Summary : Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares

1. Bullseye, a simple three-step process for getting traction. 

2. After interviewing more than forty successful founders and researching countless more, we discovered that startups get traction through nineteen different channels. Many successful startups experimented with multiple channels until they found one that worked.

3. We uncovered two broad themes through our research. First, most founders consider using only traction channels with which they’re already familiar, or those they think they should be using because of their type of product or company.

4. Second, it’s hard to predict the traction channel that will work best. You can make educated guesses, but until you start running tests, it’s difficult to tell which channel is the best one for you right now.

5. The nineteen traction channel : 

  • Targeting Blogs - Targetting blogs prospective customers might read.
  • Publicity - Publicity is the art of getting your name out there via traditional media outlets like newspapers, magazines, and TV.
  • Unconventional PR - Unconventional PR involves doing something exceptional like publicity stunts to draw media attention.
  • Search Engine Marketing - Search engine marketing (SEM) allows companies to advertise to consumers searching on Google and other search engines.
  • Social and Display Ads - Ads on popular sites like reddit, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, and hundreds of other niche sites can be a powerful and scalable way to reach new customers.
  • Offline Ads - Offline ads include TV spots, radio commercials, billboards, infomercials, newspaper and magazine ads, as well as flyers and other local advertisements.
  • Search Engine Optimisation - Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of making sure your Web site shows up for key search results.
  • Content Marketing - Using your company blog to get traction
  • Email Marketing - Creating a list of prospect that you can email about your offerings.
  • Engineering as Marketing - Creating a side product(e.g. free utility, microsite or app) that helps with promotion of your main product.
  • Viral Marketing - Customers referring other customers.
  • Business Development - Creating Strategic partnerships that benefit your startup and partner.
  • Sales - Focus on creating direct exchange of product for dollars.
  • Affiliate Programs -  An affiliate program is an arrangement where you pay people or companies for performing certain actions like making a sale or getting a qualified lead.
  • Weinberg, Gabriel; Mares, Justin. Traction (p. 159). Penguin Books Ltd. Kindle Edition. 
  • Existing Platforms - Focusing your efforts on attracting consumers from an existing platform that has your target audience.
  • Trade Shows - Attending trade shows to attract customers from relevant industry
  • Offline Events - Sponsoring offline events just as small meetups or large conference
  • Speaking Engagement - After speaking at events people start viewing you as an expert and may desire to purchase your service.
  • Community Building - Forming passionate communities around your products that can promote it.


6. If you’re starting a company, chances are you can build a product. Almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have is enough customers.

7. Having a product or service that your early customers love, but having no clear way to get more traction is a major problem. To solve this problem, spend your time constructing your product or service and testing traction channels in parallel.

8. Traction and product development are of equal importance and should each get about half of your attention. This is what we call the 50 percent rule: spend 50 percent of your time on product and 50 percent on traction.

9. To be clear, splitting your time evenly between product and traction will certainly slow down product development. However, it counterintuitively won’t slow the time to get your product successfully to market. In fact, it will speed it up!

10. You can think of your initial investment in traction as pouring water into a leaky bucket. At first your bucket will be very leaky because your product is not yet a full solution to customer needs and problems. In other words, your product is not as sticky as it could be, and many customers will not want to engage with it yet. As a consequence, much of the money you are spending on traction will leak out of your bucket.

11. These interactions also get you additional data, like what messaging is resonating with potential customers, what niche you might focus on first, what types of customers will be easiest to acquire, and what major distribution roadblocks you might run into.

12. Before you can set about getting traction, you have to define what traction means for your company. How many customers do you need and at what growth rate?

13. Your traction strategy should always be focused on moving the needle for your traction goal. By moving the needle, we mean focusing on marketing activities that result in a measurable, significant impact on your traction goal.

14. From the perspective of getting traction, you can think about working on a product or service in three phases: 

Phase I—making something people want 

Phase II—marketing something people want 

Phase III—scaling your business 

15. In the leaky bucket metaphor, phase I is when your bucket (product) has the most leaks. It really doesn’t hold water.

16. When you constantly test traction channels by sending through a steady stream of new customers, you can tell if your product is getting less leaky over time, which it should be if your product development strategy is sound. In fact this is a great feedback loop between traction development and product development that you can use to make sure you’re on the right track.

17. Once you have crossed over to phase II, you have product-market fit and customers are sticking around. Now is the time to scale up your traction efforts: your bucket is no longer leaky. You are now fine-tuning your positioning and marketing messages. 

18. In phase III, you have an established business model and significant position in the market, and are focused on scaling both to further dominate the market and to profit.

19. Phase I is very product focused and involves pursuing initial traction while also building your initial product. This often means getting traction in ways that don’t scale—giving talks, writing guest posts, emailing people you have relationships with, attending conferences, and doing whatever you can to get in front of customers.

20. The definition of traction keeps changing as the environment gets competitive. That’s why it is actually useful to look at AngelList and look at companies who just got funded; that will give you an idea of where the bar is right now.

21. With investing, always remember that traction trumps everything.

22. We strongly believe that many startups give up way too early. A lot of startup success hinges on choosing a great market at the right time. Consider DuckDuckGo, the search engine startup that Gabriel founded. Other search startups gave up after two years: Gabriel has been at it for more than seven.

23. It’s important to wrap your head around this timescale. If you are just starting out, are you ready to potentially do this for the next decade?

24. A startup can be awesome if you believe in it: if not, it can get old quickly. 

25. If you are considering a pivot, the first thing to look for is evidence of real product engagement, even if it is only a few dedicated customers. If you have such engagement, you might be giving up too soon.

26. Another factor to consider before you pivot: startup founders are usually forward thinking and as a result are often too early to market, which is another reason why it’s important to choose a startup idea you’re willing to stick with for many years.

27. How can you tell whether you are just a bit early to market and should keep plugging away? Again, the best way to find out is by looking for evidence of product engagement. If you are a little early to a market there should be some early adopters out there already eating up what you have to offer.

28. With nineteen traction channels to consider, figuring out which one to focus on is tough. That’s why we’ve created a simple framework called Bullseye that will help you find the channel that will get you traction.

29. We use the name Bullseye for our three-step framework because you’re aiming for the Bullseye—the one traction channel at the center of the target that will unlock your next growth stage.

30. The first step in Bullseye is brainstorming every single traction channel. If you were to advertise offline, where would be the best place to do it? If you were to give a speech, who would be the ideal audience? Imagine what success would look like in each channel, and write it down in your outer ring.

31. For each channel, you should identify one decent channel strategy that has a chance of moving the needle. For example, social ads is a traction channel. Specifically running ads on reddit, Twitter, or Facebook is a channel strategy within social ads. Through brainstorming, identify the best channel strategy you can think of in each of the nineteen traction channels.

32. The second step in Bullseye is running cheap traction tests in the channels that seem most promising. Go around your outer ring and promote your best traction channel ideas to your middle ring.

33. It is often the case that there are a few truly exciting and promising channel ideas in your outer ring. Stop promoting ideas where there is an obvious drop-off in excitement. That drop-off often occurs around the third channel.

34. For each traction channel in your middle ring, now construct a cheap traction test you can run to determine if the idea really is good or not. These tests should be designed to roughly answer the following three questions: 

  • How much will it cost to acquire customers through this channel? 

  • How many customers are available through this channel? 

  • Are the customers that you are getting through this channel the kind of customers that you want right now?

35. The third and final step in Bullseye is to focus solely on the channel that will move the needle for your startup: your core channel.

36. If all went well, one of the traction channels you tested in your middle ring produced promising results. In that case, you should start directing all your traction efforts and resources toward this most promising channel. You hit the Bullseye! You’ve found your core channel.

37. At any stage in a startup’s life cycle, one traction channel dominates in terms of customer acquisition. That is why we suggest focusing on one at a time, but only after you’ve identified a channel that seems like it could actually work.

38. If, unfortunately, no channel seems promising after testing, the whole process should be repeated. The good news is you now have data from all the tests you just did, which will inform you as to what types of things are, and are not, resonating with customers.

39. If you go through the process several times and no traction channel seems promising, then your product may require more tweaking. Your bucket is still too leaky.

40. In the early days, the channel strategies of sponsoring mid-level bloggers in the financial niche and guest posting allowed Mint to acquire its first forty thousand customers. 

41. When this channel maxed out and stopped moving the needle, Mint repeated the Bullseye process, and found a new core traction channel to focus on: publicity. Within six months of launching, it had 1 million users.


Summary : Hooked - How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal

1. Seventy-nine percent of smartphone owners check their device within fifteen minutes of waking up every morning.1 Perhaps more startling, fully one-third of Americans say they would rather give up sex than lose their cell phones.

2. Cognitive psychologists define habits as “automatic behaviors triggered by situational cues”: things we do with little or no conscious thought.

3. Instead of relying on expensive marketing, habit-forming companies link their services to the users’ daily routines and emotions.7 A habit is at work when users feel a tad bored and instantly open Twitter.

4. Today, small start-up teams can profoundly change behavior by guiding users through a series of experiences I call hooks. The more often users run through these hooks, the more likely they are to form habits.

5. These years of distilled research and real-world experience resulted in the creation of the Hooked Model: a four-phase process companies use to form habits:

  1.  Trigger
  2. Action
  3. Variable Rewards
  4. Investment

6.  Trigger - A trigger is the actuator of behavior—the spark plug in the engine. 

7. Triggers come in two types: external and internal. Habit-forming products start by alerting users with external triggers like an e-mail, a Web site link, or the app icon on a phone. For example, suppose Barbra, a young woman in Pennsylvania, happens to see a photo in her Facebook News Feed taken by a family member from a rural part of the state. It’s a lovely picture and because she is planning a trip there with her brother Johnny, the external trigger’s call to action (in marketing and advertising lingo) intrigues her and she clicks. 

8. By cycling through successive hooks, users begin to form associations with internal triggers, which attach to existing behaviors and emotions.

9. Action - Following the trigger comes the action: the behavior done in anticipation of a reward. The simple action of clicking on the interesting picture in her news feed takes Barbra to a Web site called Pinterest, a “social bookmarking site with a virtual pinboard.”

10. Companies leverage two basic pulleys of human behavior to increase the likelihood of an action occurring: the ease of performing an action and the psychological motivation to do it.

11. Variable Reward - What distinguishes the Hooked Model from a plain vanilla feedback loop is the Hook’s ability to create a craving.

12. Research shows that levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine surge when the brain is expecting a reward. Although dopamine is often wrongly categorized as making us feel good, introducing variability does create a focused state, which suppresses the areas of the brain associated with judgment and reason while activating the parts associated with wanting and desire. Although classic examples include slot machines and lotteries, variable rewards are prevalent in many other habit-forming products.

13. When Barbra lands on Pinterest, not only does she see the image she intended to find, but she is also served a multitude of other glittering objects.

14. Investment -The last phase of the Hooked Model is where the user does a bit of work. The investment phase increases the odds that the user will make another pass through the cycle in the future. The investment occurs when the user puts something into the product of service such as time, data, effort, social capital, or money.

15. However, the investment phase isn’t about users opening up their wallets and moving on with their day. Rather, the investment implies an action that improves the service for the next go-around. Inviting friends, stating preferences, building virtual assets, and learning to use new features are all investments users make to improve their experience. These commitments can be leveraged to make the trigger more engaging, the action easier, and the reward more exciting with every pass through the Hooked Model.

16. Neuroscientists believe habits give us the ability to focus our attention on other things by storing automatic responses in the basal ganglia, an area of the brain associated with involuntary actions.

17. Habit formation is good for business in several ways:

  • Increasing Customer Lifetime Value - User habits increase how long and how frequently customers use a product, resulting in higher Customer Lifetime Value.
  • Providing Pricing Flexibility - Buffett and his partner, Charlie Munger, realized that as customers form routines around a product, they come to depend upon it and become less sensitive to price. For example, in the free-to-play video game business, it is standard practice for game developers to delay asking users to pay money until they have played consistently and habitually.
  • Supercharging Growth - Users who continuously find value in a product are more likely to tell their friends about it.
  • Sharpening the Competitive Edge - User habits are a competitive advantage. Products that change customer routines are less susceptible to attacks from other companies. Products that require a high degree of behavior change are doomed to fail even if the benefits of using the new product are clear and substantial.
  • Building the Mind Monopoly - As one of its findings, the study concluded that the more frequently the new behavior occurred, the stronger the habit became. Like flossing, frequent engagement with a product—especially over a short period of time—increases the likelihood of forming new routines.

18. A company can begin to determine its product’s habit-forming potential by plotting two factors: frequency (how often the behavior occurs) and perceived utility (how useful and rewarding the behavior is in the user’s mind over alternative solutions).

19.Googling occurs multiple times per day, but any particular search is negligibly better than rival services like Bing. Conversely, using Amazon may be a less frequent occurrence, but users receive great value knowing they’ll find whatever they need at the one and only “everything store.”

20. 

21. Note that the line slopes downward but never quite reaches the perceived utility axis. Some behaviors never become habits because they do not occur frequently enough. No matter how much utility is involved, infrequent behaviors remain conscious actions and never create the automatic response that is characteristic of habits.

22. On the other axis, however, even a behavior that provides minimal minimal perceived benefit can become a habit simply because it occurs frequently.

23. It is worth noting that although some people use the terms interchangeably, habits are not the same things as addictions. The latter describes persistent, compulsive dependencies on a behavior or substance that harms the user. Addictions, by definition, are self-destructive.

24. A habit, on the other hand, is a behavior that can have a positive influence on a person’s life.

25.Habit-forming products often start as nice-to-haves (vitamins) but once the habit is formed, they become must-haves (painkillers).

26. External triggers are embedded with information, which tells the user what to do next.

27. An external trigger communicates the next action the user should take. Often, the desired action is made explicitly clear.

28. More choices require the user to evaluate multiple options. Too many choices or irrelevant options can cause hesitation, confusion, or worse—abandonment.4 Reducing the thinking required to take the next action increases the likelihood of the desired behavior occurring with little thought.

29. Companies can utilize four types of external triggers to move users to complete desired actions:

 Paid Triggers - Advertising, search engine marketing, and other paid channels are commonly used to get users’ attention and prompt them to act. Paid triggers can be effective but costly ways to keep users coming back. Because paying for reengagement is unsustainable for most business models, companies generally use paid triggers to acquire new users and then leverage other triggers to bring them back.

Earned Triggers - Earned triggers are free in that they cannot be bought directly, but they often require investment in the form of time spent on public and media relations. Favorable press mentions, hot viral videos, and featured app store placements are all effective ways to gain attention.

Relationship Triggers - One person telling others about a product or service can be a highly effective external trigger for action.

Owned Triggers - Owned triggers consume a piece of real estate in the user’s environment. They consistently show up in daily life and it is ultimately up to the user to opt in to allowing these triggers to appear. For example, an app icon on the user’s phone screen, an e-mail newsletter to which the user subscribes, or an app update notification only appears if the user wants it there. As long as the user agrees to see the trigger, the company that sets the trigger owns a share of the user’s attention.

30. Companies may be lulled into thinking that related downloads or sales spikes signal long-term success, yet awareness generated by earned triggers can be short-lived.

31. Yet external triggers are only the first step. The ultimate goal of all external triggers is to propel users into and through the Hooked Model so that, after successive cycles, they do not need further prompting from external triggers.

32. When users form habits, they are cued by a different kind of trigger: internal ones.

33. When a product becomes tightly coupled with a thought, an emotion, or a preexisting routine, it leverages an internal trigger. Unlike external triggers, which use sensory stimuli like a morning alarm clock or giant “Login Now” button, you can’t see, touch, or hear an internal trigger.

34. Internal triggers manifest automatically in your mind. Connecting internal triggers with a product is the brass ring of habit-forming technology.

35. Emotions, particularly negative ones, are powerful internal triggers and greatly influence our daily routines. Feelings of boredom, loneliness, frustration, confusion, and indecisiveness often instigate a slight pain or irritation and prompt an almost instantaneous and often mindless action to quell the negative sensation. For instance, Yin often uses Instagram when she fears a special moment will be lost forever.

36. The study demonstrated that people suffering from symptoms of depression used the Internet more. Why is that? One hypothesis is that those with depression experience negative emotions more frequently than the general population and seek relief by turning to technology to lift their mood.

37. Products that successfully create habits soothe the user’s pain by laying claim to a particular feeling. To do so, product designers must know their user’s internal triggers—that is, the pain they seek to solve.

38. The ultimate goal of a habit-forming product is to solve the user’s pain by creating an association so that the user identifies the company’s product or service as the source of relief.

39. “[If] you want to build a product that is relevant to folks, you need to put yourself in their shoes and you need to write a story from their side. So, we spend a lot of time writing what’s called user narratives.”

40. Dorsey believes a clear description of users—their desires, emotions, the context with which they use the product—is paramount to building the right solution. In addition to Dorsey’s user narratives, tools like customer development,11 usability studies, and empathy maps12 are examples of methods for learning about potential users.

41.  One method is to try asking the question “Why?” as many times as it takes to get to an emotion. Usually, this will happen by the fifth why. This is a technique adapted from the Toyota Production System, described by Taiichi Ohno as the “5 Whys Method.” Ohno wrote that it was “the basis of Toyota’s scientific approach … by repeating ‘why?’ five times, the nature of the problem as well as its solution becomes clear.”

42. Remember, a habit is a behavior done with little or no conscious thought. The more effort—either physical or mental—required to perform the desired action, the less likely it is to occur.

43. If action is paramount to habit formation, how can a product designer influence users to act? Is there a formula for behavior? It turns out that there is.

44. Fogg posits that there are three ingredients required to initiate any and all behaviors: (1) the user must have sufficient motivation; (2) the user must have the ability to complete the desired action; and (3) a trigger must be present to activate the behavior.

45. The Fogg Behavior Model is represented in the formula B = MAT, which represents that a given behavior will occur when motivation, ability, and a trigger are present at the same time and in sufficient degrees.

46. Fogg states that all humans are motivated to seek pleasure and avoid pain; to seek hope and avoid fear; and finally, to seek social acceptance and avoid rejection.

47. Consequently, any technology or product that significantly reduces the steps to complete a task will enjoy high adoption rates by the people it assists.

48. Evan Williams, cofounder of Blogger, Twitter, and Medium, echoes Hauptly’s formula for innovation when he describes his own approach to building three massively successful companies: “Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time … Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.”

49. Fogg describes six “elements of simplicity”—the factors that influence a task’s difficulty. These are: 

  • Time—how long it takes to complete an action. 
  • Money—the fiscal cost of taking an action. 
  • Physical effort—the amount of labor involved in taking the action. 
  • Brain cycles—the level of mental effort and focus required to take an action. 
  • Social deviance—how accepted the behavior is by others.
  • Non-routine—according to Fogg, “How much the action matches or disrupts existing routines.”

50. The action phase of the Hooked Model incorporates Fogg’s six elements of simplicity by asking designers to consider how their technology can facilitate the simplest actions in anticipation of reward. The easier an action, the more likely the user is to do it and to continue the cycle through the next phase of the Hooked Model.

51. After uncovering the triggers that prompt user actions and deciding which actions you want to turn into habits, you can increase motivation and ability to spark the likelihood of your users taking a desired behavior. But which should you invest in first, motivation or ability? Where is your time and money better spent? The answer is always to start with ability.

52. Naturally, all three parts of B = MAT must be present for a singular user action to occur; without a clear trigger and sufficient motivation there will be no behavior. However, for companies building technology solutions, the greatest return on investment generally comes from increasing a product’s ease of use.

53. The fact is, increasing motivation is expensive and time consuming. Web site visitors tend to ignore instructional text; they are often multitasking and have little patience for explanations about why or how they should do something. Influencing behavior by reducing the effort required to perform an action is more effective than increasing someone’s desire to do it. Make your product so simple that users already know how to use it, and you’ve got a winner.

54. There are many counterintuitive and surprising ways companies can boost users’ motivation or increase their ability by understanding heuristics—the mental shortcuts we take to make decisions and form opinions.

55. The Scarcity Effect - The appearance of scarcity affected their perception of value.

56. The Framing Effect - Context also shapes perception. In a social experiment, world-class violinist Joshua Bell decided to play a free impromptu concert in a Washington, D.C., subway station. Bell regularly sells out venues such as the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall for hundreds of dollars per ticket, but when placed in the context of the D.C. subway, his music fell upon deaf ears. 

57. Almost nobody knew they were walking past one of the most talented musicians in the world. The mind takes shortcuts informed by our surroundings to make quick and sometimes erroneous judgments.

58. The Anchoring Effect - People often anchor to one piece of information when making a decision.

59. The Endowed Progress Effect - Two groups of customers were given punch cards awarding a free car wash once the cards were fully punched. One group was given a blank punch card with eight squares; the other was given a punch card with ten squares that came with two free punches. Both groups still had to purchase eight car washes to receive a free wash; however, however, the second group of customers—those that were given two free punches—had a staggering 82 percent higher completion rate.

60. The study demonstrates the endowed progress effect, a phenomenon that increases motivation as people believe they are nearing a goal.

61. The third step in the Hooked Model is the variable reward phase, in which you reward your users by solving a problem, reinforcing their motivation for the action taken in the previous phase.

62. The study revealed that what draws us to act is not the sensation we receive from the reward itself, but the need to alleviate the craving for that reward.

