The Technium: 68 Bits of Unsolicited Advice
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•Anything real begins with the fiction of what could be. Imagination is therefore the most potent force in the universe, and a skill you can get better at. It’s the one skill in life that benefits from ignoring what everyone else knows.
• The purpose of a habit is to remove that action from self-negotiation. You no longer expend energy deciding whether to do it. You just do it. Good habits can range from telling the truth, to flossing.
• Eliminating clutter makes room for your true treasures.
• The more you are interested in others, the more interesting they find you. To be interesting, be interested.
• To make something good, just do it. To make something great, just re-do it, re-do it, re-do it. The secret to making fine things is in remaking them.
• Saving money and investing money are both good habits. Small amounts of money invested regularly for many decades without deliberation is one path to wealth.
• To make mistakes is human. To own your mistakes is divine. Nothing elevates a person higher than quickly admitting and taking personal responsibility for the mistakes you make and then fixing them fairly. If you mess up, fess up. It’s astounding how powerful this ownership is.
• Show up. Keep showing up. Somebody successful said: 99% of success is just showing up.
• This is true: It’s hard to cheat an honest man.
• There is no limit on better. Talent is distributed unfairly, but there is no limit on how much we can improve what we start with.
• Be prepared: When you are 90% done any large project (a house, a film, an event, an app) the rest of the myriad details will take a second 90% to complete.
• On vacation go to the most remote place on your itinerary first, bypassing the cities. You’ll maximize the shock of otherness in the remote, and then later you’ll welcome the familiar comforts of a city on the way back.
• When you get an invitation to do something in the future, ask yourself: would you accept this if it was scheduled for tomorrow? Not too many promises will pass that immediacy filter.
• Don’t be the best. Be the only.
• Rule of 3 in conversation. To get to the real reason, ask a person to go deeper than what they just said. Then again, and once more. The third time’s answer is close to the truth.
• Don’t be the smartest person in the room. Hangout with, and learn from, people smarter than yourself. Even better, find smart people who will disagree with you.
• Don’t say anything about someone in email you would not be comfortable saying to them directly, because eventually they will read it.
• Acquiring things will rarely bring you deep satisfaction. But acquiring experiences will.
• Rule of 7 in research. You can find out anything if you are willing to go seven levels. If the first source you ask doesn’t know, ask them who you should ask next, and so on down the line. If you are willing to go to the 7th source, you’ll almost always get your answer.
• How to apologize: Quickly, specifically, sincerely.
• Don’t take it personally when someone turns you down. Assume they are like you: busy, occupied, distracted. Try again later. It’s amazing how often a second try works.
• Experience is overrated. When hiring, hire for aptitude, train for skills. Most really amazing or great things are done by people doing them for the first time.
• Separate the processes of creation from improving. You can’t write and edit, or sculpt and polish, or make and analyze at the same time. If you do, the editor stops the creator. While you invent, don’t select. While you sketch, don’t inspect. While you write the first draft, don’t reflect. At the start, the creator mind must be unleashed from judgement.
• For every dollar you spend purchasing something substantial, expect to pay a dollar in repairs, maintenance, or disposal by the end of its life.
• When you die you take absolutely nothing with you except your reputation.
• When someone is nasty, rude, hateful, or mean with you, pretend they have a disease. That makes it easier to have empathy toward them which can soften the conflict.
• I’m positive that in 100 years much of what I take to be true today will be proved to be wrong, maybe even embarrassingly wrong, and I try really hard to identify what it is that I am wrong about today.
• Perhaps the most counter-intuitive truth of the universe is that the more you give to others, the more you’ll get. Understanding this is the beginning of wisdom.
• Don’t be afraid to ask a question that may sound stupid because 99% of the time everyone else is thinking of the same question and is too embarrassed to ask it.
• Being able to listen well is a superpower. While listening to someone you love keep asking them “Is there more?”, until there is no more.
• A worthy goal for a year is to learn enough about a subject so that you can’t believe how ignorant you were a year earlier.
• Gratitude will unlock all other virtues and is something you can get better at.
• Reading to your children regularly will bond you together and kickstart their imaginations.
• Pros are just amateurs who know how to gracefully recover from their mistakes.
• Learn how to learn from those you disagree with, or even offend you. See if you can find the truth in what they believe.
• If you are looking for something in your house, and you finally find it, when you’re done with it, don’t put it back where you found it. Put it back where you first looked for it.
• Trust me: There is no “them”.
• Everyone is shy. Other people are waiting for you to introduce yourself to them, they are waiting for you to send them an email, they are waiting for you to ask them on a date. Go ahead.
• Never use a credit card for credit. The only kind of credit, or debt, that is acceptable is debt to acquire something whose exchange value is extremely likely to increase, like in a home. The exchange value of most things diminishes or vanishes the moment you purchase them. Don’t be in debt to losers.
• Promptness is a sign of respect.
• Being enthusiastic is worth 25 IQ points.
• Friends are better than money. Almost anything money can do, friends can do better. In so many ways a friend with a boat is better than owning a boat.
• Extraordinary claims should require extraordinary evidence to be believed.
• You are what you do. Not what you say, not what you believe, not how you vote, but what you spend your time on.
• Always demand a deadline. A deadline weeds out the extraneous and the ordinary. It prevents you from trying to make it perfect, so you have to make it different. Different is better.
• Hatred is a curse that does not affect the hated. It only poisons the hater. Release a grudge as if it was a poison.
• Buying tools: Start by buying the absolute cheapest tools you can find. Upgrade the ones you use a lot. If you wind up using some tool for a job, buy the very best you can afford.
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