Summary: Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi with Tahl Raz

1. I watched how the people who had reached professional heights unknown to my father and mother helped each other. They found one another jobs, they invested time and money in one another's ideas, and they made sure their kids got help getting into the best schools, got the right internships, and ultimately got the best jobs

2. Poverty, I realized, wasn't only a lack of financial resources; it was isolation from the kind of people that could help you make more of yourself.

3.  When you help others, they often help you. Reciprocity is the gussied-up word people use later in life to describe this ageless principle. I just knew the word as "care." We cared for each other, so we went out of our way to do nice things.

4. I learned that real networking was about finding ways to make other people more successful. It was about working hard to give more than you get. And I came to believe that there was a litany of tough-minded principles that made this softhearted philosophy possible.

5. Until you become as willing to ask for help as you are to give it, however, you are only working half the equation.

6. But to do so, first you have to stop keeping score. You can't amass a network of connections without introducing such connections to others with equal fervor. The more people you help, the more help you'll have and the more help you'll have helping others.

7. In other words, the currency of real networking is not greed but generosity.

8. Bottom line: It's better to give before you receive. And never keep score. If your interactions are ruled by generosity, your rewards will follow suit.

9. The business world is a fluid, competitive landscape; yesterday's assistant is today's influence peddler. Many of the young men and women who used to answer my phones now thankfully take my calls. Remember, it's easier to get ahead in the world when those below you are happy to help you get ahead, rather than hoping for your downfall.

10. Every successful person I've met shared, in varying degrees, a zeal for goal setting. Successful athletes, CEOs, charismatic leaders, rainmaking salespeople, and accomplished managers all know what they want in life, and they go after it.

11. As my dad used to say, no one becomes an astronaut by accident. 

12. Yale's class of 1953 a number of questions. Three had to do with goals: 

 Have you set goals? 

 Have you written them down? 

 Do you have a plan to accomplish them?

13. It turned out that only 3 percent of the Yale class had written down their goals, with a plan of action to achieve them. Thirteen percent had goals but had not written them down. Fully 84 percent had no specific goals at all, other than to "enjoy themselves."

14. In 1973, when the same class was resurveyed, the differences between the goal setters and everyone else were stunning. The 13 percent who had goals that were not in writing were earning, on average, twice as much as the 84 percent of students who had no goals at all. But most surprising of all, the 3 percent who had written their goals down were earning, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent of graduates combined![So, apparently this never happened - Where can I find information on Yale's 1953 goal study? - Ask Yale Library]

15. The tool I use is something I call the Networking Action Plan. The Plan is separated into three distinct parts: The first part is devoted to the development of the goals that will help you fulfill your mission. The second part is devoted to connecting those goals to the people, places, and things that will help you get the job done. And the third part helps you determine the best way to reach out to the people who will help you to accomplish your goals.

16. From Clinton, two lessons are clear: First, the more specific you are about where you want to go in life, the easier it becomes to develop a networking strategy to get there. 

17. Second, be sensitive to making a real connection in your interactions with others. There is almost an expectation among us that whoever becomes rich or powerful can be forgiven for high-handed behavior. Clinton illustrates how charming and popular you can become, and remain, when you treat everyone you meet with sincerity.

18. In business, we often say that your best customers are the customers you have now. In other words, your most successful sales leads come from the selling you've already done. The highest returns don't come from new sales; they come on top of the customer base you've already established. It's easiest to reach out to those people who are at least tangentially part of your network.

19. Sometimes I fail. I've got an equally long list of people I've attempted to befriend who weren't interested in my overtures.

20. All of which reveals an inner truth about the skill of reaching out to others: Those who are best at it don't network—they make friends.

21. Trust me, all people naturally care, generally above and beyond anything else, about what it is they do. If you are informed enough to step comfortably into their world and talk knowledgeably, their appreciation will be tangible. As William James wrote: "The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated."

22. The people who are on Crain's "40 Under 40" aren't necessarily the forty best businesspeople. They are, however, probably the forty most connected. And they probably all have lunched with one another at one time or another. When you get to know these people, and the people they know (including the journalists at Crain's responsible for the "40 Under 40"), you're that much more likely to be on the list yourself the next time it appears

23. And second, cold calls are for suckers. I don't call cold—ever. I've created strategies that ensure every call I make is a warm one.

24. In fifteen seconds, I used my four rules for what I call warm calling: 1) Convey credibility by mentioning a familiar person or institution—in this case, John, Jeff, and WebMD. 2) State your value proposition: Jeff's new product would help Serge sell his new products. 3) Impart urgency and convenience by being prepared to do whatever it takes whenever it takes to meet the other person on his or her own terms. 4) Be prepared to offer a compromise that secures a definite follow-up at a minimum.

25. Remember, in most instances, the sole objective of the cold call is, ultimately, to get an appointment where you can discuss the proposition in more detail, not to close the sale. In my experience, deals, like friendships, are made only one-to-one, face-to-face

26. Secretaries and assistants are more than just helpful associates to their bosses. If they are any good, they become trusted friends, advocates, and integral parts of their professional, and even personal, lives.

27. As important as gatekeepers are within an organization, they're that much more important when you're working from the outside.

28. In building a network, remember: Above all, never, ever disappear. Keep your social and conference and event calendar full. As an up-and-comer, you must work hard to remain visible and active among your ever-budding network of friends and contacts.

29. His formula is not complicated, but it is rigorous. He talks to at least fifty people each day. He spends hours a week walking his company plant talking to employees up and down the ladder. If you send an e-mail to him or his assistant, you can be sure there will be a response within hours. He attributes his success to the blue-collar work ethic and sensibilities he was raised with by his father. About his more starched white-collar colleagues, he once told me that while he had learned what these people know, they would never have an opportunity to learn what he knew.

30. The more new connections you establish, the more opportunities you'll have to make even more new connections. As Robert Metcalfe, the inventor of Ethernet, says: The value of a network grows proportional to the square of the number of its users. In the case of the Internet, every new computer, every new server, and every new user added expands the possibilities for everyone else who's already there. The same principle holds true in growing your web of relationships. The bigger it gets, the more attractive it becomes, and the faster it grows. That's why I say that a network is like a muscle—the more you work it, the bigger it gets.

31. My point is, behind any successful person stands a long string of failures. But toughness and tenacity like Lincoln's can overcome these setbacks. Lincoln knew the only way to gain ground, to move forward, to turn his goals into reality, was to learn from his setbacks, to stay engaged, and press on!

32. I have a confession to make. I've never been to a so-called "networking event" in my life. If properly organized, these get-togethers in theory could work. Most, however, are for the desperate and uninformed.

33. When it comes to meeting people, it's not only whom you get to know but also how and where you get to know them.

34. Flying first class is not something most people can afford, but there's an interesting camaraderie among those front seats that you won't find back in coach. To begin with, there are always a number of movers and shakers up front, in close quarters, for hours at a time. Because they've slapped down an absurd premium for the luxury of getting off the plane a few seconds earlier than the rest of the passengers, fellow first-classers assume you, too, are important.

35. I can't tell you how many valuable clients and contacts I've met during a conversation struck up during an in-flight meal. (By the way, this is the only acceptable time to bother your seat mate.)

36. At a so-called "networking event," the dynamics are just the opposite. People assume you're in the same boat they are—desperate. Credibility is hard to gain. If you're jobless, doesn't it make more sense to hang with the job-givers than fellow job-seekers?

37. Shared interests are the basic building blocks of any relationship. Race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or business, professional, and personal interests are relational glue. It makes sense, then, that events and activities where you'll thrive are those built around interests you're most passionate about.

38. Popular blogs attract like-minded legions to their sites. The blogosphere (the community of active bloggers writing on topics that range from spirituality to sports) has grown from a dozen or so Web logs in 1999 to an estimated five million today.

39. I have a friend who is the executive vice president of a large bank in Charlotte. His networking hotspot is, of all places, the YMCA. He tells me that at 5 and 6 in the morning, the place is buzzing with exercise fanatics like himself getting in a workout before they go to the office. He scouts the place for entrepreneurs, current customers, and prospects. Then, as he's huffing and puffing on the StairMaster, he answers their questions about investments and loans.

40. Use your passions as a guide to which activities and events you should be seeking out. Use them to engage new and old contacts. If you love baseball, for example, take potential and current clients to a ballgame. It doesn't matter what you do, only that it's something you love doing.

41. Your passions and the events you build around them will create deeper levels of intimacy. Pay attention to matching the event to the particular relationship you're trying to build. I've got an informal list of activities I use to keep in touch with my business and personal friends. Here are some things I like to do:

  • Fifteen minutes and a cup of coffee. It's quick, it's out of the office, and it's a great way to meet someone new. 
  • Conferences. If I'm attending a conference in, say, Seattle, I'll pull out a list of people in the area I know or would like to know better and see if they might like to drop in for a particularly interesting keynote speech or dinner. 
  • Invite someone to share a workout or a hobby (golf, chess, stamp collecting, a book club, etc.). 
  • A quick early breakfast, lunch, drinks after work, or dinner together. There's nothing like food to break the ice. 
  • Invite someone to a special event. 
  • Entertaining at home.

42. Good follow-up alone elevates you above 95 percent of your peers. The follow-up is the hammer and nails of your networking tool kit. In fact, FOLLOW-UP IS THE KEY TO SUCCESS IN ANY FIELD.

43. Making sure a new acquaintance retains your name (and the favorable impression you've created) is a process you should set in motion right after you've met someone. Give yourself between twelve and twenty-four hours after you meet someone to follow up. If you meet somebody on a plane, send them an e-mail later that day. If you meet somebody over cocktails, again, send them an e-mail the next morning

44. But remember—and this is critical—don't remind them of what they can do for you, but focus on what you might be able to do for them. It's about giving them a reason to want to follow up.

45. Another effective way to follow up is to clip relevant articles and send them to the people in your network who might be interested. When people do this for me, I'm tremendously appreciative; it shows they're thinking about me and the issues I'm facing.

46. Smart salespeople—in fact, smart employees and business owners of all stripes—spend 80 percent of their time building strong relationships with the people they do business with.

47. Calm yourself. First, you should know that giving speeches is one of the easiest and most effective ways to get yourself, your business, and your ideas seen, heard of, and remembered, and you don't need to be Tony Robbins to find yourself a forum of people willing to hear you out

48. The American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) says the meetings industry is a nearly $83 billion market, with over $56 billion being spent annually on conventions and seminars alone. That ranks conferences— get this!—as the twenty-third-largest contributor to the Gross National Product.

49.  Study after study shows that the more speeches one gives, the higher one's income bracket tends to be.

50.  Most people think a conference is a good time to market their wares. They rush from room to room desperately trying to sell themselves. But a commando knows that you have to get people to like you first. The sales come later—in the follow-up discussions you have after the conference. Now is the time to begin to build trust and a relationship.

51. It has become part of our accepted wisdom that six degrees is all that separates us from anyone else in the world. How can that be? Because some of those degrees (people) know many, many more people than the rest of us.

52. Call them super-connectors. We all know at least one person like this individual, who seems to know everybody and who everybody seems to know. You'll find a disproportionate amount of super-connectors as headhunters, lobbyists, fundraisers, politicians, journalists, and public relations specialists, because such positions require these folks' innate abilities. I am going to argue that such people should be the cornerstones to any flourishing network.

53. Granovetter discovered that 56 percent of those surveyed found their current job through a personal connection. Only 19 percent used what we consider traditional job-searching routes, like newspaper job listings and executive recruiters. Roughly 10 percent applied directly to an employer and obtained the job.

54. And it's quite easy to get to know a restaurateur. The smart ones will go out of their way to make your experience delightful. All you have to do is reach out and go there often enough. When in a new city, I generally ask people to give me a list of a few of the hottest (and most established) restaurants. I like to call ahead and ask to speak with the owner (though the maitre d' will do) and tell them that I go out regularly, sometimes in large parties, and I'm looking for a new place to entertain, a lot!

55. Recruiters. Job-placement counselors. Search executives. They are like gatekeepers. Instead of answering to one executive, however, the really successful ones may answer to hundreds of executives in the field in which they recruit. Headhunters are professional matchmakers, earning their wage by introducing job candidates to companies that are hiring. Should you get the job, the headhunter gets a sizable commission, typically a percentage of the successful candidate's first year's compensation.

56. The other advice in this area is to act as a pseudo-headhunter yourself, always on the lookout to connect job-hunters and jobseekers or consultants and companies. When you help people land a new gig, they'll be inclined to remember you if they hear of a new position opening.

57. Studying a group of MBAs a decade after their graduation, he found that grade-point average had no bearing on success. The one trait that was common among the class's most accomplished graduates was "verbal fluency." Those that had built businesses and climbed the corporate ladder with amazing speed were those who could confidently make conversation with anyone in any situation. Investors, customers, and bosses posed no more of a threat than colleagues, secretaries, and friends. In front of an audience, at a dinner, or in a cab, these people knew how to talk.

58. Once you know heartfelt candor is more effective than canned quips in starting a meaningful conversation, the idea of "breaking the ice" becomes easy. Too many of us believe "breaking the ice" means coming up with a brilliant, witty, or extravagantly insightful remark. But few among us are Jay Leno or David Letterman. When you realize the best icebreaker is a few words from the heart, the act of starting a conversation becomes far less daunting.

59. I've always told people I believe that every conversation you have is an invitation to risk revealing the real you. What's the worst that can happen? They don't respond in kind. So what. They probably weren't worth knowing in the first place. But if the risk pays off, well, now you've just turned a potentially dull exchange into something interesting or even perhaps personally insightful—and more times than not, a real relationship is formed.

60. These days, I rarely blanch at the chance to introduce topics of conversation that some consider off-limits. Spirituality, romance, politics—these are some of the issues that make life worth living.

61. The real winners—those with astounding careers, warm relationships, and unstoppable charisma—are those people who put it all out there and don't waste a bunch of time and energy trying to be something (or someone) they're not. Charm is simply a matter of being yourself. Your uniqueness is your power. We are all born with innate winning traits to be a masterful small talker.

