Principles

Learning

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Reid Hoffman's Masters of Scale podcast is a must for any would-be-entrepreneur. Recently came across his two part series on being being an Infinite Learner with Barry Diller. I highly recommend checking it out. Below is a sharing of their "Rules To Live By (and break!) for Infinite Learners" I found highly useful. Full credit to Reid Hoffman, Barry Diller, Nancy Lublin, Mark Pincus, Alexa Christon, Amit Keren, Micah G and the Masters of Scale team.


  • You are best when you know nothing.
  • Revel in your ignorance.
  • Start from a blank page of paper.
  • Nothing is sacred, you just get to start.
  • Learn everything you can about what interests you, and use it to question everything.
  • Don't expect to reach a steady state of mastery; learn constantly on the job. 
  • Whatever your interests, get on the widest road, not the narrowest road.
  • When you see someone else do something really smart - grab it, celebrate it and elevate it.
  • Don't copy anyone else's success. Break down what worked, and take a hard turn in a new direction.
  • Don't be afraid to tear things down when you need to.
  • Find a counterpoint to conventional wisdom.
  • Embrace exhaustion; it's when creativity starts.
  • To succeed twice, learn how to unlearn. Let go of what first made you successful.
  • Embody a beginner's mindset - stay curious, nimble and open to new ideas.
  • Don't just look for shortcuts. Do the hard work of both deep learning and quick unlearning.
  • In every job, ask "what can I contribute?" and "what can I learn?" side by side.
  • Separate your winning instincts from your losing ideas; it's easy to confuse them and fight for the wrong thing.
  • Hire people who are inexperienced for the job you give them.
  • Trust people first and see where they lead you.
  • Listen to your elders, and your juniors too.
  • The young can teach us as much as the old.
  • Be respectful. be empathetic. But don't be afraid to ask: "Is there a better way?"
  • There are no true masters of scale - only infinite learners.

People

After analyzing 30 million users worth of data Christian Rudder, co-founder of OKCupid, concluded that "people are vain, predictable, kind of stupid, and kind of racist...but they are also very nice, smart, and all the other things that are the opposite of those things. Basically, they're just very complex."

I too find people confusing, often times irritating, and sometimes absolutely wonderful. We are social animals that need to bond with others. Below are a few guiding principles in my pursuit for connection. 

  • Smart people talk about ideas, normal people talk about events, dumb people talk about people
    • A person is likely to mind their own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, a person takes their mind off their own meaningless affair by minding other people's business
  • When you treat people like children, you get children's work
  • Contrary to popular belief the human brain is not designed for thinking
  • People are terrible at predicting their hypothetical future behavior
  • You can't change the people around you but you can change the people around you
  • People are more scared of loss than they are motivated by gain
  • Have faith in those who claim to be searching for the truth, doubt those claiming to have found it
  • People who know what they are talking about don't need PowerPoints
  • The more convinced someone is that they're right, the less they probably know
    • There's a correlation between how open a person is to differing perspective and how much that person actually knows about any given subject
  • People want to do business with someone they like. If people like you, they're going to want to do business with you.
  • If weak ties do favors for us, they start to like us
  • People who can't trust, can't be trusted
  • If you say you'll do something and then don't, you will lose a person's trust. And it's really hard to win that back.
  • People will resent you if you always try to be right
  • Picking fights and holding grudges will make you miserable
  • The more you try to argue with someone else, the less likely you are to convince them of your perspective
  • There is always someone better than you
  • When someone asks "hey, how's it going?" They don't actually want to hear all of your problems.
  • It's not about you, so shut up and listen
  • It does not matter what you say, only what people hear
  • People buy why you do it, not what you do
  • The more you try to impress people, the less they'll be
  • How to like people
    • Assume it's their last day. Listen to them. Learn from them.
    • Be who you'd be when alone.
    • Make new friends
      • As you grow and change, old friends and family will be unintentionally invested in maintaining you as you were before.
      • Let go of people that don't welcome and encourage your change.
    • Avoid harming the relationship
      • For long-term relationship success, it's more effective than seeking the positive
      • A friendship that may take years to develop can be ruined by a single action
    • Act calm and kind regardless of how you feel
    • Don't try to change them.
      • Stop trying to change people who don't think hey have a problem
    • Find wisdom in your opponents
      • Really engage those who think opposite of you
      • You already know the ideas common on your side
    • Purge the vampires
      • Get rid of people that drain you, that don't make you feel good about yourself
      • They make you hate all people

