Jason Fried, Why 40 Hours is Enough

The Big Idea: focus on profit not revenue; meetings interrupt deep work; remote work leads to deep work and attracts top talent.

  1. Think of your company as the primary product that you are building. What are the features and benefits of your company? What areas of the company need improvement?
  2. Think about how the company is built early on, because, later, it’s much harder to fix.
  3. Focus on profit. If you’re profitable, you can stay in business forever. Companies that raise and spend money learn to become good at raising and spending money.
  4. 40 hours a week is plenty of time to do great work. Learn how to eliminate time-wasters.
  5. No meetings. Instead discuss things online and asynchronously, so that people can engage when they are ready.
  6. No conversations allowed in open office spaces.
  7. Turn off notifications to let people concentrate.
  8. No real-time chat, with some exceptions.
  9. Build a remote work company if you really want to hire the best people in the world. Not just in your city.

The Lessons of History by Will and Ariel Durant

The Big Idea: History may not repeat itself, but it often rhymes.

Chapter I: Hesitations

  • The present is the past rolled up for action, and the past is the present unrolled for understanding.

Chapter II: History and the Earth

  • History is subject to geology.
  • River, lakes, oases, and oceans draw settlers to their shores, for water is the life of organisms and towns, and offers inexpensive roads for transport and trade.
  • The development of the airplane will again alter the map of civilization.
  • Russia, China, and Brazil , which were hampered by the excess of their land mass over their coasts, will cancel part of that handicap by taking to the air.

Chapter III: Biology and History

  • History is a fragment of biology: the life of man is a portion of the vicissitudes of organisms on land and sea.
  • The laws of biology are the fundamental lessons of history.
  • The first biological lesson of history is that life is competition.
  • The second biological lesson of history is that life is selection. In the competition for food or mates or power some organisms succeed and some fail. In the struggle for existence some individuals are better equipped than others to meet the tests of survival.
  • We are all born unfree and unequal.
  • Inequality is not only natural and inborn, it grows with the complexity of civilization. Leave men free, and their natural inequalities will multiply.
  • Only the man who is below the average in economic ability desires equality; those who are conscious of superior ability desire freedom; and in the end superior ability has its way.
  • Utopias of equality are biologically doomed.
  • The best that the amiable philosopher can hope for is an approximate equality of legal justice and educational opportunity.
  • The third biological lesson of history is that life must breed. Nature has no use for organisms, variations, or groups that cannot reproduce.
  • If the human brood is too numerous for the food supply, Nature has three agents for restoring the balance: famine, pestilence, and war.

Chapter IV: Race and History

  • The South creates the civilizations, the North conquers them, ruins them, borrows from them, spreads them: this is one summary of history.
  • American civilization is still in the stage of racial mixture.
  • Civilization is a co-operative product, and nearly all peoples have contributed to it.

Chapter V: Character and History

  • History shows little alteration in the conduct of mankind. The Greeks of Plato’s time behaved very much like the French of modern centuries; and the Romans behaved like the English.
  • The conservative who resists change is as valuable as the radical who proposes it. New ideas should be compelled to go through the mill of objection, opposition, and contumely.
  • It is good that the old should resist the young, and that the young should prod the old.

Chapter VI: Morals and History

  • For sixteen centuries the Jewish enclaves in Christendom maintained their continuity and internal peace by a strict and detailed moral code, almost without help from the state and its laws.
  • History can be divided into three stages — hunting, agriculture, industry. We may expect that the moral code of one stage will be changed in the next.
  • In the hunting stage a man had to be ready to chase and fight and kill.
  • When men passed from hunting to agriculture, industriousness became more vital than bravery, regularity and thrift more profitable than violence, peace more victorious than war.
  • Industrial Revolution changed the economic form and moral superstructure of European and American life. Men, women, and children left home and family, authority and unity, to work as individuals. Education spread religious doubts. The old agricultural moral code began to die.
  • Sin has flourished in every age .
  • We are in a transition between a moral code that has lost its agricultural basis and another that our industrial civilization has yet to forge into social order and normality.

Chapter VII: Religion and History

  • Religion does not seem at first to have had any connection with morals. Apparently, according to Petronius and Lucretius, “it was fear that first made the gods” — fear of hidden forces in the earth, rivers, oceans, trees, winds, and sky.
  • Priests used these fears and rituals to support morality and law did religion become a force vital.
  • Though the Catholic Church served the state, it claimed to stand above all states, as morality should stand above power.
  • Nature and history do not agree with our conceptions of good and bad; they define good as that which survives, and bad as that which goes under.
  • The universe has no prejudice in favor of Christ as against Genghis Khan .
  • Francis Bacon proclaimed science as the religion of modern emancipated man.
  • The replacement of Christian with secular institutions is the culminating and critical result of the Industrial Revolution.
  • But if another great war should devastate Western civilization, the resultant destruction of cities, the dissemination of poverty, and the disgrace of science may leave the Church, as in A.D. 476, our sole hope.
  • Religion has many lives, and a habit of resurrection.
  • Puritanism and paganism — the repression and the expression of the senses and desires — alternate in mutual reaction in history.

Chapter VIII: Economics and History

  • History, according to Karl Marx, is economics in action.
  • The motives of the (usually hidden) leaders may be economic or lust for power, but the result of many wars and revolutions is largely determined by the passions of the mass.
  • The men who can manage men, manage the men who can manage only things.  The men who can manage money manage all.
  • Bankers have held controlled history, from the Medici of Florence, to the Rothschilds of Paris, to the Morgans of New York.
  • Bankers understand that history is inflationary, and that money is the last thing a wise man will hoard.
  • Every economic system must rely upon some form of the profit motive to stir individuals.
  • The concentration of wealth is a natural result of the concentration of ability, and regularly recurs in history. Democracy accelerates the concentration of wealth. 
  • The gap between the wealthiest and the poorest is now greater than at any time since Imperial plutocratic Rome.
  • When inequality reaches a tipping point, it is met by legislation redistributing wealth or by revolution distributing poverty.
  • We conclude that the concentration of wealth is natural and inevitable, and is periodically alleviated by violent or peaceable partial redistribution.

Chapter IX: Socialism and History

  • The struggle of socialism against capitalism is part of the historic rhythm in the concentration and dispersion of wealth.
  • There have been socialistic experiments in a dozen countries and centuries. 
  • In Sumeria, about 2100 B.C., the economy was organized by the state. 
  • In Babylonia (1750 B.C.) the law code of Hammurabi fixed wages. 
  • In Egypt under the Ptolemies (323 B.C. – 30 B.C.) the state owned the soil and managed agriculture.
  • Rome had its socialist interlude under Diocletian.
  • China has had several attempts at state socialism. The Emperor Wu Ti (140 B.C. – 87 B.C.) nationalized the resources. Wang Mang (A.D. 9–23) nationalized the land, divided it into equal tracts among the peasants, and put an end to slavery. The rich Liu family put itself at the head of a general rebellion, slew Wang Mang, and repealed his legislation. Everything was as before. Wang An-shih, as premier (1068 – 85), undertook a pervasive governmental domination of the Chinese economy.
  • The longest-lasting regime of socialism yet known to history was set up by the Incas in what we now call Peru. This system endured till the conquest of Peru by Pizarro in 1533. 
  • During the Protestant Reformation in Germany, Thomas Münzer, a preacher, called upon the people to overthrow the princes, the clergy, and the capitalists. 
  • In 1600s, Levellers in Cromwell’s army begged him in vain to establish a communistic utopia in England.
  • Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels gave the movement its Magna Carta in the Communist Manifesto of 1847, and its Bible in Das Kapital (1867–95).
  • The fear of capitalism has compelled socialism to widen freedom, and the fear of socialism has compelled capitalism to increase equality.

Chapter X: Government and History

  • The prime task of government is to establish order.
  • Power naturally converges to a center.
  • Today international government is developing as industry, commerce, and finance override frontiers and take international forms.
  • Monarchy seems to be the most natural kind of government.
  • Democracies, by contrast, have been hectic interludes.
  • All in all, monarchy has had a middling record, full of nepotism, irresponsibility, and extravagance.
  • Most governments have been oligarchies, ruled by a minority, by birth, as in aristocracies, by a religious organization, as in theocracies, or by wealth, as in democracies.
  • Minority government is as inevitable as the concentration of wealth.
  • Modern aristocracies have resulted in rulers living a careless and dilettante hedonism, a lifelong holiday.
  • Does history justify revolutions? In most instances the effects achieved by the revolution would apparently have come without it through the gradual compulsion of economic developments.
  • Violent revolutions do not so much redistribute wealth as destroy it.
  • There may be a redivision of the land, but the natural inequality of men soon re-creates an inequality of possessions and privileges, and raises to power a new minority with essentially the same instincts as in the old.
  • The only real revolutionists are philosophers and saints.
  • In strict usage of the term, democracy has existed only in modern times.
  • Socrates condemned the triumphant democracy of Athens as a chaos of class violence.
  • Plato’s reduction of political evolution to a sequence of monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, and dictatorship found another illustration in the history of Rome. 
  • In the first century BC, rival factions competed in the wholesale purchase of candidates and votes. Battle replaced the auctioning of victory; Caesar won, and established a popular dictatorship. Aristocrats killed him, but ended by accepting the dictatorship of his grandnephew and stepson Augustus (27 B.C.). Democracy ended, monarchy was restored; the Platonic wheel had come full turn.
  • The American Revolution was not only a revolt of colonials against a distant government; it was also an uprising of a native middle class against an imported aristocracy. A government that governed least was admirably suited to liberate those individualistic energies that transformed America from a wilderness to a material utopia.
  • New conditions gave America a democracy more basic and universal than history had ever seen. But these conditions have faded away. Personal isolation is gone through the growth of cities. Personal independence is gone through the dependence of the worker upon tools and capital that he does not own. Free land is gone. Economic freedom, even in the middle classes, becomes more and more exceptional.
  • Every advance in the complexity of the economy puts an added premium upon superior ability, and intensifies the concentration of wealth, responsibility, and political power.
  • Democracy is the most difficult of all forms of government, since it requires the widest spread of intelligence. Lincoln supposed, that “you can’t fool all the people all the time,” but you can fool enough of them to rule a large country.
  • Democracy has done less harm, and more good, than any other form of government. Athens and Rome became the most creative cities in history. If equality of educational opportunity can be established, democracy will be real and justified.
  • if the itch to rule the world requires a large military establishment and appropriation, the freedoms of democracy may one by one succumb.
  • If race or class war divides us into hostile camps, changing political argument into blind hate, one side or the other may overturn the hustings with the rule of the sword. 
  • If our economy of freedom fails to distribute wealth as ably as it has created it, the road to dictatorship will be open to any man who can persuasively promise security to all.

