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.

Water Storage by Art Ludwig

The Big Idea from my friend at Amarco Plumbing: For small volumes of water storage, use ferrocement if you can and plastic if you cannot. For large volumes of water storage, use ponds if you can and ferrocement if you cannot.

Design Principles

1. Lease as much of the water work as possible to nature.
2. Divert water just after evaporation or soil has naturally purified it.
3. Divert water higher than the point of storage and points of use.
4. Conserve pressure in the plumbing.
5. Use adequately, but not excessively, sized pipe.
6. Design to extract benefit from other attributes of your water.
7. Rigorously confine materials that are incompatible with natural cycles. 
8. Intervene as little as possible.
9. Use appropriate technology.
10. Practice moderate and efficient resource use. Context is everything.

Book Notes

  • Going from 99% water availability to 99.5% doubles the financial and environmental cost.
  • People in industrialized society with running water use about 100 gallons a day. People who have to carry water use about 10 gallons a day.
  • Well-designed water storage can actually increase water quality over time. 
  • Poorly designed water storage can have many problems: algae growth, bacteria, leaks, sediment buildup, leached carcinogens.
  • Try to avoid chlorine to disinfect drinking water as there are carcinogenic byproducts.
  • UV light is an ideal disinfectant.
  • Nothing beats commercial water quality tests, but you can do dome DIY testing for turbidity, flow, dissolved solids, elevation, general bacteria, and fecal coliform bacteria. 
  • 5 ways to store water: none (direct from natural water source), store in soil, store in aquifers, store in ponds, store in tanks. 
  • Store in soil: divert water to be soaked up by the soil, where it can be absorbed by plant roots.
  • How to increase the amount of water in your aquifer: take out less water, slow down rainwater runoff, detain water in infiltration basins, infiltrate water through creek beds and riverbeds.
  • Aquifers recharge naturally through rainwater, but over drafting groundwater can lead to drafting fossil groundwater that has been stored for millions of years. 
  • Chemicals and toxins seep into the soil and contaminate groundwater. 
  • Storing water in ponds is cheap but open to contamination and exposed to evaporation.
  • Three types of man-made ponds: storage ponds, living ponds, runoff harvesting ponds.
  • Water tanks are the most common way to store water. 
  • To increase water pressure, put the tank on a hill, make a water tower, use a small pressure tank, put a tank on your roof.
  • With your tank at roof height, your appliances will barely work. With your tank 10 stories high, your washing machine, water purifier, and water heater will start to work.
  • You can install a booster pump just for fire safety. 
  • Tubs and kitchen need flow, not high water pressure. 
  • Burying water storage tanks can have some advantages but also many disadvantages. 
  • If harvesting rainwater, carefully calculate usage (output) and rainfall (input) to size your water tank.
  • The classic tank shape (cylindrical, height = diameter) is usually the way to go.
  • Ferrocement tanks are a great option for tank construction for a permanent tank.
  • HDPE is the preferred plastic for water tank.
  • EPDM is the best artificial pond liner.
  • Galvanized steel with plastic membrane is a newer but promising technology.
  • Food-grade IBC totes can also be used for small water tanks.
  • A plastic tank, then encased in masonry for shade and protection is a high-performance, lifetime tank.
  • The earth under the tank should be compacted and free of rocks. Drainage should be away from the tank. 
  • For small volumes, DIY ferrocement and plastic tanks are the most cost-effective. For large volumes, ponds are the most cost-effective. 
  • A pressure tank provides water pressure but requires continuous power. Larger pressure tanks can provide more reserves.
  • Be sure to critter-proof the tank from mosquitoes, rodents, and other critters. 
  • Keep out the sun to prevent algae. Metal and masonry completely block out light. 
  • Paint your tank white to reflect sunlight and keep the tank cooler. 
  • Take measures (insulation, south-facing, partial-burying) to keep the tank from freezing in the winter.
  • To protect your agricultural land against fires, use fire-safe landscaping, occasional managed fires, robust water systems, fire-proof building materials like metal and concrete

Why Sell Tacos in Africa by Paul Oberschneider

The Big Idea: start businesses in emerging markets where there is much less competition.

  • I decided to visit the small Eastern European country of Estonia.
  • People who build successful businesses — are driven by circumstances and then led by opportunity. As an entrepreneur , you must be first and foremost an optimist. Being a successful entrepreneur requires three things: vision, leadership, and a team.
  • In the beginning, I had no vision. I was taking steps along a path, like wandering around a map. But once I had the vision of what I really wanted to do, everything became easy.
  • Faith is contagious.
  • Leaders commit and make decisions.
  • Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Now is the best time to start.  Don’t procrastinate.
  • Your venture doesn’t need to be perfect at the start.
  • Try things quickly to see what works and what doesn’t. In the beginning, it’s easy to make mistakes. Early mistakes don’t cost much. Writing and storytelling are powerful tools and key skills for anyone who wants to build a company.
  • A plane spends 95 percent of its flight off its charted course.
  • Like that pilot, you need to course correct . When you write something down over and over, it gets clarified. Effectively sharing your dream with other people is critical to building the right team.
  • Ask for help. It’s the single most important thing you can learn to do in life.
  • Not knowing something means you have to start at the beginning. That’s a good thing. Not knowing forces you to ask questions.
  • Do ask for advice. Your job is knowing what questions to ask and finding people who know the answers.
  • To succeed at anything, you need a team behind you, carrying out your visions and plans and executing.
  • Find the right people to support you.
  • Reward your team and build camaraderie through work and play.
  • Managers implement systems. Good managers get the most out of people and processes. 
  • Make a habit of brainstorming.
  • One day you will grab the right idea that fits the place you’re at . Ultimately, the key is not the million-dollar idea but the million-dollar execution.
  • The execution is the single most important aspect of success in any business. Since execution is the single most important ingredient for success, you better make sure you have the staff to make it happen. 
  • Hire people who want to work hard, and reward them. Create a vertical ladder of opportunities for your employees, and train them relentlessly. Pay them well and earn their loyalty.
  • Debt by its very nature is cheaper than equity .
  • Equity is the dearest thing, and it’s expensive. Don’t give it away. There’s no substitute for tracking your income and expenses personally.
  • People will be drawn to you because of your brand.
  • Identify the aspect of your business that uniquely identifies you and distinguishes you from the rest of the market.
  • To most investors and entrepreneurs outside the continent, Africa is still a virgin market and a dangerous place.
  • What is really lacking in Africa is a knowledge base of business skills. As I continue to read more about Africa and meet with people, I see huge similarities between the former Soviet Union countries and the continent of Africa.
  • When you are thinking about a business or sector to launch in, look for a market or opportunity where competition is lacking.
  • Blue sky means a market or opportunity where you are free to create and explore before everyone else catches up. Hot markets are tempting. They look promising and always seem easy to enter.
  • A hot market is both crowded and competitive.
  • You will have far more success opening a cool fast food taco stand in Ghana than in London or New York .

