Nov, 2017

Permaculture for the Rest of Us by Jenni Blackmore

The Big Idea: With creativity and persistence, you can live well on a small homestead, even if the climate is difficult and the soil is subpar.

  • Every homestead will be unique. Contours, zones and sectors should be mapped out on paper before getting started.
  • Zones are concentric circles around your home. Zone 0 is your home. Zone 1 is next out and will contain herbs, etc. Zone 5 is further away and will contain less visited trees and bushes.
  • Sectors are like slices of a pie-chart  that clearly define sunniest spots, wind tunnels, water courses, etc.
  • Develop the land slowly so that you have time to experiment, adjust, and enjoy.
  • Develop intimate knowledge of every corner of your land.
  • Encourage what wants to stay and let the rest go away. This will lighten your work immensely.
  • Soil is made of sand, silt, and clay. There is an ideal ratio of all three for plants.
  • Important layers are: topsoil (2-8″), subsoil (12-30″), and bedrock.
  • Only a few plants (comfrey, dandelions, daikon radish) have roots long enough to penetrate subsoil and bring nutrients up.
  • Amend soil by adding good organic material like compost, humus, and worms.
  • A well-designed compost bin can speedy up decomposition and keep things clean.
  • Red Wrigglers are the best compost worm.
  • Chickens can be a great help turning compost.
  • Chicken manure must be aged one year before using on plants.
  • Comfrey fixes nitrogen, attracts bees, can reach down into the subsoil, and can be used to supplement compost piles or as green mulch. Just be careful to plant comfrey in an unused area of land.
  • Digging and tilling disrupts the organisms living in good soil. Try the no-till method instead.
  • Instead of digging vegetable garden beds, use raised bed gardens.
  • Try hugelkultur raised bed gardens.
  • Try keyhole raised bed gardens.
  • Try lasagna raised bed gardens.
  • Copper mesh along the top sides of raised bed walls keeps slugs away.
  • An herb spiral is a classic permaculture design.
  • Every vegetable has its own growing preference. Proper timing and environment is essential to learn.
  • Easy starter crops: garlic, chard, potatoes, squash.
  • Crop rotation is essential to healthy gardens.
  • Get at least on really comprehensive gardening guide to explain each plant’s preferences.
  • Legumes are great for the soil.
  • Greenhouses are not a luxury. They are integral to a successful homestead.
  • You can find lots of inexpensive DIY designs online.
  • Traditionally, greenhouses are placed with maximum southern exposure but this is not a hard rule.
  • Three purposes of a greenhouse: starting seeds, growing plants that prefer warmth, prolonging seasonal growth.
  • Brussel sprouts are underrated vegetables and should be started inside.
  • Ladybugs are fantastic for dealing with an aphid problem.
  • Even the smallest homestead should have a wild Zone 5. (Zone 4 is a food forest. Zones 2 and 3 are gardens, compost, and animals.
  • Hugulkulture is ideal in colder climates because it creates a warmer environment for growing.
  • Natural or manmade microclimates help protect plants from wind and cold.
  • While not required, good livestock design makes permaculture easier.
  • Chickens are great for eggs, manure, composting scraps.
  • Chicken manure always needs to be aged before using.
  • Chickens need to be well-protected from predators
  • Ducks are great for eggs and slug control.
  • Ducks are harder to keep because of their water requirements. Minimum 4 inches of water to dunk their heads.
  • Rabbits are great for meat production.
  • Rabbit manure can be used immediately in gardens.
  • Turkeys are good for meat and eggs and very easy to care for.
  • Build a chicken tractor and a henposter if you raise chickens.
  • Principle 1: Feedback loops: accepting and responding to change.
  • Principle 2: Integrated symbiotic support between all systems: every system must support other systems and in turn be supported by other systems.
  • Principle 3: Cultivate local species: avoid introducing invasive species.
  • Principle 4: Ensure the fair distribution of yield and empower others to become self-sustaining.
  • Principle 5: Continuous and mindful observation.
  • Principle 6: Intelligent design and the observation of naturally occurring patterns.
  • Principle 7: Capturing and storing energy and the efficient use of resources.
  • Principle 8: Ensure a yield.
  • Principle 9: Start small and move slowly.
  • Principle 10: Introduce renewable, biological resources only.
  • Principle 11: Celebrate and value diversity.
  • Principle 12: See creative solutions not problems.
  • Save any valuable seeds in labeled pill bottles or envelopes.
  • Learn to preserve harvest with canning, drying, root cellars, cold rooms, freezing.
  • Cold frames and greenhouses help to prolong the growing season.
  • Read Mycelium Running by Paul Stamets.

Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi

The Big Idea: the key to success in life is relationships + creating with others.

  • Real networking is about helping others succeed.
  • Make goal setting a lifetime habit.
  • Young Bill Clinton would record the names and backgrounds of everyone he met on index cards.
  • Older Bill Clinton is famous for creating instant rapport with everyone who meets him.
  • Build your network long before you need it.
  • Before you meet someone, always do your homework (personal, professional, hobbies, company.)
  • Invest time in organizing your contacts using databases and LinkedIn.
  • Learn how to make a warm call. Never cold call.
  • Learn how to send a warm email. Never cold email.
  • Treat the gatekeeper with warmth.
  • Keep your social+work calendar full of events.
  • Formal networking events are lame. Instead, network on planes, at the YMCA, at church, at conferences, at dinner parties, at charity fundraisers, etc.
  • Good follow-up will separate you from everyone else. Develop a system for following up, thanking others, and finish with “next step.”
  • The real value of conference is not the content, it’s the networking. Do your research on the attendees, organize meta-events, or help the conference organizers.
  • Nourish your relationships with super-connectors.
  • Small talk is underrated as a way to connect with others.
  • Take the time to understand what motivates someone. Usually, it’s: health, wealth, or children. Help others achieve their goals.
  • Real power comes from being indispensable. Help to connect others. It costs you nothing but might change others’ lives.
  • When you hear someone has a problem, try to think how an introduction you make might lead to a solution.
  • Always be pinging. Pinging takes effort. Create an automated system for pinging.
  • An anchor tenant is someone particularly unique or interesting to make your dinner parties memorable for everyone.
  • Arrange regular dinner parties to connect people.
  • The main value of social networking is curation and learning of knowledge.
  • Robert Scoble is very selective about who he follows. Through this, Scoble stays on top of key trends in technology and then curates information to his followers. He is so effective at doing this and adds so much value that his time is in great demand from venture capitalists and business leaders.
  • Have a large, diverse social network and a small core of intimate relationships.
  • The best online networking crosses back and forth between virtual and in-person.
  • Don’t waste time trying to connect to the obvious mega-celebrity. Invest your energy connecting with the rising micro-celebrity. Connect with him before anyone else knows him.
  • When sharing content online, it’s better to be authentic, vulnerable, and candid.
  • When appropriate, co-create content to widen your audience.
  • Lucky people know how to engineer luck by creating a broad network that funnels opportunities their way.
  • If you don’t want to be in Silicon Valley, New York City, or Los Angeles, travel frequently, attend conferences, and connect online.
  • If you plan your whole life, by definition, you can’t get lucky.
  • As a leader, focus less on “todo” lists and more on “to-meet” lists.
  • Be an interesting person yourself by developing hobbies, reading voraciously, and having new experiences.
  • Remember that journalists are hungry for ideas. Develop those relationships early and ping regularly.
  • The best way to become an expert in a topic is to teach it.
  • Your message to journalists and the public must be both simple and universal.
  • In an economy that values emotion over numbers, storytellers have an edge.
  • Be the guardian of your own personal brand.
  • The best strategy for producing viral content is curation, not creation.
  • A PR firm can help you connect to journalists, but you’re the one they should be talking to.
  • Get closer to influence by joining Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), attending political fundraisers, and participating in charity fundraisers.
  • Mentors are another key to success. They teach skills and also make valuable connections.
  • Mentors expect gratitude and application of what they have taught.
  • For leaders in today’s connected age, balance is a myth. Successful leaders blend professional into personal as one.
  • Remember that people are hungry for meaning.
  • Stay focused on the big picture and helping others.