63. In the 1950s psychologist B. F. Skinner conducted experiments to understand how variability impacted animal behavior.

64. First, Skinner placed hungry pigeons inside a box rigged to deliver a food pellet to the birds every time they pressed a lever. Similar to Olds’s and Milner’s lab mice, the pigeons learned the cause-and-effect relationship between pressing the lever and receiving the food.

65. In the next part of the experiment Skinner added variability. Instead of providing a pellet every time a pigeon tapped the lever, the machine discharged food after a random number of taps. Sometimes the lever dispensed food, other times not. Skinner revealed that the intermittent reward dramatically increased the number of times the pigeons tapped the lever. Adding variability increased the frequency of the pigeons’ completing the intended action.

66. Variable rewards can be found in all sorts of products and experiences that hold our attention. They fuel our drive to check e-mail, browse the web, or bargain-shop. I propose that variable rewards come in three types: the tribe, the hunt, and the self.

67. Rewards of the Tribe - We are a species that depends on one another. Rewards of the tribe, or social rewards, are driven by our connectedness with other people. Our brains are adapted to seek rewards that make us feel accepted, attractive, important, and included.

68. Sites that leverage tribal rewards benefit from what psychologist Albert Bandura called “social learning theory.”8 Bandura studied the power of modeling and ascribed special powers to our ability to learn from others. In particular Bandura determined that people who observe someone being rewarded for a particular behavior are more likely to alter their own beliefs and subsequent actions.

69. Here are some online examples of rewards of the tribe:

  • “Likes” and comments offer tribal validation for those who shared the content, and provide variable rewards that motivate them to continue posting.
  • Stack Overflow devotees write responses in anticipation of rewards of the tribe. Each time a user submits an answer, other members have the opportunity to vote the response up or down. The best responses percolate upward, accumulating points for their authors
  • League of Legends, a popular computer game, launched in 2009 and quickly achieved tremendous success. Soon after its launch, however, the game’s owners found they had a serious problem: The online video game was filled with “trolls”—people who enjoyed bullying other players while being protected by the anonymity the game provides. To combat the trolls, the game creators designed a reward system leveraging Bandura’s social learning theory, which they called Honor Points. The number of points earned was highly variable and could only be conferred by other players. Honor Points soon became a coveted marker of tribe-conferred status and helped weed out trolls by signaling to others which players should be avoided.

70. The need to acquire physical objects, such as food and other supplies that aid our survival, is part of our brain’s operating system.

71. Here are a few examples of products that create habits by leveraging rewards of the hunt:

  • Slot machines provide a classic example of variable rewards of the hunt. Gamblers plunk $1 billion per day into slot machines in American casinos, which is a testament to the machines’ power to compel players.16 By awarding money in random intervals, games of chance entice players with the prospect of a jackpot. Naturally, winning is entirely outside the gambler’s control—yet the pursuit can be intoxicating.
  • The Twitter timeline, for example, is filled with a mix of both mundane and relevant content. This variety creates an enticingly unpredictable user experience. On occasion a user might find a particularly interesting piece of news, while other times she won’t. To keep hunting for more information, all that is needed is a flick of the finger or scroll of a mouse. Users scroll and scroll and scroll to search for variable rewards in the form of relevant tweets.

72. We are driven to conquer obstacles, even if just for the satisfaction of doing so. Pursuing a task to completion can influence people to continue all sorts of behaviors.

73. Surprisingly, we even pursue these rewards when we don’t outwardly appear to enjoy them. For example, watching someone investing countless hours into completing a tabletop puzzle can reveal frustrated face contortions and even sounds of muttered profanity.

74. The rewards of the self are fueled by “intrinsic motivation” as highlighted by the work of Edward Deci and Richard Ryan. Their self-determination theory espouses that people desire, among other things, to gain a sense of competency. Adding an element of mystery to this goal makes the pursuit all the more enticing.

75. Rewards of the self are a defining component in video games, as players seek to master the skills needed to pursue their quest. Leveling up, unlocking special powers, and other game mechanics fulfill a player’s desire for competency by showing progression

76. Variable rewards are not magic fairy dust that a product designer can sprinkle onto a product to make it instantly more attractive. Rewards must fit into the narrative of why the product is used and align with the user's internal triggers and motivations. They must ultimately improve the user's life.

77. To change behavior, products must ensure the users feel in control. People must want to use the service, not feel they have to.

78. Experiences with finite variability become less engaging because they eventually become predictable.

79. For example, games played to completion offer finite variability, while those played with other people have higher degrees of infinite variability because the players themselves alter the gameplay throughout.

80. The more users invest time and effort into a product or service, the more they value it. In fact, there is ample evidence to suggest that our labor leads to love.

81. The more effort we put into something, the more likely we are to value it; we are more likely to be consistent with our past behaviours; and finally, we change our preferences to avoid cognitive dissonance.

82. The last step of the Hooked Model is the investment phase, the point at which users are asked to do a bit of work. Here, users are prompted to put something of value into the system, which increase the likelihood of their using the product and of successive passes through the cycle.

83. Unlike in the action phase of the Hook, investments are about the anticipation of longer-term rewards, not immediate gratification.

84.In Twitter, for example, the investment comes in the form of following another user. There is no immediate reward for following someone, no stars or badges to affirm the action. Following is an investment in the service, which increases the likelihood of the user checking Twitter in the future.

85. Also in contrast to the action phase, the investment phase increase friction. This certainly breaks conventional thinking in the product design community that all user experiences should be as easy and effortless as possible. In the investment phase, however, asking users to do a bit of work comes after users have received variables rewards, not before. The timing of asking for user investment is critically important. 

86. The collection of memories and experiences, in aggregate, becomes more valuable over time and the service becomes harder to leave as users' personal investment in the site grows.

87. The company found that the more information users invested in the site, the more committed they became to it.

88. Reputation makes users, both buyers and sellers, more likely to stick with whichever service they have invested their efforts in to maintain a high-quality score.

89. Investing time and effort into learning to use a product is a form of investment and stored value. Once a user has acquired a skill, using the service becomes easier.

90. Once users have invested the effort to acquire a skill, they are less likely to switch to a competing product.

91. I recommend that you progressively stage the investment you want from users into small chucks of work, starting with small, easy tasks and building up to harder tasks during successive cycles through the Hooked Model.

92. Users set future triggers during the investment phase, providing companies with an opportunity to reengage the user.

93. You are now equipped to use the Hooked Model to ask yourself these fundamental questions for building effective hooks:

What do users really want? What pain is your product relieving? (Internal trigger) 

What brings users to your service? (External trigger) 

What is the simplest action users take in anticipation of reward, and how can you simplify your product to make this action easier? (Action) A

re users fulfilled by the reward yet left wanting more? (Variable reward) What “bit of work” do users invest in your product? 

Does it load the next trigger and store value to improve the product with use? (Investment)

94. Creating a product that the designer does not believe improves users' lives and that he himself would not use is called exploitation.

95. Start-ups are grueling and only the most fortunate persevere before finding success. If you only build for fame or fortune, you will likely find neither. Build for meaning, though, and you can’t go wrong.

96. The Hooked Model can be a helpful tool for filtering out bad ideas with low habit potential as well as a framework for identifying room for improvement in existing products.

97. Building a habit-forming product is an iterative process and requires user-bebavior analysis and continuous experimentation.

98. Habit Testing offers insights and actionable data to inform the design of habit-forming products. It helps clarify who your devotees are, what parts(if any) of your product are habit forming, and why those aspects of your product are changing user behavior.

99. Habit Testing:

  • Step 1 - Identify. First define what it means to be a devoted user. How often "should" one use your product? Publicly available data from similar products or solutions can help define your users and engagement targets. Educated assumptions must be made if data is not available.
  • Step 2 -Codify. Atleast 5% of your users should be habitual users initially. Once your exceed this bar, the next step is to codify the steps they took using your product to understand what hooked them. You are looking for a Habit Path -- a series of similar actions shared by your most loyal users. For example, in its early days, Twitter discovered that once new users followed thirty other members, they hit a tipping point that dramatically increased the odds they would keep using the site.
  • Step 3 - Modify. Armed with new insights, it is time to revisit your product and identify ways to nudge new users down the same Habit Path taken by devotees.

100. Identifying areas where a new technology makes cycling through the Hooked Model faster, more frequent, or more rewarding provides fertile ground for developing new habit-forming products.


Summary : Contagious by Jonah Berger

1.One reason some products and ideas become popular is that they are just plain better. We tend to prefer websites that are easier to use, drugs that are more effective, and scientific theories that are true rather than false. So when something comes along that offers better functionality or does a better job, people tend to switch to it. Remember how bulky televisions or computer monitors used to be? They were so heavy and cumbersome that you had to ask a couple of friends (or risk a strained back) to carry one up a flight of stairs. One reason flat screens took off was that they were better. Not only did they offer larger screens, but they weighed less. No wonder they became popular.

2. Another reason products catch on is attractive pricing. Not surprisingly, most people prefer paying less rather than more.

3. Advertising also plays a role. Consumers need to know about something before they can buy it. So people tend to think that the more they spend on advertising, the more likely something will become popular. Want to get people to eat more vegetables? Spending more on ads should increase the number of people who hear your message and buy broccoli.

4. But although quality, price, and advertising contribute to products and ideas being successful, they don’t explain the whole story.

5. People share more than 16,000 words per day and every hour there are more than 100 million conversations about brands.

6. Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.

7. In fact, while traditional, advertising is still useful, word of mouth from everyday Joes and Janes is at least ten times more effective.

8. Word of mouth tends to reach people who are actually interested in the thing being discussed. No wonder customers referred by their friends spend more, shop faster, and are more profitable overall.

9. Research by the Keller Fay Group finds that only 7 percent of word of mouth happens online.

10. Fifty percent of YouTube videos have fewer than five hundred views. Only one-third of 1 percent get more than 1 million.

11. Further, by focusing so much on the messenger, we’ve neglected a much more obvious driver of sharing: the message. To use an analogy, think about jokes. We all have friends who are better joke tellers than we are. Whenever they tell a joke the room bursts out laughing. But jokes also vary. Some jokes are so funny that it doesn’t matter who tells them. Everyone laughs even if the person sharing the joke isn’t all that funny. 

12. Contagious content is like that—so inherently viral that it spreads regardless of who is doing the talking. Regardless of whether the messengers are really persuasive or not and regardless of whether they have ten friends or ten thousand.

13. After analyzing hundreds of contagious messages, products, and ideas, we noticed that the same six “ingredients,” or principles, were often at work. Six key STEPPS, as I call them, that cause things to be talked about, shared, and imitated.

14. Principle 1: Social Currency - How does it make people look to talk about a product or idea? Most people would rather look smart than dumb, rich than poor, and cool than geeky.

15. So to get people talking we need to craft messages that help them achieve these desired impressions. We need to find our inner remarkability and make people feel like insiders.

16. Principle 2: Triggers - How do we remind people to talk about our products and ideas? Triggers are stimuli that prompt people to think about related things.

17. People often talk about whatever comes to mind, so the more often people think about a product or idea, the more it will be talked about. We need to design products and ideas that are frequently triggered by the environment and create new triggers by linking our products and ideas to prevalent cues in that environment. Top of mind leads to tip of tongue.

18. Principle 3: Emotion - Naturally contagious content usually evokes some sort of emotion. Blending an iPhone is surprising. A potential tax hike is infuriating. Emotional things often get shared.

19. Principle 4: Public Can people see when others are using our product or engaging in our desired behavior? The famous phrase “Monkey see, monkey do” captures more than just the human tendency to imitate. It also tells us that it’s hard to copy something you can’t see. Making things more observable makes them easier to imitate, which makes them more likely to become popular.

20. Principle 5: Practical Value How can we craft content that seems useful? People like to help others, so if we can show them how our products or ideas will save time, improve health, or save money, they’ll spread the word.

21. Principle 6: Stories What broader narrative can we wrap our idea in? People don’t just share information, they tell stories. But just like the epic tale of the Trojan Horse, stories are vessels that carry things such as morals and lessons.

22. These are the six principles of contagiousness: products or ideas that contain Social Currency and are Triggered, Emotional, Public, Practically Valuable, and wrapped into Stories.

23. Word of mouth, then, is a prime tool for making a good impression—as potent as that new car or Prada handbag. Think of it as a kind of currency. Social currency. Just as people use money to buy products or services, they use social currency to achieve desired positive impressions among their families, friends, and colleagues.

24. Give people a way to make themselves look good while promoting their products and ideas along the way. There are three ways to do that: (1) find inner remarkability; (2) leverage game mechanics; and (3) make people feel like insiders.

25. Remarkable things are defined as unusual, extraordinary, or worthy of notice or attention. Something can be remarkable because it is novel, surprising, extreme, or just plain interesting. But the most important aspect of remarkable things is that they are worthy of remark. Worthy of mention. Learning that a ball of glass will bounce higher than a ball of rubber is just so noteworthy that you have to mention it.

26. Remarkable things provide social currency because they make the people who talk about them seem, well, more remarkable.

27. One way to generate surprise is by breaking a pattern people have come to expect.

28. People don’t just care about how they are doing, they care about their performance in relation to others.

29. Game mechanics help generate social currency because doing well makes us look good. People love boasting about the things they’ve accomplished: their golf handicaps, how many people follow them on Twitter, or their kids’ SAT scores.

30. Leveraging game mechanics also involves helping people publicize their achievements. Sure, someone can talk about how well she did, but it’s even better if there is a tangible, visible symbol that she can display to others. Foursquare, the location-based social networking website, lets users check in at bars, restaurants, and other locations using their mobile devices.

31. Effective status systems are easy to understand, even by people who aren’t familiar with the domain.

32. Giving awards works on a similar principle. Recipients of awards love boasting about them—it gives them the opportunity to tell others how great they are. But along the way they have to mention who gave them the award.

33. Word of mouth can also come from the voting process itself. Deciding the winner by popular vote encourages contestants to drum up support. But in telling people to vote for them, contestants also spread awareness about the product, brand, or initiative sponsoring the contest. Instead of marketing itself directly, the company uses the contest to get people who want to win to do the marketing themselves.

34. Scarcity is about how much of something is offered. Scarce things are less available because of high demand, limited production, or restrictions on the time or place you can acquire them.

35. Exclusivity is also about availability, but in a different way. Exclusive things are accessible only to people who meet particular criteria.

36. Scarcity and exclusivity help products catch on by making them seem more desirable.

37. Scarcity and exclusivity boost word of mouth by making people feel like insiders. If people get something not everyone else has, it makes them feel special, unique, high status.

38. If word-of-mouth pundits agree on anything, it’s that being interesting is essential if you want people to talk. Most buzz marketing books will tell you that. So will social media gurus.

39. Unfortunately, he’s wrong. And so is everyone else who subscribes to the interest-is-king theory. And lest you think this contradicts what we talked about in the previous chapter about Social Currency, read on. People talk about Cheerios more than Disney World. The reason? Triggers. 

40. Interesting products didn’t receive any more word of mouth than boring ones.

41. Sights, smells, and sounds can trigger related thoughts and ideas, making them more top of mind. A hot day might trigger thoughts about climate change. Seeing a sandy beach in a travel magazine might trigger thoughts of Corona beer.

42. But triggers can also be indirect. Seeing a jar of peanut butter not only triggers us to think about peanut butter, it also makes us think about its frequent partner, jelly. Triggers are like little environmental reminders for related concepts and ideas.

43. More frequently triggered products got 15 percent more word of mouth. Even mundane products like Ziploc bags and moisturizer received lots of buzz because people were triggered to think about them so frequently.

44. So rather than just going for a catchy message, consider the context. Think about whether the message will be triggered by the everyday environments of the target audience.

45. The more the desired behavior happens after a delay, the more important being triggered becomes.

46. One product that used triggers brilliantly is Kit Kat. “Give me a break, give me a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar!” Introduced in the United States in 1986, the Kit Kat tune is one of the most iconic jingles ever made.

47. Products and ideas also have habitats, or sets of triggers that cause people to think about them.

48. Competitors can even be used as a trigger. by making a rival’s message act as a trigger for your own.

49. A famous antismoking campaign, for example, spoofed Marlboro’s iconic ads by captioning a picture of one Marlboro cowboy talking to another with the words: “Bob, I’ve got emphysema.” So now whenever people see a Marlboro ad, it triggers them to think about the antismoking message.

50. Researchers call this strategy the poison parasite because it slyly injects “poison” (your message) into a rival’s message by making it a trigger for your own.

51. Triggers can help products and ideas catch on, but some stimuli are better triggers than others. The more things a given cue is associated with, the weaker any given association.

52. Triggers work the same way. The color red, for example, is associated with many things: roses, love, Coca-Cola, and fast cars, to name just a few. As a result of being ubiquitous, it’s not a particularly strong trigger for any of these ideas.

53. Compare that with how many people think “jelly” when you say “peanut butter” and it will be clear why stronger, more unusual links are better. Linking a product or idea with a stimulus that is already associated with many things isn’t as effective as forging a fresher, more original link.

54. It is also important to pick triggers that happen near where the desired behavior is taking place.

55. Triggers and cues lead people to talk, choose, and use. Social currency gets people talking, but Triggers keep them talking. Top of mind means tip of tongue.

56. As we expected, both characteristics influenced sharing. More interesting articles were 25 percent more likely to make the Most E-Mailed list. More useful articles were 30 percent more likely to make the list.

57. Sadder articles were actually 16 percent less likely to make the Most E-Mailed list. Something about sadness was making people less likely to share. What?

58. More recently, however, psychologists have argued that emotions can also be classified based on a second dimension. That of activation, or physiological arousal.

59. Arousal is a state of activation and readiness for action. The heart beats faster and blood pressure rises. Evolutionarily, it comes from our ancestors’ reptilian brains. Physiological arousal motivates a fight-or-flight response that helps organisms catch food or flee from predators.

60. Some emotions, like anger and anxiety, are high-arousal. When we’re angry we yell at customer service representatives. When we’re anxious we check and recheck

61. things. Positive emotions also generate arousal. Take excitement. When we feel excited we want to do something rather than sit still. The same is true for awe. When inspired by awe we can’t help wanting to tell people what happened. Other emotions, however, have the opposite effect: they stifle action. Take sadness. Whether dealing with a tough breakup or the death of a beloved pet, sad people tend to power down.

62. In their wonderful book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath talk about using the “Three Whys” to find the emotional core of an idea. Write down why you think people are doing something. Then ask “Why is this important?” three times. Each time you do this, note your answer, and you’ll notice that you drill down further and further toward uncovering not only the core of an idea, but the emotion behind it.

63. And it did. Among students who had been instructed to jog, 75 percent shared the article—more than twice as many as the students who had been in the “relaxed” group. Thus any sort of arousal, whether from emotional or physical sources, and even arousal due to the situation itself (rather than content), can boost transmission.

64. A key factor in driving products to catch on is public visibility. If something is built to show, it’s built to grow.

65. Observable things are also more likely to be discussed. Ever walked into someone’s office or home and inquired about a weird paperweight on the desk or a colorful art print on the living room wall?

66. The more public a product or service is, the more it triggers people to take action. So how can products or ideas be made more publicly observable?

67. One way to make things more public is to design ideas that advertise themselves.

68. Every time current Hotmail customers sent an e-mail, they also sent prospective customers a bit of social proof—an implicit endorsement for this previously unknown service. And it worked. In a little over a year Hotmail signed up more than 8.5 million subscribers. Soon after, Microsoft bought the burgeoning service for $400 million. Since then more than 350 million users have signed up.

69. Take Apple’s decision to make iPod headphones white. But because most devices came with black headphones, Apple’s white headphone cords stood out. By advertising themselves, the headphones made it easy to see how many other people were switching away from the traditional Walkman and adopting the iPod. This was visible social proof that suggested the iPod was a good product and made potential adopters feel more comfortable about purchasing it as well.

70. Designing products that advertise themselves is a particularly powerful strategy for small companies or organizations that don’t have a lot of resources.

71. But sharing something useful with others is a quick and easy way to help them out. Even if we’re not in the same place. Parents can send their kids helpful advice even if they are hundreds of miles away. Passing along useful things also strengthens social bonds.

72. If Social Currency is about information senders and how sharing makes them look, Practical Value is mostly about the information receiver. It’s about saving people time or money, or helping them have good experiences.

73. One of the main tenets of prospect theory is that people don’t evaluate things in absolute terms. They evaluate them relative to a comparison standard, or “reference point.”

74. The prices of the dresses were the same in both versions of the catalog. So using the word “sale” beside a price increased sales even though the price itself stayed the same.

75. Another tenet of prospect theory is something called “diminishing sensitivity.”

76. While almost everyone is willing to endure the drive for the cheaper clock radio, almost no one is willing to do it when buying a TV. Why? Diminishing sensitivity reflects the idea that the same change has a smaller impact the farther it is from the reference point.

77. As prospect theory illustrates, one key factor in highlighting incredible value is what people expect. Promotional offers that seem surprising or surpass expectations are more likely to be shared.

78. Another factor that affects whether deals seem valuable is their availability. Somewhat counterintuitively, making promotions more restrictive can actually make them more effective.

79. But offers that are available for only a limited time seem more appealing because of the restriction. Just like making a product scarce, the fact that a deal won’t be around forever makes people feel that it must be a really good one.

