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What If There Was No Tomorrow? – 110

More apologies for lateness, I’ve been sick lately. Also I’ve been working on my other podcasts: The Confirmation Bias podcast and Every Day Prepper
New car fiasco – I bought a new Honda Accord V6 Touring just to find that it makes some whining/ringing noise at highway speeds. The dealer heard the noise but could not fix it, so I was stuck with a car I hated (because of the noise).  Even though I couldn’t return it, I was able to exchange it for a Honda Accord Hybrid. I’m digging the tech in the hybrid and it has power. You couldn’t tell it was a hybrid driving the car. Lesson learned is try new things, and test things in all possible conditions.

Carpe Diem

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.”
Marcus Aurelius
Atheists have no “afterlife” to rely on so do they live this life to the fullest. And Religious people who believe in an afterlife are calmed with the belief that they won’t die (forever), just move on to the next adventure. And they will see loved ones in the next life. So there are advantages to both philosophies.
What If There Was No Tomorrow? – 110 2017-07-21T01:15:50+00:00

The Secret To Success – 109

Originally it was thought that the predictor of a person being successful was IQ. Traditional intelligence is a critical factor to being successful, however there are some attributes to intelligence that can lead to ones downfall. One is ego. Ego is the enemy. Also Tetlock in Superforecasting determined that the most intelligent forecasters were not necessarily the most accurate. IQ is definitely a contributing factor but by itself insufficient to success.

Next EQ, emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.

EQ was thought to be the secret to success, a critical requirement for leadership. Imagine how helpful it is for leaders in general and successful people specifically to achieve success through the help of others. The best way to elicit others help and motivate them is via EQ. While EQ is definitely a strength that facilitates success, it alone is also insufficient.

Multiple Intelligences

Hard work was also considered the key to success. It is true that hard work is a requirement. Consider it the gas in your tank. Nothing gets accomplished by just thinking about it. Action must be taken. A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step, and many thousands of steps after the first one are required to complete the journey. The world is full of smart, hard working people who have failed to achieve their success.
Grit as a secret formula to success.
Courage and resolve; strength of character – Google dictionary.
Angela Duckworth defined grit as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Achievement of difficult goals entails not only talent but also the sustained and focused application of talent over time.
Grit is that force which helps one persevere through adversity, it gets one back on the horse after falling off. It is true that grit is essential to success. There are many failures in the path to success. Silicon valley has a famous quote of Fail Fast and Fail Often. While grit is essential to success it is also insufficient by itself.
The Dunedin study made clear that the single greatest indicator of future success for study participants was self control (aka Will Power). Grit can be considered another word for self control. A word of caution about self control: This is an exhaustible and renewable resource that has significant limitations. If it were so easy, we could will ourselves to become what we wish we were. The reality is that you revert to what you are. By that I mean we have a homeostasis where our thoughts and feelings invariably guide us to. Will power can force a temporary deviation but we always revert back to the mean (our mean – homeostasis). Example – the typical diet, new years resolution, or exercise program. The vast majority of people revert back to their “usual ways”. Habit modification can bring about permanent change, this is a slow and tricky process, but one that is effective.
Creativity is considered the key in many circles. There are many books and podcasts with the word “creative” in it. Although creativity is an amazingly impactful component to solving problems and generating content, it alone is also not the single key to success. Applying creativity is challenging because even incredibly talented people can die broke. A good example of this are all the world class artists who only became successful after their deaths. The world needed time to learn to appreciate their great works. I discussed this in Super Smart Guy Podcast episode 106, Hit Makers.
The concept of a growth mindset also caught on as a key to success. How can someone become better if they have a fixed mindset? Fixed mindset is the idea that we must be born with a talent in order to become great at something. The growth mindset is the philosophy that anyone can achieve any goal if they set their mind to it. I wholeheartedly agree that the growth mindset is essential to success. However, that alone is also insufficient for success.
10,000 hours became popular with Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. K. Anders Ericsson pioneered research in the field of excellence that 10K hours along with deliberate practice and masterful coaching were required to become great at something – such as playing a musical instrument or practicing a sport. Actually this philosophy can be applied to pretty much anything that one can learn to do or be. Think cerebral and physical (doctor, engineer, musician, athlete). Again I feel this is essential to success but insufficient by itself. For example there are many very talented and creative artists and musicians in the world who will die poor because their talents are not recognized in their lifetime.
I have researched a lot of people’s success and what is present in every story is some element of luck. I challenge any successful person to look you in the eye and honestly say that luck had absolutely nothing to do with their success. The problem is if you sit at home hoping luck will make you successful, without your exerting effort then you miss the point. Luck is a necessary ingredient but definitely insufficient for success. How can one win the lottery if they don’t buy the ticket? I had outright arguments with coaches and other idealistic people who think luck has nothing to do with it, and that it’s all about hard work and determination. I know of many hard working and determined people who haven’t achieved success.

Some people think Darwin is quoted as saying “It Is Not the Strongest of the Species that Survives But the Most Adaptable.” There is a theory that it was someone else discussing Darwin who said it. Either way everyone can agree that evolution and adaptation is essential of the success of a species. Life is the best test of success. Who survives? Everything stems from evolution. Biological evolution has been studied for many decades and is well understood now, but how does adaptability apply to success in the modern world? We have so many technological advantages today that almost everyone can survive, and even thrive. The strongest by far are not the advantaged anymore. Evolution applied to a product means that the company who manufactures it is constantly improving it based on its’ success and customer feedback. Evolution applied to personal development is constant improvement. Go with what works, and drop or fix what doesn’t. Adaptability is a powerful skill to improve oneself and be successful. But alone it is not the sole key to success.

