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Books: Delights for the Heart and Mind

Books: Delights for the Heart and Mind

Books are Human Too

Books are Human Too Did you ever pause to marvel at the telephone, the phonograph, or the radio? I do not mean the intricate mechanism by which these devices operate, but the marvel of the service they render. These inventions enable you to escape from the limitations of time and space, so that you can hear and see people who are not physically present. Books are like that too. They are a recording of what some of the world’s greatest masters have to say to us.

We cannot bring back to life a Moses, an Isaiah, a Lincoln, or a Spinoza. Yet these great people can still speak to us; reveal to us some of their innermost thoughts, by means of the printed page. A book enables you to roam freely in space and time and enter the company of the greatest people who walked this earth.

Some of us are afraid of great people, lest they are superior to us and we are unable to feel at home in their presence. For the same reason many of us shy away from great books, but when you get to know them, great people are human. It once took a little girl great courage to ask Albert Einstein to help with her arithmetic. He not only agreed, but they began a firm friendship.

Books are human too. Not all books can entrance you with the very first page. You have to give them time. You have to live with them, and read them. Allow them to develop their thoughts. Gradually you will fed their power and fall in love with them. The treasures of the printed page are like the treasures hidden in the earth, you have to do a little digging before you can bring them up to the surface.

Some of the greatest delights for the heart and mind can come to you through books. If you have no books in your home, then bring them in. Every book is a window on the world, so why live in die dark when you can reach out for the light? In addition, if you have books in your home, resting on the shelf, take them down and use them; don’t let them collect dust. Books can be great friends. Take them with you on your journey through life.

Human Ingeniousness Can Make a Machine

Human Ingeniousness Can Make a Machine So every species and degree of pleasure, and of bodily and genial contentment which we enjoy in this world, are only the radiation or emanations of this elementary principle, namely, accord or health. This book is of so much real importance to the health and happiness of each individual among the populace, that though it contains more matter or reading than most Two-British shilling pamphlets, it is ordered to be sold for only two pence. He was always more interested in hiring somebody who wanted to learn more and work hard than someone who just sounded good. The greatest part of the food of a ship’s company is inevitably salt provision. Human ingeniousness can make a machine, which may simulate vision exactly; but nothing that the art of man can form is found to gain sounds so much in so small a compass as the human ear.

To which is added, an account of the composition, provision, and properties of the three great medicines prepared and dispensed at the temple of health, Adelphi, and at the temple of maidenhead, pall-mall, Greater London. American author and spiritual activist Stephen Jenkinson once said,

Our culture doesn’t know how to feel sad. …. The inability to be sad is a culture-wide dilemma. You try to get the word sadness into a conversation, you try to surface the idea of sadness. It’s dismissed very quickly. And why is that? … It’s determined as a kind of a useless thing to feel. You can’t do anything with it. You can’t turn it in to anything. But anger, hell yes, you can turn that into stuff, in a hurry. It’s very hard to act on sadness.

Those who have rigorously put those methods in practice know how effective and infallible they are, and exact attention is necessary, as a single infected man, or any part of his garment, will spread sickness through a whole ship’s company. I do not mind making mistakes. All the same, that is only because mistakes do not inevitably connote incompetency. In fact, competent people make them all the time, whether due to lack of attention, working too fast, or being too tired. Although one thing competent people do not do is make mistakes because they do not know what they are doing. If this, still, were the case, all bodies with a smooth surface would be capable of reflecting sounds, which we know, by experience, they are not.

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Posted in Education and Career Faith and Religion

A Dalai Lama Reading List

The 14th Dalai Lama, Lhamo Thondup, Gejong Tenzin Gyatsho (also Tenzin Gyatso,) is called Sku ‘dun (pronounced “Kundun”) out of respect, which means literally “the presence before us.” He spent his early years between the Potala and the Nor bu gling kha summer palace, studying Buddhism under the supervision of scholarly Dge lugs pa monks. This altered suddenly in 1950 when, at the age of fifteen, a political predicament forced the Tibetan government to ask him to undertake both political and spiritual authority.

When Mao Zedong declared Tibet an integral part of the Chinese homeland and China’s Red Army marched in to Tibet, easily defeating the badly equipped Tibetans in 1950 at on the traditional border between central and eastern Tibet. In despondency, Tibet’s political leaders invested the young Dalai Lama with full political authority. In 1951 China forced a totally conquered Tibet to sign the Seventeen Point Agreement in which it was declared that Tibet had always been a part of China.

The Dalai Lama finished his traditional studies in 1959. Soon after, when the Chinese army suppressed a Tibetan uprising in Lhasa protesting tightening Chinese control, the Dalai Lama fled as a refugee to India. He was eventually followed by about 100,000 of his people. Now he travels widely, giving explanations of Buddhist teaching and exchanging ideas with scientists and leaders of other faiths.

  • 'The Art of Happiness' by Dalai Lama (ISBN 1594488894) The Art of Happiness (2009) … In the Dalai Lama’s best-selling tome, he sits down with Dr. Howard Cutler to investigate the keys to happiness in the face of life’s complications. From anxiety, anger, and discouragement to relationships and loss, the Dalai Lama presents how we can find inner peace amongst the problems of modern life.
  • Ethics for the New Millennium (2001) … The Dalai Lama offers a moral philosophy based on universal rather than religious principles. Its definitive goal is happiness for every individual, regardless of religious beliefs. Reasoning for basic human goodness, he points out that the number of violent or dishonest people is tiny compared to the great majority who wish others well.
  • For the Benefit of All Beings: A Commentary on The Way of the Bodhisattva (2009) … The Way of the Bodhisattva by Shantideva is one of the best-loved texts of Mahayana Buddhism and a distinct preference of the Dalai Lama’s own Buddhist tradition. With this classic text as his guide, he shows how all of us can develop a good heart and aspire to become enlightened for the sake of all beings.
  • The Essence of the Heart Sutra (2005) … The Heart Sutra is a core text of Mahayana Buddhism, declaring its central doctrine that all things are empty of self. The Dalai Lama offers his interpretation on the Heart Sutra and places the text in historical and philosophical context. Since the Dalai Lama’s Gelugpa school concentrates in the philosophy of emptiness, this is an authoritative discussion of one of the world’s foundational religious texts.
  • 'A Profound Mind' by Dalai Lama (ISBN 0385514689) A Profound Mind: Cultivating Wisdom in Everyday Life (2012) … In Buddhism, wisdom is defined as the realization of non-self. The Dalai Lama unpacks the Buddhist view of emptiness and explains why it helps us lead a more meaningful, happy, and loving life. Using the arduous logic for which he is famous, he takes us on a step-by-step journey to understanding the reality of unselfishness.
  • My Land and My People (1997) and Freedom in Exile (2008) … The Dalai Lama’s first autobiography, My Land and My People, was published in 1962, just three years after he reinstated himself in India and before he became an international celebrity. His second autobiography, Freedom in Exile, was released in 1990. The Dalai Lama regards both as accurate and reissued My Land and My People in 1997 to coincide with the release of the film Kundun, saying, “The sense of immediacy and urgency in my writing then would be difficult to recreate today.”
  • The Universe in a Single Atom: The Convