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.


30 Highlights: The Leadership Skill Handbook by Jo Owen


1. This handbook is different. It starts with the question, ‘How can you learn to lead?’ In our research with over 1,000 leaders at all levels in public, private and voluntary sectors the answer was clear: leaders learn not from courses but from experience, bosses, peers and role models.

2. Finally, it is worth learning one lesson from the world’s top athletes. Each gold medallist is supreme in one discipline: they focus relentlessly on becoming the best at one thing. They do not focus on their weaknesses. No one asks weightlifters to improve their synchronized swimming skills. Leaders, like athletes, cannot succeed at everything. They have to focus on their strengths, practise relentlessly and find the context or discipline in which they can flourish.

3. Our research found no effective leaders who were cynical about their work, their organization, themselves or their lives. They were relentlessly positive about everything.

4. If you want a high-performing team, do not be afraid to set high expectations.

5. To build trust with your followers, you have to be honest with them. This is hard-form honesty: telling the whole truth promptly, even when it is painful.

6. Authority and popularity are weak currencies for leadership. Authority can be removed in a reorganization. Popularity leads to weakness: you avoid the difficult conversations; you avoid stretching the team too far; you accept excuses. Honesty and trust are the true currencies for leadership. No one can take them away from you. Honesty and trust build respect, which lasts longer than popularity.

7. An ineffective team will all be clones of the leader. An effective team will complement the leader’s technical strengths and personal style. Your job is not to be the best person on the team. As a leader, your job is to get all the best people onto the team.

8. Athletes, like leaders, do not win by playing to their weaknesses and imagining failure. They win by building on their strengths and rehearsing, visualizing success in their minds. From this comes four principles :

i. Play to your strengths

ii. Visualise Success

iii. Think like a winner

iv. Create a team that compensates for your weaknesses

9. Coach yourself by following the plan-do-review cycle on all your activities:

i. Plan - what you want to achieve and how. 

ii. Do it.

iii. Review it - Review stage is where you learn most and it is your chance to accelerate your career. It is your secret weapon.

10. After any key event, ask yourself two questions:

 i. WWW. What went well? Success is not the natural state of things. When things work well, step back and ask why? This is how you will build your personal success formula.

 ii. EBI: Even better if. Ask what you could have done differently, or tried to make things work better.

11. Warren Buffet remarked that ‘when a great manager joins a lousy company, it is normally the reputation of the company that remains intact’.

12. Strong teams are diverse. Diversity means more than diversity of race, gender, age and faith.  It means the subtler diversity of building a team with complementary styles, skills and perspectives. A football team of 11 great goalkeepers is unlikely to do well.

13. Failure to delegate traps you into doing low-level jobs. You cannot lead if you cannot delegate. Here is why you must delegate :

i. Delegation is the only way to create more than 24 hours in a day. If you don't delegate, you work yourself into an early grave.

ii.Delegation allows you to focus on the areas where you make the most difference.

iii. It shows you have trust in the team, and most teams will respond to your vote of confidence in them by working hard to show they are worthy of your trust.

iv. It builds and stretches your team: they have to learn new skills.

14. Principles of delegation : 

-Ensure clarity of the task and the eventual success criteria.

-Make the team summarise back to you what they think the task and outcomes are meant to be. Do not assume they have understood anything until they say it back to you.

-Ensure people have enough skills and resources to complete the job : do not delegate too much too soon.

-Be clear about how you want to work together (progress reports). Discuss concerns before you start.

-Be available to help, but do not interfere all the time. When they ask for help, require them to suggest solutions so that they always learn.

-Delegate meaningful projects, not just adminstriva. Stretch people and they will rise to the challenge. Giving away mundane jobs only demotivates people.

-Show faith and trust in the team : praise successes and do not undermine them

-Remember, you may have delegated authority, but you cannot delegate away responsibility. You are still accountable for the outcomes.

15. Always try to figure out how to appeal to fear, greed and idleness.

16. Five drivers of motivation in the workplace:

i. My boss shows an interest in my career.

ii. I trust my boss; he/she is honest with me.

iii. I know where we are going and how to get there.

iv. I am doing a worthwhile job.

v. I am recognized for my contribution

17. The best way to communicate is to shut up. If necessary, put duct tape over your mouth and force yourself to listen. The more you listen, the more you understand. When you really understand what the other person is thinking, then you can influence them positively.