Chapter XI: History and War

  • War is one of the constants of history, and has not diminished with civilization or democracy.
  • In the last 3,421 years of recorded history only 268 have seen no war.
  • In every century the generals and the rulers (with rare exceptions like Ashoka and Augustus) have smiled at the philosophers’ timid dislike of war.
  • Even a philosopher, if he knows history, will admit that a long peace may fatally weaken the martial muscles of a nation.
  • Perhaps we are now restlessly moving toward that higher plateau of competition; we may make contact with ambitious species on other planets or stars; soon thereafter there will be interplanetary war. Then, and only then, will we of this earth be one.

Chapter XII: Growth and Decay

  • Why is it that history is littered with the ruins of civilizations? Is death is the destiny of all?
  • History repeats itself, but only in outline and in the large. There is no certainty that the future will repeat the past.
  • Civilizations begin, flourish, decline, and disappear — or linger on as stagnant pools.
  • Most states took form through the conquest of one group by another. 
  • What are the causes of decay?
  • Shall we suppose, with Spengler and many others, that each civilization is an organism? It is tempting to explain the behavior of groups through analogy with physiology or physics. 
  • A civilization declines when its leaders fail to meet the challenges of change. The challenges may come from a dozen sources , and may by repetition or combination rise to a destructive intensity.
  • Challenges: climate, food, inequality, morality.
  • Do civilizations die? Not quite.
  • Greek civilization is not really dead. Homer has more readers now than in his own day and land.
  • Nations die. But the resilient man picks up his tools and his arts, and moves on. Civilization migrates with him.

Chapter XIII: Is Progress Real?

  • All technological advances will have to be written off as merely new means of achieving old ends. The nature of man does not really change. 
  • Science and technology are neutral. Our comforts and conveniences may have weakened our physical stamina and our moral fiber. We are the same trousered apes at two thousand miles per hour as when we had only legs. 
  • We have laudably bettered the conditions of life for skilled workingmen and the middle class, but we have allowed our cities to fester with dark ghettos and slimy slums.
  • Are our manners better than before, or worse?
  • Has there been any progress at all in philosophy since Confucius ?
  • If progress means increase in happiness, we are not happier. 
  • If progress means the increasing control of the environment by life, then progress is real.
  • Longevity in European and American whites has tripled in the last three centuries.
  • Famine has been eliminated in modern states. Science has diminished superstition, obscurantism, and religious intolerance. Technology has spread food, home ownership, comfort, education. 
  • Our civilization will probably die. But we have said that a great civilization does not entirely die. Some precious achievements always survive. Education is the transmission of civilization. As long as the transmission is not interrupted, civilization’s achievements and progress will endure. 
  • The heritage that we can now more fully transmit is richer than ever before. History is, above all else, the creation and recording of that heritage.

Start With Why by Simon Sinek

THE BIG IDEA: Great companies have a clear purpose for their existence, and it’s not the pursuit of money.


The Wright brothers were able to inspire those around them and truly lead their team to develop a technology that would change the world.

Apple inspires. Apple starts with Why. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, men not motivated by money, envisioned a nobler purpose for the technology. They saw the personal computer as a way for the little man to take on a corporation. What has made Apple special is that they’ve been able to repeat the pattern over and over and over.

Great leaders are able to inspire people to act. Those who are able to inspire give people a sense of purpose or belonging that has little to do with any external incentive or benefit to be gained.

Companies that have a clear WHY have the most loyal customers and the most loyal employees. They tend to be more profitable than others in their industry. They are more innovative, and most importantly, they are able to sustain all these things over the long term.

People who love going to work are more productive and more creative. They go home happier and have happier families. They treat their colleagues and clients and customers better. Inspired employees make for stronger companies and stronger economies.



If you truly have a first-mover’s advantage, it’s probably lost in a matter of months.

There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.

Playing the price game or relying on promotions are such common manipulations that we often forget that we’re being manipulated in the first place.

Fear can manipulate us into buying. Aspirational messages can also manipulate us into buying. But both are still manipulations.

I cannot dispute that manipulations work, but these manipulations don’t last. Manipulations don’t breed loyalty .

In business, leadership means that customers will continue to support your company even when you slip up.

Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better product or a better price to continue doing business with you. Loyal customers often don’t even bother to research the competition or entertain other options. Loyalty is not easily won.

Manipulations lead to transactions, not loyalty.

Manipulations are a perfectly valid strategy for driving a transaction, or for any behavior that is only required once or on rare occasions.

After September 11, there were customers who sent checks to Southwest Airlines to show their support. One note that accompanied a check for $1,000 read, “You’ve been so good to me over the years, in these hard times I wanted to say thank you by helping you out.”

Knowing you have a loyal customer and employee base not only reduces costs, it provides massive peace of mind. Like loyal friends, you know your customers and employees will be there for you when you need them most. It is the feeling of “we’re in this together,” shared between customer and company, voter and candidate, boss and employee, that defines great leaders.

The danger of manipulations is that they work. And because manipulations work, they have become the norm, practiced by the vast majority of companies and organizations, regardless of size or industry.



Very few people or companies can clearly articulate WHY they do WHAT they do. When I say WHY, I don’t mean to make money — that’s a result. By WHY I mean what is your purpose, cause or belief? WHY does your company exist? WHY do you get out of bed every morning? And WHY should anyone care?

People don’t buy WHAT you do, they buy WHY you do it.

Apple’s WHY, to challenge the status quo and to empower the individual, is a pattern in that it repeats in all they say and do. It comes to life in their iPod and even more so in iTunes.

And it is Apple’s clarity of WHY that gives them such a remarkable ability to innovate, often competing against companies seemingly more qualified than they, and succeed in industries outside their core business.

Knowing your WHY is not the only way to be successful, but it is the only way to maintain a lasting success and have a greater blend of innovation and flexibility.


Our desire to feel like we belong is so powerful that we will go to great lengths, do irrational things and often spend money to get that feeling.

The power of WHY is not opinion, it’s biology.

The limbic brain is responsible for all of our feelings, such as trust and loyalty. It is also responsible for all human behavior and all our decision-making ,

We often trust our limbic brain even if the decision flies in the face of all the facts and figures.

Companies that fail to communicate a sense of WHY force us to make decisions with the rational brain.

Decisions started with WHY — the emotional component of the decision — and then the rational components allowed the buyer to verbalize or rationalize the reasons for their decision.

This is what we mean when we talk about winning hearts and minds . The heart represents the limbic brain and the mind is the rational brain.

Winning hearts takes more work.

We trust our gut to help us decide whom to vote for or which shampoo to buy.

It is not logic or facts but our hopes and dreams, our hearts and our limbic brain, that drive us to try new things .


If the leader of the organization can’t clearly articulate WHY the organization exists in terms beyond its products or services, then how does he expect the employees to know WHY to come to work?

To inspire starts with the clarity of WHY.

HOWs are your values or principles. HOWs are the actions you take to realize that belief. WHATs are the results of those actions — everything you say and do: your products, services, marketing, PR, culture and whom you hire.

Authenticity is when you say and do the things you actually believe. Authenticity cannot be achieved without clarity of WHY.

Southwest had no first mover’s advantage. Southwest was not built to be an airline. It was built to champion a cause. They just happened to use an airline to do it.

In the early 1970s, only 15 percent of the traveling population traveled by air. At that rate, the market was small enough to scare off most would-be competitors to the big airlines. But Southwest wasn’t interested in competing against everyone else for 15 percent of the traveling population. Southwest cared about the other 85 percent. Back then, if you asked Southwest whom their competition was, they would have told you, “We compete against the car and the bus.” But what they meant was, “We’re the champion for the common man.” That was WHY they started the airline.

Southwest Airlines’ guiding principles and values stemmed directly from their WHY and were more common sense than anything else.

In the 1970s, air travel was expensive, and if Southwest was going to be the champion for the common man, they had to be cheap.

And in a day and age when air travel was elitist — back then people wore ties on planes — as the champion for the common man, Southwest had to be fun.

In a time when air travel was complicated, with different prices depending on when you booked, Southwest had to be simple.

Cheap, fun and simple. That’s HOW Southwest did it.

Those who could relate to Southwest, those who saw themselves as average Joes, now had an alternative to the big airlines. And those who believed what Southwest believed became fiercely loyal to the company. They felt Southwest was a company that spoke directly to them and directly for them. More importantly, they felt that flying Southwest said something about who they were as people. The loyalty that developed with their customers had nothing to do with price. Price was simply one of the ways the airline brought their cause to life.

What Southwest has achieved is the stuff of business folklore. As a result of WHY they do what they do, and because they are highly disciplined in HOW they do it, they are the most profitable airline in history.

Everything Southwest says and does is authentic. Everything about them reflects the original cause King and Kelleher set out to champion decades earlier.

Differentiation happens in WHY and HOW you do it. Southwest isn’t the best airline in the world. Nor are they always the cheapest. But WHY they do it is crystal clear and everything they do proves it. There are many ways to motivate people to do things, but loyalty comes from the ability to inspire people.



And if a company mistreats their people, just watch how the employees treat their customers. Mud rolls down a hill.

Trust begins to emerge when we have a sense that another person or organization is driven by things other than their own self-gain.

You have to earn trust by communicating and demonstrating that you share the same values and beliefs. You have to talk about your WHY and prove it with WHAT you do.

Those who lead are able to do so because those who follow trust that the decisions made at the top have the best interest of the group at heart. In turn, those who trust work hard because they feel like they are working for something bigger than themselves.

Follow your metric but also recognize that problems arise, however, when the metric becomes the only measure of success. Remember WHY you set out to achieve the metric in the first place.

Hire people who believe what you believe. When you hire those who believe what you believe, success seems to just happen.

Ad for Shackleton’s voyage: “Men wanted for hazardous journey. Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful. Honour and recognition in case of success.”

Southwest Airlines is a great example of a company with a knack for hiring good fits. Their ability to find people who embody their cause makes it much easier for them to provide great service. As Herb Kelleher famously said, “You don’t hire for skills, you hire for attitude. You can always teach skills.”

Simply hiring people with a solid résumé or great work ethic does not guarantee success.

For years, Southwest didn’t have a complaints department — they didn’t need one. Their genius came from figuring out why some people were such good fits and then developing systems to find more of them.

Great companies don’t hire skilled people and motivate them, they hire already motivated people and inspire them. People are either motivated or they are not.

Companies with a strong sense of WHY are able to inspire their employees. Those employees are more productive and innovative, and the feeling they bring to work attracts other people eager to work there as well.

Wwhen companies feel the need to pay mega-salaries to “get the best talent.” Those people are not necessarily showing up because they believe in your WHY, they are showing up for the money.

Average companies give their people something to work on. In contrast, the most innovative organizations give their people something to work toward.

The role of a leader is to create an environment in which great ideas can happen.

If the people inside a company are told to come to work and just do their job, that’s all they will do. If they are constantly reminded WHY the company was founded and told to always look for ways to bring that cause to life while performing their job, however, then they will do more than their job.