Strategy Concepts of Bill Belichick

The Big Idea: Bill Belichick built a dynasty around on a culture of accountability, continuous improvement, strategic flexibility, and detailed preparation.

Part 1: Culture

  • “Do your job” is the New England Patriots mission statement.
  • The goal is to improve on a daily basis, work hard, pay attention to the little details, and put the team first.
  • Belichick makes sure that the goals set out are achievable.
  • Work as hard at it as we can and improve on a daily basis.
  • Emphasis on individual performance in a team setting creates a feedback loop that raises the performance of the entire team.
  • Without having to worry about the next person, each individual player is able to put their complete focus, dedication, and effort into their own task, which raises the performance of the entire team.
  • No one will be willing to follow someone who isn’t competent at their own job.
  • There are many types of leadership styles.
  • It’s impossible to deal with everyone on an individual basis on a daily basis so Belichick relies upon managers and department heads to keep him informed.
  • Having the right people as captains was critical.
  • Belichick strives to make sure that the right people are in the right positions.
  • Players on the team vote for the team captains ,
  • Players buy into the Patriots’ culture due to Belichick addressing any problems quickly.
  • Hold people accountable for their actions.
  • Belichick views self-evaluation and holding each player accountable as a key part of his coaching strategy.
  • The only way for us as a team to get a championship level is to continue to evaluate ourselves, and we have to look at what we’ve done and critically analyze ourselves.
  • We can’t hire a consultant to come in and fix our problems.
  • The only way for us to get better is to do our own R & D.
  • Everyone in the organization must study, learn, and strive to get better.
  • Everyone must have an open mindset and be willing to learn and be evaluated.
  • Willingness to accept feedback comes with “a certain amount of humility.”
  • Understand that mistakes are not fatal. Only by addressing the problem can things improve.

Part 2: Preparation

  • Bill Belichick’s father was also a football coach and collected an extensive library of football books.
  • Four hundred and thirteen books served as the foundation of Bill Belichick’s football knowledge.
  • Belichick insists “Bill Walsh: Finding the Winning Edge: is the greatest piece of football literature regarding a franchise blueprint ever written.
  • He is constantly adding to his expertise by finding new information and ideas to win football games.
  • He doesn’t care where the ideas come from, or who offers the ideas.
  • During staff meetings with his coaches, he first asks his staff for their ideas and suggestions.
  • He’s not so full of himself that he won’t listen and tap into any source for an edge.
  • Belichick extensive use of analytics is one of his primary competitive strategies.
  • The work ethic of Bill Belichick is legendary.
  • They know there are nights when Belichick sleeps at Gillette.
  • When everyone else is sleeping, or tweeting, or playing Madden, or lounging around, Belichick is studying the game.
  • One method that Belichick teaches his players is through the use of daily quizzes.
  • No one commands a depth of knowledge quite like Belichick.
  • Everyone is expected to study, regardless of their role on the team and how much playing time they are expected to have.
  • These quizzes and intense preparation clearly pays off.
  • For players who are unable to keep up, Belichick will quickly weed them out.
  • When guys get there they either buy in immediately or they are so overwhelmed that they want out.
  • With the ball on the one-yard line, the Seattle Seahawks threw a pass play that was intercepted by the Patriots’ Malcolm Butler. Butler, an undrafted free agent, was coached and prepared by Bill Belichick and told to be ready for that play.

Part 3: Performance

  • How exactly does Belichick ignore the distractions? He places the entire organization’s focus on the next game.
  • Belichick will refuse any interview that has to do with the past because he’s solely focused on the next game.
  • Based on his knowledge and constant learning, Belichick is always innovating.
  • Despite the heavy criticism for what was essentially the right call on 4th and 2, Belichick did not let the negative outcome affect his decision-making process and would make the same call again.
  • If you know the history of the game, you understand that it’s a changing game.
  • He isn’t afraid or held prisoner to a certain way of doing things because he knows that change is constant.
  • Belichick realized that a faster tempo was becoming a competitive advantage.
  • Belichick entire strategy of winning games is based upon exploiting and attacking the weakness of his opponent.
  • The core tenets of Bill Belichick’s football program always will remain the same. Versatility is key. Do your job. Hide your weakness and attack their’s.
  • Even at 63 years old and with four Super Bowl rings on his nightstand, he’s constantly seeking out new information and his plan of attack is evolving.
  • By bringing in smart football players and combining it with his mental training, Belichick is able to create a smart, fast moving team.
  • Belichick cross-trains his coaching assistants. Belichick trains his coaching staff to be able to coach both sides of the ball and to be able to move where needed.
  • Unlike the many coaches who identify with a particular style or tree, Belichick isn’t locked into a singular ideology.
  • Belichick’s greatness has never stemmed from a Big Idea — unless the Big Idea is the relentless application of many Little Ideas.

10 Keys to Success

  1. Clearly define the roles of everyone in the organization.
  2. Hold people accountable for their roles , and help them when they accept responsibility.
  3. The most vocal person isn’t necessary the leader. Be on the lookout for people who are doing their job well in a quiet manner.
  4. Improvement takes place on a daily basis.
  5. You must take the time to learn about the larger trends in your industry.
  6. The goal is to “move the football”, not prove that your way of doing things is the right way.
  7. Use any source that can help you gain an advantage.
  8. Your strategy must be tailored to your current situation. What worked in one situation will not necessary work in another situation.
  9. Focus on the task at hand. Don’t get caught up in any distractions.
  10. Control what you can. You can control your effort and your decision – making process. You cannot control results and outcomes.

Agile Project Management with Kanban by Eric Brechner

The Big Idea: Apply lean production principles (Theory of Constraints) to software development. Reduce the work-in-progress to let developers concentrate on only one task at a time.