Gratitude helps one cope with the stress of life. They say one can’t feel gratitude and be depressed or sad. Feeling gratitude eliminates the negative feelings that produce stress hormones. Also negative thinking wires the brain for failure.

To summarize, we looked at several factors that are required but by themselves insufficient to bring about success:
Emotional Intelligence
Hard Work
Self Control/Will Power
Growth Mindset
10K Hours
It is likely that some combination of these characteristics are necessary for success. Like making a master recipe, a combination of ingredients in just the right portions and added at just the right time are required for success. And there is one more factor I want to add that is often overlooked: Drive.
If you are to ask me what is the single most important factor to success, I will tell you that it is drive. Because with drive you are able to achieve all the other factors in order to become successful. It can be argued that there is no guarantee luck will favor you in your pursuits. This is true, however for as long as you are driven to try, you will get another chance at luck.
The Secret To Success – 109 2017-06-21T01:57:06+00:00

The Signal and the Noise – 108

The Signal and the Noise: Why So Many Predictions Fail – But Some Don’t by Nate Silver

Nate silver writes on his blog about sports and political forecasting.

Most economists try to predict too accurately and are too confident about their skills.
Every prediction always needs the proper assessment of a human being.
You can use Bayes’ theorem to account for errors in your own predictions.

describes the probability of an event, based on prior knowledge of conditions that might be related to the event. For example, if cancer is related to age, then, using Bayes’ theorem, a person’s age can be used to more accurately assess the probability that they have cancer, compared to the assessment of the probability of cancer made without knowledge of the person’s age.

We are not very good at predicting the future.
Biases decrease accuracy of forecasting. Sometimes the bias is from special interests.
Having a pre-existing narrative or political partisanship bias negatively impacts forecasting accuracy.
The author discussed several examples such as predicting the stock market, poker, weather, earthquakes and other natural phenomenon, and terrorist/economic/political events.
I feel the perfect back-to-back reading is to read with this book –
Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction by Philip E. Tetlock, Dan Gardner
Also relevant is the book –
Ego Is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
Like the author, Ryan Holiday mentions how the ego can  be ones downfall.
The signal is a metaphor for the correct data.
The noise is a metaphor for inaccurate data and other irrelevant information that misleads and causes predictions to fail.
Prediction is saying that a specific thing (usually with a level of severity) will happen at a specific time.
Forecasting is saying that an event has a statistical likelihood of occurrence within an approximate time frame.
Use common sense and human judgement in forecasting as well as math and statistics. Example is baseball scouts and statistical analysis of players performance.
Reference: Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game by Michael Lewis
With the advent of the Internet and big data, the shear volume of data has increased exponentially. This makes it harder to separate the signal from the noise. The internet contains more data now but there’s no guarantee it is correct data.
People are by nature pattern seeking creatures. Often times we see patterns where there are none.
Causation vs. correlation
Occam’s razor – Among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected, or, all things being equal, the simplest solution tends to be the correct one.
False positives are as dangerous if not more so than false negatives. For example, the odds of a test being wrong can be greater than the odds of having the condition to begin with. Example, getting cancer may be 1% while a false positive for having cancer may be 10%. This was actually seen with breast and prostate cancer.
The boy crying wolf syndrome where forecasting is ignored then something bad happens.
“The fox knows many little things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing”.
To predict the behavior of a system requires a thorough understanding of it. Weather, stock market, political predictions, earthquakes. These complex systems have so many moving parts, makes it nearly impossible to predict with perfection. The farther out in time one tries to predict, the less accurate the prediction becomes (and quickly).
Weather programs on TV predict on the “wetter” side because if they are wrong and you get wet, people are pissed while if they predict rain and you get sun the people are pleasantly surprised. There is bias in predictions, even weather.
earthquakes and terrorist attacks follow a power law distribution – smaller events occur more frequently and significant events occur infrequently.
Stock market example – if there is a pattern that can be identified by people, they will take advantage of it and effectively work it out of the system (make it disappear). I held this theory for a while then heard the author describe something similar. The market is driven to total chaos and unpredictability because of this – noise injected into the system by human behavior.
How bubbles work – people stay in the market too long and don’t know when it will pop. You know when you are in a bubble because you can’t believe prices keep rising. But FOMO keeps you in the market and it becomes a game of chicken.
Predictions can be self-fulfilling (elections) or self-canceling (flu)
Overfitting (too much noise) vs. underfitting (not enough data) data.
There is always some uncertainty in models and forecasting
model accuracy depends on our understanding of how the specific situation works, complexity of the situation, and time
timing the stock market is rarely profitable due to following wrong trends and being charged fees. Investing long term is more profitable, i.e. buy and hold or using index funds. Use low fee index funds that track the market (i.e. S&P). Tony Robbins in Money, Master the Game agrees with this philosophy.
80/20 rule, one can get good at something quickly. law of diminishing returns.
In some predictions one is competing with the model, in others they are also competing with other forecasters. (poker example)
If one is competing against other humans, heuristics and strategies used can be used against them. Not applicable to non-human models such as weather and earthquakes.
Inside view – considering all the factors related to one particular model and forecast
Outside view – considering factors related to several instances grouped by similarity
Past performance is not a predictor of future events. (stock market and investing)
In seismology, the Gutenberg–Richter law (GR law) expresses the relationship between the magnitude and total number of earthquakes in any given region and time period of at least that magnitude.
No other forecasting has been able to reliably beat the accuracy of the GR law because more complicated models overfit data. Simplest is usually best. Same for simple mode of baseball player vs. age compared to more complex models.
Weather forecasters have access to a vast amounts of data, and weather happens constantly which provides them rapid feedback loops that allow them to repeatedly test their hypotheses. Same for baseball.
The combined use of modeling the system and human judgment does notably better than modeling alone (for weather and baseball).

