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You Are A Badass! – 114

Jen Sincero writes in her book You are a Badass about tips on how to be successful in life.
Comparing this book to Subtle art of Not Giving a F*ck, I would say that Badass has less actionable advice for the advanced personal developer. However Badass is still a great book for the beginner, and written by a woman it may have the ability to connect with other women looking to be inspired as Jen is a great role model. I also read Grant Cardone’s book The 10x Rule and found little actionable advice in it. Grant’s book seems to me to be more motivational – it reminded me of the drill sergeant that yells at the top of his lungs 1 inch from your face.
Our subconscious minds have been programmed from birth in an unfiltered way and this programming drives our daily lives including decision making and how we feel about ourselves. The author believes that we are oblivious to these subconscious beliefs and we let them run our lives. If we decide to engage our conscious mind, it must deal with all this prior programming. I particularly like this point, it’s one of the best in the book.
The author states that it’s important to be present in the moment. I totally agree.
The author spends a lot of time talking about “Source Energy” and “Frequency”, high frequency is good and low frequency is bad. I was disappointed with this part of the book. It reminds me a lot of The Secret. I don’t believe in the supernatural and I classify “Frequency” and “Energy” as a New-Age hippy dippy thing that doesn’t have any science backing it up.
What I disliked about The Secret is how you wish into the universe and the universe can hear you like some sentient being, and responds to fulfill your wishes. This to me is like a religion and is not founded in evidence-based scientific principals. However I believe that part of The Secret does have validity – If one believes strongly in something and take action towards that goal, the belief can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The person putting their idea out into the universe assumes an identity. It has been proven that assuming an identity helps to bring to fruition a goal. Also being mindful about a goal sets into motion the thought processes requires to manifest the plan into a reality. This is part of the required strategy. The other part is utilizing techniques that execute the goals and keep them consistent, (which is content for another podcast).
The author told a story of traveling to India and taking a bus ride between cities. A ride that should have taken a couple hours ended up taking 3 times longer because of diversions to religious temples and talk of weddings – apparently the author inadvertently picked the peak wedding season to travel. What I got out of this story is to be open minded and flexible/adaptable. In your journey you may encounter unexpected things, and those things may be beneficial. I appreciated the point because I am a planner and get anxiety when unexpected things happen.
The author invents a lot of her own terminology, I will try to use the common definitions I have seen other authors use.
Ego, Big Snooze, shadow self, false self – fear based, external locus of control, self-sabotaging, relies on limiting beliefs, scarcity mindset
True/Higher self, “Superhero” – proactive, internal locus of control, operates with abundance mindset, “loved-based”
The author uses “have faith” a lot. However there isn’t a lot of technique backing this claim. Maybe she means exercise GRIT and persevere through THE DIP.
The author states many times in the book to “love yourself”. At one point she lists some techniques in doing so:
Appreciate how special you are
Drown yourself in affirmations
Do things you love
Ditch self-deprecating humour
Let the love in
Don’t compare yourself to others
Forgive yourself
These things can be easier said than done. A bad relationship with a parent can set one down a path of failing to achieve many of these items. Each of these can be its own book. That’s OK, sometimes a book acts as a road sign to which book needs to be read next.
Don’t care what others think.
Just do it (like Michael Jordan)
Then there’s super valuable advice like listen to your intuition, follow your fantasies, and (again) love yourself.
Meditate, it helps.
“Your brain is your bitch” positive thinking, know the what and figure out the how later. The what vs. how thing got me thinking about Simon Sinek’s know your Why.
Our thoughts are the most powerful tools we have.
Positive karma, do good and you will get good.
Gratitude – I’ve covered this often on the podcast.
Forgive others and set yourself free. You forgive for you.
Your experience shapes your perceived reality. This sounds a lot like NLP’s the map is not the territory.
Ditch negative self doubt. Don’t procrastinate, it’s self sabotage. Stop making excuses.
Stop feeling fear.
We attract people who we think are like us, and these people are mirrors. Sounds a lot like you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.
Make the decision and commit.
Money is your friend. The author spends a lot of time talking about the guilt of becoming rich. And that you should spend money to get money. I can see this if you need to use your personal savings to buy capital needed for making a product, etc. However the author used the example of buying a very expensive Audi SUV in order to feel important, and set her mind towards being someone worthy of spending money and therefore making money. I don’t agree with this. That’s a risky way to self-motivate and I can think of many other methods that don’t put yourself into debt just when you can least afford it. Maybe the author was implying a “burning the bridges” strategy where if you incur debt then you force yourself to find a way to earn the money to pay the bills?
The author talks about Surrender vs. Resistance and how faith in the universe must be stronger than fear of not getting what you want. This is more new age anti-science in my opinion. She wants us to “allow the universe to deliver” the solution to us rather than us “trying to change the situation”. Wow. I must disagree here. I would much rather use the rip current analogy here. If you are fighting against a force you can’t overcome, swim perpendicular to the rip current. Use strategies that are like Judo, leveraging the situation in your favor. This often requires a pivot to your current strategy. But the whole time you are in control of your actions and you rely on sound scientific methods to execute a successful plan.
Finish what you start. The author encourages the reader to get in the habit of following through on commitments. If not, then it sets a bad precedence, like how most people don’t finish a course or seminar that they sign up for – like dropping out of college.
You Are A Badass! – 114 2017-09-22T01:23:50+00:00

10 Quick Storm Prep Tips – 113

Last minute pro tips:
1. 5 gallon buckets (available at Lowes and Home Depot for example) are great for use in storing water, food, or used as a latrine. A potty seat is available at camping stores that fit on top of the bucket. Lids are available that make the buckets pretty much waterproof. You can also store non-food items that are at risk of water damage.

2. A decent flashlight is a must. LED and at least 100 lumen or greater. Waterproof is a huge plus. Most high end flashlights are about 300+ Lumens and are waterproof. Avoid batteries that are AAA, C, D, 9V. AA and 18650 Lithium rechargeables work great. CR123A are ok and common for high end flashlights. The batteries are not as easily found as AA but they are available at Lowes, Home Depot, and any store carrying camping goods. CR123A rechargeables are not advised as they tend to shut off when running low, giving little to no warning when they are nearing end of charge. 18650’s do the same but I have found they last longer and give more warnings, like dimming lights or causing the flashlight to switch to a lower lumen mode.
Smallest brightest-
Olight S1R Turbo S rechargeable 900 Lumens CREE XP-L LED Flashlight
Great tactical light-
Fenix Flashlights FX-PD35TAC Flashlight, 1000 Lumen

3. Cell phones are likely to have coverage loss during disasters, but they are still recommended since they may still offer signal and a way to call for help, receive information, and entertain one while they wait for the all clear. Use waterproof pouches like Dandy Case, they are reusable and water tight. A zip loc bag works in a pinch. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Double bag for extra protection. Bring a power bank for recharging. Old cell phones that no longer have active service (working SIM) are great for emergencies. Charge them fully, shut off, and place in a waterproof bag. They work like a tablet and can be used to call 911.

4. Food. Count on the loss of power, so all refrigerated food will be lost. Obviously eat that first. Don’t count on utilities like natural gas or running water. A propane grill or camping stove is a great way to cook during power loss. Have canned goods, freeze dried food, dry goods like crackers, beans, and rice on-hand for long term. You can go 30 days without food, but you can only survive a few days without water. If you run out of stored water, a water filter is a great backup plan. Katadyne and other manufacturers offer pumps, water bottles with built in filters, and real time filtration like the Life Straw. Always have a filter as a backup to bottled water.

5. Remember survival fundamentals: avoid injury, regulate core temperature, stay dry, hydrate, and maintain food rations.

6. Self defense may become necessary. Firearms work well if the operator has training. Non-lethal options like pepper spray are a good backup. I advise against stun guns, they don’t work when they get wet and you run the risk of shocking yourself, and they must be used at close range. I also advise against bladed weapons unless you are an expert in hand to hand combat. The best solution is avoidance. De-escalate when possible. Situational awareness is 80% of the battle.

7. Transportation. Last minute evacuation or escape (from imminent threat) may be necessary. Keeping a kayak or inflatable boat is recommended if possible. Inflatable mattresses work in a pinch but are not stable and hard to navigate (i.e. you fall off when sitting on the edge – required to paddle). Cars aren’t always practical – flooded roads, traffic jams, fallen trees, eroded roads, and other obstacles are likely. A motorcycle is the best solution for long distance travel on less than favorable terrain. Bicycles are excellent as they don’t require gas but range is obviously limited. Evaluate what you have and what you are capable of using. I.e. small children rule out some options.

8. Communication and plan. Have a plan and communicate it with friends and family. One of the biggest problems with war and natural disasters is the lack of communications. Communication is essential to avoid unnecessary casualties. i.e. relative goes looking for you when you are safe, and is injured or killed unnecessarily. Evacuation plan. Meetup points/times. Don’t count on the cell phone. 2-way radios when close enough. Have a paper map or waterproof GPS device for navigation.

9. Tools. Have a knife on you at all times. Fixed blades are most useful for survival but quality folders work well and are more practical in certain situations. Multi-tools work well for various purposes but are poor knives (clumsy). In emergencies a tool may be required to fix or build something that can provide transportation, shelter, etc. It’s hard to tell what will be needed ahead of time. Large tool sets work well when bugging in. Go lightweight when bugging out. There are some most frequently used tools that can be carried – Leatherman with bit set. Fire starter is handy but I recommend the small Bic lighters. Get a handful for a buck each and they last a long time. Carry several.
Benchmade – Griptilian 551 Knife, Drop-Point, plain edge with satin finish
Swiss army knife
Leatherman – Wave Multitool, Stainless Steel
Leatherman 931014 Black 21 Piece Bit Kit
Fixed blade knife with kydex sheath – Boker Magnum Urban King Knife Fixed Blade

10. Secure property. Put up shutters, tie down things, bring stuff inside.

bug in vs. bug out
Bug out bag
Rules of survival
avoid injury
regulate core temp
clean water
food
stay dry
radio
powerbank for cell
dry bag
flashlight
case for phone
cash
firearm
knife
medications
clothes
spare shoes
water filter
power failure
eating
empty fridge
cooking
water

 

10 Quick Storm Prep Tips – 113 2017-09-06T03:28:51+00:00

Optimize Reading Retention – 112

Skim the material beforehand

If you are familiar with the subject, or have prior knowledge that can be associated with the new knowledge, the new material will be retained more effectively.

immerse yourself in the material. Don’t read with the TV on. Read with deliberate practice.

Take notes

repeat the material to remember better

teach it to others, or prepare to teach it

https://www.td.org/Publications/Blogs/Science-of-Learning-Blog/2015/03/Debunk-This-People-Remember-10-Percent-of-What-They-Read

http://willthalheimer.typepad.com/files/how-much-do-people-forget-v12-14-2010-2.pdf

http://www.brainrules.net/long-term-memory

Those in multi-sensory environments always do better than those in uni-sensory environments. They have more recall with better resolution that lasts longer.

I find that auditory lends itself better to storytelling and less so to lists. Visual is the master for techniques with details or diagrams with much detail or interrelation. Pictures are better than words alone, and videos are better than pictures. Example of a list style book is The Millionaire Next Door. Storytelling book example are any by Malcolm Gladwell.

When I teach salsa, the students that do best are those who show up every week. Those who practice outside class are much better than those who only dance in class.

Optimize Reading Retention – 112 2017-08-29T03:39:54+00:00

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – 111

The title of the book sounds like the author, Mark Manson, will teach you not to care. In fact the book is all about learning how to care in the right way. The author wants you to care about things that serve you, that are truly important in life. we sweat the small stuff and that drains us from giving proper energy to the best stuff. Like Gary Keller’s The One Thing, care about what is most important to you, and care less (or not at all) about everything else.

The more you pursue something the more it reminds you of the fact that you don’t have what you pursue. Pursuing positive things is a negative experience and pursuing pain and suffering is a positive experience.

Happiness is in the solving of problems. We will always have problems.

Emotions are signals to take action. Negative emotions are a call to action while positive ones are a reward for success.

the author talked about how in Russia they are candid and tell it like it is

Take responsibility for your circumstance, regardless if it was your initial fault or not.

I recommend of Viktor Frankl. He says you make meaning of what happens to you. The author has similar sentiments.

We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can control how we interpret and respond.

The happiness of pursuit (book recommendation).

We are always chasing the next high. Don’t do things that make you feel good, do things that give you purpose. It’s good if some things make you feel good – but you won’t always feel that way (sometimes working out sucks) so using ‘feeling good” as a barometer of whether or not to do something is a very bad idea. It is better to Commit to activities that are fulfilling, better to be satisfied than happy.

Back in the day we were in competition for survival, today we are in competition for “status”. Status is an illusion. Modern “success” seems to be measured in your house/car/girlfriend/FB status.

Author discusses diminishing returns and after a certain amount of money you really don’t get happier.

Focus on the process, not the end result. Pursuing a process is a rewarding experience.
People need adversity in their lives. It’s true that rough seas make the best sailors.
When we try to eliminate hardship, we shortcut the process. We learn from mistakes. Working towards a goal makes it more enjoyable once the goal is achieved. I equate good vs. bad experiences like tasting sweets vs. salty. If you have all of one and not enough of the other, you get numb to the overall experience. Don’t try to be “a happy person” all the time. Be realistic.

Practice gratitude when possible.
People who try to be happy all the time are delusional.
“You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of. You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life.” -Albert Camus

Push through the adversity and pain by not giving a F about the bad.

We are all going to die someday. Once you release your fear of death, you increase your ability to live, uninhibited. The author spent a lot of time on the death concept.

The human mind has a tendency to invent problems when you don’t have any in order to fill the void.

Suffering is inevitable. What you resist persists. Push through it.

Being concerned with what others think doesn’t serve you. The author feels it’s due to what values you hold. This makes sense and I will add that you should not have an external locus of control. You need to refocus to having an internal locus of control, so that your feelings and the decisions you make are based on your core values.

Rather than focus on the way you think things should be, its better to focus on what is. Got dealt a raw deal? Accept the situation, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and move on. Take action and fix it. Own it.

The author talks about how unreliable memory is. False memory of molestation.

One of the most insidious foes we face is entitlement. When we feel entitled to a reward, we seem to stop working towards it. Also when we suffer a setback we spend more time resenting the setback than working to make up lost ground. Whether you had it and lost it, or never had it to begin with, we must own our current circumstance and work towards where we want to be.

Fight Club-ish quote: We work at jobs we hate to buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t like.

The majority of people cannot be above average. People tend to feel they are a special. You are not. You may not be special to (many) others, but you are special to you. So be kind to yourself. You are not a special snowflake in the sense that your problems are not unique. This may be depressing at first, but it becomes comforting when you think more about it. Common problems have been solved many times before – and you can solve all your problems more easily than you think. And since the problems are so common, you are likely to find solutions and how-to’s out there that will make your challenge easier to overcome. If someone else has done it, so can you.

Picasso napkin – lesson learned, don’t ask for the napkin. Fish it out of the trash instead.

We get better slowly over time. Don’t expect instant success.

The more you progress, the better and/or harder your problems get.

Something I got out of this book, be it directly from the author or indirectly is this: Often we hide from challenge because we are afraid of failure, or we are avoiding pain of some type (the more you ask for, the more you get in severity or quantity). Don’t retreat from the challenge. If anything charge at it. Let yourself throttle the pain/load. For example, in the workplace – ask for difficult or high volume work if you feel you can handle it. Also don’t be afraid to tell work that you need time off. Defend your borders. Don’t become a workaholic. One of the lessons in the book is to not to live for work. The F’s you give need to be things like “family first” and “when you die what will be your regrets?”. Once your boundaries are set, feel free to go all in on your work. This distinction is important and nuanced. It’s a challenging balance to become the go-to pro at work and also put your personal time first. Avoid the American pitfall of thinking the 80 hr workweek is heroic. It’s not. It’s suicide. Granted times will arise where you must push hard to get a goal. Make sure it’s a goal you really want. Use these 80 hr weeks prudently as they come at a cost.

As technology progresses, so will your exposure to more/differing ideas. Be prepared for this.

The same way everyone reports only the best and most exciting things in their social media, the news sensationalizes everything – because of revenue. If it bleeds it leads. You will be bombarded with how awesome everyone else is. You will feel that you really suck. Don’t fall for this. There is NO overnight sensation or BORN talent. Everyone must work very hard for many years in order to get good at something. Just like how people post pictures of their European vacation but never the mundane daily commute to work and all the bills they pay.

The author states the more uncomfortable an answer is the more likely it is to be true. I would modify that statement to read the more uncomfortable an answer is for you to hear, the more important it is for you to receive it. The theme here is take criticism of all forms and make it constructive by taking action.

People who base their self-worth on being right all the time prevent themselves from improvement and learning from their mistakes. You must empty your cup before your teacher can fill it. Ryan Holiday in Ego is the Enemy stated that ego prevents us from advancing – how can you improve if you think you are perfect already?

People want to always be happy and successful. This is not the key, we are better off accomplishing things and persevering through adversity. The feeling at the end of that is more sustainable and healthier for people. Chasing the next high is like eating cookies.

Your identity is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Be inspired to do something. Then derive inspiration from the accomplishment which fuels the next endeavor. This is an upward spiral.

How does one be a prolific writer? “200 crappy words per day”

The author talks about going deep, plant roots. There is joy in focusing from breadth to depth.

The Denial of Death by Ernest Becker

Life isn’t just one big problem to solve. If we avoid problems we won’t be happy. We have to learn to enjoy solving problem. And we need to be careful which problems we choose to solve. It’s ok not to finish #1 in every contest you enter. You can’t be the best at everything. However if you focus and work hard you can be the best at something, or at least really good at it.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – 111 2017-08-17T03:20:30+00:00

What If There Was No Tomorrow? – 110

Pontifications
More apologies for lateness, I’ve been sick lately. Also I’ve been working on my other podcasts: The Confirmation Bias podcast www.confirmationbiaspodcast.com and Every Day Prepper www.supersmartprepper.com.
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. https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/emotional-intelligence

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
http://www.tecweb.org/styles/gardner.html

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. https://www.sas.upenn.edu/~duckwort/images/Grit%20JPSP.pdf
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:
Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence
Hard Work
Grit
Self Control/Will Power
Creativity
Growth Mindset
10K Hours
Luck
Adaptability
Gratitude
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 http://fivethirtyeight.com/ 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. http://docs.aws.amazon.com/machine-learning/latest/dg/model-fit-underfitting-vs-overfitting.html
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. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gutenberg%E2%80%93Richter_law
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”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3yRv5Jg5TI

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
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hero%27s_journey
and Lullaby has origins in a folksong that was widely known back in the day.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brahms%27_Lullaby

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?).
https://www.scoopwhoop.com/People-Talent-Only-Recognized-After-Death/#.2e06i4f9p
http://www.webdesignschoolsguide.com/library/10-artists-not-appreciated-in-their-time.html

“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.
Definition:

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 FanFiction.net 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