance to me? How do you succeed in a world run by Curmudgeons? The assumption here is that I would either work in, or see myself working in a business run by curmudgeons. While neither of these statements are true, there are a lot of valuable lessons to be learned from this book. Ranging from proper use of words/grammar to how to stand out in the eyes of a curmudgeon and an outline for manners. It outlines the “lost art” of a lot of behaviors that have been lost over the generations. It is a worthwhile read, and there are definitely some good points to take home. I would say that it gets a bit nit picky at times, but that is the nature of the curmudgeons.

Takeaways/Action Items

  • Don’t use cliches, or words incorrectly. See pages 23-25
  • Insetead of saying “no problem” when responding to Thank-You. Say “my pleasure” or “glad to help” There is nothing wrong with “no problem” but it implies that it is a burden.
  • Manners are outlined in pages 48-50. It is more than just saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you”. It is being genuinely happy to greet someone when they walk in a room. The C.S. Lewis quote here was “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, its thinking of yourself less”
  • On standing out: be extremely thorough in everything you do, put in the extra hours when not asked (and not for the sake of extra hours, but to get something accomplished)
  • Writing is the most valuable tool for creativity- aligned with other things I have read/heard (Agile)
  • Knowing what you want to say is not the same as saying it well
  • Delete the word “very” from your writing vocabulary- when you look at your writing it can almost always be deleted or replaced with a better word
  • On writing for creativity: “don’t assume that you are aware of all you know before you have written it”
  • 3 things to look for when editing your own work- page 77-78
    • Sentences not in the right order
    • sentence has more in it than one sentence can hold
    • Transition between paragraphs is rough
  • Don’t wait for inspiration. He is referring to writing but this advice can be applied to anything creative. Set a time, put in the hours, just start writing and the creative juices will start flowing naturally.- Aligned with Agile
  • Learn to love rigor- or being exhaustive, thorough, or accurate. Be pushed to the limits of your intellectual potential to grow. And love the challenge of rigor
  • Change your perspective on TIME: if you start your career at 30, you still have 35 years to “make it”. He says that if you don’t make it in 35 years, you weren’t going to make it in 40 or 45. Your twenties are a time to do things you won’t be able to do when you have a spouse and children.
  • On making it early on in life- you do not have the life experience yet. If you look at people who are successful really young, they are the anomaly. Look at Steve Jobs, he started Apple young, then was kicked out of Apple and returned when he had more life experience to create what we all know of as Apple today.
  • Another note on “peaking early” you don’t necessarily want to hit 40 years old knowing that your best days are behind you. Read pages 90-91 again for more of a story on this.
  • Exercise your “elastic limit” via extended travel, life experience with people outside of your typical social group. Have them challenge you, if you are always with like-minded peers, you will have a limited life experience and the lens you view the world with will be too focused. He sited military, extended travel, and living on your own in a different socioeconomic group than you were raised.
  • Two accomplishments will almost surely produce happiness: Find work that you enjoy and a soul mate
  • How to find that itch that needs scratching –> passion. Look on pages 101-104
  • Living the good life: Realizing the best that we as human beings can be- Maslow’s self actualization
  • Discussion on being judgmental as a good thing. There are things that we should be judgmental about, read 106-110. This does not mean being “intolerant” but rather than not wanting to plant your flag on a judgment, you should do it because it matters. See examples of Art, Wine, and marriage in the book
  • Distinction of can do vs. may do – pages 111-113
  • Bring back words with hard edges. Instead of saying “inappropriate” be more specific and hard edged: that person is vulgar, unseemly, or dishonorable.
  • Nice person vs. Good person are different things.
  • 4 cardinal virtues- page 115
    • Courage
    • Justice
    • Temperance
    • Prudence (practical wisdom)
  • There are 4 lasting justified satisfactions: pages 121-122. tap all four to be happy
    • Family
    • Vocation
    • Community
    • Faith
  • Show up- pages 122-123. This is based on the 4 lasting justifications above. You have to show up for them for them to have a positive impact on your life.
  • Take the cliches about Fame and Money seriously- pages 126-128
  • Take Religion seriously, even if you have been socialized not to- pages 129-134. Worth a read here. And defining what that means for yourself
  • Take the cliches about marriage seriously
  • Watch Groundhog day repeatedly. This is an interesting one. Basically he is saying that you can read the Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics, but you really won’t. However the movie Groundhog Day is a “profound and moral fable that deals with the most fundamental issues of virtue and happiness.” it is about experiencing deep and lasting justified satisfaction with life as a whole even though you only have one day to work with.
  • “Try hard. Be True. Enjoy. Godspeed.”