  • Agile development with Kanban means creating a kanban board with tasks posted and a well-defined workflow.
  • There are no milestones or sprints and there is minimal overhead.
  • Inspired by lean operations, the focus is on a continuous flow of tasks (small batch sizes) throughout the process and on limiting Work-In-Process (WIP) of the bottleneck resource (developers), thereby keeping developers focused on deep-work and maximizing bottleneck throughput.
  • 1. Backlog. The first bucket is Backlog. Put unlimited number of tasks here for later. Backlog should be continuously prioritized.
  • 2. Breakdown. The second bucket is Breakdown. A product manager moves a task here for analysis. As part of the analysis, the product manager breaks tasks down into smaller tasks here.
  • 3. Implement (WIP). The third bucket is Implement. A developer should only be working on one task at a time. Limiting WIP keeps the developer focused on deep-work.
  • 4. Validate. The fourth bucket is Validate. A developer moves a task here when it’s complete. The product manager or a tester verifies the task is done.
  • Standup meetings should be limited to discussing if anyone’s work is blocked and how to remove the block.
  • Another variation is: 1. Pending (all todos, prioritized, ready for breakdown, added by PM) => 2. Ready (ready for implementation, added by PM) => 3. Implement (in-progress, added by engineering) => 4. Done (ready for validation, added by engineering) => 5. Validate (fully validated, added by PM/QA)
  • Kanban is a natural fit for continuous deployment environments.
  • For theoretical background: read up on Theory of Constraints.

Dream Teams by Shane Snow

THE BIG IDEA: To build a dream team, find independent thinkers from diverse backgrounds. Then ensure there is just enough tension to generate creative solutions but not so much tension that the team is dysfunctional.


  • Between 1960 and 1990 , the Soviet national hockey team won nearly every international match it played. It was one of the best sports teams of all time. The same Soviet players underperformed when split up in the NHL. Then Detroit Red Wings coach Scotty Bowman reunited them and they won the Stanley Cup again.
  • Research shows, that for some tasks, individuals always outperform teams. But for hard things in work and life, for thing that require creativity and innovation, teams are required. 
  • Humans are built for collaboration. There’s science behind this kind of magic that results in magical teamwork.


  • The Pinkerton detective agency foiled a plot to assassinate Lincoln. A female detective Kate Karne provided the insight needed to save Lincoln. 
  • Adding women to law enforcement improves performance not because they are smarter but because they add a different perspective that forces others to think differently.
  • These two parts of our mental tool kit — perspective and heuristics — go hand in hand. Our teammate’s diverse heuristic allowed him to find a better solution .
  • If you want innovation, put people with different specialties together. It helps prevent groupthink. 
  • Dr. Scott Page, professor of “complex systems” says teams with diverse mental tool kits consistently outperform groups of “the best and the brightest.”
  • Cognitive diversity is a key element of teams that exceed the sums of their parts.
  • Routine problems don’t require much cognitive diversity, while novel problems benefit from it greatly.
  • The more diverse the thinkers in a company’s higher ranks, especially its boardroom, the better a company performs.
  • Cities with more immigrants from different parts of the world tend to produce more patents.
  • This runs counter to the advice that we tend to get in many of our organizations. “Get more people like that on the bus!” “Let’s double down on our strengths!” “She’s not a culture fit!”


  • The merger of Daimler and Chrysler failed because they couldn’t resolve organizational cultural differences.
  • Hip-hop was found on battles (rap battles) but Wu-Tang Clan was able to use friction to drive creativity and change music history.
  • The Tension Zone is the zone in which there is enough tension to drive innovation but not enough tension to explode. 
  • The Wright brothers would resolve arguments by taking turns arguing both sides. This helped decouple arguments from ego.
  • Couples that know how to argue last the longest.
  • Businesses that rank high in “innovation”—the ones that grow quickly and produce game-changing products and services—tend to encourage the airing and clashing of diverse viewpoints. Not just having differences, but speaking up.
  • Companies that don’t innovate tend to make people follow a single, “approved” way of thinking.
  • “Having a manager who ignores you is even more detrimental than having a manager who primarily focuses on your weaknesses.”
  • When steel rubs against steel, it makes both blades sharper.


  • Argentina has one of the largest populations of Jews in the world. They are well-known for being friendly to Jews. Why? Because the culture encourages everyone to play soccer together. 
  • Playing together resolves tension, breaks down barriers, and builds friendships.
  • You can learn more about someone in an hour of play than in a year of talk.
  • RZA’s rap battles were actually a kind of game that helped dissolve tension and keep driving creativity. 


  • Picasso’s most productive years as a painter was when he was living with a girlfriend who pushed him out of his comfort zone.
  • Cognitive entrenchment is when our brains become inflexible because of certain habits and heuristics. These habits and heuristics that are useful in prior situations are no longer useful. 
  • The longer people work together, the more similar their work styles tend to become. The business world often calls them “best practices,” but psychologists correctly call them “groupthink.” If we’re not aware of them, they can stifle innovation and peak performance.
  • In Dream Teams, there is often a teammate who can give us a nudge away from groupthink. 
  • For developing new insights, it’s often more helpful to study the extremes (outliers) instead of studying the typical (focus groups.) Eg. Dominatrix-for-hire and comfortable shoes. (Tim Ferriss: but ignore those who are an outlier bc of natural ability or a head start.) 
  • Dr. Charlan Nemeth of UC Berkeley spent her career studying the science of human influence. Having a naysayer in the group made the rest of the group think harder. Dissenters stimulate the kinds of thought processes that lead to progress.


  • Sometimes bad ideas can be useful because a bad idea can be very good at pointing us in a new direction.
  • Eg. International Dome Symposium in Winooski, the painting The Black Square in Moscow
  • Provocation spurs us to action.
  • Cognitive expansion happens when we add cognitively diverse people to our team and pay attention to them.
  • Dissent helps groups think harder about problems together.
  • Many of our most successful modern companies — from Apple to Airbnb — seemed like bad ideas in the beginning.


  • Shared values are long-term. Shared goals are short-term. 
  • Companies who talk about shared values a lot will tend to unify their people quickly and effectively. They have low turnover and relatively stable businesses.
  • Values that are too strict and cult-like will tend to stifle dissent, stifle innovation, and stagnate a company.
  • Some organizations try to combat stifling values by making “creativity” and “experimentation” values themselves.
  • Superordinate goals can get different people to work together. Play and humor can depressurize groups that have too much tension between them.
  • Values are not created equal.  Values that help us include different kinds of people and ideas are the kinds of values we want our teams to share.
  • Eg. Battle of New Orleans, Rattlers vs Eagles, Built to Last companies.