The more famous a political pundit/expert is the more likely they are to be incorrect on average.

Averaging across individual experts’ forecasts provides better forecasts than the average for any one individual, the difference being about 15-20%

Spaghetti model for hurricane tracking.

Some experts are better than others. Experts who do better tend to be multidisciplinary, pursue multiple approaches to forecasting at the same time, be willing to change their minds, offer probabilistic predictions, and rely more on observation than on theory.

The Signal and the Noise – 108 2017-06-02T03:06:10+00:00

Make vs. Buy, or to Outsource or Not – 107

This episode is part of the Systems engineering for non-systems people series.

Make vs. buy is a frequently encountered paradigm. It starts out with a need for a product (or service). A customer has a need and they must decide to buy something off the shelf and customize it to fit their needs or to make it from scratch. We do this all the time when we buy restaurant food vs. making it ourselves at home.
The off the shelf item is cheaper than making it from scratch because when you buy someone’s product you are leveraging all the research and development they have done in the making of that product. The benefits are cost, timeliness (it already exists), and customer service. The drawbacks are usually in the form of customization. An off the shelf product may not meet all your needs. Usually most of your needs are met, but there will be a handful of needs that you will struggle to get, and some needs may never be met.
When it comes to services, you can choose to do something yourself our outsource it (or delegate). The benefits to outsourcing are that you hire experts to do it vs. making amateur mistakes yourself. Also outsourcing saves time – while you pay someone else to do your task, this frees up your time to do what you do best.
Specialization of labor is something modern society benefits from – the ability to have a few people become experts in their field. Rather than us needing to be a jack of all trades you can pay someone to do tasks in exchange for money. Money simply allows us to more easily calculate the benefit of an activity or product, and it facilitates the exchange of them. Imagine if we didn’t have money, you would cut grass for the plumber who would fix your toilet. Inefficient.
I’ve heard many pundits the field of coaching preach the power of outsourcing and how that saves you time to work on your core business. This is true information if in fact you are an expert in your field (doctor) and your time is better spent performing inside your expertise (operating, researching, etc) rather than cutting your grass or repairing drywall.
There are benefits of doing things yourself. for one you save money on labor. Just be careful to know what you are doing before you do it. With the internet and YouTube, you can get schooled in the fine arts of your endeavor before you embark on the journey.
Doing things gives you a sense of accomplishment. This is good for the soul. In prior podcasts I discussed how important it is for you to get small wins under your belt in order to tackle large goals. Accumulate small wins and build momentum.
Learning to do things yourself gives you more independence and resilience. It’s good to have capabilities and not rely on others to do things for you. I have known people who lived in a house full of broken stuff, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, and not know how to fix anything. It’s always a lack of will – anyone can do anything if they set their mind to it. Think Growth Mindset.
In addition to getting wins under your belt, doing things gives you a sense of accomplishment. Every time you see that thing you fixed or installed, you feel good about it and yourself.
And don’t forget it can be all about fun! I thoroughly enjoy doing things around the house. I enjoy the challenge and appreciate the results. Learning how to do things brings a tremendous level of satisfaction.
Be careful, when your friends learn about your ability to fix stuff, you will get a lot of calls!
Make vs. Buy, or to Outsource or Not – 107 2017-05-18T02:59:00+00:00

Hit Makers – 106

Hit Makers: The Science of Popularity in an Age of Distraction by Derek Thompson discusses why and how things become popular. He has thoroughly researched his material and the book is written in a storytelling manner which lends itself fantastically to audio. I highly recommend this book for its educational value as well as how easy and enjoyable it is to read (or listen to). You will get a lot out of this book whether you read it for leisure or to self-educate. I highly recommend this book.

My observation of the author’s work is that that there are 2 ways in which something can become popular, organically or promoted. I have seen this many times outside the book. In social media advertising regarding content there are organic vs. paid views. Analytics are gathered and classified as organic when the post receives views naturally, usually based on the value of the post. One can also pay for views which can be considered advertising (boost your post). These are considered paid views. Likewise a song can become a hit organically if it is great and gets circulated by a fan base (which includes DJ’s and non-paid reviews by popular people). Also a song can be promoted (pushed) by a label and through intentional means become a hit.

We grow to like something the more we are exposed to it.
Good work naturally rises to the top. (organic)
Promoted songs can become chart toppers based on exposure. (promoted)
People can develop an immunity to irritating content or over-exposure such as commercials.

Personal anecdote: I went to a country bar to take swing dance lessons. They played country music mixed in with the dance music, and after the lesson it was mostly country. I eventually grew to like country. I never liked the old school twangy country, and I do like modern country, so it could have been a combination of exposure and the modernization of the country music genre that caused me to like it.

Organic ideas can be like a pressure cooker over time, the artist builds skill or a body of work, creates a following and marches towards critical mass until the artist and the art can no longer be unknown.
the work or the artist gets picked up in a popular news feed or reviewed in an outlet (like the TV show Oprah), the one to many (millions) multiplier effect kicks in.
One good idea or funny thing gets shared and a geometric multiplying factor happens.