 

RG – 5/9/2016

Getting Results the Agile Way: Book Review

Getting Results the Agile Way by J.D. Meier

This is the third book I have read for this SDMBA program and it was good, but not nearly as well polished as Getting Things Done. At a high level, you want to create a system where you go into a day with three outcomes you want to accomplish. Step back and look at the top 3 things you want to accomplish this week, month, quarter, year, hell you could even go out to a 3-5 year plan. Meier only goes out to a year, but it could be scaled to be used with the (six level model for reviewing your work in GTD). At my current work, we have a very similar system to this. this book might have even been the basis of the the system at work. At work we have it at groups of 5s. 5 daily, weekly, monthly, semiannual goals that are reviewed based on your responsibilities. The thing I like about 3 is that it makes it easier to prioritize. J.D. Meier in this book mentions that you have to take small bites, jump smaller hurdles, etc. If you want to prioritize 5 things, what is really the priority?? I know it also varies depending on your responsibilities and goals, but you also need to prioritize the top 3 things. I am going to just bullet out a bunch of the key takeaways and action items to try and keep this post as short as I can.

  • Must Should Could- in that order of prioritization. Start by listing out your MUST items, then go in descending value. Remember that “value is in the eyes of the beholder…. Then start each day with a clean slate.
  • You want to combine simplicity with focus, prioritization and conscious choice around Value and Results
  • Mentions having a Friday reflection– incorporate into GTD weekly review:
    • Evaluate what you accomplished, didn’t, and why
    • Identify 3 things that went well
    • 3 things that need improvement
    • Evaluate energy levels (throughout week, finding power hours, etc.)
    • Carry lessons forward to next Monday vision to full circle
    • This should be a learning session. Make a Start, Stop, Keep doing list
  • Create Flight lists whenever possible
  • Tickler lists are just checklists to remind you of something. keep no details here just a single word or so that will catch your eye to remind you of the next action
  • Three Meaningful results each day, week, and month
  • Hot Spots are a theme here. he talks about the Hot Spots being Mind, body, emotions career, financial, relationships, and fun. You want to set minimums and maximums in these hot spots and review them in the Friday reflection. where do you need to spend more/less time. Each Hot Spot can have groupings within them:  Activities, Active Projects, Backlog… examples on pages 46-48. Remember, if relationships aren’t growing, they’re dying.
  • Values, principles and practices of Agile results. I am not going to list all of them out, but this is all outlined in Chapter 3. the high level is that you want to structure your life around being optimized for responding to change. Some of the key ones that struck me were: Action over analysis paralysis; Energy over time; Focus as a force multiplier. talks about the growth mindset vs. Fixed mindset (see The Art of Learning); results as the best measure; maximizing your strengths vs. trying to improve your weaknesses. For Principals, 80/20 Action is a good one to apply as well as Fix time, Flex scope.
  • Design your days and Drive your weeks
  • Batching activities helps a lot with items like conversations, calls, emails, etc. Do all of them at once. Take TF’s advice and limit how often you check email… If it is that important, the person will likely call you, leave a message, etc….
  • Craft success stories: “working in your backyard” could be something like mowing the lawn with the smell of the fresh cut grass, then imagine feeling the soil as you plant a garden and sip a cold beer when you are done. This can be done for any scenario, but make it something you can imagine with multiple senses.
  • Understand your customer, Value is in the eyes of the beholder. I ran into this issue with my Coster Lite post. The issue is that the key stakeholders in that scenario were not talked to early enough in the process and “success” never got defined to begin with. I just went with my concept of success.
  • Meier argues you should start your day with defining the 3 most important things vs. the night before. Make sure the 3 things are OUTCOMEs, not Tasks
  • He talks about his Startup routine… It struck me a bit how methodically he is trying to get to work and his morning routine is very relaxing to get him ready to be the most efficient during the day. The goal here is to not overload yourself.
  • Carve out time for what is important i.e. Yoga example of practicing daily. If it is important to you, do it.
  • Power hours are basically dedicated hours at your most productive times of the days that you are normally “in the zone”. Look at The Art of Learning for more info on how to induce “getting in the zone” mentality.
  • Dump your state at the end of the day. here are a couple of ways to do it:
    • Get everything they were working on down so they can easily pick it back up the next day right where they left off.
    • 4 questions to cap your day
      • what did I learn?
      • What did I improve?
      • What did I enjoy?
      • What kind act did I do?
  • Have worry breaks – designate a half an hour for worrying. If you know it is scheduled, you will not randomly entertain these thoughts throughout the day.
  • Creative hours- basically a state of daydreaming. creating new ideas from scratch, pulling ideas together or simply reflecting. You can sometimes leverage your creative hours with your Power Hours to maximize results.
  • Make it work then make it right- this is the idea that you just want to get something to completion, don’t drag your feet. Then you will find that you can go back and fix it, but just getting it down. TF mentions this in his writing process as well in many podcasts.