62. In my initial conversation with someone I'm just getting to know, whether it's a new men tee or simply a new business contact, I try to find out what motivations drive that person. It often comes down to one of three things: making money, finding love, or changing the world. You laugh—most people do when confronted with the reality of their deepest desires.

63. "Keith," he said, "there are three things in this world that engender deep emotional bonds between people. They are health, wealth, and children." There are a lot of things we can do for other people: give good advice, help them wash their car, or help them move. But health, wealth, and children affect us in ways other acts of kindness do not. When you help someone through a health issue, positively impact someone's personal wealth, or take a sincere interest in their children, you engender life-bonding loyalty.

64. "Stop driving yourself—and everyone else—crazy thinking about how to make yourself successful. Start thinking about how you're going to make everyone around you successful."

65. My point? Real power comes from being indispensable. Indispensability comes from being a switchboard, parceling out as much information, contacts, and goodwill to as many people—in as many different worlds—as possible

66. Most of us know the people within our own professional and social group, and little more. Through other connectors, and on your own, I would urge you to make a point of knowing as many people from as many different professions and social groups as possible. The ability to bridge different worlds, and even different people within the same profession, is a key attribute in managers who are paid better and promoted faster, according to an influential study conducted by Ron Burt, a professor at the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business.

67. "People who have contacts in separate groups have a competitive advantage because we live in a system of bureaucracies, and bureaucracies create walls," says Burt. "Individual managers with entrepreneurial networks move information faster, are highly mobile relative to bureaucracy, and create solutions better adapted to the needs of the organization."

68. To paraphrase Dale Carnegie: You can be more successful in two months by becoming really interested in other people's success than you can in two years trying to get other people interested in your own success.

69. I f 80 percent of success is, as Woody Allen once said, just showing up, then 80 percent of building and maintaining relationships is just staying in touch.

70.  I'm told that the consulting firm McKinsey and Company actually has a rule of thumb that one hundred days after a new CEO takes charge of a company, McKinsey assigns one of their consultants to call and see how McKinsey might help. One hundred days is, McKinsey figures, just enough time for the new CEO to feel that he or she knows what the issues and problems are, but not enough time to have gotten his or her arms around the solutions.

71. My personal favorite pinging occasion remains birthdays, the neglected stepchild of life's celebrated moments. As you get older, the people around you start forgetting your big day (mostly because they think they want to forget their own).

72. Six to ten guests, I've found, is the optimal number to invite to a dinner.

73. Generally, when you invite someone to dinner, you get a 20 to 30 percent acceptance rate because of scheduling difficulties.

74. In short, forget your job title and forget your job description (for the moment, at least). Starting today, you've got to figure out what exceptional expertise you're going to master that will provide real value to your network and your company.

75. Just remember that famous and powerful people are first and foremost people: They're proud, sad, insecure, hopeful, and if you can help them achieve their goals, in whatever capacity, they will be appreciative.

76. Sports and exercise are terrific areas where you can meet new, important people. On the field or court, in the gym or on the track, it's a level playing field. Reputation means little.

77. Start an organization. And invite those you want to meet to join you. Gaining members will be easy. Like most clubs, it starts with your group of friends, who then select their own friends. Over time, those people will bring in even more new and intriguing people.

78. Building a community of like-minded people around a common cause or interest is, and has always been, a very compelling proposition in its own right.

79. Runyon's tough-luck stories about equally tough characters had a lot of emotional resonance for my dad. His favorite quote of Runyon's was "Always try to rub up against money, for if you rub up against money long enough, some of it may rub off on you."

80. Dr. David McClelland of Harvard University researched the qualities and characteristics of high achievers in our society. What he found was that your choice of a "reference group," the people you hang out with, was an important factor in determining your future success or failure. In other words, if you hang with connected people, you're connected. If you hang with successful people, you're more likely to become successful yourself.

81. The best way to approach utility is to give help first, and not ask for it. If there is someone whose knowledge you need, find a way to be of use to that person. Consider their needs and how you can assist them. If you can't help them specifically, perhaps you can contribute to their charity, company, or community.

82. I think the problem in today's world isn't that we have too many people in our lives, it's that we don't have enough. Dr. Will Miller and Glenn Sparks, in their book Refrigerator Rights: Creating Connections and Restoring Relationships, argue that with our increased mobility, American emphasis on individualism, and the overwhelming media distractions available to us, we lead lives of relative isolation.

83. Ultimately, making your mark as a connector means making a contribution—to your friends and family, to your company, to your community, and most important, to the world—by making the best use of your contacts and talents.

84. Creativity begets more creativity, money begets more money, knowledge begets more knowledge, more friends beget more friends, success begets even more success. Most important, giving begets giving. At no time in history has this law of abundance been more apparent than in this connected age where the world increasingly functions in accord with networking principles.


Summary: The Culture Code by Daniel Coyle

1. The Culture Code, Daniel Coyle, New York Times bestselling author of The Talent Code, goes inside some of the most effective organisations in the world and reveals their secrets. He not only explains what makes such groups tick, but also identifies the key factors that can generate team cohesion in any walk of life. He examines the verbal and physical cues that bring people together. He determines specific strategies that encourage collaboration and build trust.

2. Felps has brought in Nick to portray three negative archetypes: the Jerk (an aggressive, defiant deviant), the Slacker (a withholder of effort), and the Downer (a depressive Eeyore type). Nick is really good at being bad. In almost every group, his behavior reduces the quality of the group’s performance by 30 to 40 percent. The drop-off is consistent whether he plays the Jerk, the Slacker, or the Downer.

3. Jonathan’s group succeeds not because its members are smarter but because they are safer.

4. Safety is not mere emotional weather but rather the foundation on which strong culture is built. The deeper questions are, Where does it come from? And how do you go about building it?

5. When you ask people inside highly successful groups to describe their relationship with one another, they all tend to choose the same word. The word they use is family.

6.When I visited these (successful) groups, I noticed a distinct pattern of interaction. I made a list:

  • Close physical proximity, often in circles 
  • Profuse amounts of eye contact 
  • Physical touch (handshakes, fist bumps, hugs) 
  • Lots of short, energetic exchanges (no long speeches) 
  • High levels of mixing; everyone talks to everyone 
  • Few interruptions 
  • Lots of questions 
  • Intensive, active listening 
  • Humor, laughter 
  • Small, attentive courtesies (thank-yous, opening doors, etc.)

7. Belonging cues are behaviors that create safe connection in groups. They include, among others, proximity, eye contact, energy, mimicry, turn taking, attention, body language, vocal pitch, consistency of emphasis, and whether everyone talks to everyone else in the group. Like any language, belonging cues can’t be reduced to an isolated moment but rather consist of a steady pulse of interactions within a social relationship. Their function is to answer the ancient, ever-present questions glowing in our brains: Are we safe here? What’s our future with these people? Are there dangers lurking?

8. Belonging cues possess three basic qualities: 

  • Energy: They invest in the exchange that is occurring 
  • Individualization: They treat the person as unique and valued 
  • Future orientation: They signal the relationship will continue

9. Group performance depends on behavior that communicates one powerful overarching idea: We are safe and connected.

10. Belonging feels like it happens from the inside out, but in fact it happens from the outside in. Our social brains light up when they receive a steady accumulation of almost-invisible cues: We are close, we are safe, we share a future.

11. Cohesion happens not when members of a group are smarter but when they are lit up by clear, steady signals of safe connection.

12. Belonging cues have to do not with character or discipline but with building an environment that answers basic questions: Are we connected? Do we share a future? Are we safe? Let’s take them one by one.

13. One misconception about highly successful cultures is that they are happy, lighthearted places. This is mostly not the case. They are energized and engaged, but at their core their members are oriented less around achieving happiness than around solving hard problems together. This task involves many moments of high-candor feedback, uncomfortable truth-telling, when they confront the gap between where the group is, and where it ought to be.

14. Proximity functions as a kind of connective drug. Get close, and our tendency to connect lights up.

15. For the vast majority of human history, sustained proximity has been an indicator of belonging—after all, we don’t get consistently close to someone unless it’s mutually safe.

16. One study found that workers who shared a location emailed one another four times as often as workers who did not, and as a result they completed their projects 32 percent faster.

17. Relatedly, it’s important to avoid interruptions. The smoothness of turn taking, as we’ve seen, is a powerful indicator of cohesive group performance. Interruptions shatter the smooth interactions at the core of belonging. They are so discohesive, in fact, that Waber uses interruption metrics as sales training tools. “When you can show someone numbers that the top salespeople hardly ever interrupt people, and then rate them on that scale, you can deliver a powerful message,”

18. Spotlight Your Fallibility Early On—Especially If You’re a Leader: In any interaction, we have a natural tendency to try to hide our weaknesses and appear competent. If you want to create safety, this is exactly the wrong move. Instead, you should open up, show you make mistakes, and invite input with simple phrases like “This is just my two cents.” “Of course, I could be wrong here.” “What am I missing?” “What do you think?”

19. “To create safety, leaders need to actively invite input,”

20. Embrace the Messenger: One of the most vital moments for creating safety is when a group shares bad news or gives tough feedback. In these moments, it’s important not simply to tolerate the difficult news but to embrace it. “You know the phrase ‘Don’t shoot the messenger’?” Edmondson says. “In fact, it’s not enough to not shoot them. You have to hug the messenger and let them know how much you need that feedback. That way you can be sure that they feel safe enough to tell you the truth next time.”

21. Overdo Thank-Yous: When you enter highly successful cultures, the number of thank-yous you hear seems slightly over the top.

22. This is because thank-yous aren’t only expressions of gratitude; they’re crucial belonging cues that generate a contagious sense of safety, connection, and motivation.

23. Be Painstaking in the Hiring Process: Deciding who’s in and who’s out is the most powerful signal any group sends, and successful groups approach their hiring accordingly.

24. Eliminate Bad Apples: The groups I studied had extremely low tolerance for bad apple behavior and, perhaps more important, were skilled at naming those behaviors. The leaders of the New Zealand All-Blacks, the rugby squad that ranks as one of the most successful teams on the planet, achieve this through a rule that simply states “No Dickheads.” It’s simple, and that’s why it’s effective.

25. Make Sure Everyone Has a Voice: Ensuring that everyone has a voice is easy to talk about but hard to accomplish. This is why many successful groups use simple mechanisms that encourage, spotlight, and value full-group contribution. For example, many groups follow the rule that no meeting can end without everyone sharing something.

26. Embrace Fun: This obvious one is still worth mentioning, because laughter is not just laughter; it’s the most fundamental sign of safety and connection.

27. “People tend to think of vulnerability in a touchy-feely way, but that’s not what’s happening,” Polzer says. “It’s about sending a really clear signal that you have weaknesses, that you could use help. And if that behavior becomes a model for others, then you can set the insecurities aside and get to work, start to trust each other and help each other. If you never have that vulnerable moment, on the other hand, then people will try to cover up their weaknesses, and every little microtask becomes a place where insecurities manifest themselves.”

28. Normally, we think about trust and vulnerability the way we think about standing on solid ground and leaping into the unknown: first we build trust, then we leap. But science is showing us that we’ve got it backward. Vulnerability doesn’t come after trust—it precedes it. Leaping into the unknown, when done alongside others, causes the solid ground of trust to materialize beneath our feet.

29. The mechanism of cooperation can be summed up as follows: Exchanges of vulnerability, which we naturally tend to avoid, are the pathway through which trusting cooperation is built.

30. One of the best things I’ve found to improve a team’s cohesion is to send them to do some hard, hard training.

31. One of the most useful tools was the After-Action Review. AARs happen immediately after each mission and consist of a short meeting in which the team gathers to discuss and replay key decisions. AARs are led not by commanders but by enlisted men. There are no agendas, and no minutes are kept.

32. Good AARs follow a template. “You have to do it right away,” Cooper says. “You put down your gun, circle up, and start talking. Usually you take the mission from beginning to end, chronologically. You talk about every decision, and you talk about the process.

33. Make Sure the Leader Is Vulnerable First and Often: As we’ve seen, group cooperation is created by small, frequently repeated moments of vulnerability. Of these, none carries more power than the moment when a leader signals vulnerability. As Dave Cooper says, I screwed that up are the most important words any leader can say.

34. Laszlo Bock, former head of People Analytics at Google, recommends that leaders ask their people three questions: 

  • What is one thing that I currently do that you’d like me to continue to do? 
  • What is one thing that I don’t currently do frequently enough that you think I should do more often? 
  • What can I do to make you more effective?

35. Overcommunicate Expectations: The successful groups I visited did not presume that cooperation would happen on its own. Instead, they were explicit and persistent about sending big, clear signals that established those expectations, modeled cooperation, and aligned language and roles to maximize helping behavior.

36. Aim for Candor; Avoid Brutal Honesty: Giving honest feedback is tricky, because it can easily result in people feeling hurt or demoralized. One useful distinction, made most clearly at Pixar, is to aim for candor and avoid brutal honesty. By aiming for candor—feedback that is smaller, more targeted, less personal, less judgmental, and equally impactful—it’s easier to maintain a sense of safety and belonging in the group.

37. High-purpose environments are filled with small, vivid signals designed to create a link between the present moment and a future ideal. They provide the two simple locators that every navigation process requires: Here is where we are and Here is where we want to go.

38. Create maxims to establish behavior.

39. Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they’ll find a way to screw it up. Give a mediocre idea to a good team, and they’ll find a way to make it better. The goal needs to be to get the team right, get them moving in the right direction, and get them to see where they are making mistakes and where they are succeeding.”

40. Nonetheless a handful of “Ed-isms” are heard in Pixar’s corridors. Here are a few: 

  • Hire people smarter than you. 
  • Fail early, fail often. 
  • Listen to everyone’s ideas. 
  • Face toward the problems. 
  • B-level work is bad for your soul. 
  • It’s more important to invest in good people than in good ideas.