 

Creativity

For those seeking creativity, the following are practical action items (i.e. directives) from Adam Grant's book Originals. The first steps are for individuals to generate, recognize, voice, and champion new ideas. The next set is for leaders to stimulate novel ideas and build cultures that welcome dissent. 

 

Individual Actions

Generating and Recognizing Original Ideas

  • Question the default
    • Instead of taking the status quo for granted, ask why it exists in the first place. When you remember that rules and systems were created by people, it becomes clear that they're not set in stone - and you begin to consider how they can be improved.
  • Triple the number of ideas you generate
    • The best way to boost your originality is to produce more ideas.
  • Immerse yourself in a new domain
    • Originality increases when you broaden your frame of reference. One approach is to learn a new craft. Another strategy is to try a job rotation: get trained to do a position that requires a new base of knowledge and skills. A third option is to learn about a different culture, like the fashion designers who became more innovative when they lived in foreign countries that were very different from their own.
  • Procrastinate strategically
    • When you're generating new ideas, deliberately stop when your progress is incomplete. By taking a break in the middle of your brainstorming or writing process, you're more likely to engage in divergent thinking and give ideas time to incubate.
  • Seek more feedback from peers
    • It's hard to judge your own ideas, because you tend to be too enthusiastic, and you can't trust your gut if you're not an expert in the domain. It's also tough to rely on managers, who are typically too critical when they evaluate ideas. To get the most accurate reviews, run your pitches by peers - they're poised to spot the potential the possibilities.

Voicing and Championing Original Ideas

  • Balance your risk portfolio
    • When you're going to take a risk in one domain, offset it by being unusually cautious in another realm of your life.
  • Highlight the reasons not to support your idea
    • Start by describing the three biggest weaknesses of your idea and then ask them to list several more reasons not to support it. Assuming that the idea has some merit, when people have to work hard to generate their own objections, they will be more aware of its virtues.
  • Make your ideas more familiar
    • Repeat yourself - it makes people more comfortable with an unconventional idea. Reactions typically become more positive after 10 to 20 exposures to an idea, particularly if they're short, spaced apart by a few days, and mixed in with other ideas. You can also make your original concept more appealing by connecting it with other ideas that are already understood by the audience.
  • Speak to a different audience
    • Instead of seeking out friendly people who share you values, try approaching disagreeable people who share your methods. Your best allies are the people who have a track record of being tough and solving problems with approaches similar to yours.
  • Be a tempered radical
    • If your idea is extreme, couch it in a more conventional goal. That way, instead of changing people's minds, you can appeal to values or beliefs that they already hold. You can also position your proposal as a means to an end that matters to others. And if you're already known as too extreme, you can shift from leader to lightning rod, allowing more moderate people to take the reins.

 

 

Leader Actions

Sparking Original Ideas

  • Run an innovation tournament
    • Welcoming suggestions on any topic at any time doesn't capture the attention of busy people. Innovation tournaments, therefore, are highly efficient for collecting a large number of novel ideas. Instead of a suggestion box, send a focused call for ideas to solve a particular problem or meet an untapped need. 
  • Picture yourself as the enemy
    • People often fail to generate new ideas due to a lack of urgency. You can create urgency by implementing the "kill the company" exercise. Gather a group together and invite them to come up with strategies to but the organization out of business - or decimate its most popular product, service, or technology. Then, hold a discussion about the most serious threats and how to convert them into opportunities to transition from defense to offense.
  • Hold an opposite day
    • Divide people into groups, and each chooses an assumption, belief, or area of knowledge that is widely taken for granted. Each group asks, "when is the opposite true?" and then delivers a presentation on their ideas.