Companies with a clear sense of WHY tend to ignore their competition.

When people come to work with a higher sense of purpose, they find it easier to weather hard times or even to find opportunity in those hard times.

Great organizations become great because the people inside the organization feel protected. Trust matters.

Passion comes from feeling like you are a part of something that you believe in.

Herb Kelleher recognized that to get the best out his employees he needed to create an environment in which they felt like the company cared about them.


Marketers are always trying to influence the influencers, but few really know how.

It is nearly impossible to “convince” someone of the value of your products or ideas based on rational arguments and tangible benefits.

Manipulations don’t breed loyalty.

The goal of business then should not be to simply sell to anyone who wants what you have, but rather to find people who believe what you believe.

You don’t just want any influencer, you want someone who believes what you believe. The entire act of incentivizing an influencer is manipulative.

When you start with WHY, those who believe what you believe are drawn to you.

Martin Luther King Jr gave the “I Have a Dream” speech, not the “I Have a Plan” speech.



Bill Gates doesn’t have natural charismatic energy, but he still inspires.

All great leaders inspire because they have clarity of WHY.

Bonuses, promotions, other carrots and even a few sticks can get people to work harder, for sure, but the gains are, like all manipulations, short-term.

Loyalty among employees is when they turn down more money or benefits to continue working at the same company.

An airline gave Herb Kelleher the perfect outlet to spread his belief in freedom.

The WHAT level is where the rubber meets the road. It is at this level that the majority of the employees sit and where all the tangible stuff actually happens.

For every great leader, there is an inspired person focused on the HOW. They take the intangible cause and build the infrastructure that can give it life.

Walt Disney dreamed, while Roy Disney built the empire.

Herb Kelleher was able to personify and preach the cause of freedom, but it was Rollin King who came up with the idea for Southwest Airlines.

Steve Jobs was the rebel’s evangelist, but Steve Wozniak is the engineer who made Apple work.


WHAT you do can change with the times, but WHY you do it never does.

As a company grows, the CEO’s job is to personify the WHY.

The leader must ensure that there are people on the team who believe what they believe and know HOW to build it.

The general employees are responsible for demonstrating the WHY to the outside world in whatever the company says and does. The challenge is that they are able to do it clearly.


Copying WHAT or HOW things are done at high-performing organizations will inherently work for you is just not true.

Starting with WHY not only helps you know which is the right advice for you to follow, but also to know which decisions will put you out of balance.

With a WHY clearly stated in an organization, anyone within the organization can make a decision as clearly and as accurately as the founder.

The reason we trust Disney is simple; we know what Disney believes in. We also know what Southwest Airlines believes in.

Volkswagen, which translated means “people’s car,” had spent generations making cars for you and me. We know what Volkswagen believes in.



Sam Walton believed that if he looked after people, people would look after him. Service was a higher cause. For Wal-Mart, forgetting their founder’s WHY has come at a very high cost.

“Celebrate your successes,” said Walton “Find some humor in your failures. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Loosen up and everybody around you will loosen up.”

Success and achievement are not the same thing. Achievement comes when you pursue and attain WHAT you want. Success comes when you are clear in pursuit of WHY you want it.


As companies grew more successful, WHAT starts to take priority over WHY.

The single greatest challenge any organization will face is…success.

Without a clear WHY, bonuses, promotions, and fear, become the only way to hold on to talent.

WHY must be extracted and integrated into the culture of the company early on.

A strong succession plan should aim to find a leader inspired by the founding cause and ready to lead it into the next generation.

The only succession plan that will work is to find a CEO who believes in and wants to continue to lead that movement, not replace it with their own vision of the future.

One of the reasons Southwest Airlines has been so good at succession is because its cause is so ingrained in its culture. Kelleher stopped his day-to-day involvement in the company, but left a corporate culture so strong that his presence in the hallways was no longer needed.

Costco, founded in 1983 by Jim Sinegal and Jeffrey Brotman, believes in looking after its employees first. Costco continues to be a company that is better at serving the club member and employee than the shareholder.

Profits are never the WHY of a great organization, but they are, often, inevitable through the pursuit of a WHY that people can connect with.



Finding WHY is a process of discovery, not invention.

WHY is born out of the upbringing and life experience of the founders.


All organizations start with WHY, but only the great ones keep their WHY clear year after year.

What if the next time when someone asks, “Who’s your competition?” we replied, “No idea.”

Find customers who believe what you believe and work together so that you can all succeed.

All leaders must have two things: they must have a vision of the world that does not exist and they must have the ability to communicate it.

Rainwater Harvesting, Vol 2, Earthworks by Brad Lancaster

Eight Principles of Successful Rainwater Harvesting

  1. Begin with long and thoughtful observation.
  2. Start at the top of your watershed and work your way down.
  3. Start and simple. 
  4. Slow, spread, and infiltrate the flow of water.
  5. Always plan an overflow route, and manage that overflow as a resource.
  6. Create a living space.
  7. Do more than just harvest water.
  8. Continually reassess your system. 

Berm and Basin (aka swale)

  • Use on land sloped up to 18 degrees.
  • Use native perennial vegetation.
  • Variations: contour berm, boomerang berm, net and pan 


  • Used on steep land.
  • With or without retaining wall.

French Drain

  • Directs stormwater quickly into subsoil.
  • Only with sediment-free water, directly off roof, etc.

Infiltration Basin

  • Collect rainwater for trees and vegetation.
  • Plan for peak overflow.
  • Sunken garden beds.


  • Create micro-climates for seed germination and growth.
  • Use mechanical imprinter for more than 1 acre.


  • Benefits: increase rainwater infiltration, improve soil fertility, reduce evaporative loss, limit soil erosion, suppress weed growth.
  • Variations: vertical mulch.

Permeable Paving

  • Replace large areas of concrete with permeable pavers, gravel, etc.
  • Increases infiltration and reduces rainwater runoff and erosion.

Diversion Swale

  • Swale built slightly off-contour.
  • Gradually diverts rainwater away.
  • Slows, diverts, and promotes infiltration.
  • Variation: spreader drain

Check Dam

  • Slows, spreads, and infiltrates ephemeral watercourses during heavy rain.
  • Use on eroding arroyos, gullies, below culverts, near roads/paths. 
  • Variations: loose rock check dams, wire-encased rock gabions, brush check dam, one rock check dam.


  • Critical component of all earthworks.
  • Plant in or beside all earthworks, always. 

Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World by Jack Weatherford

  • 1162 Genghis Khan was born into the Borjigin tribe under the name Temujin. His childhood was poor and his family struggled to survive. Temujin, however, thrived and made many political alliances among other Mongol tribes.
  • 1177 Temujin was captured by a rival tribe and imprisoned. With the help of a guard, he escaped by hiding in a river crevice.
  • 1178 At around the age of 16, Temujin married Borte who became his empress.
  • 1178-1206 Temujin makes allies and works to unite the disparate Mongol tribes under his rule. Mongolian tribes had never united before. The various Chinese dynasties usually schemed to keep them divided and fighting each other.
  • 1206 Mongol and Turkic tribes united under Temujin, proclaiming him Genghis Khan, the Oceanic or Universal Ruler of all the Mongols.
  • 1207-1210 Mongol wars against the western Xia which ruled northwest China and parts of Tibet. The Xia surrended to Genghis in 1210.
  • 1209 The Uyghur Turks joined Genghis peacefully and many of them became administrators of the new and growing empire.
  • 1211 Genghis and his army cross the Gobi Desert to battle the Jin Dynasty in northern China.
  • 1215 The Mongol army conquers Zhongdu, the Jin Dynasty capital.
  • 1218 Genghis sends an envoy to the Khwarezmid empire under Shah Muhammad. The Shah has all the envoys put to death.
  • 1219 Genghis and his army go to war against the Khwarezmid Empire. He sent special troops to find and kill Shah Ala al-Din Muhammad II, the shah who murdered Genghis’ envoys. The Mongol army split its forces in order to attack from many directions at once.
  • 1219 Mongols begin a campaign against Transoxiana, comprising parts of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
  • 1221 Khwarezmid Empire destroyed.
  • 1223 While Genghis led the main Mongol army through Afghanistan back to Mongolia, a Mongol army division of 20,000 under the generals Jebe and Subutai headed over the Caucasus. They attacked the kingdom of Georgia and won. They spent the winter on the Black Sea. On the way back to Mongolia, the generals attacked and won over an 80,000 strong army of the Kievan Rus at the Battle of the Kalka River. They then headed back to Mongolia.
  • 1227 Genghis and his army went on campaign against the rebellious Tangut, Xia and Jin, capturing the city of Lingzhou and putting its leaders to death. In August, still on campaign, Genghis Khan died. He was 65 years old, a ripe old age for a military commander who spent his life at war.
  • 1227 Mongol leaders all return to Mongolia for a mass meeting, the kuriltai, where the next khan would be elected. Before his death, Genghis had already chosen his son Ogedai as his successor. His other sons, Jochi, Chagatai and Tolui would be khans with Ogedai as the Great Khan.
  • 1229 Ogedai elected Great Khan. At this point, the Mongol Empire comprised almost 24 million square kilometers, four times as large as the Roman Empire.
  • 1229-1234 Under Ogedai, the war in northern China continues with sieges at Kaifeng and Caizhou against the Jin dynasty. Fire arrows or missiles were launched against the Mongols by the Jin.
  • 1235-1238 Ogedai constructs a Mongol capital city at Karakhorum.
  • 1236 Mongols invade Korea and begin a war against the southern Chinese Song dynasty.
  • 1237 Batu Khan, a son of Jochi, Genghis’ first son, begins campaign to conquer the Kievan Rus.
  • 1237-1242 Mongols sack Kiev, invade Armenia, Georgia, Hungary and Bulgaria.
  • 1241 Battles of Sajo and Legnica, with Mongols crushing all enemies.
  • 1241 Ogedai dies.
  • 1241-1246 Odegai’s wife, Toregene, becomes regent. Toregene works in the background to get Ogedai’s eldest son, Guyuk, elected as Great Khan.
  • 1246 Guyuk elected Great Khan.
  • 1247 First census of the empire.
  • 1248 Guyuk dies.
  • 1251 Mongke, eldest son of Tolui, Genghis’ fourth son, elected Great Khan. Some of his relatives rebel and Mongke kills all who would challenge him from the Ogedied and Chagataid families. Mongke sends his brothers Hulagu to war in the Middle East and Kublai to war in China. His other brother, Ariq Boke remains in Karakhorum.
  • 1256 Hulagu attacks the Hashshashins, an order of assassins, establishes the Ilkhanate.
  • 1257 Mongols invade Vietnam.
  • 1258 The Abbasid Caliphate falls to the Mongols, who capture Baghdad.
  • 1259 Mongols invade Syria. Mongke dies.
  • 1260 Mongols defeated by Egyptian Mamluks in the battles of Ain Jalut and Homs.
  • 1260 Both Ariq Boke and Kublai, grandsons of Genghis Khan, declared Great Khans. Civil war between the two breaks out.
  • 1262 Golden Horde (Russia) and Ilkhanate (Iraq) go to war in Caucasus.
  • 1264 Kublai becomes the Great Khan.
  • 1269 Mongolian language school founded by Kublai Khan.
  • 1271 Yuan Dynasty established and paper money issued by Kublai Khan.
  • 1274 Japan invaded by Mongols for the first time.
  • 1276 Song Dynasty (southern China) falls to Yuan Dynasty.
  • 1281 Mongol’s second invasion of Japan.
  • 1281 In Western Syria, Mongols again defeated by Eqyptian Mamluks.
  • 1284 Second invasion of Vietnam fails.
  • 1288 Third invasion of Vietnam fails.
  • 1293 Mongols raid Java.
  • 1294 Kublai Khan dies. Oljeitu Temur, Kublai’s grandson, becomes khan of the Yuan Dynasty.
  • 1295 Ghazan, ruler of the Ilkhanate, converts to Islam.
  • 1299 Mongols win over the Mamluks in Syria.
  • 1303 Mamluks defeat Mongols at Battle of Marj al-Saffar, Mongols leave Syria.
  • 1305 The Yam postal routes and trade routes reopened between the Khanates, which had been closed when the Khanates warred with each other.
  • 1315 Golden Horde turns to Islam. Ozbeg Khan persecutes non-Muslim Tartars.
  • 1323 Mamluks make a truce with the Ilkhanate, ending a long war.
  • 1327 Rebellion in Golden Horde against Mongol rule. Ozbeg crushes the rebellion.
  • 1335 Ilkhanate dissolves.
  • 1368 Ming Dynasty overthrows the Mongol Yuan Dynasty. End of Mongol Empire, although elements of it continues to the 1600s.