80. Researchers find that whether a discount seems larger as money or percentage off depends on the original price. For low-priced products, like books or groceries, price reductions seem more significant when they are framed in percentage terms. Twenty percent off that $25 shirt seems like a better deal than $5 off. For high-priced products, however, the opposite is true.

81. A simple way to figure out which discount frame seems larger is by using something called the Rule of 100. If the product’s price is less than $100, the Rule of 100 says that percentage discounts will seem larger. For a $30 T-shirt or a $15 entrée, even a $3 discount is still a relatively small number. But percentagewise (10 percent or 20 percent), that same discount looks much bigger.

82. Useful information, then, is another form of practical value. Helping people do things they want to do, or encouraging them to do things they should do. Faster, better, and easier.

83. So while broadly relevant content could be shared more, content that is obviously relevant to a narrow audience may actually be more viral.

84. Of the six principles of contagiousness that we discuss in the book, Practical Value may be the easiest to apply.

85. Virality is most valuable when the brand or product benefit is integral to the story. When it’s woven so deeply into the narrative that people can’t tell the story without mentioning it.

86. Sure, you can make your narrative funny, surprising, or entertaining. But if people don’t connect the content back to you, it’s not going to help you very much. Even if it goes viral.

87. Using scarcity and exclusivity early on and then relaxing the restrictions later is a particularly good way to build demand.

Notes : The Willpower Instinct by Kelly McGonigal

1. The best way to improve your self-control is to see how and why you lose control. Knowing how you are likely to give in doesn’t, as many people fear, set yourself up for failure. It allows you to support yourself and avoid the traps that lead to willpower failures. Research shows that people who think they have the most willpower are actually the most likely to lose control when tempted.

2. Willpower is about harnessing the three powers of I will, I won’t, and I want to help you achieve your goals (and stay out of trouble).

3. In other words, when Gage lost his prefrontal cortex, he lost his will power, his won’t power, and his want power. i.e. The Preforntal Cortex is what gives us the ability to control ourselves.

4. Most of us don’t have to worry about ill-timed railroad explosions robbing us of our self-control, but we all have a little Phineas Gage in us. The prefrontal cortex is not always as reliable as we’d like. Many temporary states—like being drunk, sleep-deprived, or even just distracted—inhibit the prefrontal cortex, mimicking the brain damage that Gage sustained.

5. Some neuroscientists go so far as to say that we have one brain but two minds—or even, two people living inside our mind. There’s the version of us that acts on impulse and seeks immediate gratification, and the version of us that controls our impulses and delays gratification to protect our long-term goals. They’re both us, but we switch back and forth between these two selves. Sometimes we identify with the person who wants to lose weight, and sometimes we identify with the person who just wants the cookie.

6. Baba Shiv, a professor of marketing at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, has shown that people who are distracted are more likely to give in to temptations. For example, students trying to remember a telephone number are 50 percent more likely to choose chocolate cake over fruit at a snack cart. Distracted shoppers are more susceptible to in-store promotions, and more likely to go home with items not on their shopping lists.

7. Or you could do something a lot simpler and less painful: meditate. Neuroscientists have discovered that when you ask the brain to meditate, it gets better not just at meditating, but at a wide range of self-control skills, including attention, focus, stress management, impulse control, and selfawareness. People who meditate regularly aren’t just better at these things. Over time, their brains become finely tuned willpower machines. Regular meditators have more gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, as well as regions of the brain that support self-awareness.

8. One study found that just three hours of meditation practice led to improved attention and self-control. After eleven hours, researchers could see those changes in the brain. The new meditators had increased neural connections between regions of the brain important for staying focused, ignoring distractions, and controlling impulses. Another study found that eight weeks of daily meditation practice led to increased self-awareness in everyday life, as well as increased gray matter in corresponding areas of the brain.

9. “What was my body doing?” Science is discovering that self-control is a matter of physiology, not just psychology.

10. The good news is that you can learn to shift your physiology into that state when you need your willpower the most. You can also train the body’s capacity to stay in this state, so that when temptation strikes, your instinctive response is one of self-control.

11. While your body was getting ready to defend your life, the alarm system in your brain was busy trying to make sure that you didn’t get in the body’s way. It focused your attention and senses on the saber-toothed tiger and your surroundings, making sure no stray thoughts distracted you from the threat at hand. The alarm system also prompted a complex change in brain chemicals that inhibited your prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain in charge of impulse control. That’s right, the fight-or-flight response wants to make you more impulsive. The rational, wise, and deliberative prefrontal cortex is effectively put to sleep—the better to make sure you don’t chicken out or overthink your escape. Speaking of escape, I’d say your best bet in this situation is to start running. Now.

12. Suzanne Segerstrom, a psychologist at the University of Kentucky, studies how states of mind like stress and hope influence the body. She has found that, just like stress, self-control has a biological signature.

13. Segerstrom calls those changes the pause-and-plan response, which couldn’t look more different from the fight-or-flight response.

14. Your instincts are pushing you toward a potentially bad decision. What’s needed, therefore, is protection of yourself by yourself. This is what self-control is all about. The most helpful response will be to slow you down, not speed you up (as a fight-or-flight response does). And this is precisely what the pause-and-plan response does. The perception of an internal conflict triggers changes in the brain and body that help you slow down and control your impulses.

15. The single best physiological measurement of the pause-and-plan response is something called heart rate variability—a measurement most people have never heard of, but one that provides an amazing window into the body’s state of stress or calm.

16. Heart rate variability is such a good index of willpower that you can use it to predict who will resist temptation, and who will give in.

17. Studies also show that people with higher heart rate variability are better at ignoring distractions, delaying gratification, and dealing with stressful situations.

18. You won’t find many quick fixes in this book, but there is one way to immediately boost willpower: Slow your breathing down to four to six breaths per minute. That’s ten to fifteen seconds per breath—slower than you normally breathe, but not difficult with a little bit of practice and patience. Slowing the breath down activates the prefrontal cortex and increases heart rate variability, which helps shift the brain and body from a state of stress to self-control mode. A few minutes of this technique will make you feel calm, in control, and capable of handling cravings or challenges.

19. Heart rate variability steadily increases as your breathing rate drops below twelve per minute.

20. One study found that a daily twenty-minute practice of slowed breathing increased heart rate variability and reduced cravings and depression among adults recovering from substance abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder.

21. Exercise turns out to be the closest thing to a wonder drug that self-control scientists have discovered. For starters, the willpower benefits of exercise are immediate. Fifteen minutes on a treadmill reduces cravings, as seen when researchers try to tempt dieters with chocolate and smokers with cigarettes. The long-term effects of exercise are even more impressive. It not only relieves ordinary, everyday stress, but it’s as powerful an antidepressant as Prozac. Working out also enhances the biology of self-control by increasing baseline heart rate variability and training the brain.

22. If you are surviving on less than six hours of sleep a night, there’s a good chance you don’t even remember what it’s like to have your full willpower. Being mildly but chronically sleep deprived makes you more susceptible to stress, cravings, and temptation. It also makes it more difficult to control your emotions, focus your attention, or find the energy to tackle the big “I will” power challenges.

23. The good news is, all of this is reversible. When the sleep-deprived catch a better night’s sleep, their brain scans no longer show signs of prefrontal cortex impairment. In fact, they look just like the brains of the well-rested.

24. In one study, five minutes of breath-focus meditation a day helped recovering addicts fall asleep. This added one hour a night to their quality sleep time, which in turn significantly reduced the risk of drug use relapse. So for better willpower, go to sleep already.

25. This may seem to work in the short term, but in the long term, nothing drains willpower faster than stress. The biology of stress and the biology of self-control are simply incompatible. Both the fight-or-flight and pause-and-plan responses are about energy management, but they redirect your energy and attention in very different ways. The fight-or-flight response floods the body with energy to act instinctively, and steals it from the areas of the brain needed for wise decision making.

26. Welcome to one of the most robust, if troubling, findings from the science of self-control: People who use their willpower seem to run out of it. Smokers who go without a cigarette for twenty-four hours are more likely to binge on ice cream. Drinkers who resist their favorite cocktail become physically weaker on a test of endurance. Perhaps most disturbingly, people who are on a diet are more likely to cheat on their spouse. It’s as if there’s only so much willpower to go around. Once exhausted, you are left defenseless against temptation—or at least disadvantaged.

27. Researchers have found that self-control is highest in the morning and steadily deteriorates over the course of the day. By the time you get to the stuff that really matters to you, like going to the gym after work, tackling the big project, keeping your cool when your kids turn the couch into a finger paint masterpiece, or staying away from the emergency pack of cigarettes stashed in your drawer, you may find yourself out of willpower.

28. The more a person’s blood sugar dropped after a self-control task, the worse his performance on the next task. It appeared as if self-control was draining the body of energy, and this energy loss was weakening self-control.

29. Low blood sugar levels turn out to predict a wide range of willpower failures, from giving up on a difficult test to lashing out at others when you’re angry. Gailliot, now a professor at Zirve University in Turkey, has found that people with low blood sugar are also more likely to rely on stereotypes and less likely to donate money to charity or help a stranger. It is as if running low on energy biases us to be the worst versions of ourselves. In contrast, giving participants a sugar boost turns them back into the best versions of themselves: more persistent and less impulsive; more thoughtful and less selfish.

30. Other studies have found that committing to any small, consistent act of self-control—improving your posture, squeezing a handgrip every day to exhaustion, cutting back on sweets, and keeping track of your spending—can increase overall willpower.

31. The widely observed scientific finding that self-control is limited may reflect people’s beliefs about willpower, not their true physical and mental limits.

32. When your willpower is running low, find renewed strength by tapping into your want power. For your biggest willpower challenge, consider the following motivations: 

  1. How will you benefit from succeeding at this challenge? What is the payoff for you personally? Greater health, happiness, freedom, financial security, or success? 
  2. Who else will benefit if you succeed at this challenge? Surely there are others who depend on you and are affected by your choices. How does your behavior influence your family, friends, coworkers, employees or employer, and community? How would your success help them? 
  3. Imagine that this challenge will get easier for you over time if you are willing to do what is difficult now. Can you imagine what your life will be like, and how you will feel about yourself, as you make progress on this challenge? Is some discomfort now worth it if you know it is only a temporary part of your progress?

33. Ayelet Fishbach, professor at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, and Ravi Dhar, professor at the Yale School of Management, have shown that making progress on a goal motivates people to engage in goal-sabotaging behavior.

34. The problem with progress is how it makes us feel—and even then, it’s only a problem if we listen to the feeling instead of sticking to our goals. Progress can be motivating, and even inspire future self-control, but only if you view your actions as evidence that you are committed to your goal. In other words, you need to look at what you have done and conclude that you must really care about your goal, so much so that you want to do even more to reach it. This perspective is easy to adopt; it’s just not our usual mindset. More typically, we look for the reason to stop.

35. How do you focus on commitment instead of progress? A study by researchers at Hong Kong University of Science and the University of Chicago provides one strategy. When they asked students to remember a time they turned down a temptation, moral licensing ensued, and 70 percent took the next opportunity to indulge. But when they also asked the participants to remember why they had resisted, the licensing effect disappeared—69 percent resisted temptation.

36. We wrongly but persistently expect to make different decisions tomorrow than we do today. I’ll smoke this one cigarette, but starting tomorrow, I’m done. I’ll skip the gym today, but I’m sure I’ll go tomorrow. I’ll splurge on holiday gifts, but then no more shopping for at least three months.

37. Behavioral economist Howard Rachlin proposes an interesting trick for overcoming the problem of always starting a change tomorrow. When you want to change a behavior, aim to reduce the variability in your behavior, not the behavior itself. He has shown that smokers asked to try to smoke the same number of cigarettes every day gradually decrease their overall smoking—even when they are explicitly told not to try to smoke less.

38. How does the reward system compel us to act? When the brain recognizes an opportunity for reward, it releases a neurotransmitter called dopamine. Dopamine tells the rest of the brain what to pay attention to and what to get our greedy little hands on. A dopamine rush doesn’t create happiness itself —the feeling is more like arousal. We feel alert, awake, and captivated.

39. When dopamine is released by one promise of reward, it also makes you more susceptible to any other kind of temptation. For example, erotic images make men more likely to take financial risks, and fantasizing about winning the lottery leads people to overeat—two ways daydreaming about unattainable rewards can get you into trouble. High levels of dopamine amplify the lure of immediate gratification, while making you less concerned about long-term consequences.

40. The reward system of the brain also responds to novelty and variety. Your dopamine neurons eventually become less responsive to familiar rewards, even ones you really enjoy, whether it’s a daily mocha latte or the same old lunch special. It’s not a coincidence that places like Starbucks and Jack in the Box are constantly introducing new variations of the standard fare, and clothing retailers roll out new color choices for their wardrobe basics. Regular cup of joe?

41. Businesses also use smells to manufacture desire where none existed. An appetizing odor is one of the fastest ways to trigger the promise of reward, and as soon as the scented molecules land on your olfactory receptors, the brain will begin searching for the source.

42. The promise of reward has even been used to help people overcome addiction. One of the most effective intervention strategies in alcohol and drug recovery is something called the fish bowl. Patients who pass their drug tests win the opportunity to draw a slip of paper out of a bowl. About half of these slips have a prize listed on them, ranging in value from $1 to $20. Only one slip has a big prize, worth $100. Half of the slips have no prize value at all—instead, they say, “Keep up the good work.” This means that when you reach your hand into the fish bowl, the odds are you’re going to end up with a prize worth $1 or a few kind words. This shouldn’t be motivating—but it is. In one study, 83 percent of patients who had access to fish bowl rewards stayed in treatment for the whole twelve weeks, compared with only 20 percent of patients receiving standard treatment without the promise of reward. Eighty percent of the fish bowl patients passed all their drug tests, compared with only 40 percent of the standard treatment group. When the intervention was over, the fish bowl group was also far less likely to relapse than patients who received standard treatment—even without the continued promise of reward.

43. We humans find it nearly impossible to distinguish the promise of reward from whatever pleasure or payoff we are seeking.

44. When you’re feeling down, what do you do to feel better? If you’re like most people, you turn to the promise of reward. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), the most commonly used strategies for dealing with stress are those that activate the brain’s reward system: eating, drinking, shopping, watching television, surfing the Web, and playing video games. And why not? Dopamine promises us that we’re going to feel good. It’s only natural that we turn to the biggest dopamine releasers when we want to feel better. Call it the promise of relief.

45. The brain, it turns out, is especially susceptible to temptation when we’re feeling bad. Scientists have come up with clever ways to stress out their laboratory subjects, and the results are always the same.

46. When smokers imagine a trip to the dentist, they experience off-the-chart cravings for a cigarette. When binge-eaters are told they will have to give a speech in public, they crave high-fat, sugary foods. Stressing out lab rats with unpredictable electric shocks (to the body, not the brain’s reward center!) will make them run for sugar, alcohol, heroin, or whatever reward researchers have made available in their cage. Outside the laboratory, real-world stress increases the risk of relapse among smokers, recovering alcoholics, drug addicts, and dieters.

47. Neuroscientists have shown that stress—including negative emotions like anger, sadness, self-doubt, and anxiety—shifts the brain into a reward-seeking state. You end up craving whatever substance or activity your brain associates with the promise of reward, and you become convinced that the “reward” is the only way to feel better. For example, when a cocaine addict remembers a fight with a family member or being criticized at work, his brain’s reward system becomes activated, and he experiences intense cravings for cocaine.

48. While many of the most popular stress-relief strategies fail to make us feel better, some strategies really work. According to the American Psychological Association, the most effective stress-relief strategies are exercising or playing sports, praying or attending a religious service, reading, listening to music, spending time with friends or family, getting a massage, going outside for a walk, meditating or doing yoga, and spending time with a creative hobby. (The least effective strategies are gambling, shopping, smoking, drinking, eating, playing video games, surfing the Internet, and watching TV or movies for more than two hours.) 

49. The main difference between the strategies that work and the strategies that don’t? Rather than releasing dopamine and relying on the promise of reward, the real stress relievers boost moodenhancing brain chemicals like serotonin and GABA, as well as the feel-good hormone oxytocin. They also help shut down the brain’s stress response, reduce stress hormones in the body, and induce the healing relaxation response. Because they aren’t exciting like the dopamine releasers, we tend to underestimate how good they will make us feel. And so we forget about these strategies not because they don’t work, but because when we’re stressed, our brains persistently mis-predict what will make us happy. This means that we’ll often talk ourselves out of doing the very thing that will actually make us feel better.

50. It doesn’t take planes flying into buildings to press our inner panic buttons. In fact, it doesn’t even take real deaths to set us spending—television dramas and movies can have the same effect. In one study, watching a death scene in the 1979 tearjerker film The Champ made people willing to pay three times as much for something they didn’t need (and would later regret). Importantly, the participants in this study were oblivious to the fact that watching the film had influenced what they were willing to pay.

51. Not surprisingly, people who drank too much the previous night felt worse in the morning— headaches, nausea, fatigue. But their misery wasn’t limited to hangovers. Many also felt guilty and ashamed. That’s where things get disturbing. The worse a person felt about how much they drank the night before, the more they drank that night and the next. The guilt was driving them back to the bottle. 

52. Welcome to one of the biggest threats to willpower worldwide: the “what-the-hell effect.” First coined by dieting researchers Janet Polivy and C. Peter Herman, the what-the-hell effect describes a cycle of indulgence, regret, and greater indulgence.

53. Any setback can create the same downward spiral. In one not-so-nice study, Polivy and Herman rigged a scale to make dieters think they had gained five pounds. The dieters felt depressed, guilty, and disappointed with themselves—but instead of resolving to lose the weight, they promptly turned to food to fix those feelings.

54. And yet getting rid of guilt kept the women from overindulging in the taste test. We may think that guilt motivates us to correct our mistakes, but it’s just one more way that feeling bad leads to giving in.

55. If you think that the key to greater willpower is being harder on yourself, you are not alone. But you are wrong. Study after study shows that self-criticism is consistently associated with less motivation and worse self-control. It is also one of the single biggest predictors of depression, which drains both “I will” power and “I want” power. In contrast, self-compassion—being supportive and kind to yourself, especially in the face of stress and failure—is associated with more motivation and better self-control.

56. Whether we look to economics, psychology, or neuroscience for an explanation, many of our problems with temptation and procrastination come back to one uniquely human problem: how we think about the future.

57. One reason we’re so susceptible to immediate gratification is that our brain’s reward system did not evolve to respond to future rewards. Food was the reward system’s original target, which is why humans are still exceptionally responsive to the smell or sight of anything yummy. When dopamine was first perfecting its effects in the human brain, a reward that was far off—whether by sixty miles or sixty days—was irrelevant to daily survival.

58. To delay gratification, the prefrontal cortex has to cool off the promise of reward. It’s not an impossible feat—after all, that’s what the prefrontal cortex is there for. But it has to fight a feeling that’s been known to make rats run across electrified grids and men blow their life savings on a slot machine. In other words, it’s not easy.

59. To really overwhelm our prefrontal cortex, the reward must be available now, and—for maximum effect—you need to see it. As soon as there is any distance between you and the temptation, the power of balance shifts back to the brain’s system of self-control.

60. Anything you can do to create that distance will make it easier to say no. For example, one study found that just putting a candy jar inside a desk drawer instead of on top of the desk reduced office workers’ candy consumption by one third. It isn’t any more difficult to open a drawer than to reach across a desk, but putting the candy away reduced the constant stimulation of desire. When you know your own triggers, putting them out of sight can keep them from tempting your mind.

61. Ten minutes might not seem like much time to wait for something you want, but neuroscientists have discovered that it makes a big difference in how the brain processes a reward. When immediate gratification comes with a mandatory ten-minute delay, the brain treats it like a future reward. The promise-of-reward system is less activated, taking away the powerful biological impulse to choose immediate gratification.

62. To find out, he created a measure of “future-self continuity”—the degree to which you see your future self as essentially the same person as your current self. Not everyone views the future self as a total stranger; some of us feel quite close and connected to our future selves.

63. His most recent work shows that people with low future-self continuity behave less ethically in business role-play scenarios.

64. It is as if feeling disconnected from our future selves gives us permission to ignore the consequences of our actions. In contrast, feeling connected to our future selves protects us from our worst impulses.

65.You can help yourself make wiser choices by sending yourself to the future (DeLorean not required 27 ). Below are three ideas for making the future feel real, and for getting to know your future self. Pick one that appeals to you and try it out this week. 

  1. Create a Future Memory. Neuroscientists at the University Medical Center HamburgEppendorf in Germany have shown that imagining the future helps people delay gratification. 
  2. Send a Message to Your Future Self. 
  3. Imagine Your Future Self. Studies show that imagining your future self can increase your present self ’s willpower. One experiment asked couch potatoes to imagine either a hoped-for future self who exercised regularly and enjoyed excellent health and energy, or a feared future self who was inactive and suffering the health consequences. Both visualizations got them off the couch, and they were exercising more frequently two months later than a control group that did not imagine a future self.

66. Willpower failures may be contagious, but you can also catch self-control.

67. When Christakis and Fowler looked at participants’ weight over time, they saw what looked like a real epidemic. Obesity was infectious, spreading within families and from friend to friend. When a friend became obese, a person’s own future risk of becoming obese increased by 171 percent. A woman whose sister became obese had a 67 percent increased risk, and a man whose brother became obese had a 45 percent increased risk.

68. As unsettling as it may be, the implication is clear: Both bad habits and positive change can spread from person to person like germs, and nobody is completely immune.