My impression from the book was that few mega-popular people are the ones who actually cause popularity to occur. This may be a nuanced point but I believe it works with more people who are less popular, maybe hundreds or thousands of followers vs. the handful of people who have millions of followers. There is probably some sliding scale where the majority of “viral” ideas are popularized by a bell shaped curve.

Chewbacca Mom is an example of an average person’s video going “viral”.

The author states “Quality, it seems, is a necessary, but insufficient attribute for success.”
And I’d like to add that the quality is very subjective. There are some TV shows and songs that I find total rubbish, however they are mega hits. I guess they better not put me in charge of picking the new hits. LOL.

People are both “neophilic – curious to discover new things – and deeply neophobic – afraid of anything that’s too new. I see a parallel in political views. Conservatives hold value in old and traditional ways (neophobic) while liberals and progressives embrace change (neophilic).

The author describes a hit such as a song or movie as containing both novel and familiar elements. There is enough familiar in it for the audience to relate and enough new for there to be a freshness about it. Star Wars and Brahm’s Lullaby are used in the book as 2 examples. Star wars has many elements of the traditional Hero’s Journey
and Lullaby has origins in a folksong that was widely known back in the day.

The author discusses how going viral is nothing like a virus. With a virus the spread of the contagion occurs from one individual to another single individual and repeated many times. In modern life when a YouTube video or social media meme goes viral it occurs when a few people with a very large audience shares it. One-to-many such as a book appearing on Oprah.

Some trends grow in popularity then lose their appeal over time. The laugh track on TV sitcoms is one example. TV shows were recorded in front of live audiences to give it more of a “fresh” and real feeling. Then the audience was dropped, I assume because of budget or time constraints, so they added a laugh track and played it every time something funny happened. As TV evolved to more a movie-like feel, the laugh track became a parody of itself. Movies are “big-time” and TV wanted to emulate this, so they did away with TV like things and now TV shows are like short movies.

Bill Haley, a half-blind self-taught guitarist, wanted to record a song titled Rock Around the Clock. Essex label founder ripped up the sheet music in front of him. Haley decided to go to Decca, who required him to record a song “13 Women”, which was about man who is custodian of a harem after an H-bomb destroys the world. Rock Around the Clock was put on the B-side and mostly forgotten about. 2 years later it was used to kick off the movie Blackboard Jungle. A leading actor in the movie, Glen Ford, asked his son what kids today were listening to. His son showed him a couple songs including Rock Around the Clock. Ford brought the song to director Richard Brooks and the rest is history.
This is an example of how a good body of work may not make it to the spotlight, but becomes an underground hit. Then it is featured on a one-to-many distribution source and goes big.

Raymond Loewy created MAYA which means Most Advanced Yet Acceptable. Examples of this were discussed such as mimeographs, trashbins, bullet-shaped train locomotives, Coldspot refrigerators, and Lucky Strike cigarette packs.

“MAYA offers three clear lessons. First: Audiences don’t know everything, but they know more than creators do. Second: To sell something familiar, make it surprising. To sell something surprising, make it familiar. Third: People sometimes don’t know what they want until they already love it.”
My interpretation of how MAYA works, and the neophilic vs neophobic syndrome is this: Imagine a bell distribution curve. To the left is complete newness, to the right is total familiarity. The highest desirability is in the middle somewhere, where novelty mixes with familiarity. At the extremes, the idea is less liked. Too new and people can’t relate to it, too familiar and it’s a copy, a worn out song on the radio. I wonder if relationships are like this as well.

Casandra syndrome – occurs when valid warnings or concerns are dismissed or disbelieved. Also
when someone has a realization and nobody believes them. I see an example of this is when Michael Burry profits from creating credit default swaps by betting against market-based mortgage-backed securities. One way you can be victim of the Casandra syndrome is if you see a black swan event (Nassim Nicholas Taleb) coming before anyone else, but nobody will believe you. This does happen every once in a while due to the law of large numbers. Easily foreseen events are acted upon frequently because they are easily seen. This is why Black Swan events are so impactful.

 Caillebotte, whose collection became the Impressionist canon

“the impressionist canon focuses on a tight cluster of seven core painters: Manet, Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Renoir, Pissarro, and Sisley – the Caillebotte Seven. When painter and collector Gustave Caillebotte donated his art collection upon his untimely death, his donation helped to create the impressionist canon. The power of repeated exposure, whether it is paintings that are exhibited or other things is a powerful tool in determining what is a hit.

What makes a song succeed? “Even at the dawn of the American music business, to make a song a hit, a memorable melody was secondary to an ingenious marketing campaign.”

The author makes a note how people claim that new forms of media kill old ones. Newspapers, radio, TV, internet. VHS, DVD, Netflix. The truth is that the popularity of media evolves, yes. However older forms of media still exist. Despite the internet we still have magazines, newspapers, and radio/TV shows. However people do prefer on-demand vs. broadcast due to its’ convenience, binge watching ability, and an all-you-can-eat plan.

“Does great art begin with feedback, or does it start with the opposite–a quiet space, devoid of distractions, where creators can turn the spotlight inward and make something mostly for themselves?”

“perhaps the best writers also knew to just do the work and forget, for a moment, that anyone would ever read their reverie”

Many works of art were undervalued or underappreciated in their day. Some because of feedback loop, others because ahead of their time (maybe too much novelty, not enough familiarity?).