41. It’s necessary to drastically overcommunicate priorities.

42. In the 1990s, sociologists James Baron and Michael Hannan analyzed the founding cultures of nearly two hundred technology start-ups in Silicon Valley. They found that most followed one of three basic models: the star model, the professional model, and the commitment model. The star model focused on finding and hiring the brightest people. The professional model focused on building the group around specific skill sets. The commitment model, on the other hand, focused on developing a group with shared values and strong emotional bonds. Of these, the commitment model consistently led to the highest rates of success. During the tech-bubble burst of 2000, the start-ups that used the commitment model survived at a vastly higher rate than the other two models, and achieved initial public offerings three times more often.

Summary : The Software Engineer's Guide to Freelance Consulting by Zack Burt and Jay El-Kaake

1. I found my first client when I barely knew how to code, so I developed an early appreciation for the fact that people will pay you if you can solve problems for their business (either by making them money, helping them have to invest less money or time, or fixing something that’s broken). 

2. Finding clients is the cornerstone to freelancing.  It’s the most important thing you will do as a freelancer aside from writing code.  It’s a fundamental skill that will make-or-break you as a successful, independent freelancer: if you develop this skill, you will find success; if you don’t, you will most likely become a full-time employee.

3. In fact, until you have consistent work, you should be spending at least four hours a day looking for new clients.

4. I got my start in consulting by building an app in the ‘hot space’ of the day: the Facebook platform.

5. Because my app was at the top of the Facebook “app list”, anyone who wanted a Facebook app built could contact me and know that I would be capable of delivering something of quality – the proof was in the pudding of my existing app.

6. I recommend being proactive in advertising your competence: one approach that’s worked particularly well for me has been Craigslist ads.

7. I know what you’re thinking– “Craigslist?! Really?!  That site looks like something from 1999, and it’s notorious for scams.”  Those objections may be true, but since it was founded by an old-school geek, it still has a huge population of people who use it as a market to find software development.

8. In 2017, I generated over $100,000 of new business from Craigslist ads. You can post pretty much anything you want in the “Resume” section of Craigslist.

9. If you’ve been working a job in the tech industry, or even a job in the non-tech industry, but you happened to be in tech, it’s likely that your coworkers may have moved on to newer and greater things.  Make a list of all of your old jobs, and then for each job, make a list of the coworkers who you enjoyed working with.  Add to the list coworkers those who you had a great reputation with (for delivering excellent results).

10. There is really no shortage of work for talented developers, and one of the biggest barriers to signing a new client is convincing them that you will actually be able to deliver the work.  You would be surprised by the reasons clients will dismiss you, but if you are dealing with someone who has already witnessed your ability to deliver quality work, first hand, then you don’t have to deal with that hurdle!

11. I strongly recommend keeping in touch with your past clients for several key reasons: 

  • First, you can make sure that whatever you delivered to them is still delivering value.  If it isn’t, you can fix it for them (they’ll often pay you for the service), or you can figure out what went wrong in order to improve the professional quality of your work.  
  • Second, it’s important to maintain the relationship so that they think of you when they need work performed in the future.  In addition, you can just ask them outright for referrals to their personal and professional networks.  If they are happy with your work, then there is no reason they shouldn’t be able to answer with some ideas when you ask, “Can you think of anybody who would be able to benefit from my developer services?”
  • The final reason is so that they will provide you a reference that you can give potential new clients.

12. Many people are shocked when I tell them that they can generate serious revenues through Craigslist, but it’s still a thriving market for freelance programming jobs. These are generally not going to be huge engineering projects, but utilize the ‘foot in the door phenomenon’: once you get your foot in the door with a potential client, and you deliver value, you can earn additional work from that client.

13. The Hacker News community is a great source of leads. Here is a list of ways to monetize this community:

  • Contribute to discussion of topics where you have some technical expertise.
  • This can include both hard tech and also soft skills threads.  Make sure you have your contact information in your profile – Hacker News will not display your email address by default due to its privacy restrictions, so be sure to add your email address manually to your profile.
  • Join the #startups channel on IRC and participate in the discussion, every so often you should remind people that you are a freelancer and an expert in various technologies.
  • When people make “Show HN” threads, send an email to the authors introducing yourself.  In your message, provide feedback on their project and let them know that you are available to deliver value to them when they’re in need of development help.
  • Reach out to the community leaders of Hacker News. You can find a list here: https://news.ycombinator.com/leaders
  • Every month, there is a “Who is hiring?” thread and a “Freelancer?  Seeking Freelancer?” thread.  You can see a master list of all the threads here: https://news.ycombinator.com/submitted?id=whoishiring. 
  • You should email all of the companies who post in the Freelancer? Seeking Freelancer? thread.  You should also post your contact info in the Freelancer? Seeking Freelancer? thread.  I personally have found subcontractors by harvesting emails from the Freelancer threads.
  • Contribute content that you might find interesting to share through blog posts, and then submit it to the main Hacker 
  • News site for discussion. If you regularly submit content (getting upvoted to the frontpage ~7 times within a year) then you will become a name brand within the community, and people will start cold emailing you out of the blue with opportunities for collaboration.
  • There are various Facebook groups dedicated to the Hacker News community.  For example, https://www.facebook.com/groups/114326995294656/ – if you search on Facebook, you will find several. 
  • People regularly post job and consulting opportunities to these groups. Join the groups, participate in the conversations (to build your name brand: most brand building building just means repeated positive exposure to achieve recognition), and reply to the opportunities.

13.  Blog about technical topics for new technologies. Teaching others is valuable for self-promotion, but also beneficial for reinforcing your own knowledge of the material.

14. Don’t put your contact info in a cryptic puzzle– people won’t think that you’re clever because you avoid spam robots… they’ll think that you’re an unclear, bad communicator.

15. If you build a big open source project that gets traction on GitHub, you may start receiving consulting requests – whether to implement your open source software, to make changes, or just to work in some other capacity because you have demonstrated yourself as a competent technologist who makes products that have an impact on the world.

16. Solving someone’s problem for free will build your reputation and lead to consulting opportunities. Every so often, you can spend some time monitoring the StackOverflow tags for the tech that you’re an expert in and be the first to respond to inquiries.  Don’t solicit consulting work directly in the threads, but you can link to your website and to your StackExchange profiles; feel free to have an ad for your consulting work directly on your website.

17. As one of the original “hire a freelancer” sites on the internet, Gun.io has been a mainstay in the community since 2011.

18. Worklily (https://www.worklily.com/) is a freelancer marketplace that connects tech freelancers with prospective clients looking for technical freelance work. The great thing about this site is that it is new and focused on technical freelancers, so you can hope to get some quality leads by making a profile on it.

19. Meetups (via meetup.com, mainly) are a great channel for finding consulting work.

20. Give talks at meetups. At the end of your talk, you can have a slide talking about ways to contact you, and you can mention you’re available for consulting work.  Then, at the end of the talk, throw your slides up on www.slideshare.com and post them to social media (Hacker News, LinkedIn, Reddit, Facebook Groups). Be sure to bring plenty of business cards that mention that you do consulting work! The culture of business cards varies from community to community.  The rule of thumb is: don’t be the only person with a business card.

21. Early-stage startups, especially the ones that have not yet raised significant investment capital, are often eager to take on workers in exchange for payments in something other than cash -- because they don’t have much of it.  This most commonly manifests itself in the form of entrepreneurs who seek to pay pre-funding employees with sweat equity; as evidenced in the many desperate Craigslist ads. Seasoned entrepreneurs will be open to other arrangements. These are often the ones you want to work with.  Experienced entrepreneurs will hoard equity; they don’t want to trade equity for something that can simply be paid for with cash.  Instead, they may be willing to work in terms of a convertible note arrangement.  That is, you bill them, but instead of them paying you with cash, they treat the invoice balance as a convertible note to the company.  Then, when the company gets financing, they either pay you back in cash or you receive equity in the company at a discount.

22. Don’t be afraid to ask your previous clients for referrals.  A great way to do this is to check in with them every so often in order to ask how their projects are going.  Once you’re in a conversation with them, you can just ask, “Is there anybody you could recommend who would benefit from my services?”.  It’s as simple as that.

23. Be sure to send your clients Christmas or holiday greeting cards - it’s a great way to stay in touch and reactivate relationships. Offbeat holidays such as July 4th, Halloween, and others can help you stand out from the crowd.

24. “It’s easier to explain price once than to apologize for quality forever.” – Zig Ziglar

25. As a baseline, you should charge at minimum what you can get paid working full-time for a company.

26. Can you get cash up front? Getting a retainer (deposit) is recommended, especially for new arrangements. Money now is better than money later. You may even be willing to offer a better rate if cash is paid to you up front.

27. If the project is not something you really want to do, then you should probably want to get paid really well to do it. If the project is something that is very interesting to you on the other hand, then maybe you’re willing to do the work at a discount.

28. Your level of interest for the work you’re doing should be very important to you, as it can affect your daily happiness greatly.

29. Never lower your rate because a client convinced you to.

  • Don’t let clients convince you that they can find someone cheaper. If they could, they wouldn’t be talking to you.
  • Don’t let clients convince you that you’re helping them out. You’re not a doctor.
  • Don’t let clients convince you that there’s much more work to come. If there is, then they should pay for a retainer.

30. There was a saying that was popular for many years: “Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM”.  That was because IBM enjoyed a reputation for providing pricey services that were always reliable.

31. If you can reduce the risk to the business of hiring you by guaranteeing that you will deliver, then you can charge more.  If you already have a solid reputation within your community for delivering quality, then you can use that as your argument; if you don’t, and you’re still confident you can deliver, then you can simply add a clause in your contract where they are entitled to a refund if the specified functionality is not delivered within the additionally specified timeframe.

32. The question of hourly rate vs. day rate is simple:  if you can devote entire days to specific clients, and if your client has the budget, charge a day rate instead of an hourly rate.  If you have enough demand to book yourself for an entire week, and your clients are willing to pay the weekly rate, charge the weekly rate. This is better for you (in terms of cashflow) and better for your clients because they get your full attention…uninterrupted focus is key in software development.

33. Often times in software development, however, it’s not practical to create a fixed scope of work: there are known unknowns and unknown unknowns. But the good news is that studies of software development by Tom DeMarco and Timothy Lister (authors of Peopleware and other software engineering classics) show that if a project is going to succeed, the data inflows and outflows must be defined 15% of the way through the entire time allotted for the project.

34. Most commonly, though, clients will appreciate the initial consultative selling and reward you for it.  Having a fixed scope and a fixed price results in projects that are more likely to succeed and projects that are finished quicker.  After all, if you’re getting paid a flat rate, you’re incentivized to finish things more quickly so you can move on to the next project.

35. Continuing education is the key to finding more gigs, promoting yourself as an authority, and ultimately making more money.

36. Once you’ve got some interest, it’s time to close the sale. Closing the sale means that you are coming up with an arrangement to start freelance coding for the client under a budget. This is a very important milestone.

37. In sales, there are five standard objections in the selling process: 

  1. Loss aversion - it costs too much, which makes spending feel like a loss.  
  2. It won’t work.
  3. It won’t work for me.  
  4. I can wait.  
  5. It’s too difficult.

38. In a meeting, you always have the opportunity to address objections #2, #3 and #5: You can convey credibility by telling stories about how you have done exactly what they need for clients in the past.  Tell them a story and help them visualize, specifically, how long it’s going to take, what kind of ongoing involvement will be required on their part, what the final form of delivery is going to look like, and when they can expect it.

39. “It costs too much” is addressable as long as you can deliver within their budget.  The other way to address this, if they made the budget way too low, is to help them calculate the business value of your offering.  Whatever you’re building should provide an ROI, or Return On Investment, that is standard within their industry – calculate the total cost, including your labor and their time.

40. If it can’t be done within the timeframe being requested, then definitely communicate it.

41. Be mindful that once you introduce clients to each other, it’s likely that they will continue talking.  If you are feeling especially ambitious, I recommend hosting a meetup where your clients can meet each other and talk about industry trends.  If you’re really feeling ambitious, cater it, and tell your clients they can invite friends. These sorts of events typically lead to lots of new business.

42. If you have a reputation for getting tasks done quickly and reliably, soon enough clients will delegate more and more tasks to you, because you are a reliable way of speeding up the throughput of their engineering organization while maintaining reasonable cost and quality.

43. Be cautioned, however, your speed should never come at the cost of quality. Poor quality development is a red flag that will lose you a client and reference for future clients. 

44. Being productive leads to more accurate estimations.

45. The typical software engineering BS of “It takes how long it takes,” and “I don’t know what I don’t know” is just not as acceptable in the consulting world.

46. You should have a written agreement with the client, a contract. An oral agreement can usually be legally binding unless there is a law that requires it to be in writing. But, to proceed on just an oral contract is asking for trouble. As a famous movie mogul reportedly said, “An oral contract isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.” That’s not always true, but why take any chances?

47. Having a carefully written agreement that addresses the issues discussed below will decrease the likelihood of disputes between you and the client and increase the likelihood of getting paid.

48. A contract is like a lock. It serves to keep honest people honest. Just as a thief will break a lock to get what he wants, a shady client will break the contract.

49. So, the most important thing about a contract is who the other party is. So, do your homework on who the client is and whether the client has had issues with other service providers.

50. Although you have the right to sue a client for non-payment, that is a last resort. It can be expensive, time-consuming, and uncertain in outcome. Therefore, you want to include provisions in your agreement with the client that will encourage the client to pay.

51. Your agreement should say that if payment is not made when due, you are entitled to suspend work, and if a payment is overdue by a specific number of days, then you can stop working altogether, but that the client is still responsible for paying for all work done until the work was stopped.

52. Another incentive for timely payment is a reasonable late charge (say, 5% or less) if the payment is late by more than a specified period. For example, you could say in the agreement that the client agrees to pay a late charge of 4% of the amount invoiced if the amount is not paid within 30 days of the date the invoice is submitted.

53. By the way, most businesses expect 30 days to pay, but if you need more frequent payment, you can try to negotiate that.

