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.

The Art of Happiness by The Dalai Lama

The Big Idea: You have everything you need to achieve happiness. Happiness is achieved through mental practice.

  • Service to others is the best way to live.
  • If you can’t live your life in service to others, at least refrain from doing harm to others.
  • Happiness is not a luxury but the purpose of our existence.
  • Eliminate habits that lead to suffering.
  • Cultivate habits that lead to happiness.
  • In Buddhism, there are four factors to happiness: wealth, worldly satisfaction, spirituality, and enlightenment.
  • The real secret to happiness is a disciplined mind.
  • A calm mind, or one that is engaged in meaningful work, equates to happiness.
  • A basic way to happiness is to cultivate affection and connection with other human beings.
  • Always look for what you have in common with others and you will never be lonely.
  • All emotions, negative and positive, grow in size if practiced regularly.
  • Don’t confuse happiness with pleasure. Pleasure lacks meaning. Happiness depends on meaning and is often felt despite negative external conditions.
  • Become a student of happiness and practice how to improve happiness.
  • Replace anger and hatred with tolerance and patience.
  • Compassion means seeking to truly understand others. Compassion is the key to communicating and bonding with others.
  • The cure for loneliness is to recognize the need to open your eyes to all the people who surround you and to connect with them.
  • Instead of loving someone so that they love you back, seek to love them by increasing their happiness.
  • Without attempting to feel another’s pain, we set ourselves up for isolation.


Extraordinary Experiences by Denise Lee Yeon

The Big Idea: creating extraordinary customer experiences is an essential part of building a great brand.


  • Brands matter more than ever.
  • The internet has increased transparency, so now brands need to be more authentic than ever.
  • Image manipulation through marketing muscle is not enough.
  • Great restaurant and retail brands rely heavily on great customer experiences and are worth studying.
  • Benefits of a strong brand: higher profit margins, customer loyalty, lower overhead costs, greater market valuations, and good will for when things go wrong.

1. Great Brands Start Inside: Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen

  • Prioritizing the needs of franchise owners (not shareholders, customers, or employees) resulted in a dramatic turnaround for Popeye’s.
  • The change in priority led to more training, better communication, improved culture, motivated front-line employees, and improved customer experience.
  • A strong company culture is a competitive advantage.

2. Great Brands Avoid Selling Products: H-E-B

  • Selling food can be a commodity business, but HEB has managed to differentiate itself from Walmart and others by designing a stellar customer experience that is about more than commodity groceries.
  • Examples: longer sampling hours, a greater variety of wines, attractive displays, demonstration kitchens, in-store restaurants, take-out bbq.
  • HEB also makes Texas part of its identity. People tend to do business with people like them.
  • HEB knows their customers better because they are local.
  • HEB’s charitable giving “Helping Here” also supports the local branding and commitment to the community to be more than a place to buy groceries.

3. Great Brands Ignore Trends: Buffalo Wild Wings

  • While other casual restaurants lowered prices during the Great Recession, Buffalo Wild Wings reinforced its positioning as the ultimate sports bar by increasing service, improving the experience, and highlighting its unique personality.
  • The result was a better customer experience, more customer loyalty, lower employee turnover, stronger differentiation, and increased market share.
  • Most companies don’t pioneer, they follow the leader. They will always be behind.

4. Great Brands Don’t Chase Customers: Costco

  • Costco succeeded by stating, “this is who we are, these are the customers we care about” and then doing everything they can to meet those customers’ needs.
  • Costco’s $55 membership fee weeds out low-income customers and selects for higher-income customers who want higher-quality goods but still want a bargain.
  • In return for lower prices on higher-quality goods, customers make a commitment to shop there regularly by paying a membership fee.
  • Costco is able to earn customer loyalty with better customer service enabled by paying employees well.
  • It’s okay to alienate some customers to serve other customers better. You can’t be everything to everybody.
  • A mass, undifferentiated marketing strategy might produce big gains in the short-term but won’t differentiate the brand or attract/retain customers in the long-term.