Source: https://www.historyonthenet.com/mongol-empire-timeline

When by Daniel Pink

The Big Idea: Pay attention to the timing of events, decisions, and actions.



  • According to studies of Twitter, mood increases in the morning until about 11am, plummets after lunch, and then increases again in the evening.
  • Quarterly earnings calls in the morning tend to be more upbeat and positive than in the afternoon.
  • People are sharper and more vigilant earlier in the morning.
  • Verdicts rendered later in the day are more likely to be guilty.
  • Analytical tasks are best performed in the morning.
  • Students scored higher in the mornings than in the afternoons.
  • Having math in the first two periods of the school day instead of the last two periods increases the math GPA of students.
  • Innovation and creativity require less vigilance and fewer inhibitions and are optimal later in the day.
  • Some of us are night owls; others of us are morning larks. Most people are somewhere in the middle.
  • For Benjamin Franklin, early to bed and early to rise makes a person healthy, wealthy, and wise.
  • Figure out your type, understand your task, and then select the appropriate time.


  • Afternoons are the Bermuda Triangles of our days.
  • Adverse events in medicine were significantly more frequent for cases starting during the 3pm and 4pm hours.
  • The typical worker reaches the most unproductive moment of the day at 2:55pm.
  • Vigilance breaks can loosen the trough’s grip on our behavior.
  • A laminated checklist card can also increase afternoon vigilance.
  • If there were a break after every hour, test scores would actually improve over the course of the day.
  • Short breaks from a task can prevent habituation, help us maintain focus, and reactivate our commitment to a goal.
  • Moving breaks beat stationary breaks.
  • Social breaks beat solo breaks.
  • Outdoor breaks beat indoor breaks.
  • Fully detached breaks beat semidetached breaks (no email.)
  • Lunch breaks have two key ingredients — autonomy and detachment.
  • Naps can be a shrewd response to the trough and a valuable break. The ideal naps are between ten and twenty minutes. Drink coffee before you nap.
  • Meditation is one of the most effective breaks of all.
  • Most expert musicians and athletes begin practicing in earnest around nine o’clock in the morning, hit their peak during the late morning, break in the afternoon, and then practice for a few more hours in the evening.



  • Beginnings have an outsized effect on success.
  • For teenagers, beginning the school day before 8:30 am can impair their health and hobble their grades.
  • Beginning a career in a weak economy can restrict opportunities and reduce earning power well into adulthood.
  • Thinking slow (Daniel Kahneman) is more likely during a fresh start. Fresh starts tend to happen on Jan 1, 1st day of each month, and on Mondays.
  • Avoid a false start with a premortem. Assume it’s eighteen months from now and our project is a complete disaster. Ask yourself “What went wrong?”
  • If you’re interviewing for a job and you’re up against several strong candidates, you might gain an edge from being first.
  • If you are the default choice, don’t go first.
  • If there are many weak competitors, don’t go first.
  • If you’re operating in an uncertain environment, don’t go first.
  • When should you get married? Wait until you’re old enough, but not too old. Wait until you’ve completed your education. Wait until your relationship matures .


  • Midpoints can bring us down. That’s the slump. But they can also fire us up. That’s the spark.
  • At midpoints we tend to cut corners.
  • Success doesn’t usually progress steadily. At the midpoint of a project, members feel a sense of urgency and pick up the pace.
  • Teams that were behind by just one point at half were more likely to win than teams ahead by one point.
  • First, be aware of midpoints. Don’t let them remain invisible. Second, use them to wake up rather than roll over. Third, at the midpoint, imagine that you’re behind — but only by a little.
  • Set interim goals. Publicly commit to those interim goals.
  • Organize your next project with the form-storm-perform method.
  • Phase 1: Form and Storm. When teams first come together, develop a shared vision, establish group values, and generate ideas.
  • Phase 2: The Midpoint. Use the midpoint to set direction and accelerate the pace.
  • Phase 3: Perform. Work together with minimal friction.


  • First-time marathon participation declines in the early 40s but spikes dramatically at age 49.
  • When we near the end, we kick a little harder. Set a hard deadline (except for creative tasks.)
  • The James Dean Effect: a life that is short but intensely exciting is seen as most positive than a long, pleasant life that declines towards the end.
  • Peak-end rule: we remember an event based on it most intense moment (peak) and how it culminates (end.)
  • A shorter colonoscopy in which the final moments are painful is remembered as being worse than a longer colonoscopy that happens to end less unpleasantly.
  • Give bad news first, good news last.
  • Participants who knew they were eating the final chocolate of a taste test enjoyed it more.
  • In the end, we seek meaning. Meaningful endings mix happiness and sadness into poignancy, which delivers significance. Eg. Pixar endings.
  • Last lines can elevate and encode — by encapsulating a theme, resolving a question, leaving the story lingering in the reader’s head.
  • Jobs that are demanding but don’t offer autonomy burn us out. Jobs that offer autonomy but little challenge bore us.
  • If your boss has your back, takes responsibility instead of blaming others, encourages your efforts but also gets out of your way, and displays a sense of humor rather than a raging temper, you’re probably in a good place.
  • The high season for divorce attorneys is January and February, when the holidays are over and people can finally stop pretending to be happy. The same thing happens at the end of the school year.
  • Reserve the final five minutes of work for a few small deliberate actions that bring the day to a fulfilling close. End the day by recording what you’ve achieved can encode the entire day more positively.
  • Gratitude is a powerful restorative.
  • At the end of the year, have seniors write a letter to themselves — mailed to them five years later.
  • Take students to a small restaurant where they offer toasts to one another.
  • How a vacation ends shapes the stories we later tell about the experience.



  • Each day dabbawalas deliver more than 200,000 lunches to workers in Mumbai.
  • There are three principles of group timing. An external standard sets the pace. A sense of belonging helps individuals cohere. And synchronization both requires and heightens well-being.
  • Group timing requires a boss. Groups generally attune to the pacing preferences of their highest-status members.
  • For the dabbawalas, the railway schedule is the boss.
  • The belongingness hypothesis is that a need to belong is a fundamental human motivation.
  • For group coordination, it comes in three forms: codes, garb, and touch.
  • Profit-sharing model pays each dabbawala in equal shares.
  • Clothing operates as a marker of affiliation and identification and enables coordination.
  • Feeling good promotes social cohesion, which makes it easier to synchronize. Synchronizing with others feels good, which deepens attachment and improves synchronization further still.
  • Tell stories of struggle, failure and vulnerability to foster a sense of belongingness.
  • Nurture self-organized group rituals, which help fuse identity and deepen belongingness.


  • Understand the natural waves of the day.
  • Lunch breaks, naps, and walks are not luxuries. They are necessities.
  • Don’t just push through bad starts. Start again or start together.
  • Midpoints matter. Leverage them.
  • Understand the power of endings. Don’t just make them positive. Make them poignancy and meaning.

Superhuman by Habit by Tynan

The Big Idea: The most consistently successful people invest their energy into building a set of good habits.

  • People who consistently seem to excel share one key thing: they are better at building and sustaining new habits.
  • Those who build habits are like people who live below their means, slowly building up an impressive balance in their bank account.
  • If you never build habits you must always rely on available willpower to do anything.
  • Invest your precious willpower in building good habits, which become easier and easier over time.
  • Consistency Is everything. It’s better to maintain a modest life-long habit than to start an extreme habit that can’t be sustained for a single year.
  • Absolutely never skip a habit twice. Missing two days of a habit is habit suicide.
  • Focus on the process and consistency, not on the results. Create a good plan and then stick to the plan. 
  • The right habit to tackle is one that you care about.
  • Sometimes building small habits can build momentum that gives people the strength and motivation to tackle the larger ones.
  • Successful people had a set of habits that led them to the top of their fields. They systematically rewire their habits to orient themselves for success.
  • You can do just about anything if you break it down into habits and execute on them.
  • If you are not going to follow through with a habit, it is better to never start it at all.
  • When creating a new habit, start small, become consistent, and increase the intensity at a manageable pace.
  • Daily habits are magical. It’s easier to be consistent, if you say that you’re going to do something every single day.
  • Don’t waste energy building a habit that can be somehow automated instead.  Automation > habits.
  • For habits that are very long term or very difficult, you can ask a friend to help you be accountable.
  • How to develop good eating habits? The best strategy is to plan every one of your meals in advance.
  • How to develop healthy sleep habits? Create a schedule where you can sleep as long as you want to and wake up without an alarm clock. Buy a sleep mask, buy ear plugs, avoid blue light and sleep at around 65 degrees.
  • Other good habits to develop: daily exercise, staying on top of email, having an organized calendar, being punctual, culling your contact list, and journaling. 

Turning the Flywheel by Jim Collins

The Big Idea: great companies are built by consistent execution of a strategy with built-in positive feedback loops — like turning a giant flywheel over and over, building momentum with each turn.