Barking Up The Wrong Tree by Eric Barker

The Big Idea: how to succeed in business and life using science.

Chapter 1: Should We Play It Safe and Do What We’re Told If We Want to Succeed?

  • Grades are a great predictor of self-discipline, conscientiousness, and compliance.
  • Grades are a poor predictor of career success.
  • There are two types of leaders: filtered (rise up the ranks), and unfiltered (leap forward).
  • Unfiltered leaders break things but can also transform.
  • Good leaders are usually filtered leaders. Great leaders are usually unfiltered.
  • Ex: Winston Churchill vs Neville Chamberlain.
  • Swedish expression: most kids are dandelions but a few are orchids.
  • Some traits that lead to bad stuff can actually lead to great stuff in a different situation. Ex: eccentric pianist Glenn Gould.
  • A “hopeful monster” is an individual that deviates radically from the norm because a genetic mutation that confers a potentially adaptive advantage. Ex: Michael Phelps, geniuses.
  • All of Silicon Valley is based on character defects that are rewarded uniquely in this system. (Intensifiers theory.)
  • Ex: Israeli Defense Force recruits autistics to help surveil.
  • Ex: to reinvigorate Pixar, Brad Bird recruited “black sheep”.
  • Extremely creative people have a far higher incidence of mental disorders. The Mad-Genius Paradox.
  • Poor people are called crazy while rich people are called eccentric.
  • Ten thousand hours requires an unhealthy obsession.
  • 10% of the Fortune 400 founders never finished college.
  • Silicon Valley founder stereotypes indicate hypomania, a relentless, euphoric, impulsive machine that explodes towards its goals while staying connected with reality.
  • Marc Andreesen invests in flawed founders who can be extreme successes.
  • Know thyself. Know if you’re filtered or unfiltered. Know your signature strengths.
  • Pick the right pond. Which environments value your signature strengths?

Chapter 2: Do Nice Guys Finish Last?

  • Jerks definitely win in the short-term.
  • Work teams with just one bad apple underperform by 30%.
  • In the long-term trust matters.
  • Ex: criminal organizations know that selfishness, internally, doesn’t scale.
  • Pirates were so successful because they treated their people well.
  • Professor Adam Grant found that Givers were found at the very top and at the very bottom.
  • On average, jerks do better, but at the very top, Givers do better.
  • The most successful Givers surround themselves with Matchers, who punish Takers and protect Givers.
  • Don’t be envious. Let others win too.
  • Start off by giving.
  • Never betray anyone, but if a person cheats you, don’t be a martyr.
  • Pick the right pond. Connect with Givers if you’re a Giver.
  • Cooperate first. Get others to like you. Do small favors.
  • Don’t be a martyr. Sometimes you’ll need to retaliate. Giving too much can lead to burnout.
  • Work hard but make sure it gets noticed. You need to be visible. Your boss needs to like you.
  • Think long-term and make others think long-term. People who act like family treat each other better than colleagues.
  • Forgive to prevent death spirals.

Chapter 3: Do Quitters Never Win and Winners Never Quit?