54. Whether or not the client agrees to a late charge for late payment, the agreement should specify that the client will pay interest on the amount due if the client does not pay within a specified number of days of the invoice being submitted.

55. The amount of money you charge for your services can be minuscule compared to your potential liability if you don’t deliver on time or make a mistake in the work you do. The solution to this problem is to have a clause expressly limiting your liability for damages, whether for breach of contract or for negligence.

56. Another clause to consider is one that says that you are not in breach of contract if your delay in completing the work is due to your illness or other incapacity or for causes outside your control (say, a natural disaster knocks out the electricity for a period of time or forces you to relocate).

57. Who is the “author” of a copyrighted work? If you are an employee, the copyright to the work you produce belongs to the employer, automatically. The employer is considered the author. But, if you are an independent contractor, you’re not an employee. Who owns the copyright then? You do! At least in theory.

58. But, when you focus on the practical aspects, there are issues for you to consider. What if in the process of writing the code you produce boilerplate code (say, a website management script or a self-contained class), code that you could easily (and would like to) use over and over again. If the client owns all the rights to your work, you can’t re-use your boilerplate code. So, you need an exception to the provision provision in the client’s form of agreement that states you have the right to copy, modify, or distribute your boilerplate code.

59. But, you may also have written code that is not boilerplate, but that you might like to modify and use on a future project. If you’re thinking that the modified code isn’t strictly a copy, remember that the copyright includes the right to make “derivative works.”

60. The client will probably be reluctant to let you take the work that he or she paid for and let you use it for a competitor, but the client might be more open to the idea if you agree that your right to make a derivative work of the code if it won’t be used for any software that competes with the client’s software.

61. Making a great first impression will set the standard for your experience with the client moving forward after the first discussion. In psychology, it is referred to as the primacy effect. People will remember your first and last impressions much easier within their memory. If you set the wrong first impression, then you will be constantly battling to redeem yourself to your client.

62. Your first meeting may seem like a big part of sales, and it is, but you should focus on being completely honest with the client and requesting 100% honesty from your client as well - even if it costs you money.

63. Assuring the client that you are on their team sets them on a path that makes it easier for you to tell them difficult news, such as the fact that they have unrealistic expectations for the project.

64. In early meetings where you are just getting to know the client, avoid saying things that might question your integrity, even if they are true.

65. Dress and appearance can be extremely important to business people, especially for making a satisfying first impression; it can be the difference between charging thousands of dollars a day vs. charging twenty-five bucks an hour.

66. Clients typically are smart enough to know if they’re engaging with a big company or a small company, so you should avoid dressing to deceive. Dress to show respect and seriousness instead.

67. Listen and adapt your attire later to match expectations. If they’re wearing dress shirts for meetings, then so should you. If they are not, then it’s time to let your inner Software Engineer shine.

68. In case you don’t already know, an invoice is a list of goods and services for services provided with a statement of the sum due attached. It is how you get paid for the work that you did for a client.

69. It's important to send your clients regular invoices.  Your invoices should be formal invoices: they should have an invoice number, line items describing the charges, a date, your name, the name of the client, and payment instructions.

70. As much as possible, describe the benefits that your work for the client provided.  This helps rationalize the charges and avoids buyer's remorse, wherein clients regret purchasing your services.

71. Sending invoices regularly provides several benefits.  Hopefully, you structured your contract with the client such that if they are delinquent in sending payments, penalties kick in.  Therefore, it's beneficial for you to get the clock ticking as soon as possible.

72. You should keep a file with your payment information:  

  • Your EIN or SSN (in the USA, for tax purposes) 
  • Your wire information: your name, your address, your bank's name, your bank's address, your account number, your ABA routing number, and the bank's SWIFT code.  Be sure to specify who will be responsible for paying the wire fee!
  • Your mailing information (if you would like your clients to pay you by cheque) 
  • Your PayPal information.  Be sure to specify who will be responsible for paying the PayPal fee!

73. Some clients might outright refuse to pay, other clients might go radio silent, and others might lie about sending payment ("the check is in the mail" or "the wire transfer was already sent; the bank is processing it" are both common lies). Before we dive into solutions, I would like to reiterate that these types of issues can be avoided entirely if you ask for money up front in the form of a retainer.  Try to get a retainer.

74. The most important tax-reducing tip you need to know is that the less money you make in profit (revenue - expenses), the less taxable income you will have in North America.

75. Okay, don’t write off everything, that’s not legal, but always be thinking about what can be expressed as a business expense. As a small business, it is not hard to argue to the government that something is an expense and required for you to perform your job effectively.

76. The USA is one of the only countries in the world that will tax you on your worldwide income. That is, even if you make money in a different country and then later come back to the USA, then you are still taxable on that outside income in the state that you are in last.

77. Some countries have tax treaties that allow you to pay tax in the country that you did the work in and avoid double taxation. An  example of this is such an agreement between Canada and the USA. These two countries have a treaty that allows you to pay tax in Canada during your stay in Canada and pay tax in the USA during your stay in the USA.

78. Effective communication can make or break your deals. It can be the difference of a fantastic relationship and horrible one. It’ll make the difference between a project well done and a happy client that refers you many more projects to come, or a lawsuit at your door, unpaid invoice, and terrible review.

79. It is imperative that all communication to the client use proper spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.

80. Perfect attention to mechanics also gives you more credibility; the higher your credibility, the more you can charge.  And, many clients who have no basis or skills for evaluating a developer will instead evaluate on superficial things like grammar, spelling, promptness, and sincerity in responding to email.

81. Don’t try to deceive your clients. If you’re a 3-man team, say so, feel proud and boast it. Don’t try to be a massive team. It is the QUALITY of your work that matters, not the size of your team. That’s why I know plenty of people getting paid $150/hr and know far fewer 10-person offshore teams getting paid that same rate.

82. The value you provide as a freelancer is that you are nimble, quick, smart, and agile.

83. When something breaks, and trust me - it will, take ownership.

84. If you’re coming up on a deadline and you’re noticing that the work is much more involved and time-consuming than you first thought, then make sure to communicate with the client as soon as possible of the possibility.

85. Don’t go “ghost”. Factor in social and emotional needs into your timelines instead. Going “ghost” is when you stop responding to all messages from your client for a short period of time.

86. Developers typically go ghost when they are embarrassed about the amount that they actually accomplished before their deadline and they’re too occupied with something else at the time to do any “quick updates” that make it seem like they did a lot more.

87. Start factoring in your social and emotional needs into your timelines.

88. Expectation management can make the difference of whether or not you are viewed as a pain in the butt to the client or a hero to the client. The truth is the client and yourself will often make mistakes in estimation and execution.

89. Underpromise and overdeliver. If something looks like it’ll take 4 hours, then estimate 6 hours, tell the client 8 and complete the task in 4.

90. I can guarantee that if you consistently underpromise and overdeliver, you will see the client constantly coming back with a smile.

91. Buffer your timelines, then buffer them again. Timelines aren’t really effective for agile development, but if you have to provide one, then you will want to ensure that there is at least a 50% buffer between when you think you can do the work and when you say you can complete the work. work. I can guarantee that your estimates will be wrong, everyone’s is to some degree, and when that happens, you will need to have to room to breath.

92. If you’re working a full-time job while you’re part-time freelancing you will be in a constant state of potential job loss. The best advice I can give for this is to: 

  • Always prioritize your full-time job in the event of emergencies.  
  • Work on making yourself “unfireable” by learning as much about parts of the organization and technology that many others don’t know.
  • Set proper expectations for your day job deliverables and always deliver. If you think you’re falling behind, you probably are and should consider reducing your freelance commitments.

93. Certainly never use company hardware and tools to do your consulting work, especially since some companies monitor employee devices.

94. If your coworkers find out that you are part-time freelancing while you are employed full-time, this may upset them.

95. Whether it’s simply a mean co-worker or an envious one, it is best to avoid these situations by keeping your part-time work confidential.

96. Never do part-time freelance work during your full-time office hours or in the full-time job’s office building.

97. While part-time freelancing and your full-time work life may seem like they have a ton of “synergies” you should always avoid mixing your day job intentions with your part-time freelancing intentions. The main reason to keep them completely separate is that it makes it easy to distinguish what intellectual property belongs to whom and reduces the likelihood of conflict arising when there is uncertainty.

98. But, even when you’re super busy, remember: you’re never too busy to be prospecting.  Thanks, good luck, and remember: have fun!

99. Make a list of your dream clients.  Who would benefit from your services?  Who would be in charge of the purchasing decision?  Come up with 100 dream clients – companies, not people.  For each client, try to find the person who would be in charge of that purchasing decision at that company.  If you need help on this, ask in Slack (details on joining our Slack channel are in an appendix).  When it comes to figuring out whom to contact at an organization, your best bet is to try to aim high and get a referral down the ladder.  It’s much better to have the CEO refer you to one of her lieutenants than vice versa; the lieutenants are going to be much more cautious in wasting the CEO's time, whereas a referral down to the lieutenant is almost a tacit endorsement, because if the CEO didn't believe what offering potentially had value, they wouldn't be wasting their own people's time.

Summary : The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick

1. People say you shouldn’t ask your mom whether your business is a good idea. That’s technically true, but it misses the point. You shouldn’t ask anyone whether your business is a good idea.

2. The Mom Test is a set of simple rules for crafting good questions that even your mom can't lie to you about.

3. The measure of usefulness of an early customer conversation is whether it gives us concrete facts about our customers’ lives and world views. These facts, in turn, help us improve our business.

4. If you just avoid mentioning your idea, you automatically start asking better questions. Doing this is the easiest (and biggest) improvement you can make to your customer conversations.

5. The Mom Test: 

  • Talk about their life instead of your idea 
  • Ask about specifics in the past instead of generics or opinions about the future 
  • Talk less and listen more

6. Are the following questions good or bad? Do they pass or fail The Mom Test?

  • “Do you think it’s a good idea?” - Bad
  • “Would you buy a product which did X?” - Bad
  • “How much would you pay for X?” - Bad
  • “What would your dream product do?” Sort-of-okay question, but only if you ask good follow-ups. Otherwise it’s a bad question.
  • “Why do you bother?” -Good. Points to motivation on why do things a particular way
  • “What are the implications of that?”-Good
  • “Talk me through the last time that happened.”-Good. 
  • “Talk me through your workflow.” -Good. Whenever possible, you want to be shown, not told, by your customers.
  • “What else have you tried?” - Good. If they haven't looked for ways of solving it already, they're not going to look for (or buy) yours.
  • “Would you pay X for a product which did Y?” - Bad
  • “How are you dealing with it now?” - Good
  • “Where does the money come from?” - Good. It leads to a conversation about whose budget the purchase will come from and who else within their company holds the power to torpedo the deal.
  • Who else should I talk to?” - Good.
  • “Is there anything else I should have asked?” - Good. People want to help you. Give them an excuse to do so.

7. The questions to ask are about your customers’ lives: their problems, cares, constraints, and goals. You humbly and honestly gather as much information about them as you can and then take your own visionary leap to a solution.

8. It boils down to this: you aren’t allowed to tell them what their problem is, and in return, they aren’t allowed to tell you what to build. They own the problem, you own the solution.

9. With the exception of industry experts who have built very similar businesses, opinions are worthless. You want facts and commitments, not compliments.

10. Startups are about focusing and executing on a single, scalable idea rather than jumping on every good one which crosses your desk.

11. Questions to dig into emotional signals:

  • “Tell me more about that.” 
  • “That seems to really bug you — I bet there’s a story here.” 
  • “What makes it so awful?” 
  • “Why haven’t you been able to fix this already?” 
  • “You seem pretty excited about that — it’s a big deal?” 
  • “Why so happy?”
  • “Go on.”

12. Ideas and feature requests should be understood, but not obeyed.

13. Folks tend not to lie about specific stuff that’s already happened, regardless of your ego.

14. In short, remember that compliments are worthless and people’s approval doesn’t make your business better. Keep your idea and your ego out of the conversation until you’re ready to ask for commitments.

15. In addition to ensuring that you aren’t asking trivialities, you also need to search out the world-rocking scary questions you’ve been unintentionally shrinking from. The best way to find them is with thought experiments. Imagine that the company has failed and ask why that happened. Then imagine it as a huge success and ask what had to be true to get there. Find ways to learn about those critical pieces.

16. Every time you talk to someone, you should be asking at least one question which has the potential to destroy your currently imagined business.

17. There’s more reliable information in a “meh” than a “Wow!” You can’t build a business on a lukewarm response.

18. Everyone has problems they know about, but don’t actually care enough about to fix. And if you zoom in too quickly and lead them to that semi-problem, they’ll happily drown you in all the unimportant details. Zooming in too quickly on a super-specific problem before you understand the rest of the customers life can irreparably confuse your learnings.

19. When it’s not clear whether a problem is a must-solve-right-now (e.g. you’re selling a painkiller) or a nice-to-have (you’re selling a vitamin), you can get some clarity by asking cost/value questions like the following.

20. “Does-this-problem-matter” questions:

  • “How seriously do you take your blog?” 
  • “Do you make money from it?”
  • “Have you tried making more money from it?” 
  • “How much time do you spend on it each week?” 
  • “Do you have any major aspirations for your blog?” 
  • “Which tools and services do you use for it?” 
  • “What are you already doing to improve this?” 
  • “What are the 3 big things you’re trying to fix or improve right now?”

21. Rule of thumb: Start broad and don't zoom in until you’ve found a strong signal, both with your whole business and with every conversation.

22. Pre-plan the 3 most important things you want to learn from any given type of person (e.g. customers, investors, industry experts, key hires, etc). Update the list as your questions change. Pre-planning your big questions makes it a lot easier to ask questions which pass The Mom Test.

23. Rule of thumb: Learning about a customer and their problems works better as a quick and casual chat than a long, formal meeting.

24. Once you have a product and the meetings take on a more sales-oriented feel, you’ll want to start carving out clear blocks of 30ish minutes.