18. Good leaders normally have a simple agenda, which boils down to three things: idea, people, money, or the IPM agenda:

i. Idea. You need to have a simple idea about what you will do that will be different from and better than the past. The best ideas are simplest: ‘We will increase customer satisfaction’, ‘We will increase reliability’, ‘We will reduce costs’.

ii. People. If you have the B team, you have a recipe for sleepless nights and stress. Do not assume that the team you inherited is the team you must live with.

iii. Money. Make sure you have the right budget to fulfil your goals.


19. SPIN – situation and specifics, personal impact, insight and inquiry, and next steps – is a classic and simple framework for giving negative feedback:

i. Situation and specifics. Give feedback in the right situation: when the person is calm and the event is still fresh in the mind.

ii. Personal impact. Do not judge the other person: that invites conflict. Say how his or her actions made you feel: feelings are irrefutable. For example, say: ‘You have turned up late to three client meetings; it makes me feel you think they are unimportant’, not: ‘You are a lazy idler’, ‘I was very embarrassed when the CFO saw the errors in the budget you prepared’, or ‘You are an innumerate scumbag.’

iii. Insight and inquiry. Ask questions to see if the person understands the problem, to help him or her explore and evaluate options and discover the way forward.

iv. Next steps. Mutually agree what happens next. There needs to be a positive way forward. You need to have thought through possible options and actions.

20. The Art of War advocated fighting under only three conditions, all of which must be present: 1) only fight when there is a prize worth fighting for; 2) only fight when you know you will win; and 3) only fight when there is no alternative.

21. The trust equation shows that trust (T) is a function of values alignment (V) and credibility (C) offset by risk (R): high risk means you need higher levels of trust to work together.

22. You have no permanent friends or allies; there are only permanent interests. At some point, your interests and their interests will go different ways simply because you are in different roles and have different priorities.

23. The more senior you become, the harder you have to push for the next step. Early in your career, if you work hard and do well you will be promoted because every firm wants to encourage the next generation of leadership talent. But as your career progresses, there are fewer opportunities and there is more competition. Leadership is not given to you; you have to take it.

24. Everyone is selling: ideas, proposals and social events. We normally sell at three levels: features (‘ My computer has 8GB RAM memory’); benefits (‘ It can handle video editing’); dreams (‘ It could turn me into a Hollywood mogul’).

25. Avoid selling features. At least work out the benefits, or ideally the dreams, that will appeal to the person you are selling to. Start with what the person wants, not with what you have.

26. We have already met fear, greed, idleness and risk in motivation skills. We meet them again in selling skills. They work together: 

-Fear: What problem am I solving for the other person?

-Greed: What hope or dream am I helping the other person achieve?

-Idleness and risk: Am I making it easy for the other person to agree? Have I removed the risks he or she perceives?

27. The selling proposition varies dramatically depending on who you are selling to. You succeed when you focus less on the product and more on the buyer’s needs.

28. It is not enough to know what to sell. You also need to know how to sell. Here is a classic seven-step sales cycle: 

-Agree the problem/ opportunity.

-Preview the benefits of addressing the problem/ opportunity.

-Suggest the idea.

-Explain how it works.

-Pre-empt objections.

-Reinforce the benefits.

-Close.

29. Many leaders come to the realization that they hire for skills and fire for (the wrong) values. Do not make that mistake. Hire to values, not just to skills.

30. The new currency of leadership is respect. Respect is based on two vital ingredients: trust and positive challenge. Trust is dealt with extensively elsewhere in the book. As a reminder, you build trust through values alignment (you ‘talk the talk’ of the other person) and credibility (you always deliver on commitments, or you ‘walk the talk’). Trust is good, but not enough for respect. As a leader you will gain respect with positive challenge. Set ambitious goals. These goals will stretch and develop your team, and give them a sense that they are achieving something meaningful. Ambition creates a sense of purpose and fulfilment. If you stretch people but do not support them, you are simply unreasonable. You need to make the challenge a positive challenge.


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Summary : Fate of Empires by Sir John Glubb

1. The experiences of the human race have been recorded, in more or less detail, for some four thousand years. If we attempt to study such a period of time in as many countries as possible, we seem to discover the same patterns constantly repeated under widely differing conditions of climate, culture and religion. 

