The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh

The Big Idea: focus on fundamentals and execution (The Standard of Performance), instead of focusing on the score and on the competition.

Part I: My Standard of Performance

  • Failure is a part of success. Everyone gets knocked down.
  • The Standard of Performance is the set of core values, principles, and ideals that define the organization. Implementing the Standard of Performance is more important than any strategies and tactics you might implement.
  • Bill Walsh wanted the 49ers to be the pinnacle of professionalism in the NFL.
  • Practices were precise and demanding, never sloppy.
  • Continuous improvement was more important than victory.
  • Character, intelligence, work ethic, and fit was more important than raw talent.
  • The leader’s job is to teach and to encourage everyone else to teach.
  • Champions behave like champions before they are champions.
  • If you place a premium on fundamentals and consistent execution, you can perform reliably in big games and in big moments.

Part II: Innovation, Planning, and Common Sense

  • Innovation is often born out of necessity and resourcefulness.
  • Always be quick to share credit (and accept blame.)
  • Contingency planning was one of the 49ers’ secret weapons. Be prepared for anything. Hail Mary’s are not a strategy.
  • Analyze your vulnerabilities and take action to counter or protect them.
  • The truth is hidden in the numbers. Follow key metrics more closely then big milestones or wins/losses.

Part III: Fundamentals of Leadership

  • There are many equally valid leadership styles.
  • The common trait, however, is an indomitable will to succeed.
  • Know when to persevere and know when to quit. It’s a delicate balance that requires distinguishing a good plan from a bad plan.
  • Sweat the small stuff, but only the small stuff that actually matters.
  • Leaders must be both subject matter experts and delegation experts.
  • Leaders teach others and show the entire organization how to teach each other.
  • You don’t need to shout, stomp, and strut to be a good leader. Joe Montana was a quiet but incredibly effective leader.
  • Treat people like people.
  • Maintain a positive atmosphere.
  • Know that humor has its place.
  • Give no VIP treatment.
  • Show interest in your people and their families.
  • Don’t let animosity linger.
  • Praise is more powerful than blame.
  • Discipline is based on pride in the profession and attention to details.
  • Officers must be seen on the front lines during action.
  • Bill Walsh’s praise was sparse but meaningful.
  • Employees thrive in an environment where they know exactly what is expected of them.
  • Don’t mistake activity for achievement. — John Wooden
  • Being a good listener is the key to good communication.
  • Don’t let rank, titles, or status impede open communication.
  • Leadership is about teaching skills, attitudes, and goals to the organization.
  • Persistence is essential because knowledge is rarely imparted on the first attempt. You must drill over and over.

Part IV: Essentials of a Winning Team

  • High expectations of your team are the key to winning.
  • Let your people know they are part of something special.
  • You are only as good as your people, so hire only the best.
  • Traits to look for in hires: skills, energy and enthusiasm, ability to spot talent, ability to communicate, loyalty to others.
  • How to keep people working well together: clear expectations, open communication, flexibility in method (but not core values), alignment with core values.
  • Be aware that success can breed over-confidence and complacency.
  • Place a premium on people who exhibit great desire to push themselves. (Ronnie Lott and Roger Craig)
  • Ego can kill an organization.
  • Never ignore the front-line (guys in the trenches) because they will generally pave the way to success or failure.
  • The most powerful way to maximize someone’s potential is to say, “I believe in you.”
  • There are times to sprint, but success is more like a marathon than a sprint.
  • You can’t teach work ethic or willpower.
  • Don’t waste energy on enemies.
  • Focus on the process, not the prize.
  • Make your own mentors by seeking out experts and asking questions.

Part V: Looking For Lessons in My Mirror

  • Jerry Rice and Joe Montana are in the Hall of Fame because of their focus on fundamentals.
  • The starting point for everything is work ethic.
  • Teach your team how to teach their team. Build an organization of teachers.
  • What goes around comes around. Treat people well.
  • Know how to delegate well.
  • Eliminate bad hires or toxic people quickly and compassionately.
  • The best marketing strategy is to build a good product.
  • Don’t expect quick results. Building a winning organization takes time.