5. Great Brands Sweat the Small Stuff: PIRCH

  • PIRCH is a luxury appliance retailer with eight showrooms.
  • PIRCH differentiates itself by playing attention to every detail.
  • Examples: a barista greets you at the front door then asks you if you would like a tour or prefer to wander, free samples of food as you shop, cooking demonstrations, working showers, thoughful design of the company headquarters.
  • “Retail is detail.”
  • Note: company may or may not be profitable yet.

6. Great Brands Commit and Stay Committed: Jason’s Deli

  • Privately held company with more than 240 locations. Based in Beaumont, TX for over 40 years (I see a pattern).
  • Prices were always low, but portions are always generous and food quality is high.
  • They decided against breakfast even though it would increase sales short-term because it would affect lunch and catering long-term.
  • Basecamp mandates a 4-hour workweek in the summer because balance is part of its culture.
  • In-N-Out pays front-line employees generously because they understand that they drive the customer experience and drive the business.
  • Jason’s Deli prefers to stay private because their culture would not be a good fit with Wall Street
  • They discovered their own values. They didn’t hire a company to decide them.
  • Instead of chasing growth, they grow when feel they are ready to grow.

7. Great Brands Never Have to ‘Give Back’: sweetleaf

  • sweetleaf is a restaurant chain focused on local food and environmental friendliness.
  • By being authentic to its values, sweetleaf attracts customers who share those values.
  • Great brands who choose to pursue social impact – do it as a core element, not as a bolt-on program for good publicity.


  • Be different and memorable.
  • Branding is not taglines, promotions, logos, or advertising.
  • Branding is expression of the company’s values, mission, and personality.
  • Short-term success may come at the expense of long-term success.
  • Brand-building can’t be delegated to the marketing department or an advertising agency. It starts from leadership and company culture.

Kellogg on Branding by Kellogg School of Management

The Big Idea: a strong brand is one of the most important economic moats a company can build. Building a brand is not easy but, if done well, can pay dividends for many years.


  • A brand is much like a reputation.
  • A strong brand will reshape perception.
  • Cash: Executives are pressured to focus on short-term financial results, however, brand building is a long-term project.
  • Consistency: Brands are built at every touchpoint with the customer.
  • Clutter: A strong brand needs to be focused and unique to stand out from the clutter.

1. Brand Positioning

  • Develop a formal brand positioning statement to guide internal marketing managers.
  • Once a brand is well-established, it is difficult to change.
  • Who is this brand for?
  • What does it help the customer accomplish?
  • How is it different from the alternatives?

2. Designing Brands

  • Begin with a strong brand concept.
  • Incorporate specific cues into the design.
  • The best technique for evaluation of brand design is to expose the design briefly and then ask consumers what they remember.

3. Brand Meaning

  • A strong brand is differentiated from the competition in a meaningful way. Consumers are willing to pay a premium and to repeat purchases over time.
  • Effective brand management involves the discovery, creation, and constant revision of stories.
  • Brands can promote and proclaim brand affiliation (Harley Davidson, Apple.)
  • Conduct a brand meaning audit to track and guide brand management efforts.
  • Brand stewards must become astute meaning managers.

4. Competitive Brand Strategies

  • The pioneer who creates, then dominates, a category enjoys a significant advantage for years and, sometimes, decades.
  • Late entrants have three broad competitive strategies: fast-follower, differentiation, and innovation.

5. Brand Extensions

  • A familiar brand name signals trust which can persuade consumers to try a new product launched with the brand name.
  • The brand extension must make sense.
  • Too many brand extensions can confuse consumers.
  • Sub-brands are sometimes a better choice. Eg., Sony Walkman, where Sony is the parent brand and Walkman is the sub-brand.

6. Brand Portfolio Strategy

  • Brands are a long-term asset.
  • A company with many brands has two broad strategies: house of brands or branded house.
  • House of brands: Proctor and Gamble, the brands are kept distinct and little effort is made to market the parent company to the consumer.
  • Branded house: Apple, the parent company has a strong brand and the sub-brands are natural extensions of the parent brand.