Building Cultures of Originality

  • Hire not on cultural fit, but on cultural contribution
    • When leaders prize cultural fit, they end of p hiring people who think in similar ways. Originality comes not from people who match the culture, but from those who enrich it. Before interviews, identify the diverse backgrounds, skill sets, and personality traits that are currently missing from your culture. Then place a premium on those attributes in the hiring process.
  • Ask for problems, not solutions
    • If people rush to answers, you end up with more advocacy than inquiry, and miss out on the breadth of knowledge in the room. Following Bridgewater's issue log, you can create an open document for teams to flag problems that they see. On a monthly basis, bring people together to review them and figure out which ones are worth solving.
  • Stop assigning devil's advocates and start unearthing them
    • Dissenting opinions are useful even when they're wrong, but they're only effective if they're authentic and consistent. Instead of assigning people to play devil's advocate, find people who genuinely hold minority opinions, and invite them to present their views. To identify these people make someone responsible for seeking out team members individually before meetings to find out what they know.
  • Welcome criticism
    • By inviting employees to criticize you publicly, you can set the tone for people to communicate more openly even when their ideas are unpopular.

 

Innovation

Some of the best principles I've come across from around the web, blogs, and books on the topic.

 

Innovation

  • Innovation is not about novelty, it's about creating value
    • R&D is about spending money to create knowledge, innovation is about using knowledge to create value
  • Innovation efforts fail when there is a disconnect between assumptions and reality
    • Invest heavily in making sure the two are aligned
    • Look for disconfirming data
  • To be effective, an innovation has to be simple and it has to be focused
    • Effective innovations start small
    • Eliminate the nonessential distractions, listen to what is essential
    • If you could only do one thing, what would it be?
    • Exercise the power of choice
  • Innovation is work rather than genius
    • If I fail more than you do, I win

 

The Entrepreneur

  • The role of the entrepreneur is not to build a product, it's to reduce the uncertainty in the business model
  • Entrepreneurship is the practice of systemic innovation
  • Be completely obsessed with the problem, not married to the solution
  • Live where luck strikes
    • Live where everything is happening,
    • where the money is flowing,
    • where careers are being made,
    • where your role models live.
    • Once there, be as in the game as anyone can be
    • Be right in the middle of everything
  • Say yes to everything (at first, this changes later)
    • Meet everyone
    • Pursue every opportunity
    • Nothing is too small. Do it all.
    • Follow up and keep in touch with everyone
    • Once successful, you need to switch strategies
      • Change yes to "hell yes!" or no
      • To get successful you had to say yes to everything
      • Now if you continue to do that, you'll drown in all the opportunities
      • Now say no to anything that makes you say anything less than "hell yes!"
  • Learn multiplying skills
    • Speaking, writing, psychology, design, conversation, 2nd languages, persuasion, programming, meditation/focus
    • Not pursued on their own, they're skills that multiply the success of your main pursuit
      • A pilot who's also a great writer and public speaker
      • A chef with a mastery of psychology, persuasion, and design
    • These skills multiply the result of your efforts, and give you an edge over others in your field
  • Pursue market value not personal value
    • Do not be the starving artist, working on things that have great personal value to you, but little market value
    • Follow the money. It tells you where you're most valuable
    • Don't try to make a career out of everything you love
  • Be the owner, not just the inventor
    • It's tempting to try to be the ideas person, having someone else do the dirty work of making those ideas happen
    • Ideas don't make you rich. Great execution of ideas does
    • A rule of capitalism: whoever takes the most financial risk gets the rewards
    • The biggest rewards will always go to those that fund it and own it
    • To get rich, be the owner. Own as close to 100% as possible

 