  • People who are open-minded are more likely to consider creative solutions and to innovate.
  • What does it take for humans to become open-minded?
  • The answer is something psychologists call “intellectual humility.”
  • How do you increase open-minded and intellectual humility?
  • People who travel become better at  “idea flexibility” or being able to solve problems. They are more open-minded.
  • People who actually live in foreign places are even more likely to have high intellectual humility than those who just visit.
  • Dr. Galinsky and his colleagues found that graduate students who had lived abroad were more likely to consider out-of-the-box solutions to problems in group projects.
  • Neuroscientists find that multilingual people’s brains do look physically different. 
  • Eg. Malcolm X’s transformation after his pilgimage to Mecca.
  • Eg. Saul the Christian persecutor became Paul the Christian apostle.


  • Stories have power. Stories can activate oxytocin and empathy, or they can turn on primal fear .
  • Stories Asians told others about themselves helped change their position in America. Eg. George Takei and Bruce Lee.
  • Stories Hollywood told about gays generated oxytocin + empathy and helped increase acceptance of gays in America.
  • Anytime people experience character-driven stories, their brains pump out more oxytocin .
  • Positive social encounters release oxytocin — things like hugs , acts of kindness , and emotional stories .
  • Every one of the world’s greatest sports dynasties had something surprising in common: their players, and in particular their team captains, had a whole lot of humility.
  • This isn’t just humility; it’s intellectual humility. It requires being open to and willing to change when change is hard.
  • People who read a book or more per month, the data shows, are significantly more likely to be have intellectual humility. 
  • Readers experience more stories, have more empathy, and are more open-minded and have more intellectually humility. 


  • Recruit for “culture add” not “culture fit.”
  • Recruit for ability to elevate team, rather than for individual stats.
  • Determine team members’ dimensions of internal and external differences that could lead to productive tension and innovation. 
  • Make sure everyone on the team knows each other’s “superpowers” or unique abilities.
  • Use play and humor to depressurize group tension.
  • Give explicit permission (or even rewards) for dissent and productive criticism.
  • Have team members get to know each other’s stories.
  • Debate instead of brainstorm; when necessary, switch sides of the debate.
  • Speak candidly.
  • It’s the leader’s job to make sure tension does not get personal.
  • Seek diverse sources of information.
  • Develop and prioritize curiosity.
  • Pay attention to outsiders, weirdos, and far-out ideas.
  • When possible, rally teams around superordinate goals.
  • Celebrate the uniqueness of the subgroups within the organization.
  • Allow subgroup members to have their own values.
  • Create unique rituals that the organization can do together to bond.
  • Spend significant time immersing yourself in places with cultures different.
  • Learn a language.
  • Read more books. 

Great People Decisions by Claudio Fernández-Aráoz

The Big Idea: 1) IQ matters but the best predictor of success is relevant experience plus high emotional intelligence (EQ). 2) Interview 20 individuals before selecting finalists. 3) The preferred strategy for sourcing is to contact people who may know the best candidates.


  • Organizations are all about people.
  • People are the problem, but they are also the solution.
  • Making great people decisions is vitally important to your organization.

CHAPTER ONE – Great People Decisions: A Resource for You

  • As an individual, people decisions are also the single most important contributor to your career success. Once you become a manager, you start working through others. 
  • As a CEO or chairman, people decisions are both your highest challenge and your biggest opportunity.
  • Great management, according to Marcus Buckingham, is to first hire great people, then to assign the right person to the right job.
  • The first step in any hiring decision is to think very carefully about what you really need. Outside of work, you should also choose nannies and gardeners just as systematically.
  • According to some studies, the best interviewers had predictive validities 10 times better than the worst interviewers. So some people are better at evaluating talent. 
  • Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan say “having the right people in the right place is the job no leader should delegate.”
  • When hiring, figure out what are the key indicators of a successful hire, assign appropriate weight to those different dimensions. 
  • Managers can definitely improving their hiring success. A few basic concepts about people assessment allows managers to become much better at hiring. These are learnable skills .
  • Hiring is an area where very few business executives get any formal training at all. You don’t necessarily learn from your experiences, sometimes, because there is a lack of immediate and clear feedback on your people decisions.
  • In addition to career success, better hiring decisions will increase your personal happiness. Your work relationships and your professional satisfaction impacts your personal happiness.

CHAPTER TWO – Great People Decisions: A Resource for Your Organization

  • According to Built to Last, greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness, it turns out, is largely a matter of conscious choice, and discipline. 
  • According to Jim Collins, outstanding leadership and the ability to build superior executive teams were the two essential and foundational prerequisites for remarkable, long-lasting corporate excellence.
  • First, get the right people on the bus.
  • The choice of CEO has an impact on profitability as big as the choice of industry. 
  • In The War for Talent, people choices are a key driver of organizational performance.
  • According to McKinsey, poor performance was often caused by the wrong people at the top.
  • According to Jack Welch, “you can have all the greatest strategies in the world, but they aren’t worth much without the right people.”
  • GE has been an outstanding breeding ground for great leaders. GE’ most important product was not light bulbs or transformers, but managerial talent .

CHAPTER THREE – Why Great People Decisions Are So Hard

  • The best organizations in the world made all sorts of mistakes when it came to people decisions. 
  • 4 Hiring Traps
  • 1. The odds are against you. There are only a small number of exceptional performers
  • 2. Assessing people for complex positions is inherently difficult. Many knowledge worker jobs are truly unique. Requirements and priorities can rapidly shift. Intangible traits are much harder to evaluate. Many top candidates have no tolerance for any kind of thorough evaluation. 
  • 3. Powerful psychological biases impair the quality of the decision-making process. We tend to procrastinate about our people decisions. We tend to overrate a person’s capabilities. Individuals also tent to overrate our own capabilities and skills. Motivation does not equal skill. We tend to overweigh first impressions and make snap judgments based on criteria not related to abilities. We tend to overrate a candidate based on a company reputation from their resume. We tend to overweight an individual’s abilities and underweight the situation they worked in. We tend to seek out confirmatory information and avoid disconfirmatory information. We tend to hire someone based on familiarity. The most important step for avoiding these biases is awareness. 
  • 4. Misplaced incentives and conflicts of interest can easily sabotage these decisions. Keep an eye out for candidates who feel like a position is the perfect fit for them based they want (or need) the job. Such a candidate is likely to exaggerate their capabilities and resume. Also keep an eye out for nepotism and cronyism during the hiring process.