  • When building a great company, there’s no single defining action, no grand program, no single killer innovation, no solitary lucky break, and no miracle moment.
  • Building a great company is like turning a giant, heavy flywheel.
  • The flywheel is a series of good decisions, supremely well-executed, that compound one upon another.
  • Eg. Amazon, low prices => more customers/vendors => economies of scale => lower prices.
  • Companies caught in the doom loop do the following: react to disappointing results without discipline => grasp for a new leader/strategy/product to save the => experience more disappointment.
  • The greatest danger in business and life lies not in outright failure but in achieving success without understanding why you were successful in the first place.
  • Leaders are often seduced by an endless search for the Next Big Thing.
  • There is no systematic correlation between achieving the highest levels of performance and being first into the game. Amazon and Intel started life in the wake of pioneers that preceded them. 
  • What truly set the big winners apart was their ability to turn initial success into a sustained flywheel.
  • Fire bullets, then cannonballs. Big successes tended to make big bets after they’d empirically validated ideas. 
  • Two ways the Mighty Fall: 1) Hubris Born of Success, 2) Undisciplined Pursuit of More.
  • The big winners are those who take the same flywheel from ten turns to a billion turns rather than inventing new flywheels.


Appendix: The Good-to-Great Framework

1. Stage 1: Disciplined People
1.1. Level 5 Leaders. Leaders show personal humility and indomitable will.
1.2. First Who, Then What. First get the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus). Then figure out where to drive the bus.

2. Stage 2: Disciplined Thought
2.1. Genius of the AND. Reject the Tyranny of the OR. Find a way around the tradeoff. Eg. Think long-term, think creatively, be different. 
2.2. Confront the Brutal Facts. (The Stockdale Paradox.) Retain absolute faith that you can and will prevail in the end, regardless of the difficulties, and at the same time, exercise the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality.
2.3. The Hedgehog Concept. Live at the intersection of the following three circles: 1) what you’re deeply passionate about, 2) what you can be the best in the world at, and 3) what drives your economic or resource engine.

3. Stage 3: Disciplined Action
3.1. The Flywheel: Relentlessly push a giant, heavy flywheel, turn upon turn, building momentum.
3.2. 20 Mile March. Develop relentless consistency. Twenty miles a day, every day.

4. Stage 4: Build to Last
4.1. Build a clock, don’t tell time.
4.2. Preserve the core, but stimulate progress.
4.3. Be prepared to take advantage of good luck and absorb bad luck.

The Uninhabitable Earth by David Wallace-Wells

I. Cascades

  • The earth has experienced five mass extinctions before the one we are living through now.
  • In fact, all but the one that killed the dinosaurs involved climate change produced by greenhouse gas.
  • We have done as much damage to the fate of the planet and its ability to sustain human life and civilization since Al Gore published his first book on climate than in all the centuries — all the millennia — that came before.
  • I also always accepted the proposition that there was a trade – off between economic growth and cost to nature and figured, well, in most cases I’d probably go for growth.
  • The U.N . projections are bleaker: 200 million climate refugees by 2050.
  • The Kyoto Protocol achieved, practically, nothing.
  • With no single industrial nation on track to meet its Paris commitments, two degrees looks more like a best – case outcome.
  • We are likely to get about 3.2 degrees of warming.
  • Some studying global warming call the hundred years to follow the “ century of hell . ”
  • At two degrees, the ice sheets will begin their collapse, 400 million more people will suffer from water scarcity, major cities in the equatorial band of the planet will become unlivable, and even in the northern latitudes heat waves will kill thousands each summer.
  • At three degrees, southern Europe would be in permanent drought, and the average drought in Central America would last nineteen months longer and in the Caribbean twenty – one months longer. In northern Africa, the figure is sixty months longer — five years. The areas burned each year by wildfires would double in the Mediterranean and sextuple, or more, in the United States.
  • By 2100, the United Nations says, we are due for about 4.5 degrees of warming, following the path we are on today.
  • In the late summer of 2017, three major hurricanes arose in the Atlantic at once.
  • Over the past few decades, the term “ Anthropocene ” has climbed out of academic discourse and into the popular imagination.
  • Wally Broecker, the avuncular oceanographer, calls the planet an “ angry beast . ” You could also go with “ war machine . ” Each day we arm it more.
  • A warming planet leads to melting Arctic ice, which means less sunlight reflected back to the sun and more absorbed by a planet warming faster still, which means an ocean less able to absorb atmospheric carbon and so a planet warming faster still. 
  • A warming planet will also melt Arctic permafrost, which contains 1.8 trillion tons of carbon, more than twice as much as is currently suspended in the earth’s atmosphere, and some of which, when it thaws and is released, may evaporate as methane, which is thirty – four times as powerful a greenhouse – gas warming blanket as carbon dioxide when judged on the timescale of a century; when judged on the timescale of two decades, it is eighty – six times as powerful. 
  • A hotter planet is, on net, bad for plant life, which means what is called “ forest dieback ” — the decline and retreat of jungle basins as big as countries and woods that sprawl for so many miles they used to contain whole folklores — which means a dramatic stripping – back of the planet’s natural ability to absorb carbon and turn it into oxygen, which means still hotter temperatures, which means more dieback, and so on. 
  • Higher temperatures means more forest fires means fewer trees means less carbon absorption, means more carbon in the atmosphere, means a hotter planet still — and so on. 
  • A warmer planet means more water vapor in the atmosphere, and, water vapor being a greenhouse gas, this brings higher temperatures still — and so on. 
  • Warmer oceans can absorb less heat, which means more stays in the air, and contain less oxygen, which is doom for phytoplankton — which does for the ocean what plants do on land, eating carbon and producing oxygen — which leaves us with more carbon, which heats the planet further. And so on.
  • 50,000 people killed by avalanches globally between 2004 and 2016.
  • In the coming decades many of the most punishing climate horrors will indeed hit those least able to respond and recover.
  • Just in Texas, 500,000 poor Latinos live in shantytowns called “ colonias ” with no drainage systems to deal with increased flooding.
  • The poorest countries will suffer more in our hot new world.
  • In just the last forty years, according to the World Wildlife Fund, more than half of the world’s vertebrate animals have died.
  • Andreas Malm calls fossil capitalism.
  • That has been the work of a single generation. 
  • The second generation faces a very different task: the project of preserving our collective future, forestalling that devastation and engineering an alternate path.
  • Now we all share the responsibility to write the next act.
  • We may conjure new solutions, which could bring the planet closer to a state we would today regard as merely grim, rather than apocalyptic.
  • I’ve also often been asked whether it’s moral to reproduce in this climate, whether it’s responsible to have children, whether it is fair to the planet or, perhaps more important, to the children.
  • The project of unplugging the entire industrial world from fossil fuels is intimidating, and must be done in fairly short order — by 2040, many scientists say.
  • Inefficiencies in construction, discarded and unused food, electronics, and clothing; two – thirds of American energy is wasted.
  • Americans waste a quarter of their food.
  • Bitcoin; today mining it consumes more electricity than is generated by all the world’s solar panels combined.
  • Seventy percent of the energy produced by the planet, it’s estimated, is lost as waste heat.
  • Less beef, more Teslas, fewer transatlantic flights.

II. Elements of Chaos

Heat Death

  • Air conditioners and fans already account for fully 10 percent of global electricity consumption.
  • The evacuation of American leadership on climate seems to have mobilized China, which already has the world’s largest footprint.
  • Staying below 2 degrees probably requires not just carbon scale – back but what are called “negative emissions” aka “magical thinking.”
  • The fattest part of the bell curve of probability, sits at about 3 degrees.
  • Cities, where the world will overwhelmingly live in the near future, only magnify the problem of high temperature.
  • The world is rapidly urbanizing.
  • Currently, there are 354 major cities with average maximum summertime temperatures of 95 degrees. By 2050, that list could grow to 970.
  • Heat stroke.


  • For every degree of warming, yields decline by 10 percent.
  • Grain accounts for about 40 percent of the human diet; when you add soybeans and corn, you get up to two-thirds of all human calories.
  • At higher concentrations of carbon, plants grow thicker leaves, which are worse at absorbing CO2.
  • Climate change means staple crops are doing battle with more insects, fungus and disease, not to mention flooding.
  • The world’s natural wheat belt is moving poleward by about 160 miles each decade.
  • Remote areas of Canada and Russia, even if they warmed by a few degrees, would be limited by the quality of soil there, since it takes many centuries for the planet to produce optimally fertile dirt.
  • The climate is changing much too fast to wait for the northern soil to catch up.
  • In the United States, the rate of erosion is ten times as high as the natural replenishment rate; in China and India, it is thirty to forty times as fast.
  • The Saharan desert has expanded by 10 percent.
  • Paul Ehrlich wrote The Population Bomb. It may yet be a bit early to judge Ehrlich.
  • The cruelest impacts of climate change will be borne by those least resilient in the face of climate tragedy.
  • Our global climate fate will be shaped so overwhelmingly by the development patterns of China and India.
  • They will need to turn down cheap electrification, automobile culture, and the protein – heavy diets the world’s wealthy rely on to stay thin.
  • William Vollmann’s grand, two – part Carbon Ideologies, “We all lived for money, and that is what we died for. ”
  • Drought may be an even bigger problem for food production than heat.
  • At 2.5 degrees, thanks mostly to drought, the world could enter a global food deficit — needing more calories than the planet can produce.
  • Unprecedented droughts and unprecedented flood – producing rains.
  • Europe will be in permanent extreme drought, much worse than the American Dust Bowl ever was.
  • Droughts in the American plains and Southwest would not just be worse than in the 1930s, a 2015 NASA study predicte , but worse than any droughts in a thousand years.
  • Africa is today straining to feed about 1 billion people.
  • In the United States , you already hear about the prospects for vertical farming and lab-grown protein. 
  • CO2 can make plants bigger, but those bigger plants are less nutritious.
  • Protein deficiency will be the result of nutrient collapse due to carbon concentrations. 


  • Barring a reduction of emissions, we could see at least four feet of sea – level rise and possibly eight by the end of the century.
  • In The Water Will Come, Jeff Goodell writes about this. 
  • By 2100, if we do not halt emissions, as much as 5 percent of the world’s population will be flooded every single year.
  • Much of the infrastructure of the internet could be drowned by sea – level rise in less than two decades.
  • 311,000 homes in the United States would be at risk of chronic inundation by 2045.
  • The planet would lose about 444,000 square miles of land.
  • Twenty cities most affected by such sea – level rise are all Asian megalopolises.
  • Power plants, ports, navy bases, farmlands, fisheries, river deltas, marshlands, and rice paddies.
  • Even river flooding is a danger due to increased global rainfall.
  • In 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ( NOAA ) suggested eight feet was possible — still just in this century.
  • In 2016, climate scientist James Hansen suggested sea levels could rise by several meters over 50 years if ice melt doubled every decade.
  • The breaking – up of ice represents almost an entirely new physics, poorly understood still.
  • One major concern is methane, released by a melting Arctic.
  • Atmospheric methane levels have risen dramatically in recent years.
  • The permafrost line having retreated eighty miles north in Canada over the last fifty years.
  • The “ albedo effect ” is when ice is white and so reflects sunlight back into space rather than absorbing it. The less ice, the more sunlight is absorbed as global warming. The total disappearance of that ice, Peter Wadhams has estimated, could mean a massive warming equivalent to the entire last twenty – five years of global carbon emissions.
  • Ocean chemist David Archer says that at just three degrees of warming, sea – level rise will be at least fifty meters.
  • In many places , the coast would retreat by as much as one hundred miles.
  • More than 600 million people live within thirty feet of sea level today .