Tribes by Seth Godin

The Big Idea: In today’s world, where geography doesn’t matter, tribes are thriving. Tribes are about connection and caring. Leaders of tribes build connection and caring into the tribe.

  • Human beings need to belong.
  • You can’t have a tribe without a leader, so learn about leadership.
  • Everyone is expected to lead.
  • Geography used to restrict the boundaries of tribes but the internet changed that.
  • Leadership is pulling, not pushing.
  • It’s better to make the rules than to follow them.
  • Leadership is not management. Management is getting things done. Leadership is about creating change and inspiring people.
  • Leaders are not afraid of change.
  • Authority does not equal leadership.
  • Two things to turn a group into a tribe: shared interest, a way to communicate.
  • A leader of a tribe encourages members to communicate with each other.
  • Tribes aren’t about stuff. They are about connections, in the context of a shared interest.
  • A crowd is a tribe without a leader and without communication.
  • An artist needs 1,000 true fans. A corporation needs more than 1,000 but fewer than it thinks. True fans are much more important than average customers.
  • Real leaders give back generously to their tribe and help the tribe grow closer.
  • Change is made by acting first and asking for forgiveness later.
  • The best followers are not blind sheep but vibrant fanatics.
  • One person with a persistent vision can make changes happen.
  • Industries don’t die by surprise. The signals are always there.
  • Life is too short to be unhappy and mediocre.
  • Publish a manifesto, connect with followers, encourage followers to connect with each other.
  • It’s powerful to exclude outsiders.
  • Be willing to be wrong. Being wrong isn’t fatal.
  • The big win for nonprofits is turning donors into patrons and activists. Encourage donors to network and volunteer. And vice versa.
  • Caring is the emotion at the center of the tribe. Members of a tribe care about the tribe and each other.
  • The secret of effective leadership is to first listen deeply.
  • Success and change happen a little at a time. Drip, drip, drip. It takes time.
  • You can’t bring permanent change in from the outside.
  • Real leaders don’t care about who gets the credit. There’s no record about Martin Luther King, Jr., or Gandhi whining about credit.

Influence by Robert Cialdini

The Big Idea: The presence of cognitive biases means we don’t always act rationally. Cialdini outlines six weapons of influence which can be used to influence behavior. Even if you aren’t a salesperson, you are a consumer so it’s good to be aware.

1. Reciprocation

  • We tend to reciprocate a favor, even if it is unsolicited.
  • Start by asking for a large favor and then expect a concession to the real favor you want.
  • Selling down works better than selling up.

2. Commitment and Consistency

  • After making an initial choice, we tend to stand by that choice over time. People usually don’t switch sides after they have committed.
  • In a debate, start with a small area of agreement or concession and build from there. People want to stay consistent.
  • We are more consistent in our commitment if we did it for our own purpose rather than from external reward or pressure.
  • Bribing children doesn’t work.

3. Social Proof

  • People like to follow the crowd (of people like them or people they want to be.)
  • Examples: canned laughter, tip jars, Jonestown, peer learning, bystander effect.

4. Liking

  • People want to please others whom they like.
  • Attractive people are more persuasive.
  • People like others who are similar to them.
  • Compliments and flattery work.
  • Familiarity increases persuasiveness.
  • Establish a connection between your product and an attractive or winning person.

5. Authority

  • We obey authority mindlessly in many cases.
  • Titles, uniforms, and appearances convey authority.

6. Scarcity

  • Losing something is more painful than gaining something.
  • Something that is hard to obtain is more valuable than something that is easier to obtain.
  • People fight fiercely to retain something they worked for.
  • Sometimes it’s better to be censored than publicized. (Eg. Some “secret information” the industry doesn’t want you to know.)
  • Indifference towards a lover becomes passion when a rival appears.
  • Scarcity+rivalry drives up prices in bidding wars. Always mention a rival buyer when selling something.

Step 25: Joel Salatin On Nature Laughing Last, The Respect Of Seasons, and The Terrible Twos

The Big Idea: Follow the four seasons in your life. In the spring, you plant new seeds. In the summer, you work the land. In the fall, you harvest the crops. In the winter, you let the soil rest. 