CHAPTER FOUR – Knowing When a Change Is Needed

  • Human nature inclines us to procrastinate in our people decisions, so few executives have a succession plan.
  • Five Discontinuity Scenarios That May Require Change in Leadership
  • 1.Launching New Businesses
  • When the launch of a new venture calls for a people change, both types of candidates — internal and external — should be properly considered. 
  • 2.Doing Mergers and Acquisitions
  • 3.Developing and Implementing New Strategies
  • When you change strategies, you very often have to change horses. Jim Collins’s Good to Great says “First Who . . . Then What. They first got the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats — and then they figured out where to drive it . ”
  • 4.Dealing with Performance Problems
  • Fundamental attribution error: sometimes the situation is the cause, not the leader.  Are you experiencing a bumpy ride? Is it your car? Or is it the road?
  • 5.Coping with Growth and Success
  • Leaders mush manage the present and anticipate the future. 
  • Powerful forces that tend to work against change. 1) The universal human impulse to prefer short-term comfort over uncertain, but possibly better, future. 2) Culture in which personal relationships trump the rules. 3) People underreact when things are tranquil and overreact when there is chaos. 
  • Jack Welch says candor is very hard to achieve and even runs up against human nature. 
  • Howard Stevenson says the most common mistake: you never fire people early enough.
  • If you as a boss are “ loyal ” to an incompetent employee, that makes you appear less honest and therefore costs you more than it gains. 
  • We tend to escalate our commitments and try to hang on, despite clear signs that it is time to bail. 
  • Jim Collins on how “good to great” companies decide who should get off the bus, and how: they apply exacting standards at all times and at all levels. They are rigorous, not ruthless.

CHAPTER FIVE – What to Look For

  • What is the best predictor of a person’s success in a job?
  • First of all, the ideal candidate doesn’t exist. 
  • So you want to understand which strengths are critically important and which weaknesses aren’t fatal.
  • Does IQ matter? Yes, but it’s not usually the critical factor. It matters most when you hire someone with no previous experience in the job
  • Does experience matter? Yes, experience matters a lot .
  • Does personality matter? Personality is too subjective. Personality tests are not particularly valid and any conclusions should be taken with a grain of salt.
  • Emotional intelligence, in business where we depend on others, could be more important to personal success than IQ .
  • Actual job-related behaviors were the best indicators of potential success.
  • Richard Boyatzis published The Competent Manager to describe competencies and job performance.
  • First, a distinctive set of competencies is required for every job and for every company.
  • Second, the list of typical key competencies for managers and senior executives tends to be short.
  • Egon Zehnder identifies four key competencies for successful managers. 
  • 1. Successful managers need to have a strong “results orientation” (i.e., be focused on improving the results of the business).
  • 2. Successful managers know how to focus, align, and build effective groups.
  • 3. Successful managers how know to work with peers and partners they have no direct authority over. 
  • 4. Successful manager have a “strategic orientation” that enables them to think Big Picture.
  • The candidates who were most likely to be extremely successful combine relevant experience plus high emotional intelligence (EI).
  • Lack of EI is very highly correlated with failure.
  • What is Emotional Intelligence? a. self – awareness  b. self – management c. social awareness d. social skills 
  • How are emotional intelligence competencies measured ?
  • Observations, particularly 360° assessments.
  • The effects of conventional management training seem to vanish within a few months.
  • Emotional intelligence can be developed, but this will not happen in traditional developmental programs. First, managers must want to change. Then there must be a realistic learning agenda and the opportunity to practice the competencies. It requires a significant personal effort and time.
  • One of the things that you should be looking for when making people decisions is potential. What is potential? Ambition + ability to learn from experience.
  • What is ambition? Need for achievement + need for affiliation + need for power .
  • Should you be looking at values when evaluating someone? Yes. Should you aim to develop those values? No.
  • The right people share the core values of an organization. A company can teach skills, but not character. You’re better off finding someone who’s already on board with your values ,
  • What about the concept of teams? Performance depends on good team work. Effective teams easily outperform individual stars. Aim for competency diversity in your teams.
  • Summary a. Never compromise on values. b. IQ is indeed important.  c. EQ – based competencies are absolutely essential. d. Hire individuals with high potential. e. For very senior positions, experience assumes more importance. 
  • Avoid the trap of thinking that any single candidate will have every quality.

CHAPTER SIX – Where to Look: Inside and Out

  • When is it better to go for outsiders versus insiders?
  • Statistically, promoting an insider doesn’t have a significant impact on company performance. 
  • Outsiders add great value when the predecessor was fired and change is needed. Outsiders destroy value when the succession is natural (retirement.)
  • When promoting an insider, always make sure that the person you are promoting has the necessary capabilities. Insiders tend to get scrutinized less carefully than outsiders.
  • Large companies skilled at developing internal people, such as GE, will quite likely have the best candidates within. 
  • Always better to consider both internal and external candidates for a search .
  • Companies underinvest significantly in the generation of potential candidates.
  • How do you know when to stop looking ?
  • Statisticians have demonstrated that in such a situation , the best strategy is the “37 Percent Rule .” You would need to interview and pass on at least 37 people women (on a base of 100) and hire the next person who is more qualified than the best from the 37.
  • It’s more practical to reduce this rule from 37 to 12. 
  • Because candidates are also evaluating you, statistics says to interview 20 individuals before setting your aspiration level.
  • Remember to look internally, scrutinize insiders just as carefully, and invest time building an internal talent pipeline.
  • How do people find jobs?
  • Personal contacts were the predominant method of finding out about jobs. Weak ties were the key, so develop a good personal network.
  • Job postings have serious limitations. It is hard to get the attention of the best candidates. The pool of respondents is typically very large, but of very limited quality.
  • The preferred strategy for sourcing is not to think about candidates, but to think about people who may know the best candidates. It makes much more sense to drum up people who are likely to know of several high-quality candidates right off the bat.