Entrepreneur Looking To Innovate

  • 10x improvement
    • Your solution should be at minimum 10x better than anything else available. 
  • Competitive markets destroy profits
  • When a team with a reputation for brilliance takes on a business with a reputation for bad economics, it's the reputation of the business that remains intact
  • Start small and monopolize
    • Start with a very small market. Always err on the side of starting too small
  • Don't disrupt
    • Start small and craft a plan to expand into adjacent markets, don't disrupt: avoid competition as much as possible
  • Underdo your competition
    • Do less but better. Be part of the stripped down, focused mission.
  • Outside money is plan Z
  • The best business strategy is a people strategy
    • Pay for the person, not the role
    • You cannot buy loyalty
    • A players like to work with other A players, which means you cannot indulge B players
    • Talent draws capital but capital does not draw talent
    • Be ridiculously selective on talent and quickly remove people who hold the team back
    • Shamelessly imitate success
      • Imitate the best strategies of your competitors
      • The market doesn't care about your personal need to be unique
      • It's selfless and humble to use the best ideas regardless of source, to create the best service or product for your customers
      • Get great at executing other people's ideas as well as your own
    • Doing is better than perfect
      • Launch now
      • Ignore the details early on
      • Good enough is fine
      • Move. Develop and improve. Don't fight for perfection when it's not necessary
    • If something can be done 80% as well by someone else, delegate
      • Delegate to learn how to make sure of other people's talents
    • Separate thinking and execution to execute faster and think better
    • Benefit from human nature
      • Instead of complaining about the downside of human nature, find ways to benefit from it.
      • Instead of complaining about the rules, learn the game, then play it
    • Sales matter just as much as product
    • Press releases are spam
      • Forget about The Wall Street Journal, niche media is more relevant
    • Building to flip is building to flop
    • The most important and difficult job is never to find the right answers, it is to find the right questions. 

    Self-Improvement

    Hundreds of bright-eyed 14-year-old faces in their newest clothes herd around the registrars’ table in the courtyard. One by one class schedules are picked up with either sadness or absolute excitement that his or her middle school crush will be in the same classes.


    It was my first day of high school and within minutes of picking up my schedule my soon to be arch nemesis Eugene Choi asked to see my schedule. Briefly scanning it, he then proceeds to laugh out loud yelling “Haha, I have more honors classes than you!” I knew little about academic tracking or advanced placement at the time but all I thought was “goddamn Eugene Choi; I’m going to have more than you!” With that began years of competition and ultimately a path towards self-improvement.

    • You're not entitled to anything...ever
    • The pessimist complains about the wind, the optimist expects it to change, the realist adjusts the sails
    • To improve is to change, to perfect is to change often
    • Understand and develop a growth mindset
    • Intelligence is hard work
    • Don't say or believe "it is what it is"
    • Where there is a will there is a way
    • The more afraid you are to fail, the more likely you are to fail
    • The more something scares you, the more you should probably do it
    • Your goals are overrated
      • Habits are more important
    • You are the sum of your habits
    • Be deliberate about the habits you create and eliminate
    • Align your habits to your intended life outcomes
    • Ego, an emotional reaction that prevents you from accepting reality, is your enemy
    • Pain + Reflection = Progress
    • Improve through subtraction
      • You are more likely to improve by eliminating habits than trying to add new ones. The same applies to finances (i.e. you are better off eliminating expenses than increasing income) as well as new product development. Subtract to improve.
    • Your worldview is seriously flawed
    • You don't have forever to find and pursue your passion
    • Complacency is your enemy
    • You'll never have it all sorted out
    • Becoming an adult is not some magical transformation
    • Take advice from people who are living the life you want to live
    • Stay hungry, stay foolish
    • Anything that annoys you is teaching you patience
    • Anyone who abandons you is teaching you independence
    • Anything that angers you is teaching you forgiveness and compassion
    • Anything you hate is teaching you unconditional love
    • Anything you fear is teaching you courage
    • Anything you can't control is teaching you how to let go

    Dapper

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    "Very handsome!" said the lady at the tailors. I was bursting with confidence having just picked up my first custom-tailored suit. I stepped out into the promenade deciding to wear it home. It was 75 degrees and perfectly sunny.