  • Don’t be so ego-centric to think you can beat laws of nature and laws of physics.
  • We will all get older and die, so get moving today.
  • Starting a business is like having a child. The first year keeps you up at night. The second year is like the terrible two’s. Eventually, your business will take care of you in your old age.
  • It took 50 years for Warren Buffett to become a billionaire (7 => 57), so start now.
  • Becoming a millionaire takes time.
  • Most entrepreneurs move around too much, stick with one thing.
  • It might take 10,000 hours to obtain mastery.
  • It might take 10 dark years to become a successful artist.
  • Follow the four seasons in your life.
  • Mass media shows us stories of successes (autumn) but never shows us stories of hard work (summer).
  • During the summer, work the land (plan and work).
  • During the autumn, harvest the crops (collect the rewards).
  • During the winter, let the soil rest (read and rest).
  • During the spring, plant seeds (experiment and test).
  • Long hours and hard work will be required during certain times in your life or business.
  • Don’t forget to appreciate each season while you’re there.

Tai Lopez is an entrepreneur, investor, and blogger who runs an awesome online book club. 67 Steps is a lecture series teaching how to be successful in health, wealth, love, and happiness.  

The Right and Wrong Stuff by Carter Cast

The Big Idea: High potential people stumble in their careers most often because of a lack self-awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses. Fantastic advice in this book.

  • The five archetypes of high potential people who stumble:
    • Captain Fantastic: high performer but terrible interpersonal skills
    • Solo Flier: high performer when working by himself but doesn’t know how to lead
    • Version 1.0: high performer but resistant to change
    • One-Trick Pony: high performance limited to one skill
    • Whirling Dervish: lots of potential but can’t manage time or projects
  • Many high performers are completely unaware of their weaknesses.
  • The book has specific advice and tools to help address weaknesses that could derail a career.
  • High performers: love learning, have high emotional intelligence, and have lots of perseverance.
  • High performers have a growth mindset (Carol Dweck.)
  • Understand what motivates you and find the right job and organization for you.
  • Five key motivations: achievement, affiliation, power, autonomy, and purpose.
  • No one is going to care as much as you about your own development. Seek knowledge, feedback, and mentoring.

 

To Sell Is Human by Daniel Pink

The Big Idea: Even if you’re not a “salesman”, you probably have to sell or persuade people all the time. Therefore, learn how to sell.

  • Everyone sells.
  • Physicians sell patients on treatments. Lawyers sell juries on verdicts. Teachers sell students on coursework. Entrepreneurs sell investors on visions. Writers sell producers on scripts. Coaches sell players on plays.
  • Before the internet, sellers had all the information on their product so they were able to deceive and manipulate.
  • Today, buyers have more information and leverage, so the balance has shifted.
  • Instead of Always Be Closing, the new ABC is Attunement, Buoyancy, and Clarity.
  • Attunement
    • Show empathy
    • Be humble
    • Mimic strategically
    • Put yourself in their shoes
    • Be ambivert not extrovert
    • Ask others “where are you from?”
  • Buoyancy
    • Instead of stating “I will ___,” ask yourself “how will I ___?”
    • 3:1 ratio of positive to negative emotions is better than infinite positivity.
    • Develop an optimistic explanatory style to deal with rejection: rejections are temporary not permanent, specific not universal, external not personal.
  • Clarity
    • The ability to move people hinges less on problem-solving than on problem-finding.
    • Problem finders tend to be more successful than problem solvers.
    • Problem finding is about asking the right questions and being good at curating information.
    • One of the most essential questions is “compared to what?” Frame your offerings in ways that contrast its alternatives and clarify its virtues.
    • 5 Frames: less frame (paradox of choice), experience frame (experience vs physical), label frame (names matter), blemished frame (include a negative), potential frame (potential is more powerful than actual)
    • “On a scale from 1 to 10…” “How can we move that up?”
    • Books: Influence, Made to Stick, Switch, Mindless Eating, Nudge
    • Ask 5 Whys
  • How to Pitch
    • Don’t present a pitch end-to-end. Start your pitch and invite the others to create it with you.
    • 1. The One Word Pitch. Simplify everything to one word.
    • 2. The Question Pitch. “Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?”
    • 3. The Rhyming Pitch. “If the glove doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”
    • 4. The Subject Line Pitch. Utility first. Curiosity second.
    • 5. The Twitter Pitch.
    • 6. The Pixar Pitch. “Once upon a time…Every day…One day…Because of that…Until finally.”
  • Learn from improvisational theater. Listen closely. Make the other people look good.
  • Service is at the core of sales.
  • To serve, make it personal and make it purposeful. Eg. Radiologist viewing photos, hospital hand-washing to protect others, fundraisers reading stories about alumni who received scholarships.
  • Be grateful. Always act like the other guy is doing you the favor. No matter what.
  • Look at all your signs and ask if they are emotionally intelligent and well-designed.
  • Treat everyone well.