“there is such a thing as too much familiarity. It’s everywhere, in fact. It’s hearing a catchy song for the tenth time in a row, watching a movie that is oh so predictably uncreative, or hearing a talented speaker use over familiar buzzword after buzzword. In fluency studies, the power of familiarity is discounted when people realize that the moderator is trying to browbeat them with the same stimulus again and again. This is one reason why so much advertising doesn’t work: People have a built-in resistance to marketing that feels like it’s trying to seduce them.”

Facebook changed news delivery. Many people get news from Facebook now. Facebook has algorithms that control what comments and news and ads you see. Facebook likes, shares and comments pour into an algorithm that is constantly reordering the feed to surface the most relevant stuff at the top. People who see positive articles are more positive in their posts, and likewise for negative articles. Moods are contagious.

Click-bait headlines: “Wonder about/if you think. The answer will surprise you.”

Aspirational vs. actual behavior
McDonalds offers healthy options on the menu to get you in the door. (aspirational behavior) However when the people ordered food, unhealthy decisions outnumber healthy ones. (actual behavior).

Kay Kamen (Herman Samuel Kominetsky) Baltimore, Russian emigre, hs dropout, juvenile penitentiary in teens, selling mink hats in Nebraska, unattractive but successful salesman, in 1920s, specialized in developing products based on movies, 1932 saw Mickey Mouse cartoon and recognized the mouse could be a star beyond movies, called walt and Roy: “let me sell your cartoon mouse.” He suggested move MM out of dime store into dept stores, which was where consumers were moving.
Signed to license Disney character merchandising worldwide. Hollywood regarded toys as ads for movies. Kamen saw the money in merchandising. Biggest: Mickey Mouse watch, which debuted Chicago World Fair in 1933.

People find a blend of many average faces more attractive to a classically attractive face. Apparently average is attractive.

People are born average (homogeneous) and die unique (specialized).

Radio airplay products of testing and distribution strategies that ran on sheet music and shoe leather.
SPotify playlist by Napster cofounder Sean Parker credited with launching Lorde’s “Royals” 2013. Tastemakers. Call Me Maybe didn’t take off for a year until Justin Bieber praised it on Twitter.

HitPredictor (iHeart Media, the largest owner of radio stations in the US), predicts based on playing a hook from a new song to online audience 3 times — to capture the catchiness in a vacuum, numerical rating. But: every year catchy songs don’t become hits.

Streaming internet radio station was picking songs it thought listeners liked. Then the database was erased and they started from scratch.

2016 politics changed. Candidates Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio had the elite party support but flamed out. “The GOP candidate with the least elite support, Donald Trump, spent less than $20 million on advertising. But he still won the primary in a landslide, because his outrageous statements and improbable candidacy were such irresistible fodder for networks and publishers desperate for audiences. Through the summer of 2016, Trump had earned $3 billion in “free media”, which was more than the rest of his rivals combined.”
The more things you are asked to remember about a person you like, the less you are to like the person after making the list. Fewer is better.People remember songs for their chorus. Hook in speeches too.
Repetition has made aphorisms sound true. “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit….an apple a day keeps the doctor away.

aphorism – a pithy observation that contains a general truth, such as, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”.

Speeches — Yes we can, repetition of epistrophe. Speechmaking tricks: rhetorical inversion: It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s size of the fight in the dog, ABBADale Carnegie: Arguments: If you lose it, you lose it; and if you win it, you lose it. Happiness doesn’t depend on outward conditions. It depends on inner conditions..
To be interesting, be interested.
Shared experience – goosebumps
The author used 50 Shades of Grey as a viral myth. He states that the author E.L. James went through stages of success. A fan recast Twilight’s Edward as CEO with flair for bondage and was re-titled as “50 Shades of Grey” by E.L. James. James received a following online and had modest success. DivaMom and others evangelized the e-book, giving it a springboard to larger audiences. Best Romance nominated in 2011 based on Goodreads reviews. Morning TV talk-show interviews followed. Publications like Wallstreet Journal and the New York Times praised the author’s works.
Analogies to Malcolm Gladwell’s Tipping Point:
Connectors – people who know others, super connectors are like celebs or bloggers with millions of followers
Mavins – expert in the field, initiates discussions
Salesmen – persuasive people, charismatic, influencers
Stickyness factor – similar to 50 Shades that was very popular and well liked, memorable
Power of Context – Broken windows policy, subway graffiti. I see this as social proof and exposure over time. If the graffiti is cleaned up immediately people will think of the area as safe and clean. Let graffiti accumulate and the exposure proves that the area is run down.
Hit Makers – 106 2017-05-05T02:22:16+00:00

Personal Time is Productive Time – 105

Tips for using personal time to become more productive.
Learning time – when I run I listen to audio books or podcasts.
Also take time out to read.
Meditation time – bike riding or walks are meditation time for me.
Exercise gets the heart pumping which also stimulates the brain. Sitting is the new smoking.
Time block but inside the blocks be flexible. Take breaks. It’s part of the creative process.