7. Building Brands Through Effective Advertising

  • Advertising should reflect the consumer’s aspirations.
  • Advertising should resonate with prior beliefs, not try to change them.
  • Advertising should resonate with existing goals.
  • Some advertising strategies: hard sell (Visa and “we’re everywhere you want to be”), big idea (Delta stands for convenience because of X, Y, Z), story grammar (follow a character from problem to solution.)
  • Keys: selecting the right media and the right timing.

8. Relationship Branding and CRM

  • CRM can be used to build a personal connection with the brand.
  • First, subsegment the market.
  • Second, personalize the touch points to improve the customer experience.
  • Segmentation methods: monetary value, sociodemographics, purchase behaviors.
  • Cluster analysis is a statistical method used to find natural groups.
  • Well-defined rewards (loyalty club benefits) generally work better than discretionary rewards (complimentary upgrades).

9. Brand Strategy for Business Markets

  • Managing business brands presents unique challenges.
  • The foundation of branding is positioning.
  • A positioning statement declares who that target customer is, what you offer, and why it’s customers should prefer your offering.
  • Brand equity is determined by the associations that are established in the customer’s mind with your brand.
  • The brand associations can be functional (easy to use, high quality, affordable) or they can emotional (exciting, fun, trustworthy, exclusive.)

10. Services Branding

  • A brand name is a promise made to the customer.
  • Customers are either delighted, satisfied, or disgruntled.
  • In contrast to goods, services are generally more intangible, complex, variable in their delivery, process-dependent.
  • For services, the front-line employee (the primary touch point) is the brand.
  • Since the front-line employee is the brand, marketing the brand internally is critical.
  • Front-line employees must view their role as partners. Treat employees like part of the brand.
  • Using self-service technology can reduce variation in customer experience. Service machines make remaining human employees even more valuable.
  • Since the company is the brand, be careful to control communications of the company identity (from sponsored events to ethics to social media.)
  • To manage and improve the customer experience, map all the touch points.
  • Service blueprinting is a mapping of all the touch points with the customer.
  • The blueprint will help identify bottlenecks, ensure consistency, and reveal opportunities to distinguish the brand from competitors.
  • Ex. Mayo Clinic “patientfirst”.
  • Be careful when selecting partners because they become an extension of the brand, for better or worse.

11. Branding in Technology Markets

  • There has been a cultural bias in technology towards engineering and features and against branding.
  • Technology firms need to learn from the CPG firms.

12. Building a Brand-Driven Organization

  • The strongest, most resilient brands have a strong internal company culture that upholds the brand promises.
  • A strong brand leads to customer loyalty, which leads to lower marketing costs, more repeat purchases, and a higher customer lifetime value.
  • A strong brand leads to a higher willingness to pay, which leads to more revenue per customer, and a higher customer lifetime value.
  • A strong company culture motivates employees, reduces employee turnover, and lower operating costs.
  • A strong company culture motivates employees, which improves touch points with the customer, which leads to a strong brand.
  • The touch point wheel consists of interactions during pre-purchase, purchase, and post-purchase.
  • At companies with a strong brand, CEO is the lead brand builder. But all leaders must build the brand in their departments or business units.
  • Form an executive brand council (EBC).
  • To communicate the brand to the employees, segment them like you would segment customers. Then customize the message and the delivery for each employee segment.
  • 1. Make the Brand Relevant to Employees. (What does this mean for me?)
  • 2. Make the Brand Accessible to Employees. (What is our brand, more specifically?)
  • 3. Reinforce the Brand Continuously to Employee. (What is our brand, again?)
  • 4. Make Brand Education Part of New Employee Training
  • 5. Reward On-Brand Behaviors (What’s in it for me?)
  • 6. Hire Based on Brand Fit
  • What gets measured gets managed. Set up employee-focused brand metrics. Surveys, suggestion boxes, focus groups.
  • Common pitfalls: relying on broadcast instead of conversation, not allocating sufficient resources, being seduced by sexy but shallow tactics, and relying too much on technology.