The Resilient Farm and Homestead

The Big Idea: An efficient, eco-friendly homestead takes good planning and years of work to become stable and self-sufficient.

  • Modern, industrial agriculture is incompatible with a rapidly growing population and resource depletion.
  • Well-designed permaculture systems promote biodiversity and restore land back to health.
  • Nut trees are the core of good permaculture.
  • A nut tree is simply more effective and efficient at converting sunlight and rain into value, over the long-term. A nut tree orchard is also a pasture, a game reserve, a shelter for understory berries, and a site for medicinal plants.
  • (See chapter 2 for seventy two permaculture design principles.)
  • Before you begin, do a deep site analysis, observing water, sun, temperature, soil, topography.
  • The purpose of a plan is to avoid huge mistakes so you can know where to experiment.
  • Understanding and shaping water flow and storage is fundamental to your farm.
  • Understand keylines, swales, and ponds.
  • Overgrazing in the 19th and 20th century has destroyed most of America’s rich topsoil.
  • Strategies to rebuild your land’s topsoil:
    • Compost, urine, humanure.
    • Biochar.
    • Fungi.
    • Remineralization.
    • Cover cropping.
    • Tall grass grazing.
    • Subsoil plowing.
    • Keyline agriculture.
    • Deep root perennials.
  • Strategies for growing food:
    • Plant permaculture guilds.
    • Start a forest garden.
    • Emphasize perennial plants.
    • Know which foods should be staples (rice, meat, eggs, fruit, nuts).
    • Until your systems can produce staple foods, vegetable gardening will comprise the bulk of your yield and your work.
    • Among your annual vegetables, emphasize reliability and calorie foods such as potato, winter squash, cabbage, garlic, and carrots.
    • Learn to preserve food via kimchi and sauerkraut.
    • Emphasize crops that also provide medicine or rebuild the soil.
    • Fungi are very underrated.
  • Fuel and shelter advice:
    • Learn how to use wood as your main fuel and heat source.
    • Biochar has been used for thousands of years to amend soil.
    • Passive solar home design uses large, south-facing windows to trap the sunlight and warm the home.
    • Good home design considers sun, water, wind, surrounding landscape, elevation, views, noise, and road access.
    • Solar south is not always the optimal solar orientation. On a west-facing slope, a home has a late solar day.
    • Foundation advice: extend the foundation wall higher, go deeper for frost stability.
    • Roofs should be steel or slate.
    • Normally, go with a cheaper and faster stud wall frame home. A timber frame is prettier, though. You can do a hybrid if you like.
    • Never use spray foam insulation. Use cellulose for ease of use, low toxicity, sustainability, resistance to mice, and reusability.
    • In terms of insulation, a few large windows > lots of small windows.
    • Use daylight or LED for lighting.
    • Consider getting a landline for phone service.
    • A wood stove can serve many functions: space heater, water heater, stove, and oven.
    • Good home design can reduce the need for heating, A/C, and fans.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Summit Interview

The Big Idea: Be resourceful, think long-term, and have a sense of adventure.