  • Five of the twenty worst fires in California history hit the state in the fall of 2017.
  • These fires, which now occupy the nightmares of every Californian, will be thought of as the “old normal.”
  • Americans watched the Kardashians evacuate via Instagram stories, then read about the private firefighting forces they employed, the rest of the state reliant on conscripted convicts earning as little as a dollar a day.
  • United States has, to this point, been mostly protected from the devastation climate change.
  • What is coming ? Much more fire, much more often, burning much more land.
  • For every additional degree of global warming , areas burned could quadruple.
  • The soot and ash wildfires give off can land on and blacken ice sheets, which then absorb more of the sun’s rays and melt more quickly.
  • Mudslides are among the clearest illustrations of what new horrors that heralds.
  • Each year, globally, between 260,000 and 600,000 people die from smoke from wildfires.
  • Drinking water in Colorado was damaged for years by the fallout from a single wildfire in 2002.
  • When trees die — by natural processes, by fire, at the hands of humans — they release into the atmosphere the carbon stored within them.
  • The trees of the Amazon take in a quarter of all the carbon absorbed by the planet’s forests each year.
  • Jair Bolsonaro was elected president of Brazil promising to open the rain forest to development — Bolsonaro’s policy is the equivalent of adding, if just for a year, a whole second China to the planet’s fossil fuel problem — and, on top of that, a whole second United States.
  • Deforestation accounts for about 12 percent of carbon emissions, and forest fires produce as much as 25 percent. .
  • Every square kilometer of deforestation produces twenty-seven additional cases of malaria, thanks to what is called “vector proliferation” — when the trees are cleared out, the bugs move in.
  • Each climate threat promises to trigger similarly brutal cycles.

Disasters No Longer Natural

  • We’ll have to invent new categories for stronger hurricanes.
  • The summer of 2017, in the Northern Hemisphere, brought unprecedented extreme weather.
  • Glacier National Park in Montana, where temperatures also topped 100. In 1850, the area had 150 glaciers; today, all but 26 are melted.
  • Once-unthinkable outlier events much more common.
  • The link between climate change and deluges or even “rain bombs” — is even clearer than those on hurricanes. Warmer air can hold more moisture than cooler air.
  • Trump barely mentioned Puerto Rico in the week after Maria, and while that may not surprise, neither did the Sunday talk shows.
  • We’re getting some intimations of how the ruling class intends to handle the accumulating disasters
  • With Houston and New Orleans, we tell ourselves we are “developing” the land — in some cases, fabricating it from marsh, but we are really just creating more future natural disasters. 
  • Because of Hurricane Harvey nearly half a billion gallons of industrial wastewater surged out of a single petrochemical plant into Galveston Bay.
  • Louisiana loses a football field of land every single hour.

Freshwater Drain

  • Barely more than 2 percent of the planet’s water is fresh, and only 1 percent of that water, at most, is accessible, with the rest trapped mostly in glaciers.
  • Only 0.007 percent of the planet’s water is available to fuel and feed its seven billion people.
  • In many African countries already, you are expected to get by on as little as twenty liters of water each day.
  • As soon as 2030, global water demand is expected to outstrip supply by 40 percent.
  • Water is still an abundant resource made scarce through governmental neglect and indifference, bad infrastructure and contamination, careless urbanization and development.
  • There is no real need for a water crisis.
  • In the United States, leaks and theft account for an estimated loss of 16 percent of freshwater.
  • 2.1 billion people around the world do not have access to safe drinking water.
  • There could be widespread water shortages in Peru and California that are the result of glacier melt, even if we hit our Paris targets. 
  • Even London is beginning to worry over water shortages.
  • In the last 100 years, many of the planet’s largest lakes have begun drying up.
  • The blooming of warmwater-friendly bacteria threatens the water supply.
  • Warming of East Africa’s Lake Tanganyika imperiled the fish stock harvested and eaten by millions in four adjacent, hungry nations.
  • We drain underground water deposits known as aquifers, but those deposits took millions of years to accumulate and aren’t coming back anytime soon.
  • The Ogallala Aquifer in part of the Texas Panhandle lost 15 feet in a decade.
  • In India, in just the next two years, twenty-one cities could exhaust their groundwater supply.
  • The first Day Zero in Cape Town was in March 2018.
  • It gets worse. Personal consumption of freshwater amounts to such a thin sliver that only in the most extreme droughts can it even make a difference.
  • Staggering amounts of water are needed produce South Africa’s wine crop.
  • In California, where droughts are punctuated by outrage over pools and ever-green lawns, total urban consumption still accounts for only 10 percent.
  • Rice and cotton production in Southern Australia fell 99 and 84 percent in a recent eight-year drought.
  • In 2018, in the Indian city of Shimla, once the summertime home of the British Raj, the taps ran dry for weeks in May and June.
  • While agriculture is hit hardest by shortages, water issues are not exclusively rural.
  • We are more aware of the effects of climate change on oceans, but a freshwater crisis is more alarming, since we depend on it far more acutely.
  • Over the next three decades, water demand from the global food system is expected to increase by about 50 percent, from cities and industry by 50 to 70 percent, and from energy by 85 percent.
  • The five-year Syrian drought that stretched from 2006 to 2011, producing crop failures that created political instability and helped usher in the civil war that produced a global refugee crisis.

Dying Oceans

  • Oceans also maintain our planetary seasons, through prehistoric currents like the Gulf Stream, and modulate the temperature of the planet, absorbing much of the heat of the sun.
  • Fish populations have migrated north by hundreds of miles in search of colder waters.
  • More than a fourth of the carbon emitted by humans is sucked up by the oceans.
  • The result of all that carbon dioxide absorption is what’s called “ocean acidification.”
  • Ocean acidification could add between a quarter and half of a degree of warming.
  • “Coral bleaching” — since 2016, half of Australia’s landmark Great Barrier Reef has been stripped.
  • By 2030 ocean warming and acidification will threaten 90 percent of all reefs.
  • Ocean acidification will also damage fish populations directly.
  • Oysters and mussels will struggle to grow their shells.
  • Off the coasts of Australia, fish populations have declined an estimated 32 percent in just ten years.
  • Warmer waters can carry less oxygen.
  • Runoff of fertilizer chemicals washing into the Mississippi from the industrial farms of the Midwest.
  • Dramatic declines in ocean oxygen have played a role in many of the planet’s worst mass extinctions.

Unbreathable Air

  • With CO2 at 930 parts per million (more than double where we are today), cognitive ability declines by 21 percent.
  • The planet’s air won’t just be warmer, it will likely also be dirtier.
  • Climate change will bring new dust storms and ozone smog.
  • Already, more than 10,000 people die from air pollution daily.
  • Small-particulate pollution, for instance, lowers cognitive performance.
  • Pollution has been linked with increased mental illness in children and the likelihood of dementia in adults.
  • Pollution is linked to premature births and low birth weight of babies. EZPass in American cities reduced both problems, in the vicinity of toll plazas, by 10.8 percent and 11.8 percent.
  • Changing weather patterns will deprive industrial China of the natural wind-ventilation patterns. In 2013, smog was responsible for 1.37 million deaths in the country.
  • The Indian capital of Delhi is home to 26 million people. In 2017, simply breathing its air was the equivalent of smoking more than two packs of cigarettes a day.
  • Pollution can dramatically increase rates of respiratory infections.
  • Pollution increases prevalence of stroke, heart disease, cancer of all kinds, acute and chronic respiratory diseases like asthma.
  • Air pollution has been linked to worse memory, attention, and vocabulary, and to ADHD and autism spectrum disorders.
  • Proximity to a coal plant can deform your DNA.
  • A new pollution threat, though unrelated to global warming: microplastics.
  • The Great Pacific garbage patch is mass of plastic, twice the size of Texas. 
  • A quarter of fish sold in Indonesia and California contain plastics.
  • European eaters of shellfish , one estimate has suggested , consume at least 11,000 bits each year .
  • A majority of fish tested in the Great Lakes contained microplastics.
  • Microplastics have been found in beer, honey, and sixteen of seventeen tested brands of commercial sea salt, across eight different countries.
  • We can breathe in microplastics, even when indoors, where they’ve been detected suspended in the air, and do already drink them. They are found in the tap water of 94 percent of all tested American cities.
  • When plastics degrade, they release methane and ethylene, another powerful greenhouse gas.
  • Perversely, eliminate aerosol plastic pollution and you save millions of lives each year, but also create a dramatic spike in warming.
  • The prospect of suppressing global temperature with a program of suspended particles (sulfur dioxide) is called geoengineering. Sulfur dioxide would turn our sunsets very red, would bleach the sky, and would make more acid rain.
  • Many scientists still describe geoengineering as an inevitability — it’s just so cheap , they say.

Plagues of Warming

  • There are now, trapped in Arctic ice, diseases that have not circulated in the air for millions of years.
  • Our immune systems would have no idea how to fight back when those prehistoric plagues emerge.
  • Smallpox and the bubonic plague are trapped in Siberian ice.
  • in 2016, a boy was killed and twenty others infected by anthrax released when retreating permafrost exposed the frozen carcass of a reindeer killed by the bacteria at least seventy-five years earlier.
  • Global warming will scramble those ecosystems, meaning it will help disease trespass those limits.
  • Yellow fever is just one of the plagues that will be carried by mosquitoes as they migrate.
  • Zika may also be a good model of a second worrying effect — disease mutation.
  • Malaria thrives in hotter regions.
  • Disease cases from mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas have tripled in the U.S. over just the last thirteen years.
  • Winter ticks helped drop the moose population by 58 percent in a single decade.
  • A whole new universe of diseases humans have never before known to even worry about.
  • The planet could harbor more than a million yet-to-be-discovered viruses.
  • Saiga — the adorable, dwarflike antelope, native to central Asia. In May 2015, nearly two-thirds of the global population died in the span of just days due to Pasteurella multocida, which suddenly proliferated, emigrated to the bloodstream, and from there to the animals’ liver, kidneys, and spleen.