25. You might lose 5 minutes due to miscellaneous tardiness, spend 5 minutes saying hello, 5 minutes asking questions to understand their goals/problems/budget, 10 minutes to show/describe the product, and the last 5 minutes figuring out next steps and advancement. That's your half hour.

26. Rule of thumb: Give as little information as possible about your idea while still nudging the discussion in a useful direction.

27. Rule of thumb: “Customers” who keep being friendly but aren’t ever going to buy are a particularly dangerous source of mixed signals.

28. Commitment — They are showing they’re serious by giving up something they value such as time, reputation, or money.

29. Advancement — They are moving to the next step of your real-world funnel and getting closer purchasing.

30. If you leave with worthless wishy washiness, I’d bet you’re falling for one (or both) of the following traps: 

  1. You’re asking for their opinion about your idea (e.g. fishing for compliments) 
  2. You’re not asking for a clear commitment or next steps

31. Rule of thumb: If you don’t know what happens next after a product or sales meeting, the meeting was pointless.

32. Rule of thumb: The more they’re giving up, the more seriously you can take what they’re saying.

33. First customers are crazy. Crazy in a good way. They really, really want what you’re making. They want it so badly that they’re willing to be the crazy person who tries it first.

34. Keep an eye out for the people who get emotional about what you’re doing. There is a significant difference between: “Yeah, that’s a problem” and “THAT IS THE WORST PART OF MY LIFE AND I WILL PAY YOU RIGHT NOW TO FIX IT.”

35. Firstly, when someone isn’t too emotional about what you’re doing, they are unlikely to end up being one of your crazy first customers. Keep them on the list and try to make them happy, of course, but don’t count on them to write the first check.

36. Secondly, whenever you see the deep emotion, do your utmost to keep that person close.

37. Rule of thumb: In early stage sales, the real goal is learning. Revenue is a side-effect.

38. The only thing people love talking about more than themselves is their problems. By taking an interest in the problems and minutia of their day, you’re already more interesting than 99% of the people they’ve ever met.

39. Warm intros are the goal. Conversations are infinitely easier when you get an intro through a mutual friend that establishes your credibility and reason for being there.

40.The world is a relatively small place. Everyone knows someone. We just have to remember to ask.

41. Rule of thumb: Kevin Bacon’s 7 degrees of separation applies to customer conversations. You can find anyone you need if you ask for it a couple times.

42. I relied heavily on advisors in my first company. We didn’t know the industry and nobody took us seriously. Our 5 advisors each had around a half percent of equity and basically just made credible intros.

43. On a bit of a tangent, you’d be surprised by the quality of the folks you can get to join your advisory board.

44. I’m jealous of founders who are still in (or recently out of) university. Professors are a goldmine for intros. They get their grant-funding from friendly, high-level industry folks. And since they’re investing in research, those industry folks are self-selected to be excited about new projects.

45. Top-tier investors are awesome for B2B intros. Beyond their own rolodex and company portfolio, they can usually pull off cold intros to practically any industry. Investors can also help you close better advisors and directors than you’d be able to wrangle on your own.

46. Remember all those people who brushed you off by saying, “Sounds great, keep me in the loop and let me know how I can help”? Now’s the time to call in those favours. Yes, they might not have actually meant it, but who cares? Reply back to that ancient email and tell them you’re ready for an intro to that guy they know.

47. The UX community (who knows their customer conversation!) says you should keep talking to people until you stop hearing new information.

48. Under perfect circumstances where your first guesses are mostly correct and you’re in a relatively simple industry that you already understand, then you it might only take 3-5 conversations to confirm what you already believe.

49. If you’ve run more than 10 conversations and are still getting results that are all over the map, then it’s possible that your customer segment is too vague, which means you’re mashing together feedback from multiple different types of customers.

50. Rule of thumb: Keep having conversations until you stop hearing new stuff.

51. They say that startups don’t starve, they drown. You never have too few options, too few leads, or too few ideas; you have too many. You get overwhelmed. You do a little bit of everything. When it comes to getting above water and making faster progress, good customer segmentation is your best friend.

52. Before we can serve everyone, we have to serve someone. Forgetting about all the possibilities and focusing on who would most likely buy, she decided it was moms with young kids who are currently shopping at health food stores.

53. Rule of thumb: If you aren’t finding consistent problems and goals, you don’t have a specific enough customer segment.

54. If there isn’t a clear physical or digital location at which you can find your customer segment, then it’s probably still too broad.

55. A customer segment isn’t very useful if there’s no way you can get in touch.

56. Now that we have a bunch of who-where pairs, we can decide who to start with based on who seems most:

  1. Profitable or big 
  2. Easy to reach 
  3. Personally rewarding

57. Rule of thumb: Good customer segments are a who-where pair. If you don’t know where to go to find your customers, keep slicing your segment into smaller pieces until you do.

58. When all the customer learning is stuck in someone’s head instead of being disseminated to the rest of the team, you’ve got a learning bottleneck. Avoid creating (or being) the bottleneck. To do that, the learning must be shared with the entire founding team promptly and faithfully, which depends on good notes plus a bit of pre- and post-meeting work.

59. Avoiding bottlenecks has three parts: prepping, reviewing, and taking good notes.

60. Your most important preparation work is to ensure you know your current list of 3 big questions.

61. After a conversation, just review your notes with your team and update your beliefs and big three questions as appropriate.

62. The review is important. Disseminate learnings to your team as quickly and as directly as possible, using notes and exact quotes wherever you can. It keeps you in sync, leads to better decisions, prevents arguments, and allows your whole team to benefit from the learning you’ve worked so hard to acquire.

63. You can't outsource or hire someone to do customer learning. There are exceptional team dynamics where it works, but generally speaking, the founders need to be in the meetings themselves. When a hired gun brings you bad news (“The problem isn’t real and nobody cares”), properly assimilating it is difficult.

64. Hiring out your learning is a guaranteed way to get bad signals. Until you’ve got a working business model and a repeatable sales or marketing process, the founders need to be in the meetings themselves.

65. Any strong emotion is worth writing down.

66. What is a better note-taking medium? Google Docs spreadsheets and Evernote are both great for team sharing, search, and retrieval. Spreadsheets are wonderfully sortable if you write your key signals in their own column.

67. The process before a batch of conversations: 

  • If you haven’t yet, choose a focused, findable segment 
  • With your team, decide your big 3 learning goals 
  • If relevant, decide on ideal next steps and commitments 
  • If conversations are the right tool, figure out who to talk to 
  • Create a series of best guesses about what the person cares about 
  • If a question could be answered via desk research, do that first

68. During the conversation:

  • Frame the conversation 
  • Keep it casual 
  • Ask good questions which pass The Mom Test 
  • Deflect compliments, anchor fluff, and dig beneath signals 
  • Take good notes 
  • If relevant, press for commitment and next steps

69. After a batch of conversations:

  • With your team, review your notes and key customer quotes 
  • If relevant, transfer notes into permanent storage 
  • Update your beliefs and plans 
  • Decide on the next 3 big questions

70. Beyond the obvious influence from Steve Blank and Eric Ries, a big thanks to some other writers who have directly helped this book with their work: Amy Hoy on worldviews, Brant Cooper on segmentation, Richard Rumelt and Lafley/Martin on strategy, Neil Rackham on sales, and Derek Sivers on remembering that businesses are meant to make you happy.

Summary: The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

1. One paper published by a Duke University researcher in 2006 found that more than 40 percent of the actions people performed each day weren’t actual decisions, but habits.

2. Habits, scientists say, emerge because the brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. Left to its own devices, the brain will try to make almost any routine into a habit, because habits allow our minds to ramp down more often. This effort-saving instinct is a huge advantage. An efficient brain requires less room, which makes for a smaller head, which makes childbirth easier and therefore causes fewer infant and mother deaths. An efficient brain also allows us to stop thinking constantly about basic behaviors, such as walking and choosing what to eat, so we can devote mental energy to inventing spears, irrigation systems, and, eventually, airplanes and video games.

3. This process within our brains is a three-step loop. First, there is a cue, a trigger that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and which habit to use. Then there is the routine, which can be physical or mental or emotional. Finally, there is a reward, which helps your brain figure out if this particular loop is worth remembering for the future:

4. By learning to observe the cues and rewards, though, we can change the routines.

5. This is how new habits are created: by putting together a cue, a routine, and a reward, and then cultivating a craving that drives the loop.

6. But to overpower the habit, we must recognize which craving is driving the behavior.

7. But countless studies have shown that a cue and a reward, on their own, aren’t enough for a new habit to last. Only when your brain starts expecting the reward—craving the endorphins or sense of accomplishment—will it become automatic to lace up your jogging shoes each morning.

8. Cravings are what drive habits. And figuring out how to spark a craving makes creating a new habit easier.

9. Rather, to change a habit, you must keep the old cue, and deliver the old reward, but insert a new routine.

10. Belief was the ingredient that made a reworked habit loop into a permanent behavior.

11. “Even if you give people better habits, it doesn’t repair why they started drinking in the first place. Eventually they’ll have a bad day, and no new routine is going to make everything seem okay. What can make a difference is believing that they can cope with that stress without alcohol.”

12. “At some point, people in AA look around the room and think, if it worked for that guy, I guess it can work for me,” said Lee Ann Kaskutas, a senior scientist at the Alcohol Research Group. “There’s something really powerful about groups and shared experiences. People might be skeptical about their ability to change if they’re by themselves, but a group will convince them to suspend disbelief. A community creates belief.”

13. But we do know that for habits to permanently change, people must believe that change is feasible. The same process that makes AA so effective—the power of a group to teach individuals how to believe—happens whenever people come together to help one another change. Belief is easier when it occurs within a community.

14. How do habits change? There is, unfortunately, no specific set of steps guaranteed to work for every person. We know that a habit cannot be eradicated—it must, instead, be replaced. And we know that habits are most malleable when the Golden Rule of habit change is applied: If we keep the same cue and the same reward, a new routine can be inserted. But that’s not enough. For a habit to stay changed, people must believe change is possible. And most often, that belief only emerges with the help of a group.

15. Some habits have the power to start a chain reaction, changing other habits as they move through an organization. Some habits, in other words, matter more than others in remaking businesses and lives. These are “keystone habits,”

16. Researchers have found similar dynamics in dozens of other settings, including individuals’ lives. Take, for instance, studies from the past decade examining the impacts of exercise on daily routines.10 When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family.

17. Small wins are exactly what they sound like, and are part of how keystone habits create widespread changes. A huge body of research has shown that small wins have enormous power, an influence disproportionate to the accomplishments of the victories themselves.

18. Small wins fuel transformative changes by leveraging tiny advantages into patterns that convince people that bigger achievements are within reach.

19. The second way that keystone habits encourage change: by creating structures that help other habits to flourish.

20. At the core of that education is an intense focus on an all-important habit: willpower. Dozens of studies show that willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success.

21. “Self-discipline predicted academic performance more robustly than did IQ. Self-discipline also predicted which students would improve their grades over the course of the school year, whereas IQ did not.… Self-discipline has a bigger effect on academic performance than does intellectual talent.”

22. And the best way to strengthen willpower and give students a leg up, studies indicate, is to make it into a habit.

23. Scientists began conducting related experiments, trying to figure out how to help kids increase their self-regulatory skills. They learned that teaching them simple tricks—such as distracting themselves by drawing a picture, or imagining a frame around the marshmallow, so it seemed more like a photo and less like a real temptation—helped them learn self-control.

24. By the 1980s, a theory emerged that became generally accepted: Willpower is a learnable skill, something that can be taught the same way kids learn to do math and say “thank you.”

25. “That’s why signing kids up for piano lessons or sports is so important. It has nothing to do with creating a good musician or a five-year-old soccer star,” said Heatherton. “When you learn to force yourself to practice for an hour or run fifteen laps, you start building self-regulatory strength. A five-year-old who can follow the ball for ten minutes becomes a sixth grader who can start his homework on time.”

26. Simply giving employees a sense of agency—a feeling that they are in control, that they have genuine decision-making authority—can radically increase how much energy and focus they bring to their jobs.

27. A company with dysfunctional habits can’t turn around simply because a leader orders it. Rather, wise executives seek out moments of crisis—or create the perception of crisis—and cultivate the sense that something must change, until everyone is finally ready to overhaul the patterns they live with each day.

28. “This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.”

29. Andreasen wanted to know why these people had deviated from their usual patterns. What he discovered has become a pillar of modern marketing theory: People’s buying habits are more likely to change when they go through a major life event. When someone gets married, for example, they’re more likely to start buying a new type of coffee. When they move into a new house, they’re more apt to purchase a different kind of cereal.

30.If a member made a friend at the YMCA, they were much more likely to show up for workout sessions. In other words, people who join the YMCA have certain social habits.

31. It’s a variation of the lesson learned by Target and radio DJs: to sell a new habit—in this case exercise—wrap it in something that people already know and like, such as the instinct to go places where it’s easy to make friends.

32. To market a new habit—be it groceries or aerobics—you must understand how to make the novel seem familiar.

33. In general, sociologists say, most of us have friends who are like us. We might have a few close acquaintances who are richer, a few who are poorer, and a few of different races—but, on the whole, our deepest relationships tend to be with people who look like us, earn about the same amount of money, and come from similar backgrounds.

34. For Aristotle, habits reigned supreme. The behaviors that occur unthinkingly are the evidence of our truest selves, he said. So “just as a piece of land has to be prepared beforehand if it is to nourish the seed, so the mind of the pupil has to be prepared in its habits if it is to enjoy and dislike the right things.”

35. THE DIFFICULT THING about studying the science of habits is that most people, when they hear about this field of research, want to know the secret formula for quickly changing any habit. If scientists have discovered how these patterns work, then it stands to reason that they must have also found a recipe for rapid change, right? If only it were that easy. It’s not that formulas don’t exist. The problem is that there isn’t one formula for changing habits. There are thousands.