13. Measuring Brand Value

  • What gets measured gets managed.
  • Book: Managing Brand Equity (1991) by David Aaker
  • 1. Customer-centric metrics: qualitative and quantitative measurements of consumer awareness/attitudes, eg. BrandDynamics model
  • 2. Sales-centric metrics: marketing mix modeling (measure ROI via statistical analysis), predictive modeling (customer most likely to respond, Customer Brand Value)
  • 3. Company-valuation-centric metrics: specialists determind brand valuation using accounting and finance principles, for M&A or brand management via scorecards

14. Using Positioning to Build a Mega-brand

  • 1999, NetZero invested remaining capital to position itself against AOL and MSN as “Defenders of the Free World.”
  • The campaign was a big success, NetZero launched premium extensions, and NetZero eventually became United Online.
  • 1. Start with a tangible point of difference that resonates with consumers.
  • 2. Create the impression that you’re bigger than you are.
  • 3. Be nimble in responding to changes in the marketplace, but be true to your brand.

15. Marketing Leverage in the Frame of Reference

  • Do not underestimate the impact of the right frame of reference.
  • 1. Broaden the frame of reference: BMW is not a sports car, it’s the ultimate driving machine; DeBeers is not in the diamond business, it’s in the gift business
  • 2. Compare your offering to the gold standard even if it’s not your primary competitor: it’s not delivery, it’s Digiorno; Visa positioned itself as better than Amex even though its primary competitor was Mastercard
  • 3. I am what I’m not: it’s not TV, it’s HBO

16. Finding the Right Brand Name

  • If your brand name is distinctive and memorable, it can make the difference in winning.
  • Your name must be memorable and ownable.
  • Be careful of descriptive names, fad-ish names, or names that define a product or benefit too narrowly.
  • The brand and its name should convey a personality.
  • Eg. Mrs. Dash

17. Building Global Brands

  • The ideal strategy is to complement global standardization with local customization.
  • Consumers have high expectations of global brands, so it’s best to focus on superior benefits.
  • The brand essence should stay consistent globally, with a little bit of flex for local tastes.
  • Local changes include: sizing, pricing, distribution.
  • Eg. Philadelphia Cream Cheese

18. Branding and Organizational Culture

  • Strong brands in healthcare begin with a strong internal culture.
  • Begin with a clear mission and value statement.
  • If your brand is tied to your employees, they must buy into the mission and purpose of your organization.
  • Eg. Northwest Memorial Healthcare.

19. Branding and the Organization

  • 1. Match the brand to the internal culture and reality.
  • 2. Involve senior management in the branding process.
  • 3. Manage the brand actively with marketing professionals.
  • There is an advantage to scale in building a brand, but there is also an advantage to small size in maintaining a strong company culture and strong core values.

20. Internal Branding

  • Don’t forget your employees when communicating the brand.
  • Employees can be powerful brand ambassadors.
  • Good internal branding can motivate employees to provide exceptional service.

Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday

The Big Idea: you can’t trust the media.

  • Clicks equal revenue. Therefore, online news sites care more about clicks than truth.
  • Since all news is online now, established media has to compete for clicks with millions of blogs, twitter accounts, and satirical news sites.
  • The result of this competition is that the media we consume is flooded with sensational headlines, click-bait, rumors, and unsupported fake news.
  • Most blogs serve no real purpose in our lives than to distract.
  • Read books instead of following blogs.
  • Subscription-based news sites are more trustworthy than free sites because they are not solely dependent on clicks and ad revenue.
  • If you must get coverage for your company or organization, the basic formula is simple: manufacture an effective story, submit it to a small news site, *quickly* trade it up the chain to a larger news site, and repeat until you are mentioned in The New York Times.
  • Afterwards, you can forever say “as seen in The New York Times.”
  • Other tactics: press releases, Wikipedia, leaked stories, HARO, effective headlines.
  • Ryan Holiday knows this topic first-hand because he was one of the pioneers of media manipulation.

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.


  • 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.