  • Sometimes you need grit to be successful. Sometimes you need to know when to quit and start over.
  • Navy SEALs use positive self-talk to pass BUD/S.
  • Optimistism is telling yourself the kind of stories you need to keep going.
  • Optimistic people are happier, healthier, and luckier.
  • Optimistic people tell themselves that bad things are: temporary, aren’t universal, and are not their fault.
  • Viktor Frankl survived the Holocaust because his stories were greater than his suffering. He was living for something greater than himself.
  • Hearing how couples tell their story can predict with 94% accuracy if they’ll get divorced.
  • Stories rule our thinking, because they impose meaning on events.
  • When schools are structured like a game, students perform better.
  • Games change the struggle to something fun instead of something that requires willpower.
  • Games are another kind of story.
  • Change the story and you change the behavior.
  • Games must be: Whiny Neutered Goats Fly (WNGF)
  • Games must be: Winnable (not too hard, not too easy), Novel (new challenges), Goal-Oriented (clear goal), Feedback (small wins)
  • Strategic quitting recognized the concept of opportunity cost.
  • If you quit something, it frees up time for something else.
  • Peter Drucker’s book The Effective Executive highlights the supreme importance of time.
  • Jim Collins’ book Good to Great highlighted that most of the turnarounds involved quitting something instead of starting something.
  • Lucky people maximize opportunities. They are more open to new experiences. They try lots of new stuff. They don’t dwell on failures, they see the good side of failures and learn from them.
  • Ex: comedians know the importance of trying lots of material until a joke clicks.
  • Ex: successful entrepreneurs don’t begin with brilliant ideas; they discover them.
  • Devote 5-10% of your time to small experiments to make sure you keep learning and growing.
  • Thinking about love as a journey, with twists and turns and challenges, leads to more success.
  • Stoics used “premeditatio malorum” (premeditation of evils). What’s the worst that could happen?
  • US Special Forces use if-then scenario planning.
  • How do you know when to quit? WOOP. Wish-Outcome-Obstacle-Plan.

Chapter 4: It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know (Unless It Really Is What You Know)

  • Eg. Mathematician Paul Erdos loved to collaborate.
  • Research shows that extroverts make more money, have more satisfying careers, are luckier, and happier.
  • People who speak early and often are seen as leaders.
  • Introverts are more likely to be experts in their field.
  • In some fields, introverts outperform. Eg. math, athletics, music, chess.
  • Extroversion is also linked to crime, infidelity, car accidents, overconfidence, and financial risk-taking.
  • Extroversion is a skill one can develop.
  • The best networker in Silicon Valley is Adam Rifkin. He’s a shy introvert nicknamed Panda. His secret? Be a friend, share knowledge, offer introductions.
  • Similarities create rapport.
  • Ask questions and then listen.
  • Flattery works. Even obvious, insincere flattery works if needed.
  • Ask people what challenges they face.
  • Offer to help others.
  • Reconnect with old friends. Send a few emails every week, asking ” What’s up?”
  • Find your super-connectors and ask them “who should I meet?”
  • Budget time and money every week to connect with people.
  • Join groups and be on the lookout for “Interesting People” dinners.
  • Be a part of diverse social groups.
  • Checking in every now and then matters.
  • Be the hub not the spoke. Organize events.
  • Following up and staying in touch is more important than meeting new people.
  • Top performers at work tend to have bigger networks.
  • Everyone needs a mentor. It’s one of the biggest shortcuts available.
  • Five tips to find an amazing mentor: be a worthy pupil, study your mentor’s work, never waste a mentor’s time, follow up and show them your completed homework, make your mentor proud
  • Mentoring makes mentors happy, too.
  • Want to win a negotiation? Get them to like you. Eg. NYPD hostage negotiators
  • Negotiation tips: keep calm, use active listening, label emotions out loud, ask questions that force them to think
  • Gratitude is the most certain strategy for happiness. Eg. Walter Green’s happiness tour.