36. THE FRAMEWORK:
• Identify the routine
• Experiment with rewards
• Isolate the cue
• Have a plan

37. STEP ONE: IDENTIFY THE ROUTINE

38. To understand your own habits, you need to identify the components of your loops. Once you have diagnosed the habit loop of a particular behavior, you can look for ways to supplant old vices with new routines. As an example, let’s say you have a bad habit, like I did when I started researching this book, of going to the cafeteria and buying a chocolate chip cookie every afternoon. Let’s say this habit has caused you to gain a few pounds.

39. How do you start diagnosing and then changing this behavior? By figuring out the habit loop. And the first step is to identify the routine. In this cookie scenario—as with most habits—the routine is the most obvious aspect: It’s the behavior you want to change. Your routine is that you get up from your desk in the afternoon, walk to the cafeteria, buy a chocolate chip cookie, and eat it while chatting with friends. So that’s what you put into the loop:

40. What’s the cue for this routine? Is it hunger? Boredom? Low blood sugar? That you need a break before plunging into another task? And what’s the reward? The cookie itself? The change of scenery? The temporary distraction? Socializing with colleagues? Or the burst of energy that comes from that blast of sugar? To figure this out, you’ll need to do a little experimentation.

41. STEP TWO: EXPERIMENT WITH REWARDS

42. Rewards are powerful because they satisfy cravings. But we’re often not conscious of the cravings that drive our behaviors.

43. To figure out which cravings are driving particular habits, it’s useful to experiment with different rewards.

44.Think of yourself as a scientist in the data collection stage. On the first day of your experiment, when you feel the urge to go to the cafeteria and buy a cookie, adjust your routine so it delivers a different reward. For instance, instead of walking to the cafeteria, go outside, walk around the block, and then go back to your desk without eating anything. The next day, go to the cafeteria and buy a donut, or a candy bar, and eat it at your desk. The next day, go to the cafeteria, buy an apple, and eat it while chatting with your friends. Then, try a cup of coffee. Then, instead of going to the cafeteria, walk over to your friend’s office and gossip for a few minutes and go back to your desk.

45. You get the idea. What you choose to do instead of buying a cookie isn’t important. The point is to test different hypotheses to determine which craving is driving your routine. Are you craving the cookie itself, or a break from work? If it’s the cookie, is it because you’re hungry? (In which case the apple should work just as well.) Or is it because you want the burst of energy the cookie provides? (And so the coffee should suffice.) Or are you wandering up to the cafeteria as an excuse to socialize, and the cookie is just a convenient excuse? (If so, walking to someone’s desk and gossiping for a few minutes should satisfy the urge.) As you test four or five different rewards, you can use an old trick to look for patterns: After each activity, jot down on a piece of paper the first three things that come to mind when you get back to your desk. They can be emotions, random thoughts, reflections on how you’re feeling,

46. And why the fifteen-minute alarm? Because the point of these tests is to determine the reward you’re craving. If, fifteen minutes after eating a donut, you still feel an urge to get up and go to the cafeteria, then your habit isn’t motivated by a sugar craving. If, after gossiping at a colleague’s desk, you still want a cookie, then the need for human contact isn’t what’s driving your behavior.

47. On the other hand, if fifteen minutes after chatting with a friend, you find it easy to get back to work, then you’ve identified the reward—temporary distraction and socialization—that your habit sought to satisfy. By experimenting with different rewards, you can isolate what you are actually craving, which is essential in redesigning the habit.

48. STEP THREE: ISOLATE THE CUE

49. Our lives are the same way. The reason why it is so hard to identify the cues that trigger our habits is because there is too much information bombarding us as our behaviors unfold.

50. To identify a cue amid the noise, we can use the same system as the psychologist: Identify categories of behaviors ahead of time to scrutinize in order to see patterns. Luckily, science offers some help in this regard. Experiments have shown that almost all habitual cues fit into one of five categories:
Location
Time
Emotional state
Other people
Immediately preceding action

51.
Where are you? (sitting at my desk)
What time is it? (3:36 P.M.)
What’s your emotional state? (bored)
Who else is around? (no one)
What action preceded the urge? (answered an email)

The next day:
Where are you? (walking back from the copier)
What time is it? (3:18 P.M.)
What’s your emotional state? (happy)
Who else is around? (Jim from Sports)
What action preceded the urge? (made a photocopy)

The third day:
Where are you? (conference room)
What time is it? (3:41 P.M.)
What’s your emotional state? (tired, excited about the project I’m working on)
Who else is around? (editors who are coming to this meeting)
What action preceded the urge? (I sat down because the meeting is about to start)

Three days in, it was pretty clear which cue was triggering my cookie habit—I felt an urge to get a snack at a certain time of day.

52. STEP FOUR: HAVE A PLAN

53. Once you’ve figured out your habit loop—you’ve identified the reward driving your behavior, the cue triggering it, and the routine itself—you can begin to shift the behavior. You can change to a better routine by planning for the cue and choosing a behavior that delivers the reward you are craving.

54. Put another way, a habit is a formula our brain automatically follows: When I see CUE, I will do ROUTINE in order to get a REWARD.

55. To re-engineer that formula, we need to begin making choices again. And the easiest way to do this, according to study after study, is to have a plan.

56. Obviously, changing some habits can be more difficult. But this framework is a place to start. Sometimes change takes a long time. Sometimes it requires repeated experiments and failures.

Summary : Gamify by Brian Burke

What follows are salient extracts from the book Gamify by Brian Burke.

1. Gamification engages and motivates people across all kinds of activities using game mechanics such as badges, points, levels, and leaderboards.

2. What’s new about gamification? Who is getting it right? How can your organization be successful with gamification? When should you think about using gamification in your organization? In this book, I will answer those questions and dig much deeper to explore the motivational power of gamification.

3. What I found out is that gamification success is really all about motivating players to achieve their goals.

4. Gartner defines gamification as: the use of game mechanics and experience design to digitally engage and motivate people to achieve their goals.

5. Game mechanics describes the key elements that are common to many games, such as points, badges, and leaderboards.

6. Experience design describes the journey players take with elements such as game play, play space, and story line.

7. Gamification is a method to digitally engage rather than personally engage meaning that players interact with computers, smartphones, wearable monitors, or other digital devices. 

8. The goal of gamification is to motivate people to change behaviors or develop skills, or to drive innovation. 

9. Gamification focuses on enabling players to achieve their goals—and as a consequence the organization achieves its goals.

10. Much of what is written on gamification today reinforces the perception that it can make anything fun. There are limits to what can be achieved with gamification, and the broader trend requires a course correction.

11. Gamification is about motivating people to achieve their own goals, not the organization’s goals.

12. If business can identify the goals it shares with its audience or provide its audience with goals that are meaningful to them, and can leverage gamification to motivate these players to meet those goals, then the company will achieve the business outcomes it is looking for.

13. The challenge in getting children—or most people, for that matter—to do mundane or tedious tasks is to engage them at a deeper, more meaningful level.

14. One way to motivate people is to present them with practical challenges, encourage them as they progress through levels, and get them emotionally engaged to achieve their very best.

15. At its core, gamification is about engaging people on an emotional level and motivating them to achieve their goals.

16. For example, dozens of research papers on employee engagement demonstrate the correlation between high levels of engagement and increased productivity, profits, retention, and quality, among other benefits.

17. Recent research indicates that engagement is not one-dimensional, and it is important to distinguish between emotional engagement and transactional engagement.

19. Transactional engagement is “shaped by employees’ concern to earn a living and to meet minimal expectations of the employer and their coworkers,” while emotional engagement is “driven by a desire on the part of employees to do more for the organization than is normally expected and in return they receive more in terms of a greater and more fulfilling psychological contract.”

20. We need to shift our focus to emotional engagement if we want to truly motivate people.

21. Pink concludes that intrinsic motivators have three essential elements: “(1) Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives; (2) Mastery—the urge to make progress and get better at something that matters; and (3) Purpose—the yearning to do what we do in service of something larger than ourselves.”

22. Gamification uses primarily intrinsic rather than extrinsic rewards.

23.Between intrinsic and extrinsic, rewards is one of the ways we can distinguish gamification from rewards programs.

24. Autonomy—the desire to direct our own lives. In effective gamified solutions, players opt in to participate, and once they do, they make choices about how they will proceed through the challenges to achieve their goals. Players are given the opportunity to discover and learn using different paths through the solution. In some gamified solutions there are no paths at all. Players are given goals, tools, rules, and a space to “play” without being directed on the next steps to take.

25. Mastery—the urge to make progress and get better at something that matters.

26. But mastery is not an attainable goal, it is a journey. There are many signposts along the way that indicate progress, but there is never an end point. Gamification is about getting better at something.

27. Purpose—the yearning to act in service of something larger than ourselves. Gamification is focused on one or more of three objectives: changing behaviors, developing skills, or driving innovation. Gamification must start and finish with a purpose that is centered on achieving meaningful player goals. It’s a goal much larger than themselves.

28. One of the key problems in many gamified solutions is that they are focused on getting players to achieve the organization’s goals rather than players’ goals. Gamified solutions must put players’ motivations and goals first and make them the primary design objective.

29. Sometimes players must be provided goals to adopt as their own. As we saw with Foursquare, the goal of becoming “mayor” of a location was not one that came to people naturally, rather it was provided to players and they adopted it as their own.

30. The motivation to reach goals is often created through the community, where social norming motivates people to achieve goals that are valued within the player community.

31. But there may be cases where player goals and organizational goals are simply not aligned, nor can they be aligned.

32. At a detailed level, there are many different approaches to making new habits, but at a high level there are some common characteristics:
• Set goals 

• Use triggers 

• Take baby steps 

• Find kindred spirits 

• Enlist support from friends 

• Build complexity over time 

• Repeat until new habits are formed 

• Keep it fresh

33. Set goals. The first step in changing behaviors is to set a goal, one that meaningfully engages the players. For example, if the objective is to lose weight, then the goal may be to lose twenty pounds. Keeping an eye on the longer-term goal can help people take all of the small steps along the way.

34. Use triggers. Until an action becomes part of a routine, people need to be reminded to make a change in their behavior. A gamified solution can provide those triggers by reminding players of the specific actions they need to take and when.

35. Take baby steps. Often, when we think about making a change in our lives, we think in terms of big goals such as getting in shape or reducing energy consumption. And sometimes the enormity of the long-term goal is overwhelming, preventing us from even taking the first step. As the Chinese philosopher Laozi remarked, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”

36. Find kindred spirits. Implementing change is hard work, but it is easier if you are part of a larger group of people who are also making the change.

37. Build complexity over time. Most experts agree that change needs to start with simple steps, but more complex behaviors can be developed over time.

38. Repeat until new habits are formed. Once the new behavior is learned, it needs to be repeated over a period of time until a new habit is formed.

39. Gamification is particularly well suited to engaging communities of interest in changing behaviors. As we already know, the sweet spot for gamification is where there is overlap between player and organizational goals, and communities of interest exist because of shared goals.

40. Gamification and learning are a natural fit. As we learned from Dan Pink’s book Drive, mastery is a strong motivator. already do—it is helping them find the path to success. The solution is to break the learning process into small steps, so that every step stretches the player’s abilities but is still within her reach.

41. Gamification breaks the learning process into small, achievable steps and provides constant feedback and encouragement throughout the process.

42. STEP ONE: DEFINE THE BUSINESS OUTCOME AND SUCCESS METRICS. One logical question highlights the concept: How can an organization achieve success without first defining what success is?

43. The targeted business outcomes should be realistic, achievable, explicitly stated, and should include success metrics. For example:

• Increase customer testimonials by X percent in X months 

• Increase member online purchase value by X percent in X months 

• Increase new customer acquisitions by internal sales by X percent in X months 

• Launch X innovation projects in X months 

• Reduce average on-boarding duration to X days 

• Increase course comprehension by X percent

44. STEP TWO: DEFINE THE TARGET AUDIENCE. The intent in defining the target audience is to put boundaries around the people the organization needs to engage. This limits the number of different player types that need to be addressed with the solution, and therefore directs and guides design decisions.

45. Having a clear understanding of the target audience can avoid misaligned player objectives that result in solutions that engage the wrong target audience, or simply fail to engage people at all.

46. Once the target audience has been identified, expect to devote considerable time to learning about them.

47. Don’t underestimate how important it is to spend time with the target audience. Talk to them, get to know them, learn what kind of people they are. Ask them what they like and what they dislike, as well as what works and what doesn’t. If the target group is employees, ask them about their job and how they perform it. If the target group is customers, get to know what they value and what they don’t. Ask them why they buy your company’s product instead of the competitors’ offerings. Ask them how the product or service experience can be improved.

48. Organizations seldom design gamified solutions for a single demographic or personality type. Understanding the motivations of the target audience allows the designers to engage the largest possible audience. To understand the commonalities, categorize the characteristics and create personas to represent them.

49. A persona is an imagined individual who represents some of the common character traits of a group of people. For example, when designing We365, Free The Children and TELUS created a persona called Hannah. She is a fifteen-year-old girl who cares about causes. She lives in an urban environment in Canada and is active on social media. Then the team asked the question, “What would Hannah want?” After Hannah, the We365 team branched off to create personas for boys and other people.

50. Creating personas helps to avoid abstract discussions about the goal being quick returns

51. STEP THREE: DEFINE PLAYER GOALS. 

52. STEP FOUR: DETERMINE THE PLAYER ENGAGEMENT MODEL. After defining the scope of the gamified solution and determining the players’ goals and motivations, it’s time to address decisions about how to structure the gamified solution. The player engagement model describes how the players will interact with the solution.

53. Collaborative/Competitive. One of the basic parameters is the balance of competition and collaboration in the gamified experience. In collaborative gamified applications, players are rewarded for helping or encouraging other players to achieve their goals.

54. The most common way of combining collaboration and competition is to create team structures within the game. Players collaborate within the team, and teams compete with each other.

55. STEP FIVE: DEFINE THE PLAY SPACE AND PLAN THE JOURNEY

56. STEP SIX: DEFINE THE GAME ECONOMY Jessica’s team starts to work out a system of points and rewards that will motivate the players to leverage the community and its resources and help them achieve their individual investment goals.