The brain is an additive device. You can’t subtract ideas.
Don’t think of a pink elephant.
You can add new things, but can’t intentionally forget an idea or memory.
Stressful or unproductive experience – how to mitigate this?
People will obsess over an idea, especially if it is strongly emotional.
People can’t help but have their thought drawn to strong emotional experiences, even when this doesn’t serve you well.
If these thoughts enter your mind, say STOP! out loud. If in public think it or whisper it. But the louder you do it the more effective it will be.
The external command of saying stop has a larger impact than just thinking it.
Modalities for example, loud and close have larger impact than small and far away.
Thinking about a bad experience doesn’t add new information that will help you, all it does is have you relive it over and over again. This is not productive. It induces stress and anxiety.
I am not saying resist. What you resist persists. So think and feel it once. Then let it go.
Address what you need to do, pay a fine, search for a job, whatever you need to do to seek closure. But make sure your actions are productive.
Looking for new information is an external process, not internal. Obsessing over it by thinking of it constantly is highly unlikely to help you remember something new. You are better served to investigate this on the external.
This can be easier said than done. A strategy is needed to help you forget unproductive things.
If you are obsessing over mad experiences you are paying an opportunity cost by not thinking of good and productive things.
Saying stop will give you an interrupt if you are thinking of something unproductive. This alone is not enough because in the presence of a vacuum your brain will drift off to the most sticky thought and that is most likely the thing you are trying to forget. You need to displace the bad thought with a good thought.
Occupy your thoughts with productive things. Imagine your mind is a glass of water. The bad thought is hot water, scolding water. Now imagine a good thought is like pouring cold water into this glass. The hot and cold water mixes creating warm water. Warm water is more tolerable when you stick your hand in it. Preoccupying your mind with productive or good thoughts will distract you from the bad thoughts.
Whenever you think of something you reinforce it. The goal is to think of good things and reinforce those neural pathways. The less you think of the bad thought, the more it fades into obscurity. Time heals all wounds. Eventually you will forget the bad thought. Feed the good wolf, not the bad one.
Everyone inside them has a good wolf and a bad wolf. Which one wins? The one you feed.
Opportunity cost.

Personal Time is Productive Time – 105 2017-04-25T02:38:50+00:00

Human Limits are Arbitrary – 104

Human limits are arbitrary.

There are many levels of capability, most people are not aware of.
When you think you can’t, you probably can.
When I use to play racquetball there were people I could easily defeat, and those who could easily defeat me. None of which were considered professional.

There are many levels of capability. It’s a long journey to mastery.

Ultra Marathon, etc.
Nature vs. nurture. It’s almost always nurture. With few limits on nature.
Future genetic engineering and hormone therapies change the game.
How Steroid use is a cheat.
every ultra triathlon (Ironman) event must involve more than 2.4 miles (3.86 km) of swimming, 112 miles (180.25 km) of cycling, and a full marathon (26.2 mi or 42.2 km) of running.
Human Limits are Arbitrary – 104 2017-04-03T03:45:46+00:00

What is your Homeostasis? – 103

I have seen many people go on a diet. They looked great as a result of their weight loss. They worked hard and achieved their goals through exercise and diet. The problem is pretty much all of them went right back to their original weight and fitness levels a year or less after achieving their goals. Getting to your goal is only the beginning of your journey. maintaining that level is the true challenge. The challenge will be with you for life.

Homeostasis –
The tendency of the body to seek and maintain a condition of balance or equilibrium within its internal environment, even when faced with external changes –
The property of a system within the body of a living organism in which a variable, such as the concentration of a substance in solution, is actively regulated to remain very nearly constant –
Think salinity of the ocean. The sun evaporates water making the ocean more salty. It rains diluting the salinity. There is an average salinity – the ocean homeostasis level of salt.

In statistics, regression toward (or to) the mean is the phenomenon that if a variable is extreme on its first measurement, it will tend to be closer to the average on its second measurement –
Sometimes you will have good days, sometimes you will have bad days. But your days average out.

Homeostasis suggests there are forces working to return the metric back to a naturally occurring point. Regression to the mean states that at the time you observed the condition, it was at an anomalous point and will return to a more normalized point in the future. Or was outside the normal at the time of measure.

One can also push a heavy object up a hill only to have it roll back down to the bottom once they stop exerting force on the object. Many ways to describe the same thing – you attempt to change something but once you stop exerting the force, it returns to its homeostasis. So how does one maintain their level of success?

A well known example if the homeostasis problem is weight loss, however there are many other examples of this. Working towards a business goal as an entrepreneur, getting good grades as a student, and saving money for retirement are other examples.

In order to maintain the level of success you have achieved, you must change to a new normal. Move the homeostasis to a new point. There are many techniques that can do this. Habits and auto pilot are two main strategies that I have discussed in previous podcast episodes.

Use your control system to drive your behavior to a new homeostasis. Shifting your set-point. Refer to previous podcast episode on closed loop feedback control system.

You create your own identity. If you want to shift your set-point you need to change your identity. If you identify yourself as athletic and one who eats well, you will choose behaviors that enforce that identity/model.

Mini habits can help maintain identity and momentum. Will power is limited and can’t sustain a new behavior. This is why you must shift your set-point. You can do so with autopilot and systems. This is a lifestyle change. Most people are not able to change who they are at their core, but on rare occasions this can happen with life changing experiences. Divorce or a death in the family are negative examples. Changing career, going to school, or moving are positive examples. However these events alone are not enough to permanently fix your set-point to the new location. You must evaluate where you are and where you want to go. Look for behavioral triggers and avoid them or re-program how you react to the triggers. Create new autopilot behaviors that steer you in the desired direction.

Headwind and tailwind biases. Asymmetric bias.

It’s easy to be driven to achieve a goal, but much harder to be driven to maintain once that goal is reached.

Switch! By The Heath Brothers – 92

Mini Habits – 99

What is your Homeostasis? – 103 2017-03-22T02:20:01+00:00

Take the Big Leap into your Zone of Genius – 102

Quick note on self development. Don’t call it self help. People who are immature or have a fixed mindset will ridicule you for it. They will get the impression you are a loser in life looking to self medicate with books. The fact that anyone wants to become a better person is commendable. Also, development information is like taking a pill for an ailment. The key is to take the right pill for what ails you. With that said it’s OK to accumulate knowledge as long as you don’t become an armchair quarterback that hoards knowledge without taking any action. Remember my story about teaching Salsa, I tell students they need to practice for 2 hours for every 1 hour of class-time. That is an absolute minimum. If you don’t take action on what you learn, why bother learning? Why read car brochures if you aren’t going to buy one?

