More on Personal Growth
8 months ago
The Learning Habit
The Habit of Learning implies constantly learning something new. One daily habit will make you successful. Learning will help you succeed.
Most successful people continually learn. Success requires this behavior. Daily learning.
Success loves books. Books offer expert advice. Everything is online today. Most books are online, so you can skip the library. You must download it and study for 15-30 minutes daily. This habit changes your thinking.
Typical Successful People
Warren Buffett reads 500 pages of corporate reports and five newspapers for five to six hours each day.
Each year, Bill Gates reads 50 books.
Every two weeks, Mark Zuckerberg reads at least one book.
According to his brother, Elon Musk studied two books a day as a child and taught himself engineering and rocket design.
Learning & Making Money Online
No worries if you can't afford books. Everything is online. YouTube, free online courses, etc.
How can you create this behavior in yourself?
1) Consider what you want to know
Before learning, know what's most important. So, move together.
Set a goal and schedule learning.
After deciding what you want to study, create a goal and plan learning time.
3) GATHER RESOURCES
Get the most out of your learning resources. Online or offline.
7 months ago
I read three of Elon Musk's suggested books (And His Taste Is Incredible)
A reading list for successful people
Elon Musk reads and talks. So, one learns. Many brilliant individuals & amazing literature.
This article recommends 3 Elon Musk novels. All of them helped me succeed. Hope they'll help you.
Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Page Count: 193
Rating on Goodreads: 4.23
Arthur Dent is pulled off Earth by a buddy seconds before it's razed for a cosmic motorway. The trio hitchhikes through space and gets into problems.
I initially read Hitchhiker's as a child. To evade my mum, I'd read with a flashlight under the covers. She'd scold at me for not sleeping on school nights when she found out. Oops.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is lighthearted science fiction.
My favorite book quotes are:
“Space is big. You won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”
“Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the western spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-two million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.”
“On planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars, and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons.”
the Sun Tzu book The Art Of War
Page Count: 273
Rating on Goodreads: 3.97
It's a classic. You may apply The Art of War's ideas to (nearly) every facet of life. Ex:
Pick your fights.
Keep in mind that timing is crucial.
Create a backup plan in case something goes wrong.
Obstacles provide us a chance to adapt and change.
This book was my first. Since then, I'm a more strategic entrepreneur. Excellent book. And read it ASAP!
My favorite book quotes are:
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”
“Engage people with what they expect; it is what they are able to discern and confirms their projections. It settles them into predictable patterns of response, occupying their minds while you wait for the extraordinary moment — that which they cannot anticipate.”
“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained, you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.”
Peter Thiel's book Zero to One
Page Count: 195
Rating on Goodreads: 4.18
Peter argues the best money-making strategies are typically unproven. Entrepreneurship should never have a defined path to success. Whoever says differently is lying.
Zero to One explores technology and society. Peter is a philosophy major and law school graduate, which informs the work.
Peters' ideas, depth, and intellect stood out in Zero to One. It's a top business book.
My favorite book quotes are:
“The most valuable businesses of coming decades will be built by entrepreneurs who seek to empower people rather than try to make them obsolete.”
“The next Bill Gates will not build an operating system. The next Larry Page or Sergey Brin won’t make a search engine. And the next Mark Zuckerberg won’t create a social network. If you are copying these guys, you aren’t learning from them.”
“If your goal is to never make a mistake in your life, you shouldn’t look for secrets. The prospect of being lonely but right — dedicating your life to something that no one else believes in — is already hard. The prospect of being lonely and wrong can be unbearable.”
8 months ago
How I Stay Fit Despite Eating Fast Food and Drinking Alcohol
Here's me. Perfectionism is unnecessary.
This post isn't for people who gag at the prospect of eating french fries. I've been ridiculed for stating you can lose weight eating carbs and six-pack abs aren't good.
My family eats frozen processed meals and quick food most weeks (sometimes more). Clean eaters may think I'm unqualified to give fitness advice. I get it.