CHAPTER SEVEN – How to Appraise People

  • Investing time, effort, and money in better assessments is your largest opportunity for making great people decisions.
  • The best tradeoff for the candidate and the company is a combination of effective interviews and reference checks.
  • There is always some analysis of a resume, however, the vast majority of resumes are misleading.
  • Reference checks are typically used in practice to eliminate candidates.
  • Interviewing can be improved by the use of the situational interview and the behavioral interview.
  • Untrained interviewers make snap judgments and then look for evidence to support those judgments.
  • Most interviews are ineffective at best, highly unstructured, with the interviewer doing most of the talking.
  • The key to effective interviewing is first identifying the critical competencies, for this particular position, and describing them in behavioral terms. 
  • Past behaviors are the best basis for predicting future behavior.
  • If you focus only on the critical competencies, you will achieve much better assessments and much more powerful people decisions , and do less work in the process.
  • In short, research confirms that identifying the relevant competencies for a job, and assessing them through effective interviews, is an extremely valid and powerful way to predict outstanding performance.
  • There are two distinct approaches to the structured interview: behavioral questions (past behavior) and situational questions (hypothetical behavior). I prefer behavioral questions.
  • Effective interviewing requires significant preparation. Your questions should be focused on behaviors, and should be followed up with significant probing to understand what was the candidate’s exact role, and what were the consequences of his or her actions.
  • Interviewing skills can be learned through role-playing, often videotaped, training sessions.
  • Proper reference checks are an essential condition for success in any assessment.
  • When I asked Jack Welch how he really found out about a person. He told me that he never trusted the references given by the candidate. 
  • Weeding out the outright fakes is entry-level reference checking. Second level involves finding people who can confirm that your candidate’s self-reported achievements are real. A third type of reference helps you hone in on competence and potential.
  • A former boss would tend to be very good for assessing things like results orientation and strategic orientation. A peer would be well positioned to assess collaboration and influencing skills. Direct reports could comment on the candidate’s competence in the areas of team leadership.
  • Some interviewers are better than others. The best interviewers had predictive validities 10 times bette. R
  • Instead of a panel interview, have more than one highly effective interviewers independently in the finalist.
  • Team interviews can be more effective for higher-level positions, more complex jobs. They also reduce the duplication and exhaustion of back-to-back interviews.
  • When the final decision approaches, strict discipline becomes absolutely crucial. All too often, expediency intervenes, discipline breaks down , and terrible people mistakes are made. “Discipline” means reviewing, once again, the performance expectations, and reviewing the evidence
  • Once you become more experienced you can listen more to your own intuition. Until then, you should question your intuition frequently.
  • Developing your assessment skills will be key for your career success and for your company’s success.
  • Invest in good interview training.
  • Review the recruitment and interview process. 
  • Remember to review people decisions again, one or two years down the road.
  • Be willing to undo a bad decision .

CHAPTER EIGHT – How to Attract and Motivate the Best People

  • The first critical step of selling a job is understanding the main motives and the primary concerns of the candidates.
  • Anyone can hire average people. Hiring the best people, especially those who aren’t looking for a job, demands your best.
  • Take time to understand the candidates and their motivations. Address your concerns. Share your passion about your company, your projects, and the job you are offering.
  • Make sure that your compensation packages are aligned with your retention priorities. 
  • The evidence about the inherent power of “pay for performance” is surprisingly inconclusive.
  • A reasonably high level of total compensation is needed to attract the best .
  • Balance long-term with short-term incentives. Long-term incentive should be along the lines of restricted shares rather than stock options (which have strong upside but limited downside.) Short-term incentives might be a yearly bonus.
  • Most complex jobs require collaboration, and therefore individual incentives can be extremely negative.
  • Avoid the “golden parachute,” which creates a perverse incentive to promote conflict and get fired.
  • The signing bonus is nearly as bad , because it pays reluctant candidates to suspend their judgment about the job to earn the signing bonus.
  • What candidates look for, first and foremost, is not more money, but a job where they can do their best, with a challenge that perfectly matches their skill level, in a place where they will grow and develop, in an organization they like, with a good boss and a great group of peers.
  • You want the right candidate, one who really cares about the job and the organization.
  • If you have the right people, they will do everything in their power to make the company great. —Jim Collins
  • When working with an executive search firm, a fixed flat fee and a retainer arrangement can sidestep all of these fee-related structural problems . It can reinforce personal trust with structural integrity.

CHAPTER NINE – How to Integrate the Best People

  • Bringing a spacecraft safely back to Earth is similar to integrating a successful candidate into a new job.
  • External candidates are usually expected to hit the ground running and also often have a compensation package that creates jealousy and resentment.
  • The Dynamics of Taking Charge by John J . Gabarro is the best book ever written on the integration of new managers.
  • Integration is hard. Integration takes time. If managers act too quickly, they may do so based on the wrong diagnosis, and fail. If they take too long, they will frustrate the organization.
  • The manager most likely to fail at integration is the “Lone Ranger,” who can’t involve others in the learning and action stages. So, hire emotionally and socially intelligent managers who can get others to help them in the diagnostic phase. 
  • To avoid integration failures: be aware of the common traps, prepare the manager, and follow up closely. 
  • When it’s clear the integration isn’t working, pull the plug. This is never easy.
  • New managers should always have a sponsor, a champion. The power of “personal touch” can’t be overemphasized. There’s simply no substitute for one-on-one sessions .

CHAPTER TEN – The Bigger Picture

  • Just like hiring and promoting, delegating more often and more effectively improves your organization’s results, and helps ensure your own career success.

It Doesn’t Have to Be Crazy at Work by Jason Fried and DHH

The Big Idea: choose to have a calm, profitable, healthy workplace. 