57. The team must be creative in defining rewards that are both challenging to achieve and highly valued by the players. One key to the solution is to leverage the knowledge of the top performers to make them visible across the community. To do this, they will use leaderboards of “sages” that show portfolio performance over different time periods.

58. The structure they put in place offers some easily achieved badges for early participation, to encourage members to get started. These include watching five videos and completing the test questions. But they increase the challenge level quickly so that the top-level badges are very difficult to achieve.

59. There are four basic currencies that players accumulate in game economies—fun, things, social capital, and self-esteem—and these are implemented through game mechanics such as points, badges, and leaderboards.

60. Self-esteem and social capital are the primary rewards of gamified solutions.

61. In gamified applications, the most common use of fun is through surprise rewards—unexpected, random rewards that engage players with a feeling that they are never certain what will happen next.

62. Things. This currency includes the tangible items that can be collected and sometimes exchanged within the solution. These are often implemented as points that can be redeemed for cash or rewards. Tangible rewards are really the domain of rewards programs, but are sometimes used in gamified applications.

63. Self-esteem. As we have learned from author Dan Pink, autonomy, mastery, and purpose are the primary intrinsic motivators, and gamified applications use a number of different game mechanics to recognize accomplishments.

64. Social capital. People are motivated when others within their social circles recognize their achievements. Designers of gamified applications can motivate players with recognition as a reward within the gamified application.

65. Social recognition of our achievements is a powerful motivator.

66. STEP SEVEN: PLAY TEST AND ITERATE. Gamified solutions should evolve over time to add new functionality, to engage the audience in new ways, and to keep it fresh. From the first day of the launch, you will start to learn a great deal about the audience and how they interact with the solution. This knowledge will guide the evolution of the solution over time.

67. One of gamification’s fundamental attractions is that it provides transparency. It’s demotivating to make any change that has a negative impact on the players. Players know what rewards they can expect for the effort they invest. Tinkering with the game economy damages trust, which in turn damages engagement.

68. Points, badges, and levels are some of the many game mechanics that are used in gamification, but they represent progress and achievement. They are not the achievement itself. They are simply signposts on the journey to mastery.

69. Angry Birds, like most great video games, does not require players to read extensive manuals to get started. Video games can become extremely complex, but the challenge builds over time. Creating a simple on-boarding experience is one of the things that video games really excel at, and one thing that designers of gamified solutions can learn from.

70. The first steps should be obvious, and early achievements should be very easy to reach. Sustaining engagement requires balancing skill and challenge over time.

71. One problem that sometimes arises in gamified solutions is targeting the wrong audience with imagery and rewards.

72. Gamification solutions are most likely to be successful when players opt in to use the system.

73. Often, gamification is implemented as a game layer on top of an existing process. To the extent possible, the game mechanics should be transparently integrated into the solution that supports the process rather than implemented as a separate solution.

74. “The greater the risk, the greater the reward” is a common expression to describe the risk/reward profile of investments. In gamification, the converse is true: the greater the reward, the greater the risk—the risk that someone will try to game the system.

75. When winning becomes the objective, some players will look for a loophole in the solution that allows them to progress and achieve goals without performing the activities.

76. To mitigate the risk, gamification designers need to think like a hacker and work to analyze the structure structure and rules of the solution to try to find the loopholes before players do.

77. Plan the promotion of the solution and invest in building the user base from the outset of the project.

78. Early in the project, a measurement system must be identified or established to baseline the measures that will be used. The baseline enables you to determine if the project was successful in achieving the target business outcomes that were defined at the beginning of the project. Once the project finishes, benefits must be harvested, tracked to schedule, and communicated.

79. More effective systems integrate with social networks to reinforce motivation with social recognition.

The Progress Principle by Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer - Highlights

1. Our research inside companies revealed that the best way to motivate people, day in and day out, is by facilitating progress—even small wins.

2. The negative forms—or absence of—the key three events powerfully undermine inner work life: setbacks in the work; inhibitors (events that directly hinder project work); and toxins (interpersonal events that undermine the people doing the work).

3. Negative events are more powerful than positive events, all else being equal.

4. Over 28 percent of the small events triggered big reactions. In other words, even events that people thought were unimportant often had powerful effects on inner work life.

5. A 2008 study found that small but regular events, including church attendance and physical exercise at a gym, can yield cumulative increases in happiness. In fact, the more frequently that study’s participants went to church or exercised, the happier they were.

6. Inner work life is the confluence of perceptions, emotions, and motivations that individuals experience as they react to and make sense of the events of their workday.

7. Inner work life is about emotions—positive or negative—triggered by any event at work.

8. Inner work life is about motivation—the drive to do something, or not.

9. Few things can nurture inner work life as much as being successful.

10. As long as the work is meaningful, managers do not have to spend time coming up with ways to motivate people to do that work. They are much better served by removing barriers to progress, helping people experience the intrinsic satisfaction that derives from accomplishment.

11. This is the inner work life effect: people do better work when they are happy, have positive views of their organization and its people, and are motivated primarily by the work itself. For short periods, people can perform at very high levels under extreme stress, but this happens only under special conditions that we will discuss later.

12. Overall, the more positive a person’s mood on a given day, the more creative thinking he did that day.

13. Across all study participants, there was a 50 percent increase in the odds of having a creative idea on days when people reported positive moods, compared with days when they reported negative moods.

14. Most people were more creative when they perceived their assignments as challenging, and when they had autonomy in carrying out those assignments.

15. Other key elements supporting creativity included sufficient resources for doing the work and sufficient time.

16. If we lowered intrinsic motivation, or increased extrinsic motivation, lower creativity resulted.

17. Physical health is better when people experience more positive moods and fewer negative moods, possibly because mood influences the immune system. You might be surprised to learn that these findings cover illnesses as ordinary as colds and as life-threatening as strokes.

18. You can use the connection between progress and intrinsic motivation to boost innovation.

19. You can’t get a sense of progress unless you’re aware that you have actually made progress in your work. So how does this happen?

20. One—probably the route most managers would think of—is getting feedback. If a manager or knowledgeable peer tells the members of a project team that their work is creative or technically sound, they can be confident that they made real progress. 

21. Interestingly, though, the second route is preferable: getting feedback from the work itself. If a programmer labors to create some tricky new code and then runs the program through a series of tests, that debugging process gives her immediate and complete knowledge about how much progress she has made on that job.

22. Besides progress and setbacks, we discovered two additional categories of events that also turned out to be strong differentiators.

23. The progress principle describes the first of these key three categories of events influencing inner work life. The second is what we call the catalyst factor. Catalysts are actions that directly support the work on the project, including any type of work-related help from a person or group—such as Chester’s mention of other HotelData teams helping Infosuite during the Big Deal project. 

24. catalysts have to do with goals, resources, time, autonomy, idea flow, and dealing with problems in the work. The third of the key three influences on inner work life is what we call the nourishment factor. Where catalysts are triggers directed at the project, nourishers are interpersonal triggers, directed at the person. They include respect, encouragement, comfort, and other forms of social or emotional support.

25. Just as setbacks are the opposites of progress, inhibitors are the opposites of catalysts, and toxins are the opposites of nourishers.

26.

27.

28. Progress motivates people to accept difficult challenges more readily and to persist longer.

29. If you want to foster great inner work life, focus first on eliminating the obstacles that cause setbacks. Why? Because one setback has more power to sway inner work life than one progress incident.

30. The power of setbacks to diminish happiness is more than twice as strong as the power of progress to boost happiness. The power of setbacks to increase frustration is more than three times as strong as the power of progress to decrease frustration.

31. Clear goals are one crucial element of the catalyst factor, a broad category of events that is second only to the progress principle in the key three influences on inner work life.

32. Micromanagement not only poisons inner work life; it stifles creativity and productivity in the long run.

33. Over the past fifteen years, psychologists have discovered that people in many different situations can benefit from writing regularly about events in their lives. In one experiment, people who wrote briefly about their envisioned “best possible self” for four days in a row reported significantly higher levels of well-being by the end, compared with people who did no such writing.

Highlights/Summary : The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

1. Einstein said, ‘Compounding is the eighth wonder of the world.’

2. You’ve been bamboozled for too long. There is no magic bullet, secret formula, or quick fix.

3. Earning success is hard. The process is laborious, tedious, sometimes even boring. Becoming wealthy, influential, and world-class in your field is slow and arduous.

4. I’ll win because of the positive habits I’ve developed, and because of the consistency I use in applying those habits. I’m the world’s biggest believer in consistency. I’m living proof that it’s the ultimate key to success, yet it’s one of the biggest pitfalls for people struggling to achieve.

5. One of Dad’s core philosophies was, “It doesn’t matter how smart you are or aren’t, you need to make up in hard work what you lack in experience, skill, intelligence, or innate ability. If your competitor is smarter, more talented, or experienced, you just need to work three or four times as hard. You can still beat them!”

6. Small, seemingly insignificant steps completed consistently over time will create a radical difference. Let me give you a few detailed examples. 

7. Small, Smart Choices + Consistency + Time = RADICAL DIFFERENCE

8. By the end of this book, or even before, I want you to know in your bones that your only path to success is through a continuum of mundane, unsexy, unexciting, and sometimes difficult daily disciplines compounded over time.

9. You alone are responsible for what you do, don’t do, or how you respond to what’s done to you. This empowering mindset revolutionized my life. Luck, circumstances, or the right situation wasn’t what mattered. If it was to be, it was up to me.

10. The (Complete) Formula for Getting Lucky:
 Preparation (personal growth) + Attitude (belief/mindset) + Opportunity (a good thing coming your way) + Action (doing something about it) = Luck 

11. My mentor Jim Rohn said, “The day you graduate from childhood to adulthood is the day you take full responsibility for your life.”

12. To help you become aware of your choices, I want you to track every action that relates to the area of your life you want to improve.

13.  Simply carry around a small notebook, something you’ll keep in your pocket or purse at all times, and a writing instrument. You’re going to write it all down. Every day. Without fail. No excuses, no exceptions.

14.  But tracking my progress and missteps is the one of the reasons I’ve accumulated the success I have. The process forces you to be conscious of your decisions.

15. This is where I’m going to become a hard-ass and insist you track your behaviors for at least one whole week. This book isn’t designed to entertain you; it is designed to help you get results. To get results, you have to take some action.

16. All winners are trackers. Right now I want you to track your life with the same intention: to bring your goals within sight.

17. Once you begin reaping the rewards of the Compound Effect, you’ll naturally want to introduce this practice into other areas of your life. In other words, you’ll choose to choose tracking.

18. Psychological studies reveal that 95 percent of everything we feel, think, do, and achieve is a result of a learned habit!

19. Your choices are only meaningful when you connect them to your desires and dreams. The wisest and most motivating choices are the ones aligned with that which you identify as your purpose, your core self, and your highest values. You’ve got to want something, and know why you want it, or you’ll end up giving up too easily.

20. The access point to your why-power is through your core values, which define both who you are and what you stand for. Your core values are your internal compass, your guiding beacon, your personal GPS.

21. Getting your core values defined and properly calibrated is one of the most important steps in redirecting your life toward your grandest vision.

22. When your actions conflict with your values, you’ll end up unhappy, frustrated, and despondent. In fact, psychologists tell us that nothing creates more stress than when our actions and behaviors aren’t congruent with our values.

23. People are either motivated by something they want or something they don’t want. Love is a powerfully motivating force. But so is hate. Contrary to social correctness, it can be good to hate. Hate disease, hate injustice, hate ignorance, hate complacency, and so on. Sometimes identifying an enemy lights your fire.

24. In one of my interviews with Brian Tracy, he put it this way: “Top people have very clear goals. They know who they are and they know what they want. They write it down and they make plans for its accomplishment. Unsuccessful people carry their goals around in their head like marbles rattling around in a can, and we say a goal that is not in writing is merely a fantasy. And everybody has fantasies, but those fantasies are like bullets with no powder in the cartridge. People go through life shooting blanks without written goals—and that’s the starting point.”

25. Okay, now it’s your turn. Get out your little notebook and write out your top three goals. Now make a list of the bad habits that might be sabotaging your progress in each area. Write down every one. I suggest that you take some time today to make a list of your most important goals. 

26.  One thing Jim Rohn taught me is: “If you want to have more, you have to become more. Success is not something you pursue. What you pursue will elude you; it can be like trying to chase butterflies. Success is something you attract by the person you become.”

27. Habits and behaviors never lie. If there’s a discrepancy between what you say and what you do, I’m going to believe what you do every time. If you tell me you want to be healthy, but you’ve got Doritos dust on your fingers, I’m believing the Doritos. If you say self-improvement is a priority, but you spend more time with your Xbox than at the library, I’m believing the Xbox. If you say you’re a dedicated professional, but you show up late and unprepared, your behavior rats you out every time.

28.Next, add to that list all the habits you need to adopt that, practiced and compounded over time, will result in you gloriously achieving your goals.

29. Triggers - Look at your list of bad habits. For each one you’ve written down, identify what triggers it. Figure out what I call “The Big 4’s”—the “who,” the “what,” the “where,” and the “when” underlying each bad behavior.

30. For example: • Are you more likely to drink too much when you’re with certain people? • Is there a particular time of day when you just have to have something sweet? • What emotions tend to provoke your worst habits—stress, fatigue, anger, nervousness, boredom? • When do you experience those emotions? Who are you with, where are you, or what are you doing?

31. Clean House - Get to scrubbin’. And I mean this literally and figuratively. If you want to stop drinking alcohol, remove every drop of it from your house (and your vacation house, if you have one). Get rid of the glasses, any fancy utensils or doo-dads you use when you drink, and those decorative olives, too.

32. Look again at your list of bad habits. How can you alter them so that they’re not as harmful? Can you replace them with healthier habits or drop-kick them altogether? As in, for good.

33. For some of your long-standing and deep-rooted habits, it may be more effective to take small steps to ease into unwinding them. You may have spent decades repeating, cementing, and fortifying those habits, so it can be wise to give yourself some time to unravel them, one step at a time.