69. What does all this mean for your self-control? The good news is, goal contagion is limited to goals you already, at some level, share. You can’t catch a brand-new goal from a brief exposure the way you can catch a flu virus. A nonsmoker is not going to catch a nicotine craving when a friend pulls out a cigarette. But another person’s behavior can activate a goal in your mind that was not currently in charge of your choices. As we’ve seen, a willpower challenge always involves a conflict between two competing goals.

70. When we observe evidence of other people ignoring rules and following their impulses, we are more likely to give in to any of our own impulses. This means that anytime we see someone behaving badly, our own self-control deteriorates (bad news for fans of reality television, where the three rules of high ratings are: Drink too much, pick a fight, and sleep with someone else’s boyfriend). Hearing about someone cheating on their taxes might make you feel freer to cheat on your diet.

71. We may be willing to give up our vices and cultivate new virtues if we believe that it will more firmly secure us a spot in our most cherished tribe.

72. The best predictor of whether a student cheats is whether he believes other students cheat, not the severity of penalties or whether he thinks he will be caught. When students believe that their classmates cheat, a relatively honest class can become a class full of students who text their friends for answers during an exam (yes, I have caught a student trying this).

73. Look for a new “tribe” you could join. It could be a support group, a class, a local club, an online community, or even subscribing to a magazine that supports your goals. Surrounding yourself with people who share your commitment to your goals will make it feel like the norm.

74. People who imagine how proud they will feel when they accomplish a goal—from quitting smoking to donating blood—are more likely to follow through and succeed. Anticipated disapproval works too: People are more likely to use condoms when they imagine feeling ashamed if others knew that they had unprotected sex.

75. Even when shame is anticipatory, it may fail us when we need it most. When health-conscious individuals are asked to imagine a chocolate cake in front of them, and then imagine the shame they would feel if they ate it, they are less likely to (hypothetically) eat it. However, when researchers actually placed a large piece of chocolate cake from the Cheesecake Factory on the table, complete with a bottle of water, fork, and napkin, shame had the opposite effect. Only 10 percent resisted the temptation. Anticipatory shame might be able to keep you from walking into the Cheesecake Factory, but when the temptation is in front of you, it has no power over the promise of reward. Once your dopamine neurons are firing, feeling bad intensifies your desire and makes you more likely to give in.

76. Pride, on the other hand, pulls through even in the face of temptation. Forty percent of participants who imagined how proud they’d be for resisting the Cheesecake Factory cake didn’t take a single bite. One reason pride helped is that it took people’s minds off the cake. In contrast, shame paradoxically triggered anticipatory pleasure, and the participants reported more temptation-related thoughts like “It smells so good,” and “It will taste great.” Another reason boils down to biology: Laboratory studies reveal that guilt decreases heart rate variability, our physiological reserve of willpower. Pride, on the other hand, sustains and even increases this reserve.

Summary : Wanting by Luke Burgis

1.  Imitation is natural to man from childhood, one of his advantages over the lower animals being this, that he is the most imitative creature in the world. —Aristotle

2. This is a book about why people want what they want. Why you want what you want.

3. Girard discovered that most of what we desire is mimetic (mi-met-ik) or imitative, not intrinsic. Humans learn—through imitation—to want the same things other people want, just as they learn how to speak the same language and play by the same cultural rules. Imitation plays a far more pervasive role in our society than anyone had ever openly acknowledged.

4. I don’t claim that overcoming mimetic desire is possible, or even desirable. This book is primarily about growing more aware of its presence so that we can navigate it better.

5. An unbelieved truth is often more dangerous than a lie. The lie in this case is the idea that I want things entirely on my own, uninfluenced by others, that I’m the sovereign king of deciding what is wantable and what is not. The truth is that my desires are derivative, mediated by others, and that I’m part of an ecology of desire that is bigger than I can fully understand.

6. The two characters don’t even have to meet for this relationship to happen. Don Quixote, alone in his room, reads about the adventures of the famous knight Amadís de Gaula. He is inflamed with a desire to emulate him and become a knight-errant, wandering the countryside in search of opportunities to prove the virtues of chivalry.

7. In all of the books Girard taught, desire always involved an imitator and a model.

8. “Human beings fight not because they are different, but because they are the same, and in their attempts to distinguish themselves have made themselves into enemy twins, human doubles in reciprocal violence.”

9. He found that mimetic desire was closely related to violence, especially the idea of sacrifice. The biblical story of Cain and Abel is about Cain killing his brother, Abel, after his ritual sacrifice pleased God less than Abel’s. They both wanted the same thing—to win favor with God—which brought them into direct conflict with each other. In Girard’s view, the root of most violence is mimetic desire.

10. Thiel left the corporate world and co-founded Confinity with Max Levchin in 1998. He began to use his knowledge of mimetic theory to help him manage both the business and his life. When competitive rivalries flared up within his company, he gave each employee clearly defined and independent tasks so they didn’t compete with one another for the same responsibilities.

11. A company in which people are evaluated based on clear performance objectives—not their performance relative to one another—minimizes mimetic rivalries.

12. When there was risk of an all-out war with Elon Musk’s rival company, X.com, Thiel merged with him to form PayPal. He knew from Girard that when two people (or two companies) take each other as mimetic models, they enter into a rivalry for which there is no end but destruction—unless they are somehow able to see beyond the rivalry.

13. Facebook was built around identity—that is to say, desires. It helps people see what other people have and want. It is a platform for finding, following, and differentiating oneself from models.

14. Models of desire are what make Facebook such a potent drug. Before Facebook, a person’s models came from a small set of people: friends, family, work, magazines, and maybe TV. After Facebook, everyone in the world is a potential model.

15. Facebook isn’t filled with just any kind of model—most people we follow aren’t movie stars, pro athletes, or celebrities. Facebook is full of models who are inside our world, socially speaking. They are close enough for us to compare ourselves to them. They are the most influential models of all, and there are billions of them. Thiel quickly grasped Facebook’s potential power and became its first outside investor. “I bet on mimesis,” he told me. His $500,000 investment eventually yielded him over $1 billion.

16. Mimetic desire, because it is social, spreads from person to person and through a culture. It results in two different movements—two cycles—of desire.

17. The first cycle leads to tension, conflict, and volatility, breaking down relationships and causing instability and confusion as competing desires interact in volatile ways.

18. It’s possible to transcend that default cycle, though. It’s possible to initiate a different cycle that channels energy into creative and productive pursuits that serve the common good. This book will explore these two cycles. They’re fundamental to human behavior.

19. Buried in a deeper layer of our psychology is the person or thing that caused us to want something in the first place. Desire requires models—people who endow things with value for us merely because they want the things.

20. You may be wondering, then: if desire is generated and shaped by models, then where do models

21. We are tantalized by models who suggest a desire for things that we don’t currently have, especially things that appear just out of reach. The greater the obstacle, the greater the attraction. Isn’t that curious? We don’t want things that are too easily possessed or that are readily within reach. Desire leads us beyond where we currently are.

22. We are attracted to things when they are modeled to us in an attractive way, by the right model. Our universe of desire is as big or as small as our models.

23. The danger is not recognizing models for what they are. When we don’t recognize them, we are easily drawn into unhealthy relationships with them. They begin to exert an outsize influence on us. We often become fixated on them without realizing it. Models are, in many cases, a person’s secret idol.

24. Mimetic theory exposes our models and reorders our relationship with them. The first step is bringing them to light.

25. In one of his best-known experiments, conducted in 1977, he went to a hospital in Seattle (along with his co-researcher, M. Keith Moore) and stuck out his tongue at newborns. While the mean age of babies in this study was thirty-two hours, an infant as young as forty-two minutes mimicked his facial expressions, mapping onto them with surprising accuracy.

26. In the passage from childhood to adulthood, the open imitation of the infant becomes the hidden mimesis of adults. We’re secretly on the lookout for models while simultaneously denying that we need any.

27. He gave the illusion of autonomy—because that’s how people think desire works. Models are most powerful when they are hidden. If you want to make someone passionate about something, they have to believe the desire is their own.

28. NAME YOUR MODELS Naming anything—whether it’s emotions, problems, or talents—gives us more control. The same is true for models. Who are your models at work? At home? Who are the people influencing your buying decisions, your career path, your politics? Some models are easy to name. They are what we typically think of as “role models”—people or groups we find exemplary, people we want to emulate in a positive way. We’re not ashamed to acknowledge them. Others we don’t think of as models. Take fitness. A personal trainer is more than a coach—she is a model of desire. 

29. People don’t only model the desire for third parties or objects; they can also model the desire for themselves.

30. Playing hard to get is a tried-and-true method to drive people crazy, but few ever ask why. Mimetic desire provides a clue. We are fascinated with models because they show us something worth wanting that is just beyond our reach—including their affection.

31. A friend and collaborator of Girard’s, the psychoanalyst Jean-Michel Oughourlian, recommended a shocking tactic to people who came to him in his clinical practice complaining that their spouse no longer seemed interested in them: he would suggest they find someone to compete with the spouse for their time and attention. Even the remote suspicion that someone else might be competing for a spouse’s time can be enough to arouse and intensify desire.

32. Shader was caught up in a mimetic value game. The investors who modeled their own desirability—who postured as selective and demanding—took on a higher value in his mind than the one investor who didn’t.

33. Paradox of Importance: sometimes the most important things in our lives come easily—they seem like gifts—while many of the least important things are the ones that, in the end, we worked the hardest for.

34. We are generally fascinated with people who have a different relationship to desire, real or perceived. When people don’t seem to care what other people want or don’t want the same things, they seem otherworldly. They appear less affected by mimesis—anti-mimetic, even. And that’s fascinating, because most of us aren’t.

35. Nobody likes to think of themselves as imitative. We value originality and innovation. We are attracted to renegades.

36. First we’ll see how desire is affected differently by people who are at a great social distance from us (celebrities, fictional characters, historical figures, maybe even our boss) and those who are close (colleagues, friends, social media connections, neighbors, or people we meet at parties).

37. In the first situation, where there is a large difference in status, models live in a place we’ll call Celebristan. From where I stand, residents of Celebristan include Brad Pitt, LeBron James, Kim Kardashian, and the founders of unicorns (start-ups with billion-dollar valuations).

38. Celebristan is where models live who mediate—or bring about changes in our desires—from somewhere outside our social sphere, and with whom we have no immediate and direct possibility of competing on the same basis.

39. We’re more threatened by people who want the same things as us than by those who don’t. Ask yourself, honestly: whom are you more jealous of? Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world? Or someone in your field, maybe even in your office, who is as competent as you are and works the same amount of hours you do but who has a better title and makes an extra $10,000 per year? It’s probably the second person.

40. That’s because rivalry is a function of proximity. When people are separated from us by enough time, space, money, or status, there is no way to compete seriously with them for the same opportunities.

41. We don’t view models in Celebristan as threatening because they probably don’t care enough about us to adopt our desires as their own.

42. There is another world, though, where most of us live the majority of our lives. We’ll call it Freshmanistan. People are in close contact and unspoken rivalry is common.

43. In Celebristan, there is always a barrier that separates the models from their imitators.5 They might be separated from us by time (because dead), space (because they live in a different country or aren’t on social media), or social status (a billionaire, rock star, or member of a privileged class).

44. This brings us to an important feature of Celebristan models: because there’s no threat of conflict, they are generally imitated freely and openly.

45. Hierarchies in companies can create barriers to competition, making it practically impossible for some people to compete with others for the same roles and accolades.

46. In Celebristan, people don’t compete with their imitators. They may not even know they exist. This makes it a relatively peaceful place. In Freshmanistan, however, fierce competition can arise between any two people at any time.

47. Freshmanistan is the world of models who mediate desire from inside our world, which is why Girard calls them internal mediators of desire.

48. Authority is more mimetic than we like to believe. The fastest way to become an expert is to convince a few of the right people to call you an expert.

49. People worry about what other people will think before they say something—which affects what they say. In other words, our perception of reality changes reality by altering the way we might otherwise act. This leads to a self-fulfilling circularity.

50. USE IMITATION TO DRIVE INNOVATION There’s a false dichotomy between imitation and innovation. They’re part of the same process of discovery. Some of history’s most creative geniuses started off by simply imitating the right model.

51. Zappos had eliminated the management hierarchy, but they couldn’t eliminate the network of desire and the need that people have to be in relationship to models. There is always a hierarchy of desire from the perspective of an individual: some models are worth following more than others, and some things are worth wanting more than others. We are hierarchical creatures. This is why we like listicles and ratings so much. We have a need to know how things stack up, how things fit together. To remove all semblance of hierarchy is detrimental to this fundamental need.

52. “People were less secure in their jobs . . . less clear on how they could hold on to their roles and their jobs. However, you still had a few people who had infinite power because they had a strong relationship with Tony.” There was a hidden web of desire that nobody could decipher.

53. René Girard saw that for thousands of years humans have had a specific way of protecting themselves in a mimetic crisis: they converge, mimetically, on one person or group, whom they expel or eliminate. This has the effect of uniting them while providing an outlet for their violence. They protect themselves from what they want—from their mimetic desires, which have brought them into conflict with one another—by directing their desire to vanquish their rivals to a single fixed point: someone that has become a proxy for all of their enemies. Someone who is unable to fight back. A scapegoat.

54. In his study of history, Girard found that humans time and time again turned to sacrifice in order to stop the spread of mimetic conflict.5 When societies were threatened with disorder, they used violence to drive out violence. They would expel or destroy a chosen person or group, and this action would have the effect of preventing more widespread violence. Girard called the process by which this happens the scapegoat mechanism.

55. The scapegoat mechanism, he found, turns a war of all against all into a war of all against one.

56. Girard found versions of scapegoating rituals in nearly every ancient culture. The scapegoat is often chosen randomly. But the scapegoat is always perceived to be different, marked with some distinguishing feature of an outsider—something to get them noticed.

57. Scapegoats are often insiders who are perceived to violate the group’s orthodoxy or taboos. Their behavior makes them appear as a threat to the group’s unity. They come to be seen as cancers or monstrous outsiders who have violated or destroyed the social bonds that hold the group together.

58. Accusations are dangerously mimetic. The first accusation is the hardest. Why? Because there’s no model for it. Only in the light of overwhelming evidence would most of us accuse a person of something truly terrible. But in a situation of extreme fear or confusion, the standards change.

59. Author Elias Canetti, who fled Nazi Germany in the late 1930s, wrote about this phenomenon in his masterpiece, Crowds and Power, first published in 1960. “As soon as a man has surrendered himself to the crowd,” Canetti writes, “he ceases to fear its touch. Ideally, all are equal there; no distinctions count. . . . Suddenly it is as though everything were happening in one and the same body.”

60. The scapegoat mechanism is most operative at times of instability. Prior to the rise of the Nazi Party, Germany had been thrown into economic and social chaos after its loss in World War I. Other genocides—including but not limited to the Armenian, Rwandan, and Syrian genocides—also came at times of great social instability. Less conspicuous examples include single, localized incidents of scapegoating in which one person, often someone universally viewed as evil, provides a cathartic relief through his or her death or expulsion.

61. The scapegoating mechanism does not hinge on the guilt or innocence of the scapegoat. It hinges on the ability of a community to use a scapegoat to accomplish their desired outcome: unification, healing, purgation, expiation. The scapegoat serves a religious function.

62. Another distinguishing feature of scapegoats, which Girard named in his 1972 book, Violence and the Sacred, is that they are disproportionately kings or beggars—and often both at the same time.

63. “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” The words threw everything off balance. The cycle of destructive violence was knocked off its course. One by one, the men standing around the woman began dropping their stones and walking away. First one, then another, then the pace accelerated. What happened? Why was throwing the first stone so hard? Because the first stone is the only stone without a mimetic model.

64. They found that anger spreads faster than other emotions, such as joy, because anger spreads easily when there are weak ties between people—as there often are online.

65. The tactic Jesus used to prevent the stoning was depriving the crowd of a violent model and replacing it with a nonviolent model. Instead of a violent contagion taking hold, a nonviolent contagion happened instead. The first person dropped their stone. Then, one by one, the rest followed. Cycle 1, mimetic violence, was transformed into Cycle 2, a positive mimetic process.

66. Thick desires—desires that are not hyper-mimetic, desires that can form the foundation for a good life.

67. One approach I recommend for uncovering thick desires—the one I’ll focus on here—involves taking the time to listen to the most deeply fulfilling experiences of your colleagues’ (or partners’, or friends’, or classmates’) lives, and sharing your own with them.

68. A key goal of this exercise is identifying core motivational drives. A motivational drive is a specific and enduring behavioral energy that has oriented you throughout your life to achieve a distinct pattern of results.

69. “Actions follow being,” wrote Aristotle twenty-three centuries ago. He meant that a thing can only act according to what it is. We can know something about the essence of a thing based on its actions.

70. But in the case of humans, we also need insight into the interior dimension of action: What was the person’s motivation for taking it? What were the circumstances? How did the action affect them on an emotional level?

71. One organization that I’ve worked with for many years has codified common motivational patterns into an assessment (trademarked under the name the Motivation Code, or MCODE)

72. EXPLORE: People motivated to EXPLORE want to press beyond their existing limits of knowledge and experience to discover what is unknown or mysterious to them.

73. MASTER: A person motivated to MASTER wants to gain complete command of a skill, subject, procedure, technique, or process.

74. COMPREHEND AND EXPRESS: A person with this core drive wants to understand, define, and then communicate their insights in some way.

75. Cycle 2 is a positive cycle of desire. It begins when someone models a different way of being in relationship—a non-rivalrous approach, in which the imitation of desire is for a shared good that can be had in abundance.

76. If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up the men to gather wood, divide the work and give orders. Instead, teach them to yearn for the vast and endless sea. —Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

77. Leaders are intentional about helping people want more or want less or want differently than they did before.

78. Magnanimous, great-spirited leaders are driven by transcendent desire—desire that leads outward, beyond the existing paradigm, because the models are external mediators of desire. These leaders expand everyone’s universe of desire and help them explore it.

79. The passionate pursuit of truth is anti-mimetic because it strives to reach objective values, not mimetic values. Leaders who embrace and model the pursuit of truth—and who increase its speed within the organization—inoculate themselves from some of the more volatile movements of mimesis that masquerade as truth.

80. Silence is where we learn to be at peace with ourselves, where we learn the truth about who we are and what we want. If you’re not sure what you want, there’s no faster way to find out than to enter into complete silence for an extended period of time—not hours, but days.

81. In my experience, the most effective context for discerning desires is a silent retreat—ideally, at least five days (but a minimum of three) of being unplugged from all noise and screens, in a remote location, completely off the grid.

82. You can be extremely active in silence. People come from all over the world to walk the Way of Saint James (known in Spanish as the Camino de Santiago), the approximately 490-mile pilgrimage from Saint-Jean-Piedde-Port in France to Santiago de Compostela near the western coast of Spain.

83. INVEST IN DEEP SILENCE Set aside at least three consecutive days every year for a personal silent retreat. No talking, no screens, no music. Only books. Deep silence is the kind of silence you enter into when the echoes and comforts of normal noise have completely receded and you are alone with yourself. A five-day retreat is ideal because often the noise of the world doesn’t fully recede from our minds until the end of the third day (and the major benefits of the silence flow once that has happened)—but three days is a good place to start. Find a special place for it. The further you are removed from the noise of everyday life (like ambulance sirens and horns, if you live in a city), the better.

84. Mimetic desire manifests itself as the constant yearning to be someone or something else (what we called metaphysical desire). People select models because they think the models hold the key to a door that just might lead to the thing they have been looking for.

85. Taking hold of your greatest desire necessarily means taking hold of models. We can’t access our desires without models.

86. So stalk your highest and noblest desire, but you will have to find it in the form of a model. On this particular day, as you read these words, it might be a character from a book, a leader, an athlete, a saint, a sinner, a Medal of Honor winner, a love, a marriage, a heroic action, the greatest ideal you can possibly conceive.

87. LIVE AS IF YOU HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT OTHER PEOPLE WANT

88. In the meantime, and probably at all times, we have something warm to sink our teeth into: wanting what we already have.

Summary : Obesity Code By Dr. Jason Fung


1. SAM FELTHAM, A qualified master personal trainer, has worked in the U.K. health-and-fitness industry for more than a decade. Not accepting the caloric-reduction theory, he set out to prove it false, following the grand scientific tradition of self-experimentation. In a modern twist to the classic overeating experiments, Feltham decided that he would eat 5794 calories per day and document his weight gain. But the diet he chose was not a random 5794 calories. He followed a low-carbohydrate, high-fat diet of natural foods for twenty-one days.

2. Feltham believed, based on clinical experience, that refined carbohydrates, not total calories, caused weight gain. The macronutrient breakdown of his diet was 10 percent carbohydrate, 53 per cent fat and 37 per cent protein. 

3. Standard calorie calculations predicted a weight gain of about 16 pounds (7.3 kilograms). Actual weight gain, however, was only about 2.8 pounds (1.3 kilograms). Even more interesting, he dropped more than 1 inch (2.5 centimeters) from his waist measurement. He gained weight, but it was lean mass.

4. Perhaps Feltham was simply one of those genetic-lottery people who are able to eat anything and not gain weight. So, in the next experiment, Feltham abandoned the low-carb, high-fat diet. Instead, for twenty-one days, he ate 5793 calories per day of a standard American diet with lots of highly processed ‘fake’ foods. The macronutrient breakdown of his new diet was 64 per cent carbs, 22 per cent fat and 14 per cent protein—remarkably similar to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines. 