  • Why is work so crazy? Physical and virtual distractions at work. And an unhealthy obsession with growth.
  • Sustained exhaustion is not a badge of honor, it’s a mark of stupidity.
  • How many hours at the office are really spent on work itself?
  • The answer isn’t more hours, it’s less bullshit. Less waste, not more production. Fewer distractions and less stress.
  • It’s time to give people the uninterrupted time that great work demands.
  • Basecamp has been profitable every year. Profitability alleviates stress.
  • Where does our money come from? Customers, not venture capital.
  • We don’t have a single employee in the Valley.
  • We put in about 40 hours a week most of the year and just 32 in the summer.
  • On balance we’re calm — by choice, by practice. We’re intentional about it.
  • Protect people’s time and attention.
  • 40 hours of work per week.
  • Ample time off.
  • Meetings are a last resort.
  • Asynchronous communication first, real-time communication only when necessary.
  • Sustainable practices for the long term.
  • Focus on profitability.
  • When you realize the way you work is malleable, you can start molding something new, something better.
  • We didn’t just assume asynchronous communication. We tested out everything and figured it out.
  • We found that paying for people’s vacations was better than cash bonuses.
  • Hustlemania has captured a monopoly on entrepreneurial inspiration.
  • You’re not very likely to find that key insight or breakthrough idea north of the 14th hour in the day.
  • Improve iteratively and continuously. Fewer explosions and more laying of bricks and applying another layer of paint.
  • Put in a good day’s work, day after day, but no heroics.
  • The business world is obsessed with fighting, winning, dominating, and destroying. But there is another way.
  • Do we have enough customers paying us enough money to cover our costs and generate a profit? Good. Then we’re successful.
  • What matters is that we have a healthy business with sound economics that work for us. Costs under control, profitable sales.
  • We’re serving our customers well, and they’re serving us well. That’s what matters. And just for the customers, we’ve invested in many softwares like CRM that help us in managing customers and have been trying to follow whatever Salesforce has professed.
  • “Comparison is the death of joy.” —Mark Twain
  • There’s no chasing others at Basecamp, just deep work and keeping customers happy.
  • We don’t do goals.
  • We don’t mind leaving some money on the table and we don’t need to squeeze every drop out of the lemon. Do we want to maximize value through constantly chasing goals? No thanks.
  • We are working on building a long-lasting sustainable business with happy employees.
  • How about something really audacious? No targets, no goals. And if you must have a goal, how about just staying in business? Or serving your customers well? Or being a delightful place to work?
  • Everyone wants to be a disrupter these days. If you stop thinking you must change the world, you lift a tremendous burden of yourself and your team. 9pm. meetings and weekend sprints are not as necessary.
  • “NO PAIN, NO GAIN!” looks good on a poster at the gym, but real life is not like the gym.
  • Most of the time, if you’re uncomfortable with something, it’s because it isn’t right. Listen to your discomfort. It was the discomfort of knowing two people doing the same work at the same level were being paid differently that led us to reform our payment structure.
  • It was discomfort working at companies that had taken large amounts of venture capital that led us to pursue a path of profitable independence.
  • Working 40 hours a week is plenty. During the summer, we even take Fridays off. If you can’t fit everything you want to do within 40 hours per week, you need to get better at prioritizing and focusing, instead of working longer hours .
  • Cut out what’s unnecessary.
  • Protect what’s both most vulnerable and most precious: your employees’ time.
  • Eight people in a room for an hour doesn’t cost one hour, it costs eight hours. Plus the cost of the interruption in concentration.
  • Instead of update meetings, we ask people to write updates daily, when they have a free moment. Others can read them when they have a free moment.
  • 60 minutes isn’t really an hour if it’s broken up into four 15 minute blocks.
  • Productivity is for machines, not for people. We believe in effectiveness .
  • Stop equating work ethic with excessive work hours.
  • Work doesn’t happen at work because of all the interruptions. To facilitate collaboration, we borrowed an idea from academia and have people schedule office hours. People are welcome to stop by and discuss work during office hours.
  • The shared work calendar is one of the most destructive inventions of modern times. Taking someone’s time should not be easy.  Meetings should be a last resort, especially big ones.
  • We don’t require anyone to broadcast their whereabouts or availability at Basecamp. Hours worked and butts in seats don’t matter; only actual work matters. The only way to know if work is getting done is by looking at the actual work. That’s the boss’s job.
  • We don’t require anyone to broadcast their availability and we reject the proliferation of chat tools invading the workplace. Know how to reach someone in an emergency but also recognize there are very few actual emergencies.
  • The expectation of an immediate response is the ember that ignites so many fires at work. Create a culture of eventual response rather than immediate response.
  • Instead depending on chat to stay caught up on work, catch up on what happened today as a single summary email. We also write monthly updates called “Heartbeats.”
  • We do care and we do help. But a family we are not. A family sacrifices everything for each other. We’re people who work together to make a product that we are proud of. You don’t have to pretend to be a family to be courteous. Or kind. Or protective.
  • The best companies aren’t families. They’re supporters of families.
  • A leader sets the example that everyone follows. If you value reasonable hours, plentiful rest, and a healthy lifestyle for yourself, then others will follow. If you, as the boss, want employees to take vacations, you have to take a vacation. Workaholism is a contagious disease.
  • The trust battery between the two of you is either charged or discharged, based on things like whether you deliver on what you promise.” A low trust battery is at the core of many personal disputes at work.
  • What the boss most needs to hear is where they and the organization are falling short. The boss needs to ask: “What can we do even better?” “What’s something nobody dares to talk about?” “Are you afraid of anything at work?” “Is there anything you worked on recently that you wish you could do over?” “What do you think we could have done differently to help Jane succeed?” “What advice would you give before we start on the big website redesign project?”
  • The CEO is usually the last to know how things are really going.
  • There’s no such thing as a casual suggestion when it comes from the owner of the business.
  • On low-hanging fruit: he further away you are from the fruit, the lower it looks. Declaring that an unfamiliar task will yield low-hanging fruit probably means the person doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
  • In the long run, work is not more important than sleep.
  • At most companies, work-life balance is a sham. If work can claim hours after 5:00pm, then life should be able to claim hours before 5:00pm to regain the balance.
  • CVs might as well be tossed in the garbage. Everyone know they are exaggerations. To work at Basecamp, you have to be good people.
  • To evaluate someone, we put a real project in front of the candidates so that they can show us what they can do.
  • Be wary of senior people from large companies. Trying to teach a small company how to act like a big one rarely does anyone any good. Unlearning can be just as hard as having to pick up entirely new skills.
  • But be patient. Unless you hire someone straight out of an identical role at an identical company, they’re highly unlikely to be instantly up to speed and able to deliver right away.
  • Talent isn’t worth fighting over. Someone who’s a superstar at one company often turns out to be completely ineffectual at another, so a superstar somewhere else is not worth fighting for.
  • Talent at Basecamp rarely comes from traditional war zones like San Francisco or New York. More likely, it’s Oklahoma, Tennessee, or Toronto.
  • We look at people’s actual work, not at their diploma or degree.
  • It takes patience to grow and nurture your own talent.
  • Most people just don’t enjoy haggling, so Basecamp has a fixed salary structure. Everyone in the same role at the same level is paid the same.
  • Once every year we review market rates and issue raises automatically.