2. The only thing we learn from history,’ it has been said, ‘is that men never learn from history’

3. If we desire to ascertain the laws which govern the rise and fall of empires, the obvious course is to investigate the imperial experiments recorded in history

4.

The nation Dates of rise and fall Duration in years
Assyria 859-612 B.C. 247
Persia
(Cyrus and his descendants)
538-330 B.C. 208
Greece
(Alexander and his successors)
331-100 B.C. 231
Roman Republic 260-27 B.C. 233
Roman Empire 27 B.C.-A.D. 180 207
Arab Empire A.D. 634-880 246
Mameluke Empire 1250-1517 267
Ottoman Empire 1320-1570 250
Spain 1500-1750 250
Romanov Russia 1682-1916 234
Britain 1700-1950 250

4.1 The present writer is exploring the facts, not trying to prove anything. The dates given are largely arbitrary. Empires do not usually begin or end on a certain date. There is normally a gradual period of expansion and then a period of decline. The resemblance in the duration of these great powers may be queried.

5. An interesting deduction from the figures seems to be that the duration of empires does not depend on the speed of travel or the nature of weapons. The Assyrians marched on foot and fought with spears and bow and arrows. The British used artillery, railways and ocean-going ships. Yet the two empires lasted for approximately the same periods. 

6. In spite of the accidents of fortune, and the apparent circumstances of the human race at different epochs, the periods of duration of different empires at varied epochs show a remarkable similarity. 

7. One of the very few units of measurement which have not seriously changed since the Assyrians is the human ‘generation’, a period of about twenty-five years. Thus a period of 250 years would represent about ten generations of people. A closer examination of the characteristics of the rise and fall of great nations may emphasise the possible significance of the sequence of generations. 

8.  Stage one. The outburst

9. Again and again in history we find a small nation, treated as insignificant by its contemporaries, suddenly emerging from its homeland and overrunning large areas of the world.

10. Prior to Philip (359-336 B.C.), Macedon had been an insignificant state to the north of Greece. Persia was the great power of the time, completely dominating the area from Eastern Europe to India. Yet by 323 B.C., thirty-six years after the accession of Philip, the Persian Empire had ceased to exist, and the Macedonian Empire extended from the Danube to India, including Egypt. 

11. Characteristics of the outburst

12. These sudden outbursts are usually characterised by an extraordinary display of energy and courage. The new conquerors are normally poor, hardy and enterprising and above all aggressive.

13. But the new nation is not only distinguished by victory in battle, but by unresting enterprise in every field. Men hack their way through jungles, climb mountains, or brave the Atlantic and the Pacific oceans in tiny cockle-shells

14. Other peculiarities of the period of the conquering pioneers are their readiness to improvise and experiment. Untrammelled by traditions, they will turn anything available to their purpose. If one method fails, they try something else. Uninhibited by textbooks or book learning, action is their solution to every problem. 

15. Poor, hardy, often half-starved and ill-clad, they abound in courage, energy and initiative, overcome every obstacle and always seem to be in control of the situation. 

16. The first stage of the life of a great nation, therefore, after its outburst, is a period of amazing initiative, and almost incredible enterprise, courage and hardihood. These qualities, often in a very short time, produce a new and formidable nation. These early victories, however, are won chiefly by reckless bravery and daring initiative. 

17. Commercial expansion

18. The conquest of vast areas of land and their subjection to one government automatically acts as a stimulant to commerce. Both merchants and goods can be exchanged over considerable distances. Moreover, if the empire be an extensive one, it will include a great variety of climates, producing extremely varied products, which the different areas will wish to exchange with one another. 

19. When a great empire was in control, commerce was freed from the innumerable shackles imposed upon it today by passports, import permits, customs, boycotts and political interference.

20. In the eighth and ninth centuries, the caliphs of Baghdad achieved fabulous wealth owing to the immense extent of their territories, which constituted a single trade bloc. The empire of the caliphs is now divided into some twenty-five separate ‘nations’. 

21. The inescapable conclusion seems, however, to be that larger territorial units are a benefit to commerce and to public stability, whether the broader territory be achieved by voluntary association or by military action. 