    Within seconds of walking, I noticed something that had never occurred to me before. EVERY single woman (including grandmas) was gawking at me. Now let's be real. I'm a handsome guy, cute even. Add some wit, charm, glasses, a tuxedo and let me woo you with words now I'm a solid eight for sure. Both confused and elated I continued to indulge having my confidence serenaded with attention. "I should have gotten my suits tailored sooner!" I thought.

    My shoelace came undone. I crouched to fix it, and then I saw...him. Walking in perfect stride behind me was a 6-foot male Adonis. Let's call him Chuck. Chuck too had a perfectly tailored navy suit, but unlike myself, he had an aura about him. It was in the details. Polished brown oxfords, slim knit tie, white pocket square, silver tie click, large rimmed glassed, perfectly groomed hair, a Saks Fifth Avenue bag with flowers in the right hand, and a Kurt Vonnegut book in the left. Simply put, Chuck was muy dapper. 

    Having never forgotten what it was like to walk in Chucks shoes in the 3 minutes between the tailors and my shoelace coming undone, I've learned the following about being dapper. Dapper is more than clothes, it's a set of principles that guide your actions. Note: Ladies, apologies if it's geared towards men, but please do feel free to share with your soon to be dapper man.

    • Simplicity in your wardrobe is the ultimate form of sophistication.
    • Rebel from business casual. Burn your khakis and wear a suit.
    • Have a cobbler, a tailor, and a barber.
      • It's better if old men cut your hair.
      • Cobblers will save your shoes.
      • Get your suits tailored.
    • Own a tuxedo before the age of 30, then stay that size through your 30's.
    • No clip ons.
    • 90% of dressing well is having the right fit.
    • Never take an ex back. She tried to do better and is settling with you.
    • Date women outside your social circle. 
    • When in doubt kiss the girl.
    • Don't use the word "closure" or ever expect it in real life.
    • Find a Times New Roman in the streets and a Wingdings in the sheets. She exists.
    • Eating out alone can be magnificent. Find a place where you can sit at the bar.
    • Tip more than you should.
    • Be a regular at more than one bar.
    • When a bartender buys you a round, tip double.
    • Learn to bartend, but keep it simple.
    • Drink outdoors. And during the day. And sometimes by yourself.
    • You cannot have a love affair with whiskey because whisky will never love you back.
    • If you are wittier than you are handsome, avoid loud clubs.
    • Become your own curator of information.
    • Read more. It allows you to borrow someone else's brain.
    • The best public restrooms are in hotels.
    • If you believe in evolution, then you should know something about how it works. Approach life similarly.
    • No selfies. Aspire to experience photo-worthy moments in the company of beautiful women.
    • Take more pictures. With a camera.
    • There is always another level. Be grateful knowing that you are still better off than most who have ever lived.
    • Do not use an electric razor.
    • Throw parties. Pay for the liquor and food.
    • Always bring a bottle of something to the party.
    • Measure yourself only against your previous self.
    • When you admire the work of artists or writers, tell them. Then spend money to acquire their work.
    • Staying angry is a waste of time.
    • Stop talking about where you went to college.
    • No one cares if you are offended, so stop it.
    • Don't gamble if losing $100 is going to piss you off.
    • Always carry cash.
    • You use your cell phone too often and at the wrong moments.

    Money

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    "Well then, it looks like you'll just have to go hungry!" yelled my mom over the phone 3,000 miles away in sunny California before hanging up the phone. It was my sophomore year of college, and I stood mortified at the Cold Stone cash register having both my campus dining and debit cards rejected. Not only rejected, but immediately followed by a friendly Bank of America text notifying me I'd accumulated $200 in overdraft fees. 