  • The goal at Basecamp is to pay everyone at the top 10 percent of the market for their role and level.
  • We get the market rates through a variety of salary survey companies.There’s also no penalty for relocating to a cheaper cost-of-living.
  • We don’t pay traditional bonuses, just a generous salary.
  • There are no stock options at Basecamp because we never intend to sell the company.
  • We’ve vowed to distribute 5 percent of the proceeds to all current employees if we ever sell the company.
  • There is profit-sharing. Basecamp distributes 25 percent of growth in profits to employees in that year.
  • Basecamp isn’t a startup. Basecamp is a stable, sustainable, and profitable company.
  • Happiness and productivity are found in working with a stable crew.
  • Free dinners are a hoax. A free dinner for working late sounds more like a bribes than a benefit.
  • We don’t offer gotcha benefits, only relevant “outside the office” benefits. Benefits: fully paid vacations, 3-day weekends all summer, paid sabbaticals, continuing education allowances, charity matching, CSA (community-supported agriculture) shares, one monthly massage, a monthly fitness allowance.
  • Offices should operates by library rules. The office should be quiet and calm. Conversations should be kept to a whisper.
  • The purpose of a vacation is to get away. We used to offer unlimited vacation, but we eventually noticed that people actually ended up taking less time off.
  • When someone leaves, be honest and clear with everyone about what just happened. At Basecamp, an immediate goodbye announcement is sent out companywide.
  • Following group chat at work is like being in an all-day meeting with random participants and no agenda. It’s completely exhausting. Chat puts conversations on conveyor belts that are perpetually moving away from you. Chat is great for hashing stuff out quickly.
  • The two rules for chat at Basecamp is “Asynchronous most of the time. Real-time only sometimes.” And if it’s important, slow down and take it offline to think.” Important topics need time.
  • A deadline with a flexible scope will result in a healthy, calm project.
  • When we present work, it’s almost always written up first. Then it’s posted to Basecamp, so people can have time to digest and respond, with a written respond on Basecamp. We don’t want first impressions.
  • Friday is the worst day to release anything.
  • Culture isn’t what you intend it to be. Culture is what culture does. What we do repeatedly hardens into habits and that becomes your culture.
  • Right from the beginning of Basecamp, we insisted on a reasonable workweek. We didn’t pull all-nighters to make impossible deadlines. When calm starts early, calm becomes the habit. If you start crazy , it’ll define you .
  • Today we ship a feature when it’s ready rather than waiting until all features are ready.
  • If every decision has to be made by consensus, you’re in for an endless grind. Someone in charge has to make the final call. Instead, get used to saying “I disagree but let’s commit.” Then move forward.
  • Knowing when to embrace Good Enough is what gives you the opportunity to be truly excellent when you need to be. Separate what really matters from what sort of matters from what doesn’t matter at all. Be clear about what demands excellence.
  • When we spend six weeks on a project, we begin prototyping as soon as we can in those first two weeks. As we pass the mid-point, it’s time to focus in and get narrow. New ideas that arrive too late will just have to wait.
  • “Doing nothing” should always be on the table. It’s too easy to fuck up something that’s working well. “What if we did nothing?”
  • Calm requires getting comfortable with “enough.” If it’s never enough, then it’ll always be crazy at work.
  • Every mature industry is drowning in “best practices.” So much of it is bullshit. There are so many reasons to be skeptical of best practices.
  • Unless you’ve actually done the work, you’re in no position to encode it as a best practice.
  • Many best practices are purely folklore. No one knows where they came from, why they started, and why they continue to be followed.
  • All this isn’t to say that best practices are of no value. Some are helpful to get you going, at which point you can abandon them as you need.
  • You can’t develop a calm culture if you’re constantly fretting about what the best practices. Create your practices and your patterns.
  • “Whatever it takes” is the rallying cry for captains of industry and war generals. Reasonable expectations are out the window when we operate according to “whatever it takes.” There certainly will be rare moments when whatever it takes is truly called for .
  • Rather than demand “whatever it takes,” ask , “what will it take?” Then decides if it’s worth it. Discuss strategy, make tradeoffs, make cuts, or come up with a simpler approach.
  • Too much shit to do is the problem if you’re obsessed with productivity hacks.  The only way to get more done is to have less to do. Saying no is the only way to claw back time.
  • “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all .” — Peter Drucker
  • At Basecamp, we’ve become ruthless about eliminating wasteful tasks.
  • Nearly all product work at Basecamp is done by teams of three people. The team is usually two programmers and one designer. We don’t throw more people at problems, we chop problems down to size. Big teams make things worse all the time.
  • Work expands to fill the time available. Work expands to fill the team available. You can do big things with small teams.
  • Rather than jumping on every new idea right away, we make every idea wait a while. First we finish what we started, then we consider what we want to tackle next. New ideas can wait.
  • Learning to say no is a required skill if you want to be calm.
  • We’ll take a risk, but we won’t put the company at risk.
  • When we make big changes to Basecamp, we give it six months and see how it turned out. We’ll tweak it along the way. We’ll be ready to revert if needed. We prefer managed, calculated risk with a safety rope attached.
  • In the summer, we work 4 day, 32 hour weeks.
  • In the autumn, we pay for a weekly community-supported agriculture share for each employee .
  • Until you’re running a profitable business, you’re slowly (or quickly) running out of business. We focus on keeping out our costs in check.
  • Being profitable means having time to think and space to explore. Being profitable means being in control of your own destiny and schedule.
  • When companies are in the red, employees worry about their jobs. When companies talk about burn rates, two things are burning: money and people.
  • Selling to small businesses and selling to enterprises are two very different approaches requiring two very different kinds of people.
  • Learn to launch. Generally, you just have to ship it. Do your best, believe in the work you’ve done, and ship it. After you ship, you can iterate on real insights and real answers from real customers.
  • We’ve never committed to a product road map. Promises in a product road map pile up like debt. Promises are easy and cheap to make, while actual work is hard and expensive.
  • We’ve been ripped off and cloned a hundred times. We’ve learned you have to move on.
  • People don’t hate all change. What customers and employee don’t like is forced change. We still run three completely different versions of Basecamp, so that customers don’t have to change if they don’t want to.
  • Things get harder as you go, not easier. The easiest day is day one of a new company. As you get bigger, you hire people, there is more competition, and there are increased costs.
  • When it comes to complaints, remember that, mostly, everyone wants to be heard and respected.
  • Companies are culturally and structurally encouraged to get bigger and bigger. But the good old days, the founders miss, are when their business was simpler and smaller.
  • We wonder why didn’t they just grow slower and stay closer to the size they enjoyed the most?
  • Our goal is to maintain a sustainable and manageable size. We still grow, but slowly and in control.
  • We chose calmness, so we cut back on products and features, even when times are great. Cutting back when times are great is the luxury of a calm, profitable, and independent company.
  • A successful business is healthy profits, increased benefits for our employees, and an environment where people can do the best work of their careers.
  • Choose to: protect people’s time.
  • Choose to: work reasonable number of hours.
  • Choose to: relieve people from the conveyor belts of information.
  • Choose to: give employees the focus that their best work requires.
  • Choose: contemplation and consideration prior to communication.
  • Choose to: give endless growth a rest.
  • Choose to: give teams control over what can be reasonably accomplished given the time.
  • Choose to: finish what you started before moving on to the next idea.
  • A calm company is a choice