22. The Age of Commerce

23. Let us now, however, return to the life-story of our typical empire. We have already considered the age of outburst, when a little regarded people suddenly bursts on to the world stage with a wild courage and energy. Let us call it the Age of the Pioneers. Then we saw that these new conquerors acquired the sophisticated weapons of the old empires, and adopted their regular systems of military organisation and training. A great period of military expansion ensued, which we may call the Age of Conquests. The conquests resulted in the acquisition of vast territories under one government, thereby automatically giving rise to commercial prosperity. We may call this the Age of Commerce. 

24. Art and Luxury

25. The wealth which seems, almost without effort, to pour into the country enables the commercial classes to grow immensely rich. 

26. How to spend all this money becomes a problem to the wealthy business community. Art, architecture and luxury find rich patrons. Splendid municipal buildings and wide streets lend dignity and beauty to the wealthy areas of great cities. The rich merchants build themselves palaces, and money is invested in infrastructure.

27. The first half of the Age of Commerce appears to be peculiarly splendid. The ancient virtues of courage, patriotism and  devotion to duty are still in evidence. The nation is proud, united and full of self-confidence. Boys are still required, first of all, to be manly—to ride, to shoot straight and to tell the truth. (It is remarkable what emphasis is placed, at this stage, on the manly virtue of truthfulness, for lying is cowardice—the fear of facing up to the situation.) 

28. The Age of Affluence

29. There does not appear to be any doubt that money is the agent which causes the decline of this strong, brave and self-confident people. The decline in courage, enterprise and a sense of duty is, however, gradual.

30. The first direction in which wealth injures the nation is a moral one. Money replaces honour and adventure as the objective of the best young men. 

31. Gradually, and almost imperceptibly, the Age of Affluence silences the voice of duty. The object of the young and the ambitious is no longer fame, honour or service, but cash. 

32. Education undergoes the same gradual transformation. No longer do schools aim at producing brave patriots ready to serve their country. Parents and students alike seek the educational qualifications which will command the highest salaries. 

33. Indeed the change might be summarised as being from service to selfishness. 

34. Another outward change which invariably marks the transition from the Age of Conquests to the Age of Affluence is the spread of defensiveness. The nation, immensely rich, is no longer interested in glory or duty, but is only anxious to retain its wealth and its luxury.

35. Money being in better supply than courage, subsidies instead of weapons are employed to buy off enemies. To justify this departure from ancient tradition, the human mind easily devises its own justification. Military readiness, or aggressiveness, is denounced as primitive and immoral. Civilised peoples are too proud to fight. 

36. The conquest of one nation by another is declared to be immoral. Empires are wicked. This intellectual device enables us to suppress our feeling of inferiority, when we read of the heroism of our ancestors, and then ruefully contemplate our position today. ‘It is not that we are afraid to fight,’ we say, ‘but we should consider it immoral.’ This even enables us to assume an attitude of moral superiority

37. The weakness of pacifism is that there are still many peoples in the world who are aggressive. Nations who proclaim themselves unwilling to fight are liable to be conquered by peoples in the stage of militarism—perhaps even to see themselves incorporated into some new empire, with the status of mere provinces or colonies.

38. The Age of Intellect

39. The merchant princes of the Age of Commerce seek fame and praise, not only by endowing works of art or patronising music and literature. They also found and endow colleges and universities. It is remarkable with what regularity this phase follows on that of wealth, in empire after empire, divided by many centuries. 

40. The ambition of the young, once engaged in the pursuit of adventure and military glory, and then in the desire for the accumulation of wealth, now turns to the acquisition of academic honours. 

41. The Age of Intellect is accompanied by surprising advances in natural science. In the ninth century, for example, in the age of Mamun, the Arabs measured the circumference of the earth with remarkable accuracy. Seven centuries were to pass before Western Europe discovered that the world was not flat. Less than fifty years after the amazing scientific discoveries under Mamun, the Arab Empire collapsed. Wonderful and beneficent as was the progress of science, it did not save the empire from chaos. 

42. As in the case of the Athenians, intellectualism leads to discussion, debate and argument, such as is typical of the Western nations today. 

43. But this constant dedication to discussion seems to destroy the power of action. Amid a Babel of talk, the ship drifts on to the rocks. 

44. Perhaps the most dangerous by-product of the Age of Intellect is the unconscious growth of the idea that the human brain can solve the problems of the world.