5. This time, the weight gain almost exactly mirrors that predicted by the calorie formula—15.6 pounds (7.1 kilograms). His waist size positively ballooned by 3.6 inches (9.14 centimeters). After only three weeks, Feltham was developing love handles.

6. Our bodies possess an intricate system guiding us to eat or not. Body-fat regulation is under automatic control, like breathing. We do not consciously remind ourselves to breathe, nor do we remind our hearts to beat. The only way to achieve such control is to have homeostatic mechanisms. Since hormones control both Calories In and Calories Out, obesity is a hormonal, not a caloric, disorder.

7. Reducing Calories In works only if Calories Out remains stable. What we find instead is that a sudden reduction of Calories In causes a similar reduction in Calories Out, and no weight is lost as the body balances its energy budget. Some historic experiments in calorie reduction have shown exactly this.

8. A detailed study of total energy expenditure under conditions of reduced caloric intake was done in 1919 at the Carnegie Institute of Washington. Volunteers consumed ‘semi-starvation’ diets of 1400 to 2100 calories per day, an amount calculated to be approximately 30 per cent lower than their usual intake.

9. The participants experienced a whopping 30 per cent decrease in total energy expenditure, from an initial caloric expenditure of roughly 3000 calories to approximately 1950 calories.

10. The fundamental biological principle at work here is homeostasis. There appears to be a ‘set point’ for body weight and fatness, as first proposed in 1984 by Keesey and Corbett. Homeostatic mechanisms defend this body set weight against changes, both up and down. If weight drops below body set weight, compensatory mechanisms activate to raise it. If weight goes above body set weight, compensatory mechanisms activate to lower it.

11. Insulin is a key regulator of energy metabolism, and it is one of the fundamental hormones that promote fat accumulation and storage. High insulin secretion has long been associated with obesity: Patients who use insulin regularly and physicians who prescribe it already know the awful truth: the more insulin you give, the more obesity you get. Insulin causes obesity.

12. The newest class of medication for type 2 diabetes is the SGLT-2 (sodium-glucose linked transporter) inhibitors. These drugs block the reabsorption of glucose by the kidney, so that it spills out in the urine. This lowers blood sugars, resulting in less insulin production. SGLT-2 inhibitors can lower glucose and insulin levels after a meal by as much as 35 per cent and 43 per cent respectively. But what effect do SGLT-2 inhibitors have on weight? Studies consistently show a sustained and significant weight loss in patients taking these drugs.

13. A recent study suggests that 75 per cent of the weight-loss response in obesity is predicted by insulin levels. Not willpower. Not caloric intake. Not peer support or peer pressure. Not exercise. Just insulin.

14. Highly refined carbohydrates are the most notorious foods for raising blood sugars. High blood sugars lead to high insulin levels. High insulin levels lead to weight gain and obesity. This chain of causes and effects has become known as the carbohydrate-insulin hypothesis.

15. Insulin resistance is Lex Luthor. It is the hidden force behind most of modern medicine’s archenemies, including obesity, diabetes, fatty liver, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. But while Lex Luthor is fictional, the insulin resistance syndrome, also called the metabolic syndrome, is not.

16. Reversing the high insulin levels reverses insulin resistance.

17. WHERE DOES FRUCTOSE fit in? High levels of fructose will cause fatty liver. Fatty liver is absolutely crucial to the development of insulin resistance in the liver.

18. Fiber has the ability to reduce absorption and digestion. Fiber subtracts rather than adds. In the case of sugars and insulin, this is good. Soluble fiber reduces carbohydrate absorption, which in turn reduces blood glucose and insulin levels.

19. One other traditional food may help protect against the modern evils of elevated insulin: vinegar. Two teaspoons of vinegar taken with a high-carbohydrate meal lowers blood sugar and insulin by as much as 34 per cent, and taking it just before the meal was more effective than taking it five hours before meals. The addition of vinegar for sushi rice lowered the glycemic index of white rice by almost 40 per cent.

20. All foods, not just carbohydrates, stimulate insulin. Thus, all foods can cause weight gain. Dietary fat, though, tends to have the weakest insulin-stimulating effect. The surprise here is dietary protein. The insulin response is highly variable. While vegetable proteins raise insulin minimally, whey protein and meat (including seafood) cause significant insulin secretion.

21. Substituting large amounts of lean, often processed meat for carbohydrates was not a winning strategy. Reducing sugar and white bread was good advice. But replacing them with luncheon meats was not. Furthermore, with increased meal frequency, the protection of the incretin effect was diminished.

22. Obesity is a hormonal disorder of fat regulation. Insulin is the major hormone that drives weight gain, so the rational therapy is to lower insulin levels. There are multiple ways to achieve this, and we should take advantage of each one. In the rest of this chapter, I will outline a step-by-step approach to accomplish this goal:

  • REDUCE YOUR CONSUMPTION OF ADDED SUGARS
  • DON'T SNACK
  • REDUCE YOUR CONSUMPTION OF REFINED GRAINS
  • MODERATE YOUR PROTEIN CONSUMPTION
  • INCREASE YOUR CONSUMPTION OF NATURAL FATS
  • INCREASE YOUR CONSUMPTION OF PROTECTIVE FACTORS
  • FIBER CAN REDUCE the insulin-stimulating effects of carbohydrates, making it one of the main protective factors against obesity, but the average North American diet falls far short of recommended daily intakes. Vinegar is also a protective factor. Used in many traditional foods, it may help reduce insulin spikes.

23. Two major factors maintain our insulin at a high level. The first is the foods that we eat—which are what we usually change when we go on a diet. But we fail to address the other factor: the long-term problem of insulin resistance. This problem is one of meal timing.

24. If all foods raise insulin, then the only way for us to lower it is to completely abstain from food.

25. When we talk about fasting to break insulin resistance and lose weight, we are talking about intermittent fasts of twenty-four to thirty-six hours. Fasting is the most efficient and consistent strategy to decrease insulin levels, a fact first noted decades ago.

26. Studies of eating a single meal per day found significantly more fat loss, compared to eating three meals per day, despite the same caloric intake.

27. Intermittent fasting tips 

  • Drink water: Start each morning with a full eight-ounce glass of water. 
  • Stay busy: It’ll keep your mind off food. It often helps to choose a busy day at work for a fast day. 
  • Drink coffee: Coffee is a mild appetite suppressant. Green tea, black tea and bone broth may also help. 
  • Ride the waves: Hunger comes in waves; it is not continuous. When it hits, slowly drink a glass of water or a hot cup of coffee. Often by the time you’ve finished, your hunger will have passed.
  • Don’t tell everybody you are fasting: Most people will try to discourage you, as they do not understand the benefits. A close-knit support group is beneficial, but telling everybody you know is not a good idea. 
  • Give yourself one month: It takes time for your body to get used to fasting. The first few times you fast may be difficult, so be prepared. Don’t be discouraged. It will get easier. 
  • Follow a nutritious diet on non-fast days: Intermittent fasting is not an excuse to eat whatever you like. During non-fasting days, stick to a nutritious diet low in sugars and refined carbohydrates. 
  • Don’t binge: After fasting, pretend it never happened. Eat normally, as if you had never fasted.


Summary : Breath by James Nestor

1. This book is a scientific adventure into the lost art and science of breathing. It explores the transformation that occurs inside our bodies every 3.3 seconds, the time it takes the average person to inhale and exhale.

2. Simply training yourself to breathe through your nose, Douillard reported, could cut total exertion in half and offer huge gains in endurance.

3. Egil P. Harvold’s hideous experiments in the 1970s and 80s would not go over well with PETA or with anyone who has ever really cared for animals. Working from a lab in San Francisco, he gathered a troop of rhesus monkeys and stuffed silicone deep into the nasal cavities of half of them, leaving the other half as they were.

4.The plugged-up monkeys developed the same downward growth pattern, the same narrowing of the dental arch, and gaping mouth. Harvold repeated these experiments, this time keeping animals obstructed for two years. They fared even worse. Along the way, he took a lot of pictures. The photographs are heart-wrenching, not only for the sake of the poor monkeys, but because they also offer such a clear reflection of what happens to our own species: after just a few months, faces grew long, slack-jawed, and glazed over.

5. Mouthbreathing, it turns out, changes the physical body and transforms airways, all for the worse.

6. Inhaling from the nose has the opposite effect. It forces air against all those flabby tissues at the back of the throat, making the airways wider and breathing easier. After a while, these tissues and muscles get “toned” to stay in this opened and wide position. Nasal breathing begets more nasal breathing.

7. Mouthbreathing was also making me dumber. A recent Japanese study showed that rats who had their nostrils obstructed and were forced to breathe through their mouths developed fewer brain cells and took twice as long to make their way through a maze than nasal-breathing controls. Another Japanese study in humans from 2013 found that mouthbreathing delivered a disturbance of oxygen to the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain associated with ADHD. Nasal breathing had no such effects.

8. The nose is crucial because it clears air, heats it, and moistens it for easier absorption. Most of us know this. But what so many people never consider is the nose’s unexpected role in problems like erectile dysfunction. Or how it can trigger a cavalcade of hormones and chemicals that lower blood pressure and ease digestion. How it responds to the stages of a woman’s menstrual cycle. How it regulates our heart rate, opens the vessels in our toes, and stores memories.2 How the density of your nasal hairs helps determine whether you’ll suffer from asthma.

9. The right and left nasal cavities also worked like an HVAC system, controlling temperature and blood pressure and feeding the brain chemicals to alter our moods, emotions, and sleep states.

10. The right nostril is a gas pedal. When you’re inhaling primarily through this channel, circulation speeds up, your body gets hotter, and cortisol levels, blood pressure, and heart rate all increase. This happens because breathing through the right side of the nose activates the sympathetic nervous system, the “fight or flight” mechanism that puts the body in a more elevated state of alertness and readiness. 

11. Breathing through the right nostril will also feed more blood to the opposite hemisphere of the brain, specifically to the prefrontal cortex, which has been associated with logical decisions, language, and computing.

12. Inhaling through the left nostril has the opposite effect: it works as a kind of brake system to the right nostril’s accelerator. The left nostril is more deeply connected to the parasympathetic nervous system, the rest-and-relax side that lowers blood pressure, cools the body, and reduces anxiety.

13. Left-nostril breathing shifts blood flow to the opposite side of the prefrontal cortex, to the area that influences creative thought and plays a role in the formation of mental abstractions and the production of negative emotions.

14. There are dozens of alternate nostril breathing techniques. I’ve started with the most basic. It involves placing an index finger over the left nostril and then inhaling and exhaling only through the right. I did this two dozen times after each meal today, to heat up my body and aid my digestion. Before meals, and any other time I wanted to relax, I’d switch sides, repeating the same exercise with my left nostril open. To gain focus and balance the body and mind, I followed a technique called surya bheda pranayama, which involves taking one breath into the right nostril, then exhaling through the left for several rounds.

15. Along the banks of the Upper Missouri, he happened upon the civilization of the Mandan, a mysterious tribe whose members stood six feet tall and lived in bubble-shaped houses. Many had luminous blue eyes and snow-white hair.

16. Having never seen a dentist or doctor, the tribal people had teeth that were perfectly straight—“as regular as the keys of a piano,” Catlin noted. Nobody seemed to get sick, and deformities and other chronic health problems appeared rare or nonexistent. The tribes attributed their vigorous health to a medicine, what Catlin called the “great secret of life.” The secret was breathing.

17. “The health benefits of nose breathing are undeniable,” he told me. One of the many benefits is that the sinuses release a huge boost of nitric oxide, a molecule that plays an essential role in increasing circulation and delivering oxygen into cells.40 Immune function, weight, circulation, mood, and sexual function can all be heavily influenced by the amount of nitric oxide in the body. (The popular erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil, known by the commercial name Viagra, works by releasing nitric oxide into the bloodstream, which opens the capillaries in the genitals and elsewhere.)

18. Nasal breathing alone can boost nitric oxide sixfold, which is one of the reasons we can absorb about 18 percent more oxygen than by just breathing through the mouth.

19. Mouth taping, Burhenne said, helped a five-year-old patient of his overcome ADHD, a condition directly attributed to breathing difficulties during sleep.

20. After much trial and error, I settled on 3M Nexcare Durapore “durable cloth” tape, an all-purpose surgical tape with a gentle adhesive. It was comfortable, had no chemical scent, and didn’t leave residue. In the three nights since I started using this tape, I went from snoring four hours to only ten minutes. I’d been warned by Burhenne that sleep tape won’t do anything to help treat sleep apnea. My experience suggested otherwise. As my snoring disappeared, so did apnea. I’d suffered up to two dozen apnea events in the mouthbreathing phase, but last night had zero.

21. In the 1980s, researchers with the Framingham Study, a 70-year longitudinal research program focused on heart disease, attempted to find out if lung size really did correlate to longevity. They gathered two decades of data from 5,200 subjects, crunched the numbers, and discovered that the greatest indicator of life span wasn’t genetics, diet, or the amount of daily exercise, as many had suspected. It was lung capacity.

22. Moderate exercise like walking or cycling has been shown to boost lung size by up to 15 percent.

23. And the way the body loses weight isn’t through profusely sweating or “burning it off.”6 We lose weight through exhaled breath.

24. For every ten pounds of fat lost in our bodies, eight and a half pounds of it comes out through the lungs; most of it is carbon dioxide mixed with a bit of water vapor. The rest is sweated or urinated out. This is a fact that most doctors, nutritionists, and other medical professionals have historically gotten wrong. The lungs are the weight-regulating system of the body.

25. It turns out that when breathing at a normal rate, our lungs will absorb only about a quarter of the available oxygen in the air. The majority of that oxygen is exhaled back out. By taking longer breaths, we allow our lungs to soak up more in fewer breaths.

26. It turned out that the most efficient breathing rhythm occurred when both the length of respirations and total breaths per minute were locked in to a spooky symmetry: 5.5-second inhales followed by 5.5-second exhales, which works out almost exactly to 5.5 breaths a minute.

27. Gerbarg and Brown would write books and publish several scientific articles about the restorative power of the slow breathing, which would become known as “resonant breathing” or Coherent Breathing. The technique required no real effort, time, or thoughtfulness.24 And we could do it anywhere, at any time. “It’s totally private,” wrote Gerbarg. “Nobody knows you’re doing it.”

28. To be clear, breathing less is not the same as breathing slowly. Average adult lungs can hold about four to six liters of air. Which means that, even if we practice slow breathing at 5.5 breaths per minute, we could still be easily taking in twice the air we need. The key to optimum breathing, and all the health, endurance, and longevity benefits that come with it, is to practice fewer inhales and exhales in a smaller volume. To breathe, but to breathe less.

29. How many breaths we took per minute was less important to Buteyko, as long as we were breathing no more than about six liters per minute at rest.

30. According to several sources, Buteyko was once invited to England to meet with Prince Charles, who was suffering from breathing difficulties brought on by allergies. Buteyko helped the prince, and he helped heal upward of 80 percent of his patients suffering from hypertension, arthritis, and other ailments.

31. Meanwhile, the Papworth Method, a breathing-less technique developed in an English hospital in the 1960s, was also shown to cut asthma symptoms by a third.

32. Breathing is a power switch to a vast network called the autonomic nervous system. There are two sections of this system, and they serve opposite functions.

33. The first, called the parasympathetic nervous system, stimulates relaxation and restoration.

34. The lungs are covered with nerves that extend to both sides of the autonomic nervous system, and many of the nerves connecting to the parasympathetic system are located in the lower lobes, which is one reason long and slow breaths are so relaxing.

35. The deeper and more softly we breathe in, and the longer we exhale, the more slowly the heart beats and the calmer we become.

36. The second half of the autonomic nervous system, the sympathetic, has an opposite role.6 It sends stimulating signals to our organs, telling them to get ready for action. A profusion of the nerves to this system are spread out at the top of the lungs. When we take short, hasty breaths, the molecules of air switch on the sympathetic nerves. These work like 911 calls. The more messages the system gets, the bigger the emergency.

37. Naropa harnessed the power of his breath to keep himself from freezing to death. The practice became known as Tummo, the Tibetan word for “inner fire.” Tummo was dangerous. If used incorrectly, it could elicit intense surges of energy, which could cause serious mental harm.

38. To some researchers, it’s no coincidence that eight of the top ten most common cancers affect organs cut off from normal blood flow during extended states of stress.

39. At one point, they injected his arm with an endotoxin, a component of E.coli. Exposure to the bacteria usually induces vomiting, headaches, fever, and other flulike symptoms. Hof took the E. coli into his veins and then breathed a few dozen Tummo breaths, willing his body to fight it off. He showed no sign of fever, no nausea. A few minutes later, he rose from the chair and got a cup of coffee.

40. This practice of heavy breathing along with regular cold exposure was later discovered to release the stress hormones adrenaline, cortisol, and norepinephrine on command. The burst of adrenaline gave heavy breathers energy and released a battery of immune cells programmed to heal wounds, fight off pathogens and infection.31 The huge spike in cortisol helped downgrade short-term inflammatory immune responses, while a squirt of norepinephrine redirected blood flow from the skin, stomach, and reproductive organs to muscles, the brain, and other areas essential in stressful situations.

41. Tummo heated the body and opened up the brain’s pharmacy, flooding the bloodstream with self-produced opioids, dopamine, and serotonin.

42. Here’s the information: To practice Wim Hof’s breathing method, start by finding a quiet place and lying flat on your back with a pillow under your head. Relax the shoulders, chest, and legs. Take a very deep breath into the pit of your stomach and let it back out just as quickly. Keep breathing this way for 30 cycles. If possible, breathe through the nose; if the nose feels obstructed, try pursed lips. Each breath should look like a wave, with the inhale inflating the stomach, then the chest. You should exhale all the air out in the same order.

43. At the end of 30 breaths, exhale to the natural conclusion, leaving about a quarter of the air left in the lungs, then hold that breath for as long as possible. Once you’ve reached your breathhold limit, take one huge inhale and hold it another 15 seconds. Very gently, move that fresh breath of air around the chest and to the shoulders, then exhale and start the heavy breathing again. Repeat the whole pattern three or four rounds and add in some cold exposure (cold shower, ice bath, naked snow angels) a few times a week.

44. This flip-flopping—breathing all-out, then not at all, getting really cold and then hot again—is the key to Tummo’s magic. It forces the body into high stress one minute, a state of extreme relaxation the next. Carbon dioxide levels in the blood crash, then they build back up. Tissues become oxygen deficient and then flooded again. The body becomes more adaptable and flexible and learns that all these physiological responses can come under our control. Conscious heavy breathing, McGee told me, allows us to bend so that we don’t get broken.

45. McGee repeatedly told me, as he told all his students, to never, ever practice Tummo while driving, walking, or in “any other environment where you might get hurt if you pass out.” And never practice it if you might have a heart condition or are pregnant.

46. Several years ago, when I was early in my research, I’d heard about a practice called Holotropic Breathwork created by a Czech psychiatrist named Stanislav Grof.39 The main focus wasn’t to reboot the autonomic nervous system or heal the body; it was to rewire the mind.

47. It took some doing. Holotropic Breathwork often included a journey through “the dark night of the soul,” where patients would experience a “painful confrontation” with themselves.

48. If they got through all that, mystical visions, spiritual awakenings, psychological breakthroughs, out-of-body experiences, and, sometimes, what Grof called a “mini life-death-rebirth” could follow.

49. All the while, blends of 30 percent carbon dioxide and 70 percent oxygen became a go-to treatment for anxiety, epilepsy, and even schizophrenia.

50. For the past few months, as part as his NIH research, Feinstein has brought in patients suffering with anxiety and panic to this lab and given them a few hits of carbon dioxide. So far, he tells me, the results have been promising. Sure, the gas elicited a panic attack in most patients, but this is all part of the baptism-by-fire process. After that initial bout of discomfort, many patients report feeling relaxed for hours, even days.

51. As I breathe a little faster, go a little deeper, the names of all the techniques I’ve explored over the past ten years all come back in a rush:

  • Pranayama. 
  • Buteyko. 
  • Coherent Breathing. 
  • Hypoventilation. 
  • Breathing Coordination. 
  • Holotropic Breathwork. 
  • Adhama. 
  • Madhyama. 
  • Uttama. 
  • Kêvala. 
  • Embryonic Breath. 
  • Harmonizing Breath. 
  • The Breath by the Master Great Nothing. 
  • Tummo. 
  • Sudarshan Kriya.

52. A European study of 86 obese women showed hypoxia training led to a “significant decrease in waist circumference” and significant reduction in fat over controls. (More available oxygen in the cells meant that more fat could be burned more efficiently.

53. In the late 1950s, Wolpe was looking for alternative treatments for free-floating anxiety, a form of stress for which there is no specific cause, which today affects about 10 million Americans. He was floored by how quickly and effectively carbon dioxide worked. Between two and five inhalations of a 50/50 mixture of carbon dioxide and oxygen, Wolpe found, was enough to lower the baseline level of anxiety in his patients from 60 (debilitating) to zero. No other treatment came close.