The Big Leap – Conquer your fear and take life to the next level by Gay Hendricks
Take the Big Leap into your Zone of Genius.
2 big takeaways from the book:
When you operate in your zone of genius you are performing at your optimal level, using skills you are uniquely qualified at, and enjoying it every step of the way.
We have an upper limit problem that kicks in when we are doing well. The problem is we self sabotage.

Some books will give you techniques you can implement in just a few hours and improve your skills in whatever you are seeking to do. There are other books that teach skills or communicate ideas that are not as easily implemented. This does not mean the concepts are flawed or the author is not good at explanations. What this means is that the skills are more difficult to master or maybe the point is more nuanced. The book The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks in my opinion follows the latter type of book. The author is teaching a technique in his book that works with the subconscious. Such skills I find more difficult to master because the subconscious isn’t as easy to put your finger on as say the conscious mind. For example, cognitive therapy is straightforward to many people because it deals with modifying the conscious thinking you are aware of. These problems dwell above the surface and are usually in full view. To contrast this, the subconscious is a more elusive medium to work with. It can take people weeks, months, or years to get a handle on some subconscious problems. Many people struggle with subconscious issues their entire lives, never resolving them. I once saw Tony Robbins use NLP to cure a man of a stuttering problem he had his entire life with a 1 hour session. I was amazed how Tony was able to reach in and identify the subconscious problem that was driving the man to stutter. It wasn’t a brain defect or learning disability, it was a behavior pattern that developed as a child and continued through his life.

Even though I don’t see Gay Hendricks mention he is practicing NLP, I can detect it in his techniques.

The Upper Limit Problem kicks in when we are doing well. The problem is we self sabotage.
The key idea with the Upper Limit Problem is that when you attain higher levels of success, you often create personal dramas in your life that cloud your world with unhappiness and prevent you from enjoying your enhanced success.

Each of us has an inner thermostat. When we succeed beyond a certain point, the thermostat kicks in and self-sabotage starts.

Common ways of upper-limiting yourself:
1. Worry. Sometimes we feel worry is productive. It never is. Worry is mental energy expended over something where you have no control.
2. Criticism. Criticizing others can be a distraction to a bigger problem. Or lack of empathy.
3. Deflection. You did great! No I really sucked. Rather just accept the complement and move on.
4. Arguing. Competing to be the victim. Irritability. Lacking empathy. Picking fights to distract or get attention.
5. Illness and injuries. Obviously, some are real, but many are produced by our own minds to punish, protect, or prevent something.

4 thermostat triggers:
Feeling Fundamentally Flawed: Something is wrong with me.
Disloyalty and Abandonment: Doing well leaves others behind.
Believing That More Success Brings a Bigger Burden: Being successful raises expectation of me.
The Crime of Outshining: Success makes others look bad.

The author outlines these 4 specific thermostat triggers. However I bet there may be more. For example, Impostor’s Syndrome where we feel we don’t deserve to be in a specific role that is above what we are use to performing in. I find it intriguing that we would self-sabotage like that. I must admit I have done this before. In highschool I cheated on a Spanish vocabulary test so that friends would think I was cool. Sad thing was I got caught, and funnier still is that I knew the words – I had no reason to cheat. I would add that, the subconscious could think you are going in the wrong direction – maybe achieving success in an endeavor that is not congruent with your goals or values, then self sabotage to force you to pivot. I feel there are many categories of self sabotage, more than the 4 that the author outlines in the book.

When you operate in your zone of genius you are performing at your optimal level, using skills you are uniquely qualified at, and enjoying it every step of the way.

The author discusses the 4 zones of competence and how we perform in each one.

The Zone of Incompetence: Everything we’re not good at. Delegate or find a creative way to avoid them.
The Zone of Competence: Things you can do but so can others. Delegate as well. Commodity.
The Zone of Excellence: Things you do extremely well. You do well here except that you are missing your opportunity to truly excel. Also commodity.
The Zone of Genius: Your unique strengths. You love to do this. Not a commodity. You can create a brand, generate momentum, and become a leader here.

Working in the zone of genius is like working to your strengths (Marcus Buckingham).
The author promotes that one must say no to most things and only say yes to working in your zone of genius. This is like The One Thing (Gary Keller).

Other miscallaneous points made in the book:

“Fear is excitement without the breath.” Fritz Perls

Basically what you resist, persists.

Have the difficult conversation. “sweaty 10 minute conversation”

Use a mantra to help eliminate negative self talk. “I expand in abundance, success, and love every day, as I inspire those around me to do the same.”

“Newtonian time” vs “Einsteinian time” time. The author talks about how one can make more time for themselves in a mystical way. I think this is silly, but you can affect how you react to the circumstances. For example the author uses an example of a man late for a meeting riding the subway. The author believes if one is calm and thinks they have more time then they can bend time, creating it out of thin air. I disagree with this idea. Instead I choose to interpret this as a metaphor for why sweat the small stuff and the stuff outside your control. No need to get all worked up about being late on the subway, what is done is done. However if you can get up earlier for the meeting, you can be a master of time by preparing sufficiently.