45.  Any small human activity, the local bowls club or the ladies’ luncheon club, requires for its survival a measure of selfsacrifice and service on the part of the members. 

46.  In a wider national sphere, the survival of the nation depends basically on the loyalty and self-sacrifice of the citizens. The impression that the situation can be saved by mental cleverness, without unselfishness or human self-dedication, can only lead to collapse. 

47. Thus we see that the cultivation of the human intellect seems to be a magnificent ideal, but only on condition that it does not weaken unselfishness and human dedication to service. Yet this, judging by historical precedent, seems to be exactly what it does do. 

48. True to the normal course followed by nations in decline, internal differences are not reconciled in an attempt to save the nation. On the contrary, internal rivalries become more acute, as the nation becomes weaker. 

49. One of the oft-repeated phenomena of great empires is the influx of foreigners to the capital city. 

50. While the nation is still affluent, all the diverse races may appear equally loyal. But in an acute emergency, the immigrants will often be less willing to sacrifice their lives and their property than will be the original descendants of the founder race. 

51. As the nation declines in power and wealth, a universal pessimism gradually pervades the people, and itself hastens the decline. 

52. Frivolity is the frequent companion of pessimism. Let us eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die. The resemblance between various declining nations in this respect is truly surprising. The Roman mob, we have seen, demanded free meals and public games. Gladiatorial shows, chariot races and athletic events were their passion. 

53. The heroes of declining nations are always the same—the athlete, the singer or the actor. The word ‘celebrity’ today is used to designate a comedian or a football player, not a statesman, a general, or a literary genius. 

54. History, however, seems to suggest that the age of decline of a great nation is often a period which shows a tendency to philanthropy and to sympathy for other races

55. Historians of periods of decadence often refer to a decline in religion.

56. We have to interpret religion in a very broad sense. Some such definition as ‘the human feeling that there is something, some invisible Power, apart from material objects, which controls human life and the natural world’. 

57. Genghis Khan, one of the most brutal of all conquerors, claimed that God had delegated him the duty to exterminate the decadent races of the civilised world. Thus the Age of Conquests often had some kind of religious atmosphere, which implied heroic self-sacrifice for the cause. 

58. But this spirit of dedication was slowly eroded in the Age of Commerce by the action of money. People make money for themselves, not for their country. Thus periods of affluence gradually dissolved the spirit of service, which had caused the rise of the imperial races. 

59. The habits of the members of the community have been corrupted by the enjoyment of too much money and too much power for too long a period. 

60. The result has been, in the framework of their national life, to make them selfish and idle. 

61. A community of selfish and idle people declines, internal quarrels develop in the division of its dwindling wealth, and pessimism follows, which some of them endeavour to drown in sensuality or frivolity.

62. Decadence is both mental and moral deterioration, produced by the slow decline of the community from which its members cannot escape, as long as they remain in their old surroundings. But, transported elsewhere, they soon discard their decadent ways of thought, and prove themselves equal to the other citizens of their adopted country. 

63. Decadence is not physical. Decadence is a moral and spiritual disease, resulting from too long a period of wealth and power, producing cynicism, decline of religion, pessimism and frivolity. The citizens of such a nation will no longer make an effort to save themselves, because they are not convinced that anything in life is worth saving. 


Highlights from "Daily Rituals" by Mason Currey

1. A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods.

2. “A modern stoic,” he observed, “knows that the surest way to discipline passion is to discipline time: decide what you want or ought to do during the day, then always do it at exactly the same moment every day, and passion will give you no trouble.”

3. When he did find the time to compose, Feldman employed a strategy that John Cage taught him—it was “the most important advice anybody ever gave me,” Feldman told a lecture audience in 1984. “He said that it’s a very good idea that after you write a little bit, stop and then copy it. Because while you’re copying it, you’re thinking about it, and it’s giving you other ideas. And that’s the way I work. And it’s marvelous, just wonderful, the relationship relationship between working and copying.”

4. All those I think who have lived as literary men,—working daily as literary labourers,—will agree with me that three hours a day will produce as much as a man ought to write.

5. Isaiah Berlin describes Marx’s habits during this time: His mode of living consisted of daily visits to the British [Museum] reading-room, where he normally remained

6. And although he had many patients who relied on him, Jung was not shy about taking time off; “I’ve realized that somebody who’s tired and needs a rest, and goes on working all the same is a fool,” he said.