    Panicked, I called home not realizing it was Mother's day, forgetting to say, "Happy Mother's Day," and instead asked for money. As you might imagine mom was infuriated and being the wonderfully fierce woman I've come to admire she wanted me to suffer the consequences of my stupidity...through starvation. 

    Bless my dad's soul, however, bless it indeed. An hour later, I get a call letting me know he'd transferred funds into my checking account. "I'll tell you, for being so-called 'smart' that was pretty stupid. Call your mother to apologize, start a budget, and for goodness sake set a calendar reminder!" Wise words. Since then I've learned the following:

    Earning Money

    • Money is really, really hard to earn.
    • The path to wealth is driven by mindsets and habits. Not get-rick-quick strategies.
    • Invest for the long run.
      • I prefer index funds with really low fees. Read The Intelligent Investor for more.
    • Use compound interest to your advantage

    Spending Money

    • Live below your means
    • Make budgeting a habit. I follow a 50/20/30 rule of thumb...
      • 50% on essentials (rent, groceries, utilities etc.)
      • 20% of financial goals (IRA, emergency fund, student loan repayment, etc.)
      • 30% on discretionary (restaurants, movies, shopping, etc.)
    • You are broke if every dollar you make is being spent, regardless of income.
    • Beware of lifestyle inflation
      • Without awareness of how you spend, you'll find you're spending $80,000 at the same rate you spent a $40,000 paycheck.
    • Cutting expenses is more powerful than increasing income.

    Debt

    • There is no such thing as good debt.
    • Debt will haunt you.
    • Prioritize debt repayment. Always pay more than the minimum monthly payment.
    • Net worth is the only number that matters.

    Money & Happiness

    • Money is a thing, that makes possible the acquisition of things. A lot of things, however, are not going to make you happy.
    • Money doesn't buy happiness, but a lack of money does guarantee misery.
    • Have a lifestyle goal, not just financial goals.
    • Financial awareness is spending your hard-earned cash on purchases that add value to your life.
    • Spend on experiences.
    • Some people are so poor all they have is money.

    Relationships

    "It's not you. It's me." She said while sipping from her In'N'Out cup. "We can still be friends, maybe even date when we're older." She then grabbed her Kate Spade purse, pushed the half eaten double-double with cheese and extra animal sauce away and walked out the door only to step into her new boyfriend's used Honda Civic waiting in the parking lot. Greg. Goddamn Greg. 

    With that, life slapped me across my 16-year-old face (twice) and would for many years to come haunt many of my future relationships. First "loves" tend to have that effect. Since then I've come to believe the following:

    • Don't seek happiness in relationships
      • Pursue others out of earnestness and not out obligation or desperation
      • Don't take rejection personally
      • Be comfortable in your skin
      • Choose to see the world in terms of compatibility and incompatibility. Then take it as your job to find the compatible.
      • Being an emotionally functional human adult is actually a difficult endeavor
      • But if you want to date an emotionally functional human adult, then you need to be an emotionally functional human adult
      • It's a radical idea, I know
    • Don't seek love in relationships
      • There is more to love than people
      • There are different kinds of love
      • While love can exist and be greatly heightened as a result of a relationship, it should not be the source of it
      • Seek self-love first
      • If love must be about a person then know this...
        • A relationship based on love is one in which each partner allows the other to be what he or she chooses, with no expectations and no demands. It is a simple association of two people who love each other so much that each would never expect the other to be something that he or she wouldn't choose for him or herself. It is a union of independence, rather than dependence. 
    • Meaningful relationships are difficult to maintain
    • Date...a lot
    • Reject the first 37% of people you date
      • Watch TED Talk below on "Optimal Stopping Theory" applied to dating (start at 7:25 mark). After watching the video and if interested in applying the theory check out this post.
    • Do not expect a single person to fulfill all of your needs
      • Likewise, do not enter a relationship with a person who expects you to fulfill all of their needs
    • Act on third order consequences
      • 1st Order: You are attracted to the other person
      • 2nd Order: You are attracted to the other person and you are compatible
      • 3rd Order: You are attracted to the other person, you are both compatible, and you are clear about why and what you hope to gain from entering into a relationship
    • Do not confuse attraction for compatibility
    • Be clear about why and what you hope to gain when entering into a relationship
      • Too often, people get into relationships simply out of convenience 
    • The best way to meet someone else is to not need to be with someone else
    • Learn to end relationships when they need to end
      • Do not prolong a relationship, remember that time is your most precious resource
    • You just got dumped...(borrowing from Mark Manson)
      • Feel the pain like a sprinter feels the burn of a last lap. Feel it! Accept its presence. Yes, it exists. Yes, it's intense.
      • Your mission is to prosper without him or her, to be independent. The way you handle this will determine if it becomes a great personal story of overcoming adversity or a permanent emotional scar.
      • Accept it 
        • You should never accept someone who doesn't want to be your partner
        • Your worth has nothing to do with their approval of you
      • Do not blame yourself
        • Guilt over the past and worry over the future are both useless emotions that inhibit our ability to live today in relaxed confidence
      • Preserve your attractiveness 
        • Public enemy #1 is to overreact
        • Most people will behave out of anger or anxiety; both forms of unearned worship
      • Be cool and focus on what's in your control 
        • Not what they're doing
        • It's not about them anymore, it's about taking care of you
        • Success here is defined by the degree they don't affect your emotional state
        • Don't interact with them until you can be relaxed and confident about it
      • Do not chase 
        • Not only does this drive them away, but it reveals a neediness and desperation
        • He or she is who they are, and you shouldn't try to change them
        • Respect their choice, and don't be deluded into acting like they are the only one for you
      • Do not be jealous 
        • Don't compare yourself to the people they talk to and date
        • Their choices reflect only on them, not you
        • Your self-worth is more important here, how you feel about yourself for yourself, not compared to some random other sap
        • Jealousy is a result of allowing something out of your control to dictate your emotions

    Happiness

    The pursuit of happiness is often this illusory journey riddled with buyer's remorse, drunken nights, and regrettable mornings. Much like that cat chasing after the laser dot. Yes that is you. However, instinctively we all know that extra beer or the dress in blue will not make us happier. What then, you may ask. Over the years, I've come to believe the following will. It is by no means definitive nor complete, simply the musings of a young man in pursuit.

    • Love yourself
      • Take care of yourself
      • Exercise and eat well
      • Sleep well at night
      • Work hard and plan ahead
      • Be social
      • Eliminate bad habits
      • Speak about your ideas without inhibition and expect nothing in return
      • Share things based on the simple pleasure of sharing
    • Do not search for happiness, but appreciate the things that make you happy
    • Happiness is not the same thing as pleasure
      • Pleasure is correlated with happiness, but does not cause it
      • Ask any drug addict how their pursuit of pleasure turned out
    • Happiness is not the same thing as positivity
    • Create your purpose
      • Do what you like doing
      • Do what you are good at doing
      • Do what you can get paid for doing
      • Do what the world needs you to do
    • Follow your curiosities
      • Play is essential for this, play sparks exploration
    • Invest in experiences
    • Invest in relationships
    • It's not about you
      • The world does not care about you, but you need to care about you
    • There is no secret to happiness

    Core Principles

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    Over the years, I’ve sought people who work for themselves, not for what others want them to do. Who come up with the best independent opinions they can muster to get what they want. Who stress-test their opinions by having the smartest people they can find challenge them, so they can find out where they are wrong. Who remain wary about being overconfident and figure out how to effectively deal with not knowing. And finally, people who wrestle with their realities, reflect upon the consequences of their decisions, and learn to improve from this process.

    Surrounding myself with individuals like this, I learned how important and how liberating it is to think for myself. A lesson leading to reflection and questioning of my beliefs. Through this iterative process, a few key principles have remained true, despite constant stress testing. I call these core principles.