Economic Collapse

  • Fossil capitalism is the idea that recent economic growth, which began somewhat suddenly in the eighteenth century, is not the result of innovation or the dynamics of free trade, but simply our discovery of fossil fuels and all their raw power — a onetime injection.
  • We tend to believe we’ve invented our way out of that endless zero-sum , scratch-and-claw resource scramble.
  • The timeline of growth is just about perfectly consistent with the burning of fossil fuels.
  • Economists Solomon Hsiang and Marshall Burke and Edward Miguel say every degree Celsius of warming reduces growth, on average, by about one percentage point.
  • There is a 51 percent chance, this research suggests, that climate change will reduce global output by more than 20 percent by 2100.
  • 12 percent chance that it lowers per capita GDP by 50 percent.
  • The Great Depression dropped global GDP by about 15 percent.
  • We’ve become so used to economic stability and reliable growth.
  • There are places that benefit from global warming such as in the north, where warmer temperatures can improve agriculture and economic productivity.
  • If productivity declines, small farms disappear and even large agribusinesses slip underwater.
  • Then there is the economic cost of flooding.
  • The is also a direct heat cost to growth, as there is to health.
  • Train tracks warp due to heat, grounding of flights due to temperatures. 
  • Every round-trip plane ticket from New York to London costs the Arctic three more square meters of ice.
  • Heat waves have necessitated the closure of power plants around the world.
  • The planet’s infrastructure was simply not built for climate change.
  • Warmer temperatures dampen worker productivity.
  • India and Pakistan will be hurt the most.
  • In the U.S., costs will be shouldered largely in the South and Midwest. The United States is among the most well-positioned to endure.
  • Should the planet warm 3.7 degrees, one assessment suggests, climate change damages could total $551 trillion — nearly twice as much wealth as exists in the world today.

Climate Conflict

  • For every half degree of warming, they say, societies will see between a 10 and 20 percent increase in the likelihood of armed conflict.
  • A planet four degrees warmer would have perhaps twice as many wars.
  • Globally, there are nineteen ongoing armed conflicts hot enough to claim at least a thousand lives each year.
  • Being the world’s policeman is quite a bit harder when the crime rate doubles.
  • From Book Haram to ISIS to the Taliban to militant Islamic groups in Pakistan, drought and crop failure have been linked to radicalization.
  • The relationship between climate change and conflict comes down to agriculture and economics. When yields drop and productivity falls, societies can falter, and when droughts and heat waves hit, the shocks can be felt even more deeply, electrifying political fault lines.
  • Forced migration can result from those shocks, producing political and social instability.
  • Throughout history, empires buckled, at least in part, by climate effects and events: Egypt, Akkadia, Rome.
  • Most wars throughout history have been conflicts over resources, often ignited by resource scarcity , which is what an earth densely populated and denuded by climate change will yield.
  • A study of 9,000 American cities found that air pollution levels positively predicted incidents of every single crime category.
  • The Sicilian mafia was produced by drought.


  • Hurricane Harvey produced at least 60,000 climate migrants in Texas, and Hurricane Irma forced the evacuation of nearly 7 million.
  • Imagine next century, tens of millions of resettled Americans adapting to a ravaged coastline and a new geography for the country.
  • The impacts will be greatest in the world’s least developed, most impoverished nations.
  • More than 140 million people in just three regions of the world will be made climate migrants by 2050, according to the World Bank.
  • Climate change may unleash as many as a billion migrants on the world by 2050.
  • Historically, two-thirds of outbreaks of waterborne disease — illnesses smuggled into humans through algae and bacteria that can produce gastrointestinal problems — were preceded by unusually intense rainfall.
  • Sudden rainfall shocks — both deluges and their opposite , droughts — can devastate agricultural communities economically, but also produce what scientists call “nutritional deficiencies” in fetuses and infants.
  • Measurable declines in lifetime earnings for every day over ninety degrees during a baby’s nine months in utero.
  • A study in Taiwan found, for every single unit of additional air pollution, the relative risk of Alzheimer’s doubled.
  • There is much worry about bringing new children into a degraded world.
  • Between a quarter and a half of all those exposed to extreme weather events will experience them as an ongoing negative shock to their mental health.
  • Climate trauma is especially harsh in the young.
  • Climate affects both the onset and the severity of depression.
  • When it’s hotter out, psychiatric hospitals see spikes in proper inpatient admissions.
  • Heat waves bring waves of other things, too: mood disorders, anxiety disorders, dementia.
  • Global warming is already responsible for 59,000 suicides in India , many of them farmers.
  • There remains so much we do not know about the way global warming affects the way we live today.

III. The Climate Kaleidoscope


  • Hollywood is also trying to make sense of our changing relationship to nature ,
  • Dramas of climate change are simply incompatible with the kinds of stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, which end in victory or hope. 
  • In the rest of the world, where action on carbon is just as slow and resistance to real policy changes just as strong, denial is simply not a problem.
  • Today, segments on the nightly news about extreme weather still rarely mention warming.
  • A ban on plastic straws and attention to bee death tend to distract from the core issues.
  • The arrival of this scale of climate suffering in the modern West will be one of the great and terrible stories of the coming decades.
  • In the twenty-first century, markets will reflect the demands of the climate crisis: seawalls, carbon-capture plantations, state-sized solar arrays.
  • The United States built two states of paradise: Florida, out of dismal swamp  and Southern California, out of desert, but neither will endure.
  • 96% of the world’s mammals, by weight, are now humans and their livestock.
  • There is no single way to best tell the story of climate change.
  • In 2018, scientists at IPCC released a report. The thing that was new was the message: It is okay, finally, to freak out.

Crisis Capitalism

  • “It is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.”
  • Capitalism is endangered by climate.
  • Western capitalism may owe its dominance to the power of fossil fuels.
  • Global warming could cultivate emergent forms of eco-socialism.
  • What kind of strategy to expect from the world’s money elite in a time of rolling ecological crisis? Look to Puerto Rico.
  • One possibility is that the scramble for shrinking profits by the powerful will only intensify.
  • Climate change will accelerate two trends already undermining that promise of growth: economic slowdown and income inequality.
  • We see raging populism, on both left and right, sweeping Europe and the United States.
  • William Nordhaus favors a carbon tax.
  • Climate change predicts: disaster, drought, famine, war, global refugeeism and political disarray.
  • Climate change promises economic slowdown and perhaps negative economic growth.
  • Economic conditions worse than the Great Depression and not temporary but permanent. 
  • The cost of adaptation is large: a decarbonized economy, a perfectly renewable energy system, a reimagined system of agriculture, rebuilt global infrastructure. 
  • Negative emissions are, at this point, almost entirely theoretical.
  • The natural alternative to negative emission technology, though adored by environmentalists, faces much stiffer obstacles, since it would require a third of the world’s farmable land.
  • The carbon capture path would cost $ 300 trillion — or nearly four times total global GDP.

The Church of Technology

  • Blind faith is one way of describing the worldview of many futurists. 
  • “Posthumanity” or “transhumanism”, a new state of being, is close to universal among the Bay Area’s futurist vanguard.
  • Peter Thiel is still investing in dubious eternal-youth programs and buying up land in New Zealand (where he might ride out social collapse on the civilization scale).
  • Sam Altman, who has distinguished himself as a kind of tech philanthropist with a small universal-basic-income pilot project and recently announced a call for geoengineering proposals, is an investor in a brain-upload program
  • Silicon Valley wants to engineer an eternal kind of existence, a technological rapture. 
  • The world that would be left behind is the one being presently pummeled by climate change.
  • There are also proposals to colonize other planets.
  • The fantasy is to escape the body or transcend the world.
  • Securing a backup ecosystem is a hedge against the possibility of collapse here, but a dramatically degraded environment here will still be much, much closer to livability than anything we might be able to hack out of the dry red soil of Mars.
  • We have some of the solutions, but we just haven’t yet discovered the political will, economic might, and cultural flexibility to install and activate them.
  • Cryptocurrency now produces as much CO2 each year as a million transatlantic flights.
  • All of the new alternatives have to face off with the resistance of entrenched corporate interests and the status-quo bias of consumers who are relatively happy with the lives they have today.

Politics of Consumption

  • We won’t get there through the dietary choices of individuals, but through policy changes.
  • Eating organic is nice, but if your goal is to save the climate your vote is much more important.
  • What kinds of politics are likely to evolve after the promise of capitalistic growth recedes? Zero-sum politics — tribalism at home and nationalism abroad and terrorism flaming out from the tinder of failed states.
  • China has become a much more emphatic — or at least louder — green energy leader. But the incentives do not necessarily suggest it will make good on that rhetoric.
  • India is expected to be, by far, the world’s most hard-hit country.
  • China is in the opposite situation, its share of guilt four times as high as its share of the burden.
  • U.S. was predicted to be hit second hardest.
  • On the matter of climate change, China does hold nearly all the cards.
  • The courses taken by India and the rest of South Asia, Nigeria and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, matter enormously. But China is, at present, the largest of those nations.

History After Progress

  • There is no good thing in the world that will be made more abundant, or spread more widely, by global warming. The list of the bad things that will proliferate is innumerable.
  • Farming has existed for only about 12,000 years — an innovation that ended hunting and gathering, bringing about cities and political structures, and with them what we now think of as “civilization.”
  • We are still, now, in much of the world, shorter, sicker, and dying younger than our hunter-gatherer forebears.
  • The entire history of civilization looks less like an inevitable crescendo than like an anomaly.
  • It is impossible to see clearly what will emerge from the clouds of uncertainty around global warming.
  • If the planet reaches three or four or five degrees of warming, the world will be convulsed with human suffering.
  • Civilizations have come and gone. Egyptians after the invasion of the Sea Peoples. Incas after Pizarro. Mesopotamians after the Akkadian Empire. Chinese after the Tang Dynasty. The experience of Europeans after the fall of Rome.

Ethics at the End of the World

  • Anxiety and despair are already leeching into the way so many others think.
  • The world has, at most, about three decades to completely decarbonize before truly devastating climate horrors begin.

IV. The Anthropic Principle

  • Climate science has reluctantly arrived at this terrifying conclusion.
  • How much will we do to stall disaster, and how quickly?
  • We have all the tools we need: carbon tax and the political apparatus to aggressively phase out dirty energy; a new approach to agricultural practices and a shift away from beef and dairy in the global diet; and public investment in green energy and carbon capture.

Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink

Bottom Line: A leader has ultimate responsibility for the success or failure of an operation and should have extreme ownership of it. The laws of combat are: Cover and Move, Keep It Simple, Prioritize and Execute, and Decentralized Command.


Leaders cast no blame. They make no excuses. Instead of complaining about challenges or setbacks, they develop solutions and solve problems. They leverage assets, relationships, and resources to get the job done.

Their own egos take a back seat to the mission and their troops.

Once people stop making excuses, stop blaming others, and take ownership of everything in their lives, they are compelled to take action to solve their problems.

Taking ownership for mistakes and failures is hard.

The principles of good leadership do not change.

Laws of Combat: Cover and Move, Simple, Prioritize and Execute, and Decentralized Command.

Without a team — a group of individuals working to accomplish a mission — there can be no leadership.

The only meaningful measure for a leader is whether the team succeeds or fails.