  • Batch and Focus- don’t keep changing tasks, focus, and hopping around. You will never get into a rhythm.
  • Learn when in the week/day you have the most energy and do your weakest tasks at those times. Also consolidating your weaknesses helps you power hour through them to get on to the items that make you stronger vs. weaker.
  • Schedule breaks so that you stay more engaged. If you know you have a 15 minute break coming you will be able to power through to the finish.
  • Think through in my Friday reflections what recharges me vs. drains me????
  • Don’t spend $20 on a $5 problem. Really good advice for how much time to spend on something
  • Month at a glance – good format on page 94. maybe take a look and convert it to Excel
  • The “design your year” chapter was really good.
    • Design your year by picking the 3 most important changes you want to make in our life in a 1 year scale.
    • Go through the exercise to grant yourself 3 wishes. For me the first things I thought of were 1. Travel 2. Start a Business 3. Utilize my time better- basically getting out of 50 hour workweeks and finding more passion in my work. Otherwise, what the hell are we doing here?
    • A useful exercise is to make a list of all the people, resources, and skills that can help you make your dreams happen.
    • The power of 3 is important. if you are trying to remember your four or five most important things the you lose the power perspective and focus of keeping the three most important results right in front of you.
    • Yearly planning tools on pages 107-110
  • Productivity personas. There are several different types of people:
    • Starter, finisher, thinker, doer, simplifier, maximizer, critic, can do, opportunist, perfectionist, details, big picture, facts and figures, controller, tinkerer, marketer, achiever, randomizer, daydreamer, procrastinator…
    • These all have explanations on page 116 and everyone has portions of each one. what are the strongest traits? what hats can you wear.
    • How do you team up with someone that complements your predominant persona? Starter with a finisher, etc.
  • Productivity pitfalls and explanations on how to jump these ditches: pages 118-120
    • Analysis paralysis
    • do it when you feel like it
    • don’t know the work to be done
    • lack of boundaries
    • perfectionism
  • Its a bit cliche, but turn failures into lessons. The most successful people do it. Fail fast and react
  • You cannot control all events, outcomes, but you can control your attitude, approach and response. Keep an eye on your actions and let the score take care of itself.
  • What is my “sweet spot” where Passion, value, and talent converge?
  • Are you in the right line of work??
  • Motivation is not enough, you need technique too.
  • Your best results come at the intersection of your time, energy, and techniques. I view it as a balanced triangle.
  • Above/Below the line. Basically what projects and responsibilities are below the line, or are expected as your role in your regular responsibilities
  • Learning has 3 levels:
    • intellectual: you can conceptualize something intellectually
    • Emotional: you have an emotional connection to it
    • Physical: It’s burned into your body.
    • One example of all of this is driving a stick. you understand it conceptually, then start to gain an emotional connection to it. then finally it is so automatic you do not really even notice it.
  • Results build momentum, build your network, leverage people,
  • Energy flows where your passion goes. If you are struggling here create a new metaphor for inspiration
  • Create SMART Goals:
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Actionable
    • Realistic
    • Timely
  • Knowing yourself is a good strategy for results: see pages 152-154. understand weaknesses and ways to get around them
  • Turn projects into adventures, connect your values to find your passion in whatever you do.
  • Teaching is the highest form of learning.
  • Use music as a trigger for flow state
  • Many people die at twenty five and aren’t buried until they are seventy five- Benjamin Franklin
  • Ask yourself ” whats wrong with this picture?” or  flip it and ask “What’s Right?” Framing a question differently can help you switch mindsets and change the way you approach a question.
  • 3 mindsets that support you:
    • Abundance mindset vs. scarcity mindset: basically assume that there’s more space and resources that you may see by default. Then rather than compete for resources you can focus on opportunities and collaboration. Then you can create more alternatives, expand opportunities, and FIND ABUNDANCE.
    • Positive mindset: Spend more time finding solutions than finding problems. Don’t get dragged down by your own pessimism.
    • Adopt a Growth mindset over a Fixed mindset. there are 15 different bullets to go through on page 182, but here are a couple that stuck out to me
      • Remind yourself you are growing or dying
      • Fail Fast
      • give yourself time
      • start with something small
      • Learn what “growth” feels like. – That “new” experience feeling
      • Have a learning approach
  • Change mindsets
    • Ask different questions
    • Adopt different assumptions
    • Adopt different metaphors
    • Wear a different hat
  • Have heroes, comic book heros (GUTS) or real-world ordinary people. What makes them great is that they do something great despite the odds or against the odds. let them inspire you to new levels. remember that everyone has flaws. Find different hero for each thing you strive for: a productivity hero, relationship hero, etc.

Overall it was a solid book, a lot of things that can easily be applied and integrated. Good look at some high level thinking exercises. One issue I had with the book is that it gets pretty repetitive. A lot of the strategies are beat to death a bit. But overall a valuable read and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it. Combined with more of the refined psychology in the Getting Things Done book I think you can pull together a solid productivity program.

RG