    Core principles are foundational beliefs that are the basis for every decision in your life. They serve as a North Star and ultimately, I believe, affect your ability to get (or not get) what you want out of life. I challenge you to do the same. Here are mine.

    1. Time is your most precious resource, use it deliberately.

    This is by far my most important life principle. It originates from a cost-benefit analysis view of the world. Every choice you make will prevent you from pursuing alternatives. But at what cost? Understanding that basic idea has helped me create healthy habits and processes directly aligned to my goals in life.

    2. Truth - more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality - is the essential foundation for producing good outcomes.

    I believe that most initiatives (whether projects, products, or relationships) fail because of a disconnect between your assumptions of the situation and reality. Therefore, in order to successfully achieve your intended outcomes one must spend significant energy stress testing your assumptions to ensure they are aligned with reality. It’s hard, really hard. Most people do not do this, and therefore most people fail at what they aspire to accomplish. Also, look up “First Principles.”

    3. Simplicity is the ultimate form of sophistication.

    Einstein was supposedly famous for saying, “Any fool can complicate things. It takes a genius to simplify them.” I wholeheartedly believe this. You’ll find more success eliminating bad habits come New Year's resolution that creating new ones. Try it. Try improving your life through subtraction. Start with your wardrobe.

    4. You are a product of your own expectations.

    If you think you can or you cannot, you are correct. Simple as that. Set high expectations.

    5. Be antifragile.

    This comes from Nassim Taleb’s book Antifragile and to borrow from Mark Manson:

    • Often the most influential events in history are, by definition, the least anticipated. These are called “Black Swan” events.
    • As humans, we are inherently biased against noticing both the number of random events in our lives and the impact these random events have on us.
    • Due to the exponential scaling of technology, Black Swan events are becoming more common and influential than ever before.
    • Therefore, we should build up systems (and ourselves) to be “antifragile,” that is, to construct our lives and our societies in such a way as to benefit from major unanticipated events.

    The Importance of Principles

    2 minutes  ▪  by Luis M Oros

    I was once asked, "What is something you fundamentally believe to be true that most people would disagree with you on?" Some of you may recognize this question which I later stumbled upon in Peter Theil's books Zero To One.

    What do you believe? If someone asked you to write down all the things that you believe to be true in this world what would they be? How long would it take you to write them? If asked why could you defend them? Would you even believe yourself?

    I believe that having principles is essential for getting what we want out of life. I also believe that clearly defining and frequently challenging your principles is both an amazing reflective exercise as well as a means to achieve self-love. Borrowing from Ray Dalio's Principles:

    What are principles?

    Your values are what you consider important. Principles, therefore, are what allow you to live a life consistent with those values. Principles connect your values to your actions; they are beacons that guide your actions, and help you successfully navigate the world around you.

    Why are principles important?

    Without principles, you are forced to react to circumstances that come at you without considering what you value most and how to make choices to get what you want. This will prevent you from making the most of your life.

    Where do principles come from?

    Sometimes we forge our own principles and sometimes we accept others' principles. While it isn't necessarily a bad thing to use others' principles, it is difficult to come up with your own, and often much wisdom has gone into those already created, adopting pre-packaged principles without much thought exposes you to the risk of inconsistency with your true values. Holding incompatible principles can lead to conflict between values and actions. Your principles need to reflect values you really believe in.

    Do you have principles that you live your life by? What are they?

    Your principles will determine your standards of behavior. When you enter into relationships with other people, your and and their principles will determine how you interact. People who have shared values and principles get along. People who don't will suffer through constant misunderstanding and conflict with one another. Too often in relationships, people's principles are unclear. Think about the people with whom you are closest. Are their values aligned with yours?

    You will have to answer these questions for yourself. Those principles that are most valuable will come from your own experiences and your reflections on those experiences. Every time we face hard choices, we refine our principles by asking ourselves difficult questions.