Summary : How to be a Power Connector - The 5+50+100 Rule by Judy Robinett

1. “We give people bachelor’s degrees in marketing, business, and even entrepreneurship, but we teach them hardly anything about the one subject that virtually every entrepreneur says is critically important: networking and social capital. Judy Robinett’s How to Be a Power Connector is like an MBA in networking: an advanced course in finding and developing quality relationships with the people who can make the biggest difference in your professional success.” —Ivan Misner, founder and chairman of BNI

2. Harvard Business School (where I received my MBA) is all about networking and connecting people

3. Building a network isn’t simply exchanging business cards and eventually picking up the phone and calling people when you need them. Today I think of networking as getting to know people that I enjoy and genuinely taking an interest in them.

4. A more effective way is to put yourself in places where you can get to know people personally and figure out how to help them before you ask them for something.

5. The more people you know, the easier it is for you to access circles that you may not be able to reach otherwise.

6. You build a strong network by investing in it over a lot of years, helping people and connecting them with each other.

7. If you continue to invest in your network, it will grow exponentially; however, if you think of your network as only useful to you, then your network will eventually become weaker. 

8. You always should be thinking, How can I put two people together in a way that’s beneficial to both?

9. Your network only expands and gets deeper the more you use it.

10. A few years ago I joined the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), which is networking on steroids. With YPO, I can call anyone, in any country, and say, “I’m with YPO, Utah Chapter; can you help me with X?” and 24 hours later, he or she will put me in front of the right person.

11. Skill is fine, and genius is splendid, but the right contacts are more valuable than either. —SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE

12. If you want to achieve any goal, you need other people to help you do it—and your chances of success are far greater if you can help other people achieve their goals as well.

13. Every person has a gift to give and receive, and every person has problems that he or she needs help to solve.

14. You need to (1) pinpoint the relationships you will pursue and nurture; (2) reach beyond just friends, family, and profession and build a wide network of connections; (3) use a system for adding value to those contacts regularly; and (4) become the connector between connections—the person who can help people reach a resource they would never know about and could never reach if it weren’t for you.

15. In fact, recent research stated that over 89 percent of senior executives (vice president and above) at companies with revenues of more than $100 million annually say that the strength of their personal and professional relationships has a highly significant impact on their ability to deliver business results.

16. All too often we fail to think strategically about the kinds of connections we need to make—who those people are, where they can be found, and how best to connect deeply with them, quickly and over the long term.

17. The question for most businesspeople today is not “How can I be more connected?” but “How can I identify and nurture the important connections that will accelerate my success?” And equally important, “How can I connect with people in such a way that they will take my calls and help me when I need it?”

18.Here are the five major mistakes I see people make when they try to network:

  • They network in the wrong places for what they need.
  • They network at the wrong level for their goals.
  • They have no way to assess the relative value of the connections they make.
  • They have no system for optimizing their networking efforts.
  • They fail to network in the best way to create high-value, long-term connections.

19. The key isn’t the number of contacts you make. It is the number of those contacts you turn into lasting relationships.

20. You need a plan for connecting and adding value to your network regularly. Value comes in many forms, and it is determined by the needs of the situation and the individual, but I’ve found that nearly everyone needs more and better information, income, key contacts, favors, and introductions.

21. Let’s start by defining a strategic relationship as a connection between individuals that takes into account the value that each party can provide to the other—through their contacts, introductions, information, and other forms of support.

22. You must assess the potential value of the people who come into your professional life not only from the perspective of “Do I want to know this person?” but also “Do I need to know this person?” or “Does this person need to know me?”

23. Strategic relationships must be built on a foundation of generosity, value creation, and ultimately, friendship. Your time, energy, and efforts are precious—why spend them on people whom you wouldn’t want as friends?

24. A friendship founded on business is better than a business founded on friendship. —JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER

25. A study in 2001 of Fortune 1000 companies by Booz Allen Hamilton and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University revealed that the top 25 percent of those companies focused more on relationship building than they did on sales.

26. When companies actively seek to develop, nurture, and manage a wide network of strategic relationships, they will accrue the kind of relational capital that can lead to more referrals, customer satisfaction, and success.

27. You can develop social capital in three ways. First, you can build it yourself by doing the things that insiders do—going to the same schools, joining the same professions, applying to the same clubs, and so on. The problem is that being an outsider trying to do all those things can be extraordinarily difficult.

28. Second, you can buy it. If you have the money and are willing to invest in the businesses, philanthropies, and interests of insiders, many doors will open to you.

29. Third, you can borrow it by developing informal relationships with those who already have the social capital you want to acquire. You are “sponsored” by an insider who then gives you entry to his or her world. Being mentored by someone is a classic method of borrowing social capital, as is volunteering to serve on committees and boards.

30. In my experience, the third way is the most effective because it is based on developing a strong, trusted, and robust network of connections that will help you and that you can help as well.

31. Do you think being on a first-name basis with your manager’s boss might give you an increased status? One of the reasons I suggest that people join volunteer organizations, sports teams, and cultural institutions is that it allows individuals of many different levels to meet and develop relationships that have the potential to elevate their status.

32. Professor Burt puts it simply: people who are better connected have more power and reap the higher rewards.

33. Today there are more ways to access public information than ever before—and this means that public information provides much less of a competitive advantage to individuals and businesses. However, strategic relationships can give you access to private information (often before others receive it) that can be a significant competitive advantage.

34. There is also significant research showing that strategic relationships can increase your creativity. Scientists, philosophers, artists, and creative thinkers from antiquity to the present day benefited from interacting with strong strategic networks.

35. Here are a few questions to answer about your current network: 

  • How many of your current relationships would you consider strategic? In other words, in how many of your relationships do you focus on giving and receiving value that improves both parties’ lives and businesses? What is your network’s strategic quotient (SQ)? 
  • How many people do you consistently communicate with? In how many relationships are you actively providing value at least once a week, month, or quarter?
  • How much do you know about the networks of the people in your network? Can you draw a picture of the spheres of influence of your strategic relationships? 
  • If you needed to reach a top professional, financial, and/or political figure, how long would it take? And would that person respond to your request within 24 hours? 
  • Do you have a list of high-value connections with whom you would like to develop a strategic relationship? If so, do you have a clear and written plan for reaching them?
  • Do you have a plan for managing your strategic relationships so that you can stay connected easily and frequently? If so, how is it working?

36. Strong links are the friends, family, and business associates you see almost every day. They are the closest members of your social network, and they usually have a lot in common with you.

37. But there are others in your network that are defined as weak links: friends of friends, someone at work you might chat with on the elevator, a neighbor down the street whom you wave to as she walks her dog, a fellow alumnus of your university that you don’t actually know but whom you see at a reunion, the people on Facebook or LinkedIn whom you don’t actually know. Weak links are acquaintances, likely to know you by name and perhaps what you do for a living, but nothing of the details of your life. They may be distant from you because of geographical location, life circumstances, or philosophical differences.

38. But strangely enough, weak links are actually the strongest and most important connections in your network. In a study published in 1974, sociologist Mark Granovetter asked businesspeople who had recently changed jobs how they had found their new positions. You would think that the strong links in their networks would have been most useful. Instead, five out of six people had learned about the job openings through acquaintances and individuals that they knew casually through work.

39. Granovetter describes a weak link as “a crucial bridge between two densely knit clumps of close friends.”

40. People who act as bridges between groups can become central to the overall network and so are more likely to be rewarded financially and otherwise. —RONALD BURT

41. More connections . . . are less important than the right connections. —RICHARD KOCH AND GREG LOCKWOOD, SUPERCONNECT

42. I’m known as the woman with the titanium digital Rolodex, but truthfully, what I really have are three concentric “power circles” that add up to a little more than 150 people. They are categorized as follows:

  • Top 5. The 5 people closest to me. I connect with these people almost daily. These are the people I would trust with my life. 
  • Key 50. The 50 important relationships that represent significant value to my life and business. I tend these connections carefully, and I am always looking for ways to add value to them. 
  • Vital 100. The 100 people I touch base with at least once a month. Both the human touch and added value are critical to my keeping these relationships fresh.

43. The first step, however, is to evaluate your current relationships and choose who will go in which circle. 

44. I hope that you know exactly who your Top 5 are immediately. For the Key 50 and Vital 100, however, you may need to do some thinking. You want to ensure that you are selecting the best people for your power circles and eliminating anyone who may cause you harm.

45. People who create successful strategic relationships demonstrate 10 essential character traits:Authentic

  1. Authentic
  2. Trustworthy
  3. Respectful
  4. Caring
  5. Listening
  6. Engaged
  7. Patient
  8. Intelligent
  9. Sociable
  10. Connected

46. Leeches are those who take but never give.

47.If you know of any leeches in your network, the only way to get rid of them is to cut them off completely. 

48. Unlike leeches, who quickly reveal themselves as being consumed with the need to take from you, psychopaths can pour on the charm, get you to like them, and cleverly manipulate you into giving them whatever they want.

49. Trust is the currency of power connecting. Your ability to screen your connections and pass along only the best to your network is the hallmark of a true power connector.

50. Make Your Network Wide, Deep, and Robust.

51. Businesses with more diverse social networks encouraged innovation at a rate almost three times greater than businesses with homogenous (only strong ties) networks. Diversity in social networks was a key factor in producing greater innovation.

52. To be a true power connector, however, diversity isn’t enough; your network also needs to be deep in three different ways. First, you need multiple connections in different industries, companies, interests, and so on. Say you need to reach a top official in Washington, DC; wouldn’t it be better to have three or more possible contacts rather than just one? In computer network architecture, this kind of “redundancy” makes it possible for a system to function even if one or two connections go down. You want the same for your own network. Don’t be one person away from power: be one by a factor of three. That way, if one link isn’t available, odds are the others will work.

53. Second, each person you meet has an entire network of his or her own. To deepen your network, get to know the people he or she knows.

54. One of the clearest indications of the robustness of your network is its responsiveness. Do people return your calls or e-mails promptly? Do they listen to what you say? Are they helpful?

55. A responsive network is a strong indication of the amount of value you have provided to its members over the years, and your status in their eyes. And naturally, you need to be just as responsive when someone in your network makes a request of you.

56. When you become part of an ecosystem, you have four vital advantages: knowledge, connections, resources, and opportunities.

57. Anything you want to achieve—start a business, write a book, raise money, find the best preschool for your child, and so on—has an ecosystem, and you have to know how it works.

58. I once heard someone say that you can learn more by talking to someone for an hour than by reading books for a month.

59. You must actively seek to develop trustworthy relationships with the people in the ecosystem by adding value and keeping your word.

60. Whenever I moved to a new city, I would seek to make friends with the editor of the paper, county commissioners, investors, and local businesspeople. That way I could source any knowledge, influence, money, and connections that I might need. That’s the power of connections in a wide range of ecosystems.

61. “Wealthy people follow their passions—be it the arts, social causes, politics, whatever. You need to find out what this couple is passionate about, and if you can share their passion, you need to enter that ecosystem by adding value with your time, money, or connections.”

62. “Do you like Scrabble? Table tennis? Wine tasting? Cooking? Tea? Bill Murray?” asks the founder of Concept Modeling, Winston Perez. Attending and/or creating events around the things that interest you personally are better ways to network than going to so-called networking events.” When you connect with someone over a passion, it’s a far more natural and authentic relationship.

63. In business, the people you know, the people who refer you, and the people you’ve done business with consistently will often open more doors than your pitch, idea, story, or business plan.

64. Bill Gates’s rival, Steve Jobs, also wrote a blog that said, donate to the charity of the person you want to meet, or volunteer for his or her favorite cause.

65. A friend who is a networking expert and very savvy about volunteering suggests, “Select one group and become active in it. Go to meetings regularly, and take a position on the board of directors. By doing this, you create visibility within the organization and you have the opportunity to show people what a good leader you are. When you deliver first-class work as a volunteer, people will assume you deliver the same high-quality work in your professional life.”

66. “Birds of a feather flock together.” The same is true in each ecosystem: those with power tend to go to the same meetings, belong to the same clubs, and be invited to the same events.For example, there are clubs of every kind in every major city in the world.

67. Finally, within each ecosystem you must do what you can to add value, and not just upwards but sideways and downwards as well.

68. You need to build your relationships early, and you need to base them on the same criteria as every other relationship: respect, mutual values, and a desire to benefit all parties. These fundamentals are the foundation of the power connector mindset.

69. To create your list of experiences and qualities, come up with what I call a victory log: write down 50 things you have accomplished in your life.

70. “I try to make a practice of always asking new people what they are working on, what they are looking for, and what they need. And if I encounter opportunities for someone else, I pass it along,”

71. “Every time I share an opportunity, I build a connection and a friendship.”

72. Seeking to add value first is a prominent feature of all power connector relationships.

73. “When you come from a place of service (instead of thinking of ‘me, me, me’), help and support is returned to you a hundredfold.”

74. Power connection can be broken down into four phases:

  • Phase 1, you prepare to connect by analyzing yourself and your current network and determining the people you need to add
  • Phase 2, you plan your first contact with new individuals by preparing a share, value-add, and ask. Then you ready yourself to connect immediately with the people you meet. Finally, you add value quickly and strengthen the relationship from the start.
  • Phase 3 is about assessment and consolidation: you do something to reconnect within 24 hours, evaluate the connection and place it within your 5+50+100 circles, then deepen the relationship by continuing to add value.
  • Phase 4 is where the real power of power connecting resides: connecting people within your network for their (and your) greater success.

75. Make a list of your current connections. This list includes everyone in your phone, in your Rolodex, in your Outlook program, or anywhere else that you keep contact information. Look at your LinkedIn connections, Facebook friends—anyone with whom you are currently connected in any way—and his or her role in your life. Make this list comprehensive: everyone from your local Starbucks barista to your dry cleaner, children’s babysitter, the IT consultant for your firm, mechanic, accountant, minister, printer, and the attendant at the golf club or health spa who knows your name.

76. Once you have this list, divide your contacts into personal, professional, or both. Then rate each connection as to importance and/or closeness to you by using a scale of 1 to 5, 1 being closest and 5 being just a casual acquaintance.

77. Next. put a note next to each person’s name to indicate the context of this connection: business, politics, charity, social friend, club, school, and so on. (You’ll use this information to place each connection in the proper ecosystem.) Finally, note where each individual lives and/or works. Eventually you’ll use these notes to assemble your 5+50+100 power circles.

78. When you look at your list of connections, your Top 5 should be easy to identify: they are usually close family and friends, including business associates whom you consider close friends.

79. Your Key 50 are friends and associates whom you know you can call upon for all kinds of help and advice, and vice versa. Stephen R. Covey calls this group your “circle of influence”; if your Key 50 is solid, you will have access to many of the resources you need. Usually these people would be ranked a 2 or 3 in terms of closeness, but they can have different roles and be from different contexts in your life.

80. Your Vital 100 are often the relationships that you ranked 4 in closeness (some of them may be a 5, but it’s unlikely that you’d put casual acquaintances in your Vital 100). This group should represent a wide diversity of locations, contexts, and roles. I’d suggest you see your Vital 100 as akin to athletes on the bench: you pay attention to them, add value to them, and regard them as important members of your team.

81. Your goal is to create a streamlined group of 155 key relationships—people who share your values, with whom you will consistently connect, and to whom you will add value.

82. Add two columns to your power circles chart. In the first, write the resources this connection can access. In the second, on a scale of 1 to 5, rank the level of influence this connection has within his or her ecosystems. Influence can be everything from a position, a title, a network, a level of experience, or access.

83. List three to five of your professional goals for the next three months, six months, and one year. If you don’t know where you’re going, a million contacts (or a million dollars) won’t help. Truly successful people have specific targets targets they want to attain and actionable plans to achieve those goals. Then they can approach their connections with a specific, clear, and succinct “ask.” Take a few minutes to write your top three to five goals for the next three months, six months, and one year in a new chart

84. What help do you need to accomplish these goals? What people? Opportunities? Knowledge? Funding? What ecosystems do you need to access?

85. For each of your professional goals, you are going to create what I call a CRM—a critical resource map. (You can do this on a chart, or you can use a whiteboard and Post-it notes.) Put your goal at the top, and underneath it put four categories: key people, opportunities, knowledge, and funding sources.

86. Whom do you need to add to your power circles to accomplish your short- and long-term goals?

87. Make a plan to reach out to new connections during the next three to six months.

88. Being introduced by people who already have credibility in a particular ecosystem will help you be taken seriously. It’s essentially “borrowing” their credibility in order to open the door.

89. Remember that one of the easiest ways to enter many ecosystems is by joining key groups within it. Many industries have professional associations; communities have different interest groups that support things like community planning for safer neighborhoods, after-school programs, and so on.

90. As the quality of the groups you join goes up, so does the quality of the opportunities provided. Often one of your power circle members may clue you in to a particular group where movers and shakers congregate.

91.Now you need to discover as much as possible about their interests, professional credentials, hobbies and charities, association memberships, marital status, and number of children—anything that will help you build a connection and, eventually, a relationship.

92. However, before you actually meet these people, you must answer three essential questions: Who are you? What are you ready to give? And what are you looking for? You must develop what I call your share, your value-add, and your ask.

93. I believe that you need to give people a sense of who you are before you tell them what you do, and that’s what your share is designed to do. It is a way of telling your story that educates others about your heart, head, and gut.

94. Your share should include who you are, what you’re about, and what you’re interested in. Start with personal details; talk about your family, your hobbies, and your civic or community involvements.

95. Next, include a few sentences about your business or profession that reflect your energy and passion about what you do.

96. If you doubt your ability to add value, keep these questions in mind: “How can I help?” and “Can any of my contacts be of assistance?”

97. For people to help you, they need to know what you are doing and what you need. That’s where your ask comes in. This is not a direct request—“Can you fund my start-up?”—but a clear delineation of your endeavors and whatever assistance would be of benefit, no matter who or where it comes from.

98. Do your research to find the right room and then make sure your request is appropriate for the people you’re asking?

99. Inappropriate asks indicate that you haven’t done your research, and you will be labeled an amateur.

100. Through years of doing a lot of asking, as well as helping others to ask appropriately, I’ve come up with the six secrets of a great ask:

  1. Start small. Once granted, a small request opens the door to other requests and favors. Your first ask might be for a moment of a person’s time, or a short meeting, or a referral. Small, easily satisfied requests allow you to build the relationship one step at a time.
  2. Make your ask specific.
  3. Make your ask appropriate to the person, room, and ecosystem.
  4. Build your ask around a story that expresses your passion. People buy with emotion and justify with logic, and the same is true when it comes to “selling” your ask.
  5. Be willing to ask for help. “Help” is not a word many people use easily. We are taught that we should be self-sufficient and make our own way.
  6. Whether or not people are able to fulfill your ask, express your gratitude for their time and ask them to keep you in mind.

101. Often the best thing to ask for first is advice. It puts the giver in a position of knowledge and power, and the receiver may learn something or gain a new and valuable perspective. Studies show that those who seek advice from others at work are regarded more favorably than colleagues who don’t.

102. All are appropriate depending on the individual and your particular circumstances, but the best way to connect with anyone is with a personal introduction from a mutual connection.

103. You may have heard about the Marriott “15/5 rule”: whenever an employee comes within 15 feet of anyone in a Marriott hotel, the employee acknowledges the guest with eye contact or a friendly nod. If the guest comes within 5 feet, the employee smiles and says hello. Take on the Marriott rule for yourself, and be the first to reach out.

104. Start a conversation by asking a question. Offer a sincere compliment if appropriate.

105. McCrea and Walker suggest what they call the SIM test. At the end of any conversation ask, “What surprised me? What inspired me? What moved me?” If you can’t answer at least one, you probably weren’t listening.

106. Find something in common: a person, location, experience, or point of view. When marketing and branding consultant Dorie Clark interviewed Robert Cialdini, he gave her some excellent advice: The way to get someone to like you immediately is to find a commonality.

107. Financier and philanthropist Michael Milken once said that everyone is trying to be successful, loved, and healthy, and that’s why the three things that are important to most people are their money, their children, and their health.

108. When you understand what people are passionate about and/or proud of in their careers, their families, and their lives, you open the door to the potential for lasting connection.

109. Think of value-adds as anything that can (1) save time, (2) save money, (3) save someone’s sanity, (4) eliminate stress, or (5) bring more fun to someone’s life.

110. Mention your ask, but don’t “sell” it. Only after you’ve added value should you talk about your own needs and wants.

111. “No matter what the rate, you can’t write good contracts with bad people.”

112. However, for your power circles you want a group of like-minded people, with compatible values, interested in adding value to others, knowing that their success will come from mutual assistance offered in both the short and long term. In other words, you want people who have a good head, a good heart, and who are a good bet.

113. You may already have an instinctive sense whether these individuals should be in your Key 50 or Vital 100. (Rarely do people go straight into your Top 5, as these are your closest relationships.

114. Power circles are fluid and will change over time as you grow and change, and you must be willing for members to change levels or to leave altogether.

115. I have found that slow follow-up is one of the three major places people fail when it comes to building strong relationships.

116. Once a week. Within seven days of contacts reaching out to you, you should send something of value. This can be an article, an introduction, a resource, an opportunity—it doesn’t have to be large, but it needs to show them that you (1) have them in mind, (2) understand their goals, and (3) are committed to adding value to them consistently.

117. Once a month. Every month you should reach out and add value to your Vital 100. (I do this with 25 members per week—certainly a less daunting task than all 100 at once.) If you have organized your power circles by ecosystem, it’s easy to send e-mails to groups,

118. Secret 5: Always do what you say you will. While this is a fundamental requirement of any authentic connection in business and in life, it’s absolutely vital when it comes to multiplying value. If you say you will do something, do it, and do it by the time you say you will.