34. Not everyone is wired the same way. Some researchers have found that it can be paradoxically easier for people to make lifestyle changes if they change a great many bad habits at once.

35. According to research, it takes three hundred instances of positive reinforcement to turn a new habit into an unconscious practice—that’s almost a year of daily practice!

36. The key is staying aware. If you really want to maintain a good habit, make sure you pay attention to it at least once a day, and you’re far more likely to succeed.

37. Any new habit has to work inside your life and lifestyle. If you join a gym that’s thirty miles away, you won’t go. If you’re a night owl but the gym closes at 6 p.m., it won’t work for you. Your gym must be close and convenient, and fit into your schedule.

38. Instead of thinking what you can remove from your life, think instead of what you can add. The good will displace the bad.

40. Want to cement that new habit? Get Big Brother to watch you. It’s never been easier with all the social media available. Tell your family. Tell your friends. Tell Facebook and Twitter. Get the word out that there’s a new sheriff in town, and you’re in charge

41. To up your chances of success, get a success buddy, someone who’ll keep you accountable as you cement your new habit while you return the favor. I, for example, have what I call a “Peak-Performance Partner.”

42. There’s nothing like a friendly contest to whet your competitive spirit and immerse yourself in a new habit with a bang.

43. All work and no play make Jack a dull boy, and it’s a recipe for backsliding. There should be a time to celebrate, to enjoy some of the fruits of your victories along the way. You can’t go through this thing sacrificing yourself with no benefit.

44. For bigger milestones, book a massage or have dinner at your favorite restaurant. And promise yourself a nice big pot of gold when you reach the end of the rainbow.

45. The key to becoming world-class in your endeavors is to build your performance around world-class routines. It can be diffi cult, even futile, to predict or control what will show up in the middle of your workday. But you can almost always control how your day starts and ends. Essentially, have a morning and evening routine.

46. Everyone is affected by three kinds of influences: input (what you feed your mind), associations (the people with whom you spend time), and environment (your surroundings).

47. Birds of a feather flock together. The people with whom you habitually associate are called your “reference group.” According to research by social psychologist Dr. David McClelland of Harvard, your “reference group” determines as much as 95 percent of your success or failure in life.

48. The people with whom we spend our time determine what conversations dominate our attention, and to which attitudes and opinions we are regularly exposed. Eventually, we start to eat what they eat, talk like they talk, read what they read, think like they think, watch what they watch, treat people how they treat them, even dress like they dress.

49.  Jim Rohn taught that we become the combined average of the fi ve people we hang around the most.

50. If you haven’t already, jot down the names of those five people you hang around the most. Also write down their main characteristics, both positive and negative. It doesn’t matter who they are. It could be your spouse, your brother, your neighbor, or your assistant. Now, average them out. What’s their average health, and bank balance? What’s their average relationship like? As you look at your results, ask yourself, “Is this list okay for me? Is this where I want to go?”

51. Now that you’ve started to carefully consider with whom you spend your time, let’s go a little deeper. As Jim Rohn taught me, it’s powerful to evaluate and shift your associations into three categories: dissociations, limited associations, and expanded associations.

52. Association Evaluation Sheet : The Compound Effect - Worksheets | Darren Hardy (envisionsuccessinc.com)

53. What’s exciting about that is, no matter where you are in your life—maybe busy at home with small children or caretaking aging parents, working long hours with people with whom you have little in common, or living out in the country far from the nearest offi ce building—you, too, can have almost any mentor you want, if he or she has gathered their best thoughts, stories, and ideas into books, CDs, DVDs, and podcasts. You have an unlimited bounty from which to draw. Take advantage of it.

54. You’re never too good for a mentor.

55.  I have always found it interesting that the most successful people, the truly top performers, are the ones willing to hire and pay for the best coaches and trainers there are. It pays to invest in your improved performance.

56. “The first thing you want to remember with a mentor is that it doesn’t need to take a lot of their time. The best advice I’ve ever gotten is in short clips, having lunch or breakfast with somebody, just telling them what I’m working on and asking their advice and all. You will be amazed how successful businesspeople are willing to be mentors to people when it’s not taking a lot of time.”

57. Remember the adage: “Never ask advice of someone with whom you wouldn’t want to trade places.”

58. Additionally, when you’re creating an environment to support your goals, remember that you get in life what you tolerate. This is true in every area of your life—particularly within your relationships with family, friends, and colleagues. What you have decided to tolerate is also reflected in the situations and circumstances of your life right now. 

59. Put another way, you will get in life what you accept and expect you are worthy of.

60. If you tolerate disrespect, you will be disrespected. If you tolerate people being late and making you wait, people will show up late for you. If you tolerate being underpaid and overworked, that will continue for you. If you tolerate your body being overweight, tired, and perpetually sick, it will be.

61. “Don’t wish it were easier; wish you were better.”

62. When you hit the wall in your disciplines, routines, rhythms, and consistency, realize that’s when you are separating yourself from your old self, scaling that wall, and finding your new powerful, triumphant, and victorious self.

63. Take the magic penny we talked about in Chapter 1, the one that doubles in value each day, showing you the result of small compounded actions. If you just doubled that penny one extra time per week during those same thirty-one days, the compounded penny would result in $171 million instead of $10 million. Again, just extra effort in four days and the result was many times greater. That is how the math of doing just a little bit more than expected works.

64.  If you have a cause or ideal worthy of attention, do what it takes, even the unexpected, to make your case heard. Add a little audacity to your repertoire.

The Value of Changing Rooms

There is a saying : “If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.” As the President of Antigua and Barbuda Chess Federation and Teacher adviser to Antigua State College's Chess Club, I have had the privilege of seeing multiple transitions from one room to the next. The college's chess club consist of mainly beginners, while the federation weekly meetup consist of more experience players. I have not encountered one player from the college's chess club that regularly attended the federation's weekly meetup and didn't improve their game, none.

I have often invited players to come to the regular federation's weekly meetups. The commonly cited reason for not wanting to come to the weekly meetups is fear of being outmatched.  Actually, this is the case; initially, you might not win any games. It's somewhat of an informal motto "Come tek(take) yuh(your) blow." This is recognizing the fact that there are some dues to be paid to be good. Ok, you say, but "why can't I take my blows in private and come when I am strong?"

For some reason, that doesn't seem to work. My guess, there is no one pushing you. You are winning some games, and you are satisfied. If they had been coming to weekly meetups, there is no way they would get a hit of dopamine unless they improve. I like to keep track of when players transition from losing to winning. It takes roughly a thousand games for you to start winning against more advance players. I know this is chess, but I think it has applications for other avenues of life.

Setting Expectations - Experience persons can set realistic expectations for beginners. They know what it takes to be on top in that given sphere. For instance, when I tell beginners it will take roughly around thousand games to start beating me consistently, I set an expectation of the required effort. Also, experience persons can set expectations about resources required to be successful at a particular field. For instance, I will tell beginners that they need a chesstempo account in order to practice their tactics. Having the right expectations, allows you to know the necessary ingredients for success. Otherwise, you might get despondent after 100 games, not realizing you have 900 games left to be good.

Shared Advice - More advance persons in your field would know the mistakes they would have made in order to become advance. If you have access to them, they will more than likely share with you. Of course you can go on the internet and get some advice, but not everyone's story can be shared over the internet. Some advice are better illustrated in person. Also, the advice given maybe useful in your context (like how to deal with a specific person or organization), while advice on the internet may not. 

Increasing Motivation - Humans are competitive creatures. Implicitly, you are continuously asked: "How can I be more successful?"

In summary, if you are interested in being the best, sit amongst the best.

Common Purpose by Joel Kurtzman - Highlights

1. What is common purpose? To me, it is that rare, almost palpable experience that happens when a leader coalesces a group, team, or community into a creative, dynamic, brave, and nearly invincible we.

2. Common purpose is based on a simple idea: the leader is not separate from the group he or she leads. Rather, the leader is the organization’s glue—the force that binds it together, sets its direction, and makes certain that the group functions as one.

3. Making all eighty thousand employees understand what the company’s brand stood for. “If everyone understands that,” he said, “we won’t need thick employee manuals, management training programs, or pricing schedules for the services we sell. Everyone will instinctively do the right thing.”

4. The easiest way to create a sense of us or we—unfortunately—is to create the specter of them.

5. And while us-versus-them is a shortcut toward common purpose, it can also be a stepping-stone to chaos, doom, and organized opposition.

6. As Joe Griesedieck, vice chairman and managing director of CEO services at Korn/Ferry, the world’s largest search firm, told me, A players pick other A players with whom they surround themselves and from whom they build their teams. But B players pick B and even C players to prevent their leadership from being challenged. Over time, B players are succeeded by the B and then C players they picked. And since leaders in hierarchical organizations can’t really be challenged, the tyranny of the B player is preserved.

7.  For decades, studies around the world have confirmed that the overwhelming majority of people work for more than a paycheck. Research confirms that human beings working within organizations want to make a difference and be heard and recognized for their achievements

8. The organizations that survive do so by allowing people to develop in ways that make them more productive and responsive to changes in the environment.

9. People have a need to be heard, to be respected, and to control their space. Great leaders—common purpose leaders—grant them their space, give them their trust, allow them responsibility, and present them with opportunities and resources to do their jobs. But great leaders also hold people accountable. In other words, great leaders treat the people they work with as adults, which the current employment compact supports.

10. Once you discover that some negative people cannot rid themselves of their negativity, they must be allowed to find their purpose, passion, and opportunities elsewhere, Fourtou said.

11. When people disagree with your ideas, embrace them. They are your antidote to insularity. Those people may ultimately save your organization organization from a calamitous fate. But when people disagree with you—your position, authority, and level in the organization—they should seek other lines of work. When people do not respect you as the owner of your job and won’t let you control your space, it’s time to ease them out the door.

12. “You must be brutal and quick. When someone doesn’t work out, you have to get rid of them. And you have to do it fast. If they don’t uphold your values and vision, if they don’t come around to your goals, they can do real damage. The biggest HR mistakes we’ve made were when we waited too long to fire someone because we thought that person might change.”

13. Common purpose requires common goals. It also requires communicating what’s expected and providing feedback when people get it right.

14. Leadership is really about guiding, coaching, or even inspiring others to reach a goal. Sometimes a leader stands in front, sometimes to the side, sometimes even behind the people he or she is trying to help reach a goal.

15. Individuals take their cues from the way other people in the organization behave. People within organizations tend to model the behavior of the people at the top.

16. When the people at the top of an organization are greedy or mistrustful, it is impossible to keep that type of behavior from permeating the entire organization.

17. In research I conducted for a project on start-ups, I discovered that the chances of a company’s success are increased by as much as 30 percent when the founders of a company have worked together in the past.

18. The job of a leader is to set goals, measure progress, hold people accountable, and remove obstacles from each team member’s path.

19. While it may seem trite, the fact is that the best results come from people who treat others with respect, recognize recognize their contributions, and enlist their help.

20. You cannot have a common purpose organization unless everyone is onboard with the same goals.

21. It is difficult to overstress how important it is for teams of people working together to meet informally from time to time.

22. Rather than obsessing about the competition, organizations should focus on the people they want to serve. One company or firm succeeds against another not by attacking that company but by satisfying its own clients’ needs.

23. In organizations where negative emotions predominate, people withhold information and rarely take chances. When fear predominates, creativity dwindles, individual initiative diminishes, and risk taking wanes.

24. “Positive emotions, like those associated with praise, have the effect of opening people up. When they are open, they are receptive to guidance, new ideas, and new ways of thought. When the atmosphere is positive, people are more likely to take risks.”

25. In a flat organization, micromanaging is not only counterproductive and just plain stupid, it is destructive to the individual’s sense of well-being because it creates high levels of negative stress.

26. We should not simply tolerate our jobs, the way we tolerate a bad-tasting medicine when we’re sick. We should enjoy them.

27. In many organizations, however, asking for help is a sign of weakness. Leaders must be watchful for that belief and deal with it brutally. Organizations grow and become more competent when information is exchanged.

28. The lesson from the Italian restaurant in Kyoto was that real leadership is a resource that is largely based on knowledge, and that knowledge must renewed. What you learned in college or graduate school, what you learned on your first job, might form the basis for how you lead. But you must make “pilgrimages” on a regular basis to see what innovative leaders are doing.

29. Organizations that are not afraid to brook dissent are among the most powerful and long-living organizations around. The motto “Think,” which has guided IBM for more than half a century, is powerful and compelling because it is respectful of the individual and his or her ability to contribute. And while an organization that asks people to think may be messier and more clamorous than one that requires them to obey, IBM’s long-running success is testament to the power that can be generated when free-thinking individuals align their interests in pursuit of a goal.

30. Leaders who help their teams achieve aims beyond their expectations find that they have no difficulty recruiting people to join them.

31. Working on a great team, with great leaders, provides a boost to any individual’s career.

32. If an organization allows people to disrespect each other, then you cannot consider such behavior an anomaly. It is a value. If an organization tolerates buccaneering behavior, with irrationally high rates of leverage, these are its values.

33. Leaders must take it on themselves to make certain that the values their organizations express are the right ones. I say that because a further conclusion of my early study of systems was that values determine whether an organization will survive or fail.

34. And as Jean-René Fourtou said, people who demand too much, do not contribute, or are naysayers and negative will take every second of a leader’s time if given the chance. To put it bluntly, these people should be dismissed.

35. What all this means is that one primary, and usually overlooked, job of leaders is to prevent the buildup of organizational toxins.

36. Great leaders are constantly reading, constantly replenishing their intellectual capital, constantly generating and developing new ideas. Poor leaders—those who fail at generating common purpose—are usually idea free.

37. Ideas are especially important in today’s highly competitive economy because the surest way to succeed is by out-innovating your rivals. Innovation is the application of creativity to solve problems and create lasting advantage.

38. Leaders must spend a lot of time searching for ideas.

39. To be a leader, we must view ourselves as capable of creating change. We must wake up each morning with the belief that the organization in which we work can be bent to the will of a group of thoughtful human beings.