7. In Everybody’s Autobiography, Stein confirmed that she had never been able to write much more than half an hour a day—but added, “If you write a half hour a day it makes a lot of writing year by year. To be sure all day and every day you are waiting around to write that half hour a day.”

8. When he is writing a novel, Murakami wakes at 4:00 A.M. and works for five to six hours straight. In the afternoons he runs or swims (or does both), runs errands, reads, and listens to music; bedtime is 9:00. “I keep to this routine every day without variation,” he told The Paris Review in 2004. “The repetition itself becomes the important thing; it’s a form of mesmerism. I mesmerize myself to reach a deeper state of mind.”

9. “Inspiration is for amateurs,” Close says. “The rest of us just show up and get to work.”

10. “My experience has been that most really serious creative people I know have very, very routine and not particularly glamorous work habits” - John Adams

11. The more of the details of our daily life we can hand over to the effortless custody of automatism, the more our higher powers of mind will be set free for their own proper work. There is no more miserable human being than one in whom nothing is habitual but indecision, and for whom the lighting of every cigar, the drinking of every cup, the time of rising and going to bed every day, and the beginning of every bit of work, are subjects of express volitional deliberation.

12. “I find that having a job is one of the best things in the world that could happen to me,” he once said. “It introduces discipline and regularity into one’s life. I am just as free as I want to be and of course I have nothing to worry about about money.” - Wallace Stevens

13. Angelou has never been able to write at home.

14. He was dismissive of inspiration, saying that if he waited for the muse he would compose at most three songs a year. It was better to work every day. “Like the pugilist,” Gershwin said, “the songwriter must always keep in training.”

15. Heller wrote Catch-22 in the evenings after work, sitting at the kitchen table in his Manhattan apartment. “I spent two or three hours a night on it for eight years,”

16. As a young apprentice in Thomas Edison’s New York office, Tesla regularly worked from 10:30 in the morning until 5:00 the following morning. (“I’ve had many hardworking assistants, but you take the cake,” Edison told him.) Later, after he had started his own company, Tesla arrived at the office at noon. Immediately, his secretary would draw the blinds; Tesla worked best in the dark and would raise the blinds again only in the event of a lightning storm, which he liked to watch flashing above the cityscape from his black mohair sofa. He typically worked at the office until midnight, with a break at 8:00 for dinner in the Palm Room of the Waldorf-Astoria hotel.

17. “Be regular and orderly in your life like a Bourgeois so that you may be violent and original in your work.” - William Styron

18. Descartes believed that idleness was essential to good mental work, and he made sure not to overexert himself.

19. Dickens was prolific—he produced fifteen novels, ten of which are longer than eight hundred pages, and numerous stories, essays, letters, and plays—but he could not be productive without certain conditions in place. First, he needed absolute quiet; at one of his houses, an extra door had to be installed to his study to block out noise. And his study had to be precisely arranged, with his writing desk placed in front of a window and, on the desk itself, his writing materials—goose-quill pens and blue ink—laid out alongside several ornaments: a small vase of fresh flowers, a large paper knife, a gilt leaf with a rabbit perched upon it, and two bronze statuettes (one depicting a pair of fat toads dueling, the other a gentleman swarmed with puppies).

20. The morning is the best time, there are no people around.

21. “The overriding factor in my life between the ages of six and twenty-two was my father’s candy store,” Asimov wrote in his posthumously published memoir. His father owned a succession of candy stores in Brooklyn, which he opened at 6:00 A.M. and closed at 1:00 A.M., seven days a week. I have kept the candy-store hours all my life. I wake at five in the morning. I get to work as early as I can. I work as long as I can. I do this every day in the week, including holidays. I don’t take vacations voluntarily and I try to do my work even when I’m on vacation. (And even when I’m in the hospital.) In other words, I am still and forever in the candy store.

22. (Stephen) King writes every day of the year, including his birthday and holidays, and he almost never lets himself quit before he reaches his daily quota of two thousand words.

23. (Georges) Simenon was one of the most prolific novelists of the twentieth century, publishing 425 books in his career. The Belgian-French novelist worked in intense bursts of literary activity, each lasting two or three weeks, separated by weeks or months of no writing at all.