Chapter 5: Believe in Yourself…Sometimes

  • Successful people are confident. They over-rate themselves relative to their peers.
  • Overconfidence increases productivity and causes you to choose more challenging tasks.
  • In a way, successful people are “delusional.” They interpret the past positively and increase the chance of future success.
  • Confidence gives you a sense of control.
  • Should you “fake it until you make it”? Eg. U.S.A. Ghost Army in WWII.
  • “The CEO who misleads others in public may eventually mislead himself in private.” –Warren Buffett
  • Confidence is dangerous when it leads to hubris and delusion. Eg. Kung Fu master’s $5,000 challenge.
  • Also, power reduces empathy, causes us to be more selfish, and makes us better liars.
  • If you don’t have any fear, bad things can happen. Eg. Urbach-Wiethe disease.
  • Humility has incredible benefits: drives self-improvement, improves performance, inspires leadership.
  • Abraham Lincoln is the epitome of humility in politics.
  • We need a balance of optimism and pessimism.
  • Bosses that show vulnerability and underrate themselves are the most popular.
  • The best is to develop self-compassion, which has all the benefits of self-esteem without the downsides. Self-compassion allows you to forgive yourself and increase your grit.
  • How do you increase self-compassion? Positive self-talk, mindfulness, meditation.
  • Eg. Emperor Norton I of San Francisco was both delusional and humble.
  • Believing in yourself is nice. Forgiving yourself is better.
  • Confidence is a result of success, not a cause. So focus on competence and self-improvement. Focus on improving your skills, not your outcome.
  • Don’t fake confidence. Present the best version of yourself.

Chapter 6: Work, Work, Work…or Work-Life Balance

  • Extreme hard work produces extreme success.
  • The top 10% of workers produce most of the results.
  • Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer’s keys to success: energy and stamina.
  • Talent + hard work = success.
  • Hard work also leads to unhappiness and stress, unless your work is meaningful.
  • A meaningful career boosts longevity.
  • A boring job can kill you.
  • Einstein strained his family to the breaking point, even creating a duties contract with his wife.
  • Ted Williams was a baseball perfectionist but also divorced three times.
  • Perfectionism is poison to relationships. And relationships are the key to happiness.
  • Burnout is virtually nonexistent in monasteries, Montessori schools, and religious care centers where people consider their work as a calling.
  • Resilience often comes from optimism. Burnout is the flipside of grit. Burnout is the result of pessimism towards your job.
  • Remember to have fun. A playful attitude is associated with better grades.
  • Money and promotions weren’t nearly as important to people as working someplace fun.
  • Predictable time off increases employee happiness and employee performance.
  • Creativity requires rest and freedom to let your mind wander.
  • Early morning hours are statistically the most productive.
  • Three highly productive hours is usually better than ten mediocre hours.
  • Technology increases choice but also increases comparisons with others and therefore dissatisfaction.
  • You need a personal definition of success because you can no longer rely on external comparisons (Facebook.)
  • What does the good life mean to you? If you don’t decide, the world will decide for you.
  • “Just Enough” authors say the good life is: a) happiness (enjoying), b) achievement (winning), c) significance (making a difference), and d) legacy (extending).
  • How did Genghis Khan conquer the world? He had a goal and a plan.
  • Without a plan, you’ll default to what’s easy.
  • A plan gives you a feeling of control and keeps you motivated.
  • Andy Grove says track your time in a journal to see where each hour goes and note which hours are contributing to the good life and which hours are the biggest time-wasters.
  • Todo lists are evil. Schedule everything. Make sure you give time to whatever is priority. Schedule work, not interruptions. Schedule time for deep work. Schedule free time. (Cal Newport.)
  • Control your environment. Create a distraction-free zone. Shawn Achor says make important but ignored tasks 20 seconds easier to start and make unimportant time-wasters 20 seconds harder to start. Reduce temptations (close that browser, put your phone in another room.)
  • Cal Newport recommends a shutdown ritual to settle your brain and help you relax.

Conclusion

  • The path to success is to dream and then do something about that dream. Example: Martin Pistorius and locked-in syndrome.
  • The key to success is alignment between you, your values, your environment, your peers, and your goal.
  • Know thyself.
  • The key to happiness is relationships.