Hear me out, though. I’m a 44-year-old raising two busy kids with a weekly-traveling husband. Tutoring, dance, and guitar classes fill weeknights. I'm also juggling my job and freelancing.
I'm as worried and tired as my clients. I wish I ate only kale smoothies and salads. I can’t. Despite my mistakes, I'm fit. I won't promise you something just because it worked for me. But here’s a look at how I manage.
What I largely get right about eating
I have a flexible diet and track my daily intake. I count protein, fat, and carbs. Only on vacation or exceptional occasions do I not track.
My protein goal is 1 g per lb. I consume a lot of chicken breasts, eggs, turkey, and lean ground beef. I also occasionally drink protein shakes.
I eat 220–240 grams of carbs daily. My carb count depends on training volume and goals. I'm trying to lose weight slowly. If I want to lose weight faster, I cut carbs to 150-180.
My carbs include white rice, Daves Killer Bread, fruit, pasta, and veggies. I don't eat enough vegetables, so I take Athletic Greens. Also, V8.
Fat grams over 50 help me control my hormones. Recently, I've reached 70-80 grams. Cooking with olive oil. I eat daily dark chocolate. Eggs, butter, milk, and cheese contribute to the rest.
Those frozen meals? What can I say? Stouffer’s lasagna is sometimes needed. I order the healthiest fast food I can find (although I can never bring myself to order the salad). That's a chicken sandwich or a kid's hamburger. I rarely order fries. I eat slowly and savor each bite to feel full.
Potato chips and sugary cereals are in the pantry, but I'm not tempted. My kids eat them because I'd rather teach them moderation than total avoidance. If I eat them, I only eat one portion.
If you're not hungry and eating enough protein and fat, you won't want to eat everything in sight.
I drink once or twice a week. As a result, I rarely overdo it.
Food tracking is tedious and frustrating for many. Taking breaks and using estimates when eating out help. Not perfect, but realistic.
I practice a prolonged fast to enhance metabolic adaptability
Metabolic flexibility is the ability to switch between fuel sources (fat and carbs) based on activity intensity and time since eating. At rest or during low to moderate exertion, your body burns fat. Your body burns carbs after eating and during intense exercise.
Our metabolic flexibility can be hampered by lack of exercise, overeating, and stress. Our bodies become lousy fat burners, making weight loss difficult.
Once a week, I skip dinner (usually around 24 hours). Long-term fasting teaches my body to burn fat. It provides me one low-calorie day a week (I break the fast with a normal-sized dinner).
Fasting day helps me maintain my weight on weekends, when I typically overeat and drink.
Try an extended fast slowly. Delay breakfast by two hours. Next week, add two hours, etc. It takes practice to go that long without biting off your arm. I also suggest consulting your doctor.
I stay active.
I've always been active. As a child, I danced many nights a week, was on the high school dance team, and ran marathons in my 20s.
Often, I feel driven by an internal engine. Working from home makes it easy to exercise. If that’s not you, I get it. Everyone can benefit from raising their baseline.
After taking the kids to school, I walk two miles around the neighborhood. When I need to think, I switch off podcasts. First thing in the morning, I go for a walk.
I lift weights Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. 45 minutes is typical. I run 45-90 minutes on Tuesday and Thursday. I'm slow but reliable. On Saturdays and Sundays, I walk and add a short spin class if I'm not too tired.
I almost never forgo sleep.
I rarely stay up past 10 p.m., much to my night-owl husband's dismay. My 7-8-hour nights help me recover from workouts and handle stress. Without it, I'm grumpy.
I suppose sleep duration matters more than bedtime. Some people just can't fall asleep early. Internal clock and genetics determine sleep and wake hours.
Fitness and diet advice is often useless. Some of the advice is inaccurate, dangerous, or difficult to follow if you have a life. I want to throw a shoe at my screen when I see headlines promising to speed up my metabolism or help me lose fat.
I studied exercise physiology for years. No shortcuts exist. No medications or cleanses reset metabolism. I play the hand I'm dealt. I realize that just because something works for me, it won't for you.
If I wanted 15% body fat and ripped abs, I'd have to be stricter. I occasionally think I’d like to get there. But then I remember I’m happy with my life. I like fast food and beer. Pizza and margaritas are favorites (not every day).
You can get it mostly right and live a healthy life.
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8 months ago
Growth tactics that grew businesses from 1 to 100
Everyone wants a scalable startup.
Innovation helps launch a startup. The secret to a scalable business is growth trials (from 1 to 100).
Growth marketing combines marketing and product development for long-term growth.
Today, I'll explain growth hacking strategies popular startups used to scale.
1/ A Facebook user's social value is proportional to their friends.
Facebook built its user base using content marketing and paid ads. Mark and his investors feared in 2007 when Facebook's growth stalled at 90 million users.
Chamath Palihapitiya was brought in by Mark.
The team tested SEO keywords and MAU chasing. The growth team introduced “people you may know”
This feature reunited long-lost friends and family. Casual users became power users as the retention curve flattened.
Growth Hack Insights: With social network effect the value of your product or platform increases exponentially if you have users you know or can relate with.
2/ Airbnb - Focus on your value propositions
Airbnb nearly failed in 2009. The company's weekly revenue was $200 and they had less than 2 months of runway.
Enter Paul Graham. The team noticed a pattern in 40 listings. Their website's property photos sucked.
Because these photos were taken with regular smartphones. Users didn't like the first impression.
Graham suggested traveling to New York to rent a camera, meet with property owners, and replace amateur photos with high-resolution ones.
A week later, the team's weekly revenue doubled to $400, indicating they were on track.
Growth Hack Insights: When selling an “online experience” ensure that your value proposition is aesthetic enough for users to enjoy being associated with them.
3/ Zomato - A company's smartphone push ensured growth.
Zomato delivers food. User retention was a challenge for the founders. Indian food customers are notorious for switching brands at the drop of a hat.
Zomato wanted users to order food online and repeat orders throughout the week.
Zomato created an attractive website with “near me” keywords for SEO indexing.
Zomato gambled to increase repeat orders. They only allowed mobile app food orders.
Zomato thought mobile apps were stickier. Product innovations in search/discovery/ordering or marketing campaigns like discounts/in-app notifications/nudges can improve user experience.
Zomato went public in 2021 after users kept ordering food online.
Growth Hack Insights: To improve user retention try to build platforms that build user stickiness. Your product and marketing team will do the rest for them.
4/ Hotmail - Signaling helps build premium users.
Ever sent or received an email or tweet with a sign — sent from iPhone?
Hotmail did it first! One investor suggested Hotmail add a signature to every email.
Overnight, thousands joined the company. Six months later, the company had 1 million users.
When serving an existing customer, improve their social standing. Signaling keeps the top 1%.
5/ Dropbox - Respect loyal customers
Dropbox is a company that puts people over profits. The company prioritized existing users.
Dropbox rewarded loyal users by offering 250 MB of free storage to anyone who referred a friend. The referral hack helped Dropbox get millions of downloads in its first few months.
Growth Hack Insights: Think of ways to improve the social positioning of your end-user when you are serving an existing customer. Signaling goes a long way in attracting the top 1% to stay.
These experiments weren’t hacks. Hundreds of failed experiments and user research drove these experiments. Scaling up experiments is difficult.
Contact me if you want to grow your startup's user base.
10 months ago
5 books my CEO read to make $30M
Offices without books are like bodies without souls.
After 10 years, my CEO sold his company for $30 million. I've shared many of his lessons on medium. You could ask him anything at his always-open office. He also said we could use his office for meetings while he was away. When I used his office for work, I was always struck by how many books he had.
Books are useful in almost every aspect of learning. Building a business, improving family relationships, learning a new language, a new skill... Books teach, guide, and structure. Whether fiction or nonfiction, books inspire, give ideas, and develop critical thinking skills.
My CEO prefers non-fiction and attends a Friday book club. This article discusses 5 books I found in his office that impacted my life/business. My CEO sold his company for $30 million, but I've built a steady business through blogging and video making.
I recall events and lessons I learned from my CEO and how they relate to each book, and I explain how I applied the book's lessons to my business and life.
Note: This post has no affiliate links.
1. The One Thing — Gary Keller
Gary Keller, a real estate agent, wanted more customers. So he and his team brainstormed ways to get more customers. They decided to write a bestseller about work and productivity. The more people who saw the book, the more customers they'd get.
Gary Keller focused on writing the best book on productivity, work, and efficiency for months. His business experience. Keller's business grew after the book's release.
The author summarizes the book in one question.
"What's the one thing that will make everything else easier or unnecessary?"
When I started my blog and business alongside my 9–5, I quickly identified my one thing: writing. My business relied on it, so it had to be great. Without writing, there was no content, traffic, or business.
My CEO focused on funding when he started his business. Even in his final years, he spent a lot of time on the phone with investors, either to get more money or to explain what he was doing with it. My CEO's top concern was money, and the other super important factors were handled by separate teams.
Product tech and design
Incredible customer support team
Excellent promotion team
Profitable sales team
My CEO didn't always focus on one thing and ignore the rest. He was on all of those teams when I started my job. He'd start his day in tech, have lunch with marketing, and then work in sales. He was in his office on the phone at night.
He eventually realized his errors. Investors told him he couldn't do everything for the company. If needed, he had to change internally. He learned to let go, mind his own business, and focus for the next four years. Then he sold for $30 million.
The bigger your project/company/idea, the more you'll need to delegate to stay laser-focused. I started something new every few months for 10 years before realizing this. So much to do makes it easy to avoid progress. Once you identify the most important aspect of your project and enlist others' help, you'll be successful.
2. Eat That Frog — Brian Tracy
The author quote sums up book's essence:
Mark Twain said that if you eat a live frog in the morning, it's probably the worst thing that will happen to you all day. Your "frog" is the biggest, most important task you're most likely to procrastinate on.
"Frog" and "One Thing" are both about focusing on what's most important. Eat That Frog recommends doing the most important task first thing in the morning.
I shared my CEO's calendar in an article 10 months ago. Like this:
CEO's average week (some information crossed out for confidentiality)
Notice anything about 8am-8:45am? Almost every day is the same (except Friday). My CEO started his day with a management check-in for 2 reasons:
Checking in with all managers is cognitively demanding, and my CEO is a morning person.
In a young startup where everyone is busy, the morning management check-in was crucial. After 10 am, you couldn't gather all managers.
When I started my blog, writing was my passion. I'm a morning person, so I woke up at 6 am and started writing by 6:30 am every day for a year. This allowed me to publish 3 articles a week for 52 weeks to build my blog and audience. After 2 years, I'm not stopping.
3. Deep Work — Cal Newport
Deep work is focusing on a cognitively demanding task without distractions (like a morning management meeting). It helps you master complex information quickly and produce better results faster. In a competitive world 10 or 20 years ago, focus wasn't a huge advantage. Smartphones, emails, and social media made focus a rare, valuable skill.
Most people can't focus anymore. Screens light up, notifications buzz, emails arrive, Instagram feeds... Many people don't realize they're interrupted because it's become part of their normal workflow.
Cal Newport mentions Bill Gates' "Think Weeks" in Deep Work.
Microsoft CEO Bill Gates would isolate himself (often in a lakeside cottage) twice a year to read and think big thoughts.
Inside Bill's Brain on Netflix shows Newport's lakeside cottage. I've always wanted a lakeside cabin to work in. My CEO bought a lakehouse after selling his company, but now he's retired.
As a company grows, you can focus less on it. In a previous section, I said investors told my CEO to get back to basics and stop micromanaging. My CEO's commitment and ability to get work done helped save the company. His deep work and new frameworks helped us survive the corona crisis (more on this later).
The ability to deep work will be a huge competitive advantage in the next century. Those who learn to work deeply will likely be successful while everyone else is glued to their screens, Bluetooth-synced to their watches, and playing Candy Crush on their tablets.
4. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Stephen R. Covey
It took me a while to start reading this book because it seemed like another shallow self-help bible. I kept finding this book when researching self-improvement. I tried it because it was everywhere.
Stephen Covey taught me 2 years ago to have a personal mission statement.
A 7 Habits mission statement describes the life you want to lead, the character traits you want to embody, and the impact you want to have on others. shortform.com
I've had many lunches with my CEO and talked about Vipassana meditation and Sunday forest runs, but I've never seen his mission statement. I'm sure his family is important, though. In the above calendar screenshot, you can see he always included family events (in green) so we could all see those time slots. We couldn't book him then. Although he never spent as much time with his family as he wanted, he always made sure to be on time for his kid's birthday rather than a conference call.
My CEO emphasized his company's mission. Your mission statement should answer 3 questions.
What does your company do?
How does it do it?
Why does your company do it?
As a graphic designer, I had to create mission-statement posters. My CEO hung posters in each office.
5. Measure What Matters — John Doerr
This book is about Andrew Grove's OKR strategy, developed in 1968. When he joined Google's early investors board, he introduced it to Larry Page and Sergey Brin. Google still uses OKR.
Objective Key Results
Objective: It explains your goals and desired outcome. When one goal is reached, another replaces it. OKR objectives aren't technical, measured, or numerical. They must be clear.
Key Result should be precise, technical, and measurable, unlike the Objective. It shows if the Goal is being worked on. Time-bound results are quarterly or yearly.
Our company almost sank several times. Sales goals were missed, management failed, and bad decisions were made. On a Monday, our CEO announced we'd implement OKR to revamp our processes.
This was a year before the pandemic, and I'm certain we wouldn't have sold millions or survived without this change. This book impacted the company the most, not just management but all levels. Organization and transparency improved. We reached realistic goals. Happy investors. We used the online tool Gtmhub to implement OKR across the organization.
My CEO's company went from near bankruptcy to being acquired for $30 million in 2 years after implementing OKR.
I hope you enjoyed this booklist. Here's a recap of the 5 books and the lessons I learned from each.
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People — Stephen R. Covey
Have a mission statement that outlines your goals, character traits, and impact on others.
Deep Work — Cal Newport
Focus is a rare skill; master it. Deep workers will succeed in our hyper-connected, distracted world.
The One Thing — Gary Keller
What can you do that will make everything else easier or unnecessary? Once you've identified it, focus on it.
Eat That Frog — Brian Tracy
Identify your most important task the night before and do it first thing in the morning. You'll have a lighter day.
Measure What Matters — John Doerr
On a timeline, divide each long-term goal into chunks. Divide those slices into daily tasks (your goals). Time-bound results are quarterly or yearly. Objectives aren't measured or numbered.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the ride!
1 year ago
You Misunderstand the Russian Nuclear Threat
Many believe Putin is simply sabre rattling and intimidating us. They see no threat of nuclear war. We can send NATO troops into Ukraine without risking a nuclear war.
I keep reading that Putin is just using nuclear blackmail and that a strong leader will call the bluff. That, in my opinion, misunderstands the danger of sending NATO into Ukraine.
It assumes that once NATO moves in, Putin can either push the red nuclear button or not.
Sure, Putin won't go nuclear if NATO invades Ukraine. So we're safe? Can't we just move NATO?
No, because history has taught us that wars often escalate far beyond our initial expectations. One domino falls, knocking down another. That's why having clear boundaries is vital. Crossing a seemingly harmless line can set off a chain of events that are unstoppable once started.
One example is WWI. The assassin of Archduke Franz Ferdinand could not have known that his actions would kill millions. They couldn't have known that invading Serbia to punish them for not handing over the accomplices would start a world war. Every action triggered a counter-action, plunging Europe into a brutal and bloody war. Each leader saw their actions as limited, not realizing how they kept the dominos falling.
Nobody can predict the future, but it's easy to imagine how NATO intervention could trigger a chain of events leading to a total war. Let me suggest some outcomes.
NATO creates a no-fly-zone. In retaliation, Russia bombs NATO airfields. Russia may see this as a limited counter-move that shouldn't cause further NATO escalation. They think it's a reasonable response to force NATO out of Ukraine. Nobody has yet thought to use the nuke.
Will NATO act? Polish airfields bombed, will they be stuck? Is this an article 5 event? If so, what should be done?
It could happen. Maybe NATO sends troops into Ukraine to punish Russia. Maybe NATO will bomb Russian airfields.
Putin's response Is bombing Russian airfields an invasion or an attack? Remember that Russia has always used nuclear weapons for defense, not offense. But let's not panic, let's assume Russia doesn't go nuclear.
Maybe Russia retaliates by attacking NATO military bases with planes. Maybe they use ships to attack military targets. How does NATO respond? Will they fight Russia in Ukraine or escalate? Will they invade Russia or attack more military installations there?
Seen the pattern? As each nation responds, smaller limited military operations can grow in scope.
So far, the Russian military has shown that they begin with less brutal methods. As losses and failures increase, brutal means are used. Syria had the same. Assad used chemical weapons and attacked hospitals, schools, residential areas, etc.
A NATO invasion of Ukraine would cost Russia dearly. “Oh, this isn't looking so good, better pull out and finish this war,” do you think? No way. Desperate, they will resort to more brutal tactics. If desperate, Russia has a huge arsenal of ugly weapons. They have nerve agents, chemical weapons, and other nasty stuff.
What happens if Russia uses chemical weapons? What if Russian nerve agents kill NATO soldiers horribly? West calls for retaliation will grow. Will we invade Russia? Will we bomb them?
We are angry and determined to punish war criminal Putin, so NATO tanks may be heading to Moscow. We want vengeance for his chemical attacks and bombing of our cities.
Do you think the distance between that red nuclear button and Putin's finger will be that far once NATO tanks are on their way to Moscow?
We might avoid a nuclear apocalypse. A NATO invasion force or even Western cities may be used by Putin. Not as destructive as ICBMs. Putin may think we won't respond to tactical nukes with a full nuclear counterattack. Why would we risk a nuclear Holocaust by launching ICBMs on Russia?
Maybe. My point is that at every stage of the escalation, one party may underestimate the other's response. This war is spiraling out of control and the chances of a nuclear exchange are increasing. Nobody really wants it.
Fear, anger, and resentment cause it. If Putin and his inner circle decide their time is up, they may no longer care about the rest of the world. We saw it with Hitler. Hitler, seeing the end of his empire, ordered the destruction of Germany. Nobody should win if he couldn't. He wanted to destroy everything, including Paris.
In other words, the danger isn't what happens after NATO intervenes The danger is the potential chain reaction. Gambling has a psychological equivalent. It's best to exit when you've lost less. We humans are willing to take small risks for big rewards. To avoid losses, we are willing to take high risks. Daniel Kahneman describes this behavior in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow.
And so bettors who have lost a lot begin taking bigger risks to make up for it. We get a snowball effect. NATO involvement in the Ukraine conflict is akin to entering a casino and placing a bet. We'll start taking bigger risks as we start losing to Russian retaliation. That's the game's psychology.
It's impossible to stop. So will politicians and citizens from both Russia and the West, until we risk the end of human civilization.
You can avoid spiraling into ever larger bets in the Casino by drawing a hard line and declaring “I will not enter that Casino.” We're doing it now. We supply Ukraine. We send money and intelligence but don't cross that crucial line.
It's difficult to watch what happened in Bucha without demanding NATO involvement. What should we do? Of course, I'm not in charge. I'm a writer. My hope is that people will think about the consequences of the actions we demand. My hope is that you think ahead not just one step but multiple dominos.
More and more, we are driven by our emotions. We cannot act solely on emotion in matters of life and death. If we make the wrong choice, more people will die.
Read the original post here.