119. One of the keys to success is to join groups that will provide access to whatever people might need—contacts, resources, opportunities, funding, and so on.

120. Keep in mind the fundamental principle of power connecting: add value first, add value consistently, and make sure the value you add is appropriate for the other person.

121. Conferences are excellent places to meet new people in specific ecosystems.

122. For example, the annual BIO-Europe conference is the largest life sciences meeting in the world. It’s said that more deals are made in the halls and over coffee and meals there than are made in an entire year for some companies.

123. Go where people congregate. Meeting new people is a combination of luck and synchronicity, but you can make yourself “luckier” by positioning yourself where they gather. David Bradford is a master connector, and one of his tips is, “Stand in high-traffic areas where you can be seen and heard.” At conferences, that often means by the coffee or other food service areas. Other good places to meet people include by the registration tables and by the doorways of conference sessions—anywhere people are waiting.

124. Top 10 Tips from the Titanium Rolodex:

  1. Start with the Three Golden Questions: “How can I help you?” “What ideas do you have for me?” “Who else do you know that I should talk to?”
  2.  If you’re not succeeding, you’re in the wrong room. Most people get stuck looking for love in all the wrong places. 
  3. For every tough problem, there is a match with the solution. Critical resources are attached to people. 
  4. Measure the value of your contacts not by their net worth but by whether they have a good head, heart, and gut. 
  5. Stranger danger is a fallacy. You’re an adult. 
  6. People must know, like, and trust you before sharing valuable social capital.
  7. Don’t get lost in a crowd. Create a wide, deep, and robust network of your Key 50 that you carefully water, bathe in sunshine, and fertilize to grow—and that you prune as needed. 
  8. Keep the rule of two: give two favors before asking. 
  9. Introductions are your most valuable commodities, so only curate win-win connections: What is the value proposition for both parties? 
  10. If you can remember only one tip, make it this one: engage in random acts of kindness. You never know how one small act can tip the scales.


Summary: Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss

1. All I knew about the techniques we used at the FBI was that they worked. In the twenty years I spent at the Bureau we’d designed a system that had successfully resolved almost every kidnapping we applied it to.

2. Our techniques were the products of experiential learning; they were developed by agents in the field, negotiating through crisis and sharing stories of what succeeded and what failed.

3. It all starts with the universally applicable premise that people want to be understood and accepted. Listening is the cheapest, yet most effective concession we can make to get there. By listening intensely, a negotiator demonstrates empathy and shows a sincere desire to better understand what the other side is experiencing.

4. Psychotherapy research shows that when individuals feel listened to, they tend to listen to themselves more carefully and to openly evaluate and clarify their own thoughts and feelings. In addition, they tend to become less defensive and oppositional and more willing to listen to other points of view, which gets them to the calm and logical place where they can be good Getting to Yes problem solvers.

5. The whole concept, which you’ll learn as the centerpiece of this book, is called Tactical Empathy. This is listening as a martial art, balancing the subtle behaviors of emotional intelligence and the assertive skills of influence, to gain access to the mind of another person.

6. Negotiation serves two distinct, vital life functions—information gathering and behavior influencing—and includes almost any interaction where each party wants something from the other side.

7. Remember, a hostage negotiator plays a unique role: he has to win. Can he say to a bank robber, “Okay, you’ve taken four hostages. Let’s split the difference—give me two, and we’ll call it a day?” No. A successful hostage negotiator has to get everything he asks for, without giving anything back of substance, and do so in a way that leaves the adversaries feeling as if they have a great relationship. His work is emotional intelligence on steroids. Those are the tools you’ll learn here.

8. Each chapter expands on the previous one. First you’ll learn the refined techniques of this approach to Active Listening and then you’ll move on to specific tools, turns of phrase, the ins and outs of the final act—haggling—and, finally, how to discover the rarity that can help you achieve true negotiating greatness: the Black Swan.

9. I hadn’t yet learned to be aware of a counterpart’s overuse of personal pronouns—we/they or me/I. The less important he makes himself, the more important he probably is (and vice versa).

10. There’s one powerful way to quiet the voice in your head and the voice in their head at the same time: treat two schizophrenics with just one pill. Instead of prioritizing your argument—in fact, instead of doing any thinking at all in the early goings about what you’re going to say—make your sole and all-encompassing focus the other person and what they have to say.

11. The goal is to identify what your counterparts actually need (monetarily, emotionally, or otherwise) and get them feeling safe enough to talk and talk and talk some more about what they want.

12. The latter will help you discover the former. Wants are easy to talk about, representing the aspiration of getting our way, and sustaining any illusion of control we have as we begin to negotiate; needs imply survival, the very minimum required to make us act, and so make us vulnerable.

13. But neither wants nor needs are where we start; it begins with listening, making it about the other people, validating their emotions, and creating enough trust and safety for a real conversation to begin.

14. There’s plenty of research that now validates the passage of time as one of the most important tools for a negotiator. When you slow the process down, you also calm it down. After all, if someone is talking, they’re not shooting.

15. That’s why your most powerful tool in any verbal communication is your voice. You can use your voice to intentionally reach into someone’s brain and flip an emotional switch. Distrusting to trusting. Nervous to calm. In an instant, the switch will flip just like that with the right delivery.

16. There are essentially three voice tones available to negotiators: the late-night FM DJ voice, the positive/playful voice, and the direct or assertive voice.

17. Most of the time, you should be using the positive/playful voice. It’s the voice of an easygoing, good-natured person. Your attitude is light and encouraging. The key here is to relax and smile while you’re talking. A smile, even while talking on the phone, has an impact tonally that the other person will pick up on.

18. When people are in a positive frame of mind, they think more quickly, and are more likely to collaborate and problem-solve (instead of fight and resist).

19. The way the late-night FM DJ voice works is that, when you inflect your voice in a downward way, you put it out there that you’ve got it covered. Talking slowly and clearly you convey one idea: I’m in control. When you inflect in an upward way, you invite a response. Why? Because you’ve brought in a measure of uncertainty. You’ve made a statement sound like a question.

20. Mirroring, also called isopraxism, is essentially imitation. It’s another neurobehavior humans (and other animals) display in which we copy each other to comfort each other. 

21. While mirroring is most often associated with forms of nonverbal communication, especially body language, as negotiators a “mirror” focuses on the words and nothing else.

22. It’s almost laughably simple: for the FBI, a “mirror” is when you repeat the last three words (or the critical one to three words) of what someone has just said. Of the entirety of the FBI’s hostage negotiation skill set, mirroring is the closest one gets to a Jedi mind trick. Simple, and yet uncannily effective.

23. Psychologist Richard Wiseman created a study using waiters to identify what was the more effective method of creating a connection with strangers: mirroring or positive reinforcement. One group of waiters, using positive reinforcement, lavished praise and encouragement on patrons using words such as “great,” “no problem,” and “sure” in response to each order. The other group of waiters mirrored their customers simply by repeating their orders back to them. The results were stunning: the average tip of the waiters who mirrored was 70 percent more than of those who used positive reinforcement.

24. Which is why when you think of the greatest negotiators of all time, I’ve got a surprise for you—think Oprah Winfrey.

25. Her daily television show was a case study of a master practitioner at work: on a stage face-to-face with someone she has never met, in front of a crowded studio of hundreds, with millions more watching from home, and a task to persuade that person in front of her, sometimes against his or her own best interests, to talk and talk and keep talking, ultimately sharing with the world deep, dark secrets that they had held hostage in their own minds for a lifetime.

26. A good negotiator prepares, going in, to be ready for possible surprises; a great negotiator aims to use her skills to reveal the surprises she is certain to find.

27. Don’t commit to assumptions; instead, view them as hypotheses and use the negotiation to test them rigorously.

28. People who view negotiation as a battle of arguments become overwhelmed by the voices in their head. Negotiation is not an act of battle; it’s a process of discovery. The goal is to uncover as much information as possible.

29. Put a smile on your face. When people are in a positive frame of mind, they think more quickly, and are more likely to collaborate and problem-solve (instead of fight and resist). Positivity creates mental agility in both you and your counterpart.

30. Tactical empathy is understanding the feelings and mindset of another in the moment and also hearing what is behind those feelings so you increase your influence in all the moments that follow. It’s bringing our attention to both the emotional obstacles and the potential pathways to getting an agreement done.

31. Empathy is a classic “soft” communication skill, but it has a physical basis. When we closely observe a person’s face, gestures, and tone of voice, our brain begins to align with theirs in a process called neural resonance, and that lets us know more fully what they think and feel.

32. We employed our tactical empathy by recognizing and then verbalizing the predictable emotions of the situation. We didn’t just put ourselves in the fugitives’ shoes. We spotted their feelings, turned them into words, and then very calmly and respectfully repeated their emotions back to them. In a negotiation, that’s called labeling.

33. It gets you close to someone without asking about external factors you know nothing about (“How’s your family?”). Think of labeling as a shortcut to intimacy, a time-saving emotional hack.

34. In one brain imaging study,2 psychology professor Matthew Lieberman of the University of California, Los Angeles, found that when people are shown photos of faces expressing strong emotion, the brain shows greater activity in the amygdala, the part that generates fear. But when they are asked to label the emotion, the activity moves to the areas that govern rational thinking. In other words, labeling an emotion—applying rational words to a fear—disrupts its raw intensity.

35. The first step to labeling is detecting the other person’s emotional state. Outside that door in Harlem we couldn’t even see the fugitives, but most of the time you’ll have a wealth of information from the other person’s words, tone, and body language. We call that trinity “words, music, and dance.”

36. Once you’ve spotted an emotion you want to highlight, the next step is to label it aloud. Labels can be phrased as statements or questions.

37. But no matter how they end, labels almost always begin with roughly the same words:
It seems like …
It sounds like …
It looks like …

38. The last rule of labeling is silence. Once you’ve thrown out a label, be quiet and listen. We all have a tendency to expand on what we’ve said, to finish, “It seems like you like the way that shirt looks,” with a specific question like “Where did you get it?” But a label’s power is that it invites the other person to reveal himself.

39. Labeling is a tactic, not a strategy, in the same way a spoon is a great tool for stirring soup but it’s not a recipe. How you use labeling will go a long way in determining your success.

40. What good negotiators do when labeling is address those underlying emotions. Labeling negatives diffuses them (or defuses them, in extreme cases); labeling positives reinforces them.

41. Try this the next time you have to apologize for a bone-headed mistake. Go right at it. The fastest and most efficient means of establishing a quick working relationship is to acknowledge the negative and diffuse it.

42. Research shows that the best way to deal with negativity is to observe it, without reaction and without judgment. Then consciously label each negative feeling and replace it with positive, compassionate, and solution-based thoughts.

43. In court, defense lawyers do this properly by mentioning everything their client is accused of, and all the weaknesses of their case, in the opening statement. They call this technique “taking the sting out.”

44. The first step of doing so is listing every terrible thing your counterpart could say about you, in what I call an accusation audit.

45. And no communication is always a bad sign.

46. Human connection is the first goal.

47. We have it backward. For good negotiators, “No” is pure gold. That negative provides a great opportunity for you and the other party to clarify what you really want by eliminating what you don’t want. “No”

48. “Yes” and “Maybe” are often worthless. But “No” always alters the conversation.

49. While assigned to the JTTF, I worked with an NYPD lieutenant named Martin. He had a hard shell, and whenever asked for anything he responded with a terse negative. After I’d gotten to know him a bit, I asked him why. “Chris,” he said, proudly, “a lieutenant’s job is to say, ‘No.’” At first, I thought that sort of automated response signaled a failure of imagination. But then I realized I did the same thing with my teenage son, and that after I’d said “No” to him, I often found that I was open to hearing what he had to say. That’s because having protected myself, I could relax and more easily consider the possibilities.

50. This means you have to train yourself to hear “No” as something other than rejection, and respond accordingly. When someone tells you “No,” you need to rethink the word in one of its alternative—and much more real—meanings: 

  • I am not yet ready to agree; 
  • You are making me feel uncomfortable; 
  • I do not understand; 
  • I don’t think 
  • I can afford it; 
  • I want something else; 
  • I need more information; 
  • or I want to talk it over with someone else.

51. We need to persuade from their perspective, not ours. But how? By starting with their most basic wants.

52. In every negotiation, in every agreement, the result comes from someone else’s decision. And sadly, if we believe that we can control or manage others’ decisions with compromise and logic, we’re leaving millions on the table.

53. But while we can’t control others’ decisions, we can influence them by inhabiting their world and seeing and hearing exactly what they want.

54. Though the intensity may differ from person to person, you can be sure that everyone you meet is driven by two primal urges: the need to feel safe and secure, and the need to feel in control. If you satisfy those drives, you’re in the door.

55. “No” starts conversations and creates safe havens to get to the final “Yes” of commitment. An early “Yes” is often just a cheap, counterfeit dodge.

56. Gun for a “Yes” straight off the bat, though, and your counterpart gets defensive, wary, and skittish. That’s why I tell my students that, if you’re trying to sell something, don’t start with “Do you have a few minutes to talk?” Instead ask, “Is now a bad time to talk?” Either you get “Yes, it is a bad time” followed by a good time or a request to go away, or you get “No, it’s not” and total focus.

57. “No” is not failure. Used strategically it’s an answer that opens the path forward. Getting to the point where you’re no longer horrified by the word “No” is a liberating moment that every negotiator needs to reach. Because if your biggest fear is “No,” you can’t negotiate. You’re the hostage of “Yes.” You’re handcuffed. You’re done.

58. In fact, “No” often opens the discussion up. The sooner you say “No,” the sooner you’re willing to see options and opportunities that you were blind to previously. Saying “No” often spurs people to action because they feel they’ve protected themselves and now see an opportunity slipping away..

59. There is a big difference between making your counterpart feel that they can say “No” and actually getting them to say it. Sometimes, if you’re talking to somebody who is just not listening, the only way you can crack their cranium is to antagonize them into “No.” 

60. One great way to do this is to mislabel one of the other party’s emotions or desires. You say something that you know is totally wrong, like “So it seems that you really are eager to leave your job” when they clearly want to stay. That forces them to listen and makes them comfortable correcting you by saying, “No, that’s not it. This is it.”

61. Another way to force “No” in a negotiation is to ask the other party what they don’t want. “Let’s talk about what you would say ‘No’ to,” you’d say. And people are comfortable saying “No” here because it feels like self-protection. And once you’ve gotten them to say “No,” people are much more open to moving forward toward new options and ideas.

62. “No”—or the lack thereof—also serves as a warning, the canary in the coal mine. If despite all your efforts, the other party won’t say “No,” you’re dealing with people who are indecisive or confused or who have a hidden agenda. In cases like that you have to end the negotiation and walk away.

63. You provoke a “No” with this one-sentence email. Have you given up on this project?

64. “That’s right” is better than “yes.” Strive for it. Reaching “that’s right” in a negotiation creates breakthroughs.

65. Use a summary to trigger a “that’s right.” The building blocks of a good summary are a label combined with paraphrasing. Identify, rearticulate, and emotionally affirm “the world according to …”

66. There’s always leverage. Negotiation is never a linear formula: add X to Y to get Z. We all have irrational blind spots, hidden needs, and undeveloped notions.

67. Once you understand that subterranean world of unspoken needs and thoughts, you’ll discover a universe of variables that can be leveraged to change your counterpart’s needs and expectations. From using some people’s fear of deadlines and the mysterious power of odd numbers, to our misunderstood relationship to fairness, there are always ways to bend our counterpart’s reality so it conforms to what we ultimately want to give them, not to what they initially think they deserve.

68. Compromise—“splitting the difference”—can lead to terrible outcomes. Compromise is often a “bad deal” and a key theme we’ll hit in this chapter is that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

69. I’m here to call bullshit on compromise right now. We don’t compromise because it’s right; we compromise because it is easy and because it saves face. We compromise in order to say that at least we got half the pie. Distilled to its essence, we compromise to be safe. Most people in a negotiation are driven by fear or by the desire to avoid pain. Too few are driven by their actual goals.

70. So don’t settle and—here’s a simple rule—never split the difference.

71. Time is one of the most crucial variables in any negotiation. The simple passing of time and its sharper cousin, the deadline, are the screw that pressures every deal to a conclusion.

72. Whether your deadline is real and absolute or merely a line in the sand, it can trick you into believing that doing a deal now is more important than getting a good deal. Deadlines regularly make people say and do impulsive things that are against their best interests, because we all have a natural tendency to rush as a deadline approaches.

73. What good negotiators do is force themselves to resist this urge and take advantage of it in others. It’s not so easy. Ask yourself: What is it about a deadline that causes pressure and anxiety? The answer is consequences; the perception of the loss we’ll incur in the future—“The deal is off!” our mind screams at us in some imaginary future scenario—should no resolution be achieved by a certain point in time.

73. Deadlines are often arbitrary, almost always flexible, and hardly ever trigger the consequences we think—or are told—they will.

74. “No deal is better than a bad deal.”

75. In fact, Don A. Moore, a professor at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley, says that hiding a deadline actually puts the negotiator in the worst possible position. In his research, he’s found that hiding your deadlines dramatically increases the risk of an impasse.

76. The most powerful word in negotiations is “Fair.” As human beings, we’re mightily swayed by how much we feel we have been respected. People comply with agreements if they feel they’ve been treated fairly and lash out if they don’t.

77. If you can get the other party to reveal their problems, pain, and unmet objectives—if you can get at what people are really buying—then you can sell them a vision of their problem that leaves your proposal as the perfect solution.

78. The theory argues that people are drawn to sure things over probabilities, even when the probability is a better choice. That’s called the Certainty Effect. And people will take greater risks to avoid losses than to achieve gains. That’s called Loss Aversion.

79. The chance for loss incites more risk than the possibility of an equal gain.

80. To get real leverage, you have to persuade them that they have something concrete to lose if the deal falls through.

81. That gets your point across without moving the other party into a defensive position. And it gets him thinking at higher levels. Research shows that people who hear extreme anchors unconsciously adjust their expectations in the direction of the opening number. Many even go directly to their price limit. If Jerry had given this range, the firm probably would have offered $130,000 because it looked so cheap next to $170,000.

82. The biggest thing to remember is that numbers that end in 0 inevitably feel like temporary placeholders, guesstimates that you can easily be negotiated But anything you throw out that sounds less rounded—say, $37,263—feels like a figure that you came to as a result of thoughtful calculation. Such numbers feel serious and permanent to your counterpart, so use them to fortify your offers.

83. Our job as persuaders is easier than we think. It’s not to get others believing what we say. It’s just to stop them unbelieving. Once we achieve that, the game’s half-won. “Unbelief is the friction that keeps persuasion in check,” Dutton says. “Without it, there’d be no limits.”

84. First off, calibrated questions avoid verbs or words like “can,” “is,” “are,” “do,” or “does.” These are closed-ended questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or a “no.” Instead, they start with a list of words people know as reporter’s questions: “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how.”

85. Having just two words to start with might not seem like a lot of ammunition, but trust me, you can use “what” and “how” to calibrate nearly any question. “Does this look like something you would like?” can become “How does this look to you?” or “What about this works for you?” You can even ask, “What about this doesn’t work for you?” and you’ll probably trigger quite a bit of useful information from your counterpart.

86. Here are some other great standbys that I use in almost every negotiation, depending on the situation: 

  • What about this is important to you? 
  • How can I help to make this better for us? 
  • How would you like me to proceed? 
  • What is it that brought us into this situation? 
  • How can we solve this problem? 
  • What’s the objective? / What are we trying to accomplish here? 
  • How am I supposed to do that?

87.The script we came up with hit all the best practices of negotiation we’ve talked about so far. Here it is by steps: 

  1. A “No”-oriented email question to reinitiate contact: “Have you given up on settling this amicably?”
  2. A statement that leaves only the answer of “That’s right” to form a dynamic of agreement: “It seems that you feel my bill is not justified.” 
  3. Calibrated questions about the problem to get him to reveal his thinking: “How does this bill violate our agreement?” 
  4. More “No”-oriented questions to remove unspoken barriers: “Are you saying I misled you?” “Are you saying I didn’t do as you asked?” “Are you saying I reneged on our agreement?” or “Are you saying I failed you?” 
  5. Labeling and mirroring the essence of his answers if they are not acceptable so he has to consider them again: “It seems like you feel my work was subpar.” Or “… my work was subpar?”
  6. A calibrated question in reply to any offer other than full payment, in order to get him to offer a solution: “How am I supposed to accept that?” 
  7. If none of this gets an offer of full payment, a label that flatters his sense of control and power: “It seems like you are the type of person who prides himself on the way he does business—rightfully so—and has a knack for not only expanding the pie but making the ship run more efficiently.” 
  8. A long pause and then one more “No”-oriented question: “Do you want to be known as someone who doesn’t fulfill agreements?”

88. From my long experience in negotiation, scripts like this have a 90 percent success rate. That is, if the negotiator stays calm and rational. And that’s a big if.

89. In a study of the components of lying,2 Harvard Business School professor Deepak Malhotra and his coauthors found that, on average, liars use more words than truth tellers and use far more third-person pronouns. They start talking about him, her, it, one, they, and their rather than I, in order to put some distance between themselves and the lie. And they discovered that liars tend to speak in more complex sentences in an attempt to win over their suspicious counterparts. It’s what W. C. Fields meant when he talked about baffling someone with bullshit. The researchers dubbed this the Pinocchio Effect because, just like Pinocchio’s nose, the number of words grew along with the lie. People who are lying are, understandably, more worried about being believed, so they work harder—too hard, as it were—at being believable.