I need to make a comparison to this book and The Secret. Like this book, The Secret has a part that is real and one that is imaginary (one I disagree with). The Secret states that if you wish into the universe, then the universe will manifest your wish and make it happen. I don’t believe in supernatural nonsense, so wishing into the universe will not create tangible things or events. However I do believe in positive intent. You must make it real in your mind before it can be real in life. But the next step is not to sit and wait for a benevolent universe to do all the work. It’s your job to make it happen. Self fulfilling prophecy is when you think something will happen, then do things (maybe at a subconscious level) to make it happen. I truly believe in the power of positive intent. Your will can make things happen, as long as you follow up your thinking with action.

Placebo is a real thing, so real that all studies now have a double blind or some comparison to placebo or base. This means that perception can be very real. Your mind can change things to an extent, or at least give you the perception of change. Not to get into a deep discussion of placebo here, but I think the metaphysical and “mystical” way that this book describes some things acts as a placebo, as does inspiration when spoken by spiritual leaders.

Take the Big Leap into your Zone of Genius – 102 2017-03-16T02:26:16+00:00

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight and Knowing Your Why – 101

Welcome to episode 101. Next week we will return to NLP with more advanced discussions on the subject. But today I want to talk about a recent discovery.

Today we talk about Shoe Dog by Phil Knight. I just finished reading this and I highly recommend it. This book will not tell you how Knight run a shoe factory or give you a blueprint for building a multi-billion dollar sporting goods enterprise. However it will give you some insights on how Knight grew his business from just a dream to what it is today. It is an entertaining story, a biography of sorts. Right after graduating college Phil Knight wanted to travel around the world before settling down into a day job. But he also had a dream about selling the Japanese athletic shoes made by Tiger, in the USA. He went to their corporate office during his worldly traveling and got a meeting with their corporate officials. He struck a deal on the spot to sell shoes. He had to make up a name for his company, that didn’t even exist at the time: Blue Ribbon. He also got his former track coach, Bill Bowerman, to go in with him on his initial venture.

Here are some key takeaways from the book:
Nike spent 2 decades struggling financially in order to grow at the fastest rate possible.
Innovation and quality were the most important goals.
Many people worked hard and sacrificed. Phil had much help.
Phil and his core people were shoe dogs, dedicated to their craft. They were driven.
Knight was very competitive (especially with Adidas).
They often made it by the skin of their teeth, and almost failed a few times.
An honest version of how an entrepreneur grew a business from zero to a multi-billion dollar operation.
Ingredients to success: Hard work, time, smarts, wins and losses, luck, timing, help.
Phil paid an art student $35 for the swoosh logo. He struggled to pick Nike for a name.
Nike wasn’t even the original name of his company, it was Blue Ribbon, made up on the spot.

The book lends itself very well to audio since it reads like a story, similar to Malcolm Gladwell books.
This podcast isn’t just about the book Shoe Dogs. I saw a message in the book that I need to elaborate upon.

I saw how Phil Knight and his small band of shoe dogs were passionate about the shoe business. It wasn’t about money in the beginning because they were barely able to stay afloat for the initial years.

Think about what motivates an employee vs. an entrepreneur vs. a hobbyist/amateur. Let us start with the employee. Employee is someone who works for a paycheck. They may or may not pursue their dreams. Actually most of the time they do not. In many studies it seems that the typical employee is not engaged fully in their work.

There was a Gallup poll of employee engagement that stated only 2 out of 10 employees were fully engaged in the workplace.
Definition: Employee engagement is the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.

Entrepreneurs and hobbyists are fully engaged most of the time in their endeavors. If a hobbyist did not find their activity engaging, they would stop doing it or find something else to do. The Entrepreneur is required to be fully engaged to be successful. In the book Shoe Dog, Phil Knight gives countless examples of how he was fully engaged in the work it took Nike to become successful.

There will be times when an entrepreneur needs to perform activities they don’t find pleasurable, some times it can be completely insufferable. However they push through those times and get to the more fulfilling stuff. There was an example in another book, I believe it was Andres Ericsson’s book Peak. He talked about how a world class swimmer mentioned that he hated getting up at 4am to swim for 3 hours a day, staring at the pool floor and pushing himself until his muscles burned and his chest was about to explode. The swimmer pushed through the hard parts because he has drive and passion for swimming.

It can be hard for an employee to be so fully emotionally committed to helping someone else realize their dreams or get rich. Can you blame them?

So what fueled Phil Knight? Or his initial employees? Why were they so emotionally committed to the cause of making shoes? This was their WHY. As Simon Sinek made famous, knowing your why is vital to success.
Simon Sinek, know your why.

The Wright brothers were driven by a belief they could fly.
Steve Jobs was driven by a belief he could build a better computer.
MLK Jr. was driven by a belief that he had a dream.
Phil Knight was driven by a belief he could make a better athletic shoe.
You must attract those who believe what you believe in.
The Wright brothers, Steve Jobs, and Phil Knight were driven by their WHY.

Ashrita Fuman pushes himself to break records to seek enlightenment and happiness.

Ashrita knows his why.

Marcus Buchingham
only 2 out of 10 get to experience optimized work.
As you get older, you become more of who you are now. People rarely change.
Strengths aren’t what you’re good at. Strengths are what excite you.
After hours of doing your strength, time flies. You are jazzed, not drained.
A weakness leaves you weaker after you’ve done it. A strength leaves you feeling stronger.
Don’t focus on your weaknesses, focus on your strengths.

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight and Knowing Your Why – 101 2017-03-09T04:30:07+00:00