Effective leaders lead successful teams that accomplish their mission and win.

Often our mistakes provided the greatest lessons, humbled us, and enabled us to grow and become better.

The best leaders are not driven by ego or personal agendas .

How a junior leader was brought up depended entirely on the strength, experience, and patient guidance of a mentor.

Leadership training curriculum builds a strong foundation for all SEAL leaders.

It’s a myth that military leadership is easy because subordinates robotically and blindly follow orders.

Military personnel must believe in the plan they are asked to execute, and most importantly, they must believe in and trust the leader they are asked to follow.

Combat leadership requires getting a diverse team of people in various groups to execute highly complex missions in order to achieve strategic goals.

Extreme Ownership: Leaders must own everything in their world. There is no one else to blame.



In any organization, all responsibility for success and failure rests with the leader. The leader must own everything in his or her world. There is no one else to blame. The leader must acknowledge mistakes and admit failures, take ownership of them, and develop a plan to win.

If an individual on the team is not performing at the level required for the team to succeed, the leader must train and mentor that underperformer.

if the underperformer continually fails to meet standards, then a leader who exercises Extreme Ownership must be loyal to the team and the mission above any individual. If underperformers cannot improve, the leader must make the tough call to terminate them and hire others who can get the job done.

A leader, however, does not take credit for his or her team’s successes.

It is the direct responsibility of a leader to get people to listen, support, and execute plans. You can’t make people do those things You have to lead them.

it was almost always the leaders’ attitudes that determined whether their SEAL units would ultimately succeed or fail.

The team sees Extreme Ownership in their leaders, and , as a result, they emulate Extreme Ownership throughout the chain of command down to the most junior personnel.


One of the most fundamental and important truths at the heart of Extreme Ownership: there are no bad teams, only bad leaders.

Leadership is the single greatest factor in any team’s performance.

Leaders must accept total responsibility, own problems that inhibit performance, and develop solutions to those problems.

When it comes to standards, as a leader, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.

If substandard performance is accepted and no one is held accountable, if there are no consequences, that poor performance becomes the new standard.

Leaders must enforce standards.

Leaders must pull the different elements within the team together to support one another.

Once a culture of Extreme Ownership is built into the team at every level, the entire team performs well, and performance continues to improve.

Every team must have junior leaders ready to step up.

The best teams anywhere, like the SEAL Teams, are constantly looking to improve, add capability, and push the standards higher.

This thinking starts with the leader and continues until this becomes the culture, the new standard.


A leader must be a true believer in the mission.

A resolute belief in the mission is critical for any team or organization to win.

If frontline leaders and troops understand why, they can move forward, fully believing in what they are doing.

Take the time to explain and answer the questions of the junior leaders.

Frontline troops never have as clear an understanding of the strategic picture as senior leaders might anticipate.

Belief in the mission ties in with the fourth Law of Combat: Decentralized Command. The leader must explain not just what to do, but why.


Discipline starts with the little things: high-and-tight haircuts, a clean shave every day, and uniforms maintained.

Ego clouds and disrupts everything.

Often, the most difficult ego to deal with is your own.

When personal agendas become more important than the team and the overarching mission’s success, performance suffers and failure ensues.

Extreme Ownership requires checking your ego and operating with a high degree of humility.

Admitting mistakes, taking ownership, and developing a plan to overcome challenges are integral to any successful team.

Ego can prevent a leader from conducting an honest, realistic assessment of his or her own performance and the performance of the team.

We strive to be confident , but not cocky.



Cover and Move: it is the most fundamental tactic.

Cover and Move means teamwork.

Departments and groups within the team must break down silos, depend on each other and understand who depends on them.

Leaders must continually keep perspective on the strategic mission and remind the team that they are part of the greater team and the strategic mission is paramount.

Each member of the team is critical to success.

If the overall team fails, everyone fails, even if a specific member or an element within the team did their job successfully.

Pointing fingers and placing blame on others contributes to further dissension between teams and individuals.

Individuals and teams must find a way to work together, communicate with each other, and mutually support one another.

Focus must always be on how to best accomplish the mission.

When the team succeeds, everyone within and supporting that team succeeds.

Accomplishing the strategic mission is the highest priority.


Simplifying as much as possible is crucial to success.

Plans and orders must be communicated in a manner that is simple, clear, and concise.

Frontline troops need to ask questions that clarify when they do not understand the mission or key tasks to be performed.

Simplicity is key. If the plan is simple enough, everyone understands it, which means each person can rapidly adjust and modify what he or she is doing.

If the plan is too complex, the team can’t make rapid adjustments to it, because there is no baseline understanding of it.

Standard operating procedures should always kept as simple as possible .


A leader must remain calm and make the best decisions possible.

Prioritize and Execute.

Relax, look around, make a call.

When overwhelmed, fall back upon this principle: Prioritize and Execute.

Stay at least a step or two ahead with contingency planning.

Through careful contingency planning, a leader can anticipate likely challenges that could arise during execution and map out an effective response to those challenges before they happen.

If the team has been briefed and understands what actions to take through such likely contingencies, the team can then rapidly execute when those problems arise, even without specific direction from leaders.

It is crucial for leaders to pull themselves off the firing line, step back, and maintain the strategic picture.

Senior leaders must help subordinate team leaders within their team prioritize their efforts.

Evaluate the highest priority problem. Then develop and determine a solution. Then direct the execution of that solution. Then move on to the next highest priority problem. Then repeat.

Don’t let the focus on one priority cause target fixation. Maintain the ability to see other problems developing and rapidly shift as needed.


Human beings are generally not capable of managing more than six to ten people.

Teams must be broken down into manageable elements of four to five operators, with a clearly designated leader.

Leaders must understand the overall mission and the Commander’s Intent.

Junior leaders must be empowered to make decisions.

Teams within teams are organized for maximum effectiveness.

Every tactical-level team leader must understand not just what to do but why they are doing it.

Junior leaders must fully understand what is within their decision-making authority.

Tactical leaders must be confident that they clearly understand the strategic mission and Commander’s Intent.

Situational awareness: senior leaders must communicate constantly to their subordinates.

When leaders try to take on too much themselves, there is chaos.

The fix is to empower frontline leaders through Decentralized Command and ensure they are running their teams to support the overall mission, without micromanagement from the top.

Battlefield aloofness: leaders who are so far removed from the troops executing on the frontline that they become ineffective.

Leaders must be free to move to where they are most needed, which changes throughout the course of an operation.

Understanding proper positioning as a leader is a key component of effective Decentralized Command.

In chaotic, dynamic, and rapidly changing environments, leaders at all levels must be empowered to make decisions.

Decentralized Command is a key component to victory.



What’s the mission? Planning begins with mission analysis.

Leaders must identify clear directives for the team.

Once leaders themselves understand the mission, they can impart this knowledge to their key leaders and frontline troops tasked with executing the mission.

A broad and ambiguous mission results in lack of focus, ineffective execution, and mission creep.

The mission must be carefully refined and simplified so that it is explicitly clear and specifically focused to achieve the greater strategic vision for which that mission is a part.

The mission must explain the overall purpose and desired result.

Frontline troops tasked with executing the mission must understand the deeper purpose behind the mission.

The Commander’s Intent is actually the most important part of the brief.

Leaders must delegate the planning process down the chain as much as possible to key subordinate leaders.

Tactical-level leaders must have ownership of their tasks.

Giving the frontline troops ownership of even a small piece of the plan gives them buy in, helps them understand the reasons behind the plan, and better enables them to believe in the mission, which translates to far more effective implementation and execution.

Th senior leader supervises the entire planning process but must be careful not to get bogged down in the details.

Once the detailed plan has been developed, it must then be briefed to the entire team and all participants and supporting elements.

Leaders must prioritize the information to be presented in as simple, clear, and concise a format as possible.

The planning and briefing must be a forum that encourages discussion, questions, and clarification.

Leaders must ask questions of their troops to ensure understanding of the plan.

The test for a successful brief is simple: Do the team and the supporting elements understand it?

Detailed contingency plans help manage risk.

We conduct what we called a post-operational debrief after each combat operation to see what worked and what didn’t work and help improve future planning.

Planning must be standardized so that it can be repeatable and guide users with a checklist.

A leader’s checklist for planning:
Analyze the mission.
Identify personnel, assets, resources, and time available.
Decentralize the planning
Determine a specific (simple, if possible) course of action.
Empower key leaders to develop the plan for the selected course of action.
Plan for likely contingencies.
Mitigate risks.
Delegate portions of the plan and brief to key junior leaders.
Continually check and question the plan.
Brief the plan to all participants and supporting assets.
Conduct post – operational debrief after execution.
Establishing an effective and repeatable planning process is critical to the success of any team . ”


It is paramount that senior leaders explain to their junior leaders and troops executing the mission how their role contributes to big picture success.

Leaders must routinely communicate with their team members to help them understand their role in the overall mission.

Frontline leaders and troops can then connect the dots between what they do every day and how that impacts the company’s strategic goals.

This understanding helps the team members prioritize their efforts in a rapidly changing, dynamic environment.

It requires regularly stepping out of the office and personally engaging in face-to-face conversations with direct reports and observing the frontline troops in action to understand their particular challenges and read them into the Commander’s Intent.

The team must understand why they are doing what they are doing.


In order to succeed, leaders must be comfortable under pressure, and act on logic, not emotion.

Leaders cannot be paralyzed by fear .

It is critical for leaders to act decisively amid uncertainty.

There is no 100 percent right solution.

Waiting for the 100 percent right and certain solution leads to delay, indecision, and an inability to execute.


Discipline starts every day when the first alarm clock goes off in the morning. I say “first alarm clock” because I have three – one electric, one battery powered, one windup. If you are mentally weak for that moment and you let that weakness keep you in bed, you fail.

Discipline was really the difference between being good and being exceptional.

The best SEALs had the most discipline. They worked out every day. They studied tactics and technology. They practiced their craft.

Although discipline demands control and asceticism, it actually results in freedom.

The more disciplined standard operating procedures (SOPs) a team employs, the more freedom they have to practice Decentralized Command.

Instead of making us more rigid and unable to improvise, the discipline of an SOP actually made us more flexible, more adaptable, and more efficient. It allowed us to be creative.

When things went wrong and the fog of war set in, we fell back on our disciplined procedures.

The balance between discipline and freedom must be found and carefully maintained.

Leaders who lose their temper also lose respect.

Confident but never cocky.

Brave but not foolhardy.

Competitive spirit but also be gracious losers.

Attentive to details but not obsessed by them.

Humble but not passive.

Quiet but not silent.

Leaders know to pace themselves and their teams so that they can maintain a solid performance indefinitely.

Leaders admit mistakes and failures.

Leaders are close with subordinates but not too close .

Leaders understand the motivations of their team members

Leaders exercise Extreme Ownership and also Decentralized Command.

Leaders take care of the team and look out for their long-term interests.