90. Any response that’s not an outright rejection of your offer means you have the edge.

91. Experienced negotiators often lead with a ridiculous offer, an extreme anchor. And if you’re not prepared to handle it, you’ll lose your moorings and immediately go to your maximum.

92. The Ackerman model is an offer-counteroffer method, at least on the surface. But it is a very effective system for beating the usual lackluster bargaining bargaining dynamic, which has the predictable result of meeting in the middle. The systematized and easy-to-remember process has only four steps: 

  1. Set your target price (your goal). 
  2. Set your first offer at 65 percent of your target price. 
  3. Calculate three raises of decreasing increments (to 85, 95, and 100 percent). 
  4. Use lots of empathy and different ways of saying “No” to get the other side to counter before you increase your offer. 
  5. When calculating the final amount, use precise, nonround numbers like, say, $37,893 rather than $38,000. It gives the number credibility and weight.
  6. On your final number, throw in a nonmonetary item (that they probably don’t want) to show you’re at your limit.


Summary: Principles by Ray Dalio

1. Principles are fundamentals truths that serve as the foundations for behavior that gets you what you want out of life. They can be applied again and again.

2. Without principles we would be forced to react to all the things life throws at us individually, as if we were experiencing each of them for the first time. If instead we classify these situations into types and have good principles for dealing with them, we will make better decisions more quickly and have better lives as a result.

3. That brings me to my first principle: Think for yourself to decide 1) what you want, 2) what is true, and 3) what you should do to achieve #1 in light of #2 . . .

4. I believe that the key to success lies in knowing how to both strive for a lot and fail well. By failing well, I mean being able to experience painful failures that provide big learnings without failing badly enough to get knocked out of the game.

5. Ask yourself what you want, seek out examples of other people who got what they wanted, and try to discern the cause-and-effect patterns behind their achievements so you can apply them to help you achieve your own goals.

6. My business has always been a way to get me into exotic places and allow me to meet interesting people. If I make any money from those trips, that’s just icing on the cake.

7. Visualizing complex systems as machines, figuring out the cause-effect relationships within them, writing down the principles for dealing with them, and feeding them into a computer so the computer could “make decisions” for me all became standard practices.

8. In thinking about the relative importance of great relationships and money, it was clear that relationships were more important because there is no amount of money I would take in exchange for a meaningful relationship, because there is nothing I could buy with that money that would be more valuable. So, for me, meaningful work and meaningful relationships were and still are my primary goals and everything I did was for them. Making money was an incidental consequence of that.

9. I learned a great fear of being wrong that shifted my mind-set from thinking “I’m right” to asking myself “How do I know I’m right?”

10. And I saw clearly that the best way to answer this question is by finding other independent thinkers who are on the same mission as me and who see things differently from me. By engaging them in thoughtful disagreement, I’d be able to understand their reasoning and have them stress-test mine. That way, we can all raise our probability of being right.

11. I saw that to do exceptionally well you have to push your limits and that, if you push your limits, you will crash and it will hurt a lot. You will think you have failed—but that won’t be true unless you give up.

12. By late 1983, Bridgewater had six employees. Up until then, I hadn’t done any marketing; the business we got came from word of mouth and from people reading my daily telexes and seeing my public appearances.

13. Approaching the market in this way taught me that one of the keys to being a successful investor is to only take bets you are highly confident in and to diversify them well.

14. I learned that if you work hard and creatively, you can have just about anything you want, but not everything you want. Maturity is the ability to reject good alternatives in order to pursue even better ones.

15. But even as we grew, I never thought of anybody I worked with as an employee. I had always wanted to have—and to be around people who also wanted to have—a life full of meaningful work and meaningful relationships, and to me a meaningful relationship is one that’s open and honest in a way that lets people be straight with each other.

16. I believe that all organizations basically have two types of people: those who work to be part of a mission, and those who work for a paycheck. I wanted to surround myself with people who needed what I needed, which was to make sense of things for myself.

17. I have come to realize that bad times coupled with good reflections provide some of the best lessons.

18. I didn’t value experience as much as character, creativity, and common sense, which I suppose was related to my having started Bridgewater two years out of school myself, and my belief that having an ability to figure things out is more important than having specific knowledge of how to do something.

19. Some painful lessons that you’ll read about later taught me that it can be a mistake to undervalue experience.

20. I realized then how essential it is that people in relationships must be crystal clear about their principles for dealing with each other.That began our decades-long process of putting our principles into writing, which evolved into the Work Principles.

21. As for our agreements with each other, the most important one was our need to do three things:

a. Put our honest thoughts out on the table, 

b. Have thoughtful disagreements in which people are willing to shift their opinions as they learn, and 

c. Have agreed-upon ways of deciding (e.g., voting, having clear authorities) if disagreements remain so that we can move beyond them without resentments.

22. I also believe that for a group decision-making system to be effective, the people using it have to believe that it’s fair.

23. This included cash, which is the worst investment over time because it loses value after adjusting for inflation and taxes.

24. There is nothing to prompt learning like pain and necessity

25. To me, the greatest success you can have as the person in charge is to orchestrate others to do things well without you.

26. No matter how much effort we put into screening new hires and training them to work in our idea meritocracy, it was inevitable that many of them would fall short. My approach was to hire, train, test, and then fire or promote quickly, so that we could rapidly identify the excellent hires and get rid of the ordinary ones, repeating the process again and again until the percentage of those who were truly great was high enough to meet our needs.

27. But for this to work, we needed people with high standards who wouldn’t hesitate to eliminate people who couldn’t cut it. Many new employees (and some older ones) still were reluctant to probe hard at what people were like, which made things worse. It’s tough to be tough on people.

28. The more I did the research on people, the clearer it became that there are different types of people and that, by and large, the same types of people in the same types of circumstances are going to produce the same types of results.

29. My perspective was influenced by my own journey through life, which took me from having nothing to having a lot. That taught me to struggle well and made me strong.

30. In time, I realized that the satisfaction of success doesn’t come from achieving your goals, but from struggling well.

31. Look to the patterns of those things that affect you in order to understand the cause-effect relationships that drive them and to learn principles for dealing with them effectively.

32. Truth—or, more precisely, an accurate understanding of reality—is the essential foundation for any good outcome.

33. Don’t let fears of what others think of you stand in your way. You must be willing to do things in the unique ways you think are best—and to open-mindedly reflect on the feedback that comes inevitably as a result of being that way.

34. Adaptation through rapid trial and error is invaluable. Natural selection’s trial-and-error process allows improvement without anyone understanding or guiding it. The same can apply to how we learn.

35.  It is a fundamental law of nature that in order to gain strength one has to push one’s limits, which is painful. As Carl Jung put it, “Man needs difficulties. They are necessary for health.” Yet most people instinctually avoid pain. This is true whether we are talking about building the body (e.g., weight lifting) or the mind (e.g., frustration, mental struggle, embarrassment, shame)—and especially true when people confront the harsh reality of their own imperfections.

36. If you’re not failing, you’re not pushing your limits, and if you’re not pushing your limits, you’re not maximizing your potential.

37. Think of yourself as a machine operating within a machine and know that you have the ability to alter your machines to produce better outcomes. You have your goals. I call the way you will operate to achieve your goals your machine. It consists of a design (the things that have to get done) and the people (who will do the things that need getting done). Those people include you and those who help you.

38. 

a. Have clear goals.
b. Identify and don’t tolerate the problems that stand in the way of your achieving those goals.
c. Accurately diagnose the problems to get at their root causes.
d. Design plans that will get you around them.
e. Do what’s necessary to push these designs through to results.

40. Recognize that knowing what someone (including you) is like will tell you what you can expect from them. You will have to get over your reluctance to assess what people are like if you want to surround yourself with people who have the qualities you need.

41. Great planners who don’t execute their plans go nowhere. You need to push through and that requires self-discipline to follow your script.

42. To be effective you must not let your need to be right be more important than your need to find out what’s true.

43. Don’t worry about looking good; worry about achieving your goal. People typically try to prove that they have the answer even when they don’t. Why do they behave in this unproductive way? It’s generally because they believe the senseless but common view that great people have all the answers and don’t have any weaknesses.

44. Remember that you’re looking for the best answer, not simply the best answer that you can come up with yourself. The answer doesn’t have to be in your head; you can look outside yourself.

45. I define believable people as those who have repeatedly and successfully accomplished the thing in question—who have a strong track record with at least three successes—and have great explanations of their approach when probed.

46. There are lots of people who will disagree with you, and it would be unproductive to consider all their views. It doesn’t pay to be open-minded with everyone. Instead, spend your time exploring ideas with the most believable people you have access to.

47. A few good decision makers working effectively together can significantly outperform a good decision maker working alone—and even the best decision maker can significantly improve his or her decision making with the help of other excellent decision makers.

48. If a number of different believable people say you are doing something wrong and you are the only one who doesn’t see it that way, assume that you are probably biased. Be objective!

49. Be evidence-based and encourage others to be the same. Most people do not look thoughtfully at the facts and draw their conclusions by objectively weighing the evidence. Instead, they make their decisions based on what their deep-seated subconscious mind wants and then they filter the evidence to make it consistent with those desires.

50. Know that the most constant struggle is between feeling and thinking. There are no greater battles than those between our feelings (most importantly controlled by our amygdala, which operates subconsciously) and our rational thinking (most importantly controlled by our prefrontal cortex, which operates consciously).

51. Getting the right people in the right roles in support of your goal is the key to succeeding at whatever you choose to accomplish.

52. Be imprecise. Understand the concept of “by-and-large” and use approximations. Because our educational system is hung up on precision, the art of being good at approximations is insufficiently valued. This impedes conceptual thinking. For example, when asked to multiply 38 by 12, most people do it the slow and hard way rather than simply rounding 38 up to 40, rounding 12 down to 10, and quickly determining that the answer is about 400.

53. “By-and-large” is the level at which you need to understand most things in order to make effective decisions. Whenever a big-picture “by-and- large” statement is made and someone replies “Not always,” my instinctual reaction is that we are probably about to dive into the weeds—i.e., into a discussion of the exceptions rather than the rule, and in the process we will lose sight of the rule.

54. Make your decisions as expected value calculations. Think of every decision as a bet with a probability and a reward for being right and a probability and a penalty for being wrong. Normally a winning decision is one with a positive expected value, meaning that the reward times its probability of occurring is greater than the penalty times its probability of occurring, with the best decision being the one with the highest expected value.

55. Sometimes it’s smart to take a chance even when the odds are overwhelmingly against you if the cost of being wrong is negligible relative to the reward that comes with the slim chance of being right. As the saying goes, “It never hurts to ask.”

56. Raising the probability of being right is valuable no matter what your probability of being right already is.

57. You can almost always improve your odds of being right by doing things that will give you more information.

58. Convert your principles into algorithms and have the computer make decisions alongside you. It will also take emotion out of the equation. Algorithms work just like words in describing what you would like to have done, but they are written in a language that the computer can understand.

59. Expert systems are what we use at Bridgewater, where designers specify criteria based on their logical understandings of a set of cause-effect relationships, and then see how different scenarios would emerge under different circumstances.

60. I’d rather have fewer bets (ideally uncorrelated ones) in which I am highly confident than more bets I’m less confident in, and would consider it intolerable if I couldn’t argue the logic behind any of my decisions.

61. In order to have the best life possible, you have to: 1) know what the best decisions are and 2) have the courage to make them.

62. It pays for all organizations—companies, governments, foundations, schools, hospitals, and so on—to spell out their principles and values clearly and explicitly and to operate by them consistently.

63. A great organization has both great people and a great culture. Companies that get progressively better over time have both. Nothing is more important or more difficult than to get the culture and people right.

64. To me, great partnerships come from sharing common values and interests, having similar approaches to pursuing them, and being reasonable with, and having consideration for, each other. At the same time, partners must be willing to hold each other to high standards and work through their disagreements.

65. Tough love is effective for achieving both great work and great relationships.

66.  In order to be great, one can’t compromise the uncompromisable. Yet I see people doing it all the time, usually to avoid making others or themselves feel uncomfortable, which is not just backward but counterproductive. Putting comfort ahead of success produces worse results for everyone.

67. A believability-weighted idea meritocracy is the best system for making effective decisions.

68. Idea Meritocracy = Radical Truth + Radical Transparency + Believability-Weighted Decision Making.

69. Have integrity and demand it from others.

70. Thinking solely about what’s accurate instead of how it is perceived pushes you to focus on the most important things. It helps you sort through people and places because you’ll be drawn to people and places that are open and honest.

71.  Don’t let loyalty to people stand in the way of truth and the well-being of the organization. Judging one person by a different set of rules than another is an insidious form of corruption that undermines the meritocracy.

72. Dishonest people are dangerous, so keeping them around isn’t smart.

73. Bridgewater has had uncommonly few legal or regulatory encounters, largely because of our radical transparency. That’s because it’s tougher to do bad things and easier to find out what’s true and resolve claims through radical transparency. Over the last several decades, we have not had a single material legal or regulatory judgment against us.

74. When I treated my employees like extended family, I found that they typically behaved the same way with each other and our community as a whole, which was much more special than having a strictly quid pro quo relationship. I can’t tell you how many people would do anything in their power to help our community/company and wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. This is invaluable.

75. Not everyone feels the same or is expected to feel the same about the community. It’s totally okay to opt out.

76. No matter how much one tries to create a culture of meaningful relationships, the organization is bound to have some bad (intentionally harmful) people in it. Being there isn’t good for them or the company so it’s best to find out who they are and remove them.

77. Loyalty to specific people who are not in tight sync with the mission and how to achieve it will create factionalism and undermine the well-being of the community.

78. Recognize that the size of the organization can pose a threat to meaningful relationships. 

79. That’s when I realized that having groups (departments) of around a hundred (give or take about fifty) that are bound collectively by our common mission was the best way to scale the meaningful relationship. While bigger companies tend to be more impersonal, that is just another challenge that has to be figured out.

80. Don’t have anything to do with closed-minded people. Being open-minded is much more important than being bright or smart.

81. Great collaboration feels like playing jazz. A talented duo can improvise beautifully, as can a trio or quartet. But gather ten musicians and no matter how talented they are, it’s probably going to be too many unless they’re carefully orchestrated.

82. 1+1=3. Two people who collaborate well will be about three times as effective as each of them operating independently.

83. 3 to 5 is more than 20. Three to five smart, conceptual people seeking the right answers in an open-minded way will generally lead to the best answers.

84. While the believability-weighted answer isn’t always the best answer, we have found that it is more likely to be right than either the boss’s answer or an equal-weighted referendum.

85. Treating all people equally is more likely to lead away from truth than toward it. But at the same time, all views should be considered in an open-minded way, though placed in the proper context of the experiences and track records of the people expressing them.

86. Imagine if a group of us were getting a lesson in how to play baseball from Babe Ruth, and someone who’d never played the game kept interrupting him to debate how to swing the bat. Would it be helpful or harmful to the group’s progress to ignore their different track records and experience?

87. Pay more attention to whether the decision-making system is fair than whether you get your way.

88. Once a decision is made, everyone should get behind it even though individuals may still disagree. The group is more important than the individual; don’t behave in a way that undermines the chosen path.

89. If you continue to fight the idea meritocracy, you must go.

90. Don’t allow lynch mobs or mob rule. Part of the purpose of having a believability-weighted system is to remove emotion from decision making. Crowds get emotional and seek to grab control. That must be prevented. While all individuals have the right to have their own opinions, they do not have the right to render verdicts.

91. Recognize that if the people who have the power don’t want to operate by principles, the principled way of operating will fail.

92. Ultimately, power will rule. This is true of any system. For example, it has repeatedly been shown that systems of government have only worked when those with the power value the principles behind the system more than they value their own personal objectives.

93. For that reason the power supporting the principles must be given only to people who value the principled way of operating more than their individual interests.

94. While we talked about an organization’s culture in the last section, its people are even more important because they can change the culture for better or for worse.

95.  Steve Jobs, who everyone thought was the secret to Apple’s success, said, “The secret to my success is that we’ve gone to exceptional lengths to hire the best people in the world.” Remember That the WHO Is More Important than the WHAT.

96. If they can’t do the job after being trained and given time to learn, get rid of them; if they can, promote them.

97. People often make the mistake of focusing on what should be done while neglecting the more important question of who should be given the responsibility for determining what should be done.

98. When you know what you need in a person to do the job well and you know what the person you’re putting into it is like, you can pretty well visualize how things will go.

99. In the end, what you need to do is simple: 1. Remember the goal. 2. Give the goal to people who can achieve it (which is best) or tell them what to do to achieve it (which is micromanaging and therefore less good). 3. Hold them accountable. 4. If they still can’t do the job after you’ve trained them and given them time to learn, get rid of them.

100. When putting someone in a position of responsibility, make sure their incentives are aligned with their responsibilities and they experience the consequences of the outcomes they produce. As an example, structure their deals so that they do well or badly based on how well or badly you do in the areas they are responsible for. This is fundamental for good management.

101. At a high level, we look for people who think independently, argue open-mindedly and assertively, and above all else value the intense pursuit of truth and excellence, and through it, the rapid improvement of themselves and the organization.

102. We look for people with generous natures and high standards of fairness. Most important, they must be able to put their egos aside and assess themselves candidly.

103. When building a “machine,” design precedes people because the type of people you will need will depend on the design.

104. Don’t design jobs to fit people; over time, this almost always turns out to be a mistake. This often happens when someone you are reluctant to let go doesn’t work out, and there is an inclination to try to find out what else that person can do.

105. In picking people for long-term relationships, values are most important, abilities come next, and skills are the least important. Yet most people make the mistake of choosing skills and abilities first and overlooking values. We value people most who have what I call the three C’s: character, common sense, and creativity.

106. Remember that people typically don’t change all that much. This is especially true over short periods of time like a year or two, yet most people want to assume that when someone does something wrong the person will learn the lesson and change. That’s naive. It is best to assume that they won’t change unless there is good evidence to the contrary that they will.

107. Think about accuracy, not implications. It’s often the case that someone receiving critical feedback gets preoccupied with the implications of that feedback instead of whether it’s true.

108. It should take you no more than a year to learn what a person is like and whether they are a click for their job.

109. Don’t collect people. It is much worse to keep someone in a job unsuitable for them than it is to fire or reassign them.

110. Don’t lower the bar.

111. No matter what work you do, at a high level you are simply setting goals and building machines to help you achieve them.

112. Build great metrics. Metrics show how the machine is working by providing numbers and setting off alert lights in a dashboard.

113. The real sign of a master manager is that he doesn’t have to do practically anything. Managers should view the need to get involved in the nitty-gritty as a bad sign.

114. Avoid staying too distant. You need to know your people extremely well, provide and receive regular feedback, and have quality discussions.

115. Use daily updates as a tool for staying on top of what your people are doing and thinking. I ask each person who reports to me to take about ten to fifteen minutes to write a brief description of what they did that day, the issues pertaining to them, and their reflections.

116. Don’t worry about whether or not your people like you and don’t look to them to tell you what you should do. Just worry about making the best decisions possible, recognizing that no matter what you do, most everyone will think you’re doing something—or many things—wrong.

117. Goals, tasks, and assigned responsibilities should be reviewed at department meetings at least once a quarter, perhaps as often as once a month.

118.  Bad outcomes don’t just happen; they occur because specific people make, or fail to make, specific decisions.

119. Remember that if you have the same people doing the same things, you should expect the same results.

120. It is your job as a manager to get at truth and excellence, not to make people happy.

121. Build your organization from the top down. An organization is the opposite of a building: Its foundation is at the top, so make sure you hire managers before you hire their reports. Managers can help design the machine and choose the people who complement it. People overseeing departments need to be able to think strategically as well as run the day-to-day. If they don’t anticipate what’s coming up, they’ll run the day-to-day off a cliff.

122. Don’t build the organization to fit the people. Managers will often take the people who work in their organization as a given and try to make the organization work well with them. That’s backward. Instead, they should imagine the best organization and then make sure the right people are chosen for it.

123. Ensure that the ratios of senior managers to junior managers and of junior managers to their reports are limited to preserve quality communication and mutual understanding. Generally, the ratio should not be more than 1:10, and preferably closer to 1:5.

124. Create an organizational chart to look like a pyramid, with straight lines down that don’t cross. The whole organization should look like a series of descending pyramids, but the number of layers should be limited to minimize hierarchy.

125. Use “public hangings” to deter bad behavior. No matter how carefully you design your controls and how rigorously you enforce them, malicious and grossly negligent people will sometimes find a way around them. So when you catch someone violating your rules and controls, make sure that everybody sees the consequences.

126. Constantly think about how to produce leverage. Leverage in an organization is not unlike leverage in the markets; you’re looking for ways to achieve more with less. At Bridgewater, I typically work at about 50:1 leverage, meaning that for every hour I spend with each person who works for me, they spend about fifty hours working to move the project along.

127. At our sessions, we go over the vision and the deliverables, then they work on them, and then we review the work, and they move forward based on my feedback—and we do that over and over again.

128. Ring the bell. When you and your team have successfully pushed through to achieve your goals, celebrate!