  • I learned self-reliance and resourcefulness on my grandfather’s Texas ranch.
  • Building Amazon is a constant flow of problems solved by self-reliance and resourcefulness.
  • About letting his kids use power tools, “I’d much rather have a kid with nine fingers than a kid who lacks resourcefulness.”
  • About his choice of wife, “I wanted a woman who could get me out of third-world prison if necessary.”
  • About abandoning a good life to start Amazon, “When I’m 80 years old, I want to minimize the number of regrets I have.”
  • My space exploration company Blue Origins requires long-term thinking.
  • Big problems can be solved if you think long-term.
  • While our competitors have a 2-3 year time horizon, Amazon has a 10+ year time horizon. That is a tremendous competitive advantage.
  • I don’t like to multi-task. I am focused on whatever the task I’m on. If I’m reading email, I’m reading email. If I’m relaxing, I’m relaxing.
  • A sense of adventure is one of my core values. Choose a life of adventure and you’ll be more proud of this when you’re 80.
  • Exposing yourself to new things and creating is all about having a sense of adventure.
  • To me, fellowship means traveling down the road together. It encompasses more than friendship.
  • On work-life balance, “If I’m energized at work, I’m a better husband-friend-father. And vice-versa.” Is your work energizing or draining? Both sides of my life give me energy, so it’s never been a problem.

 

How to Grow More Vegetables by John Jeavons

The Big Idea: Grow Biointensive (a variant of organic farming) produces more food per square foot while also building soil, using less water, using less fertilizer, and requiring less fossil fuel.

  • Industrial agriculture depletes 6 pounds of soil for every 1 pound of food produced.
  • Organic agriculture also depletes soil as it produces food.
  • Grow Biointensive and permaculture builds soils as it produces food.
  • Grow Biointensive farming builds soil, uses less water, uses less fertilizer, requires less energy, and increases food production per square foot.
  • Grow Biointensive relies on human labor instead of external inputs.
  • Similar to Grow Biointensive: agroforestry, no-till Fukuoka farming, Asian blue-green algal wet rice farming, natural rainfall arid farming, and indigenous farming.
  • Build compost (using earthworm) for soil fertility.
  • Deep soil preparation (double digging) sets a foundation for building good soil.
  • Companion planting enhances growth and plant health.
  • Carbon-efficient crops produces carbon for compost.
  • Calorie-efficient crops produces lots of calories.
  • Open-pollinated seeds preserves genetic diversity.
  • A holistic farming system minimizes waste and required inputs.
  • Start small and build from there.

How I Built This: Patagonia

The Big Idea: We’re here for the long-term. That means we need to treat everyone well and make quality, long-lasting clothing.

  • I started Patagonia to make better quality climbing gear for myself. Our profit margins were about 1%
  • Patagonia branched out into clothing when I wore some local clothing and people started asking me where I got them. It was much more profitable.
  • I make product decisions based on intuition, not data.
  • “If you wait for the customer to tell you what to do, you’re too late.”
  • We had to slow down growth because we wanted to grow only out of retained profits.
  • I hated laying people off during one of our early recessions.
  • Our earliest mistake was growing too fast.
  • We fixed things by slowing things down and putting ourselves on a growth plan that aimed to make sure we were in business 100 years from now.
  • Our advertising budget is tiny. Because we are private, we can grow as much or as little as we think is right.
  • “There are two kinds of growth. One is where you grow stronger. The other is where you grow fatter.”
  • We have the largest garment repair facility in North America. We’ll repair any Patagonia clothing forever. So that incentivizes us to make clothing that lasts (or can be easily repaired.)
  • I studied Japanese and Scandinavian business and management models in search of a better way of doing business.
  • Ant colonies don’t have bosses. Every ant knows what to do. We hire motivated, young, independent people and leave them alone.
  • “Let my people go surfing.” I don’t care when you work as long as the job is done.
  • Our employees are so independent they are almost unemployable anywhere else.
  • We started a childcare and learning center at the company for employees. Why not?
  • We’re not going to sell the company. We’re not going public.
  • We’re here for the long-term. That means we need to treat everyone well and make quality, long-lasting clothing.
  • You’re not going to beat Coca-Cola at their own game.
  • But if you play a different game, you can win. Pick a game where there is little competition. Be creative. Break the rules.
  • I never took a penny of investment. I still own 100% of the company.
  • Patagonia reportedly did $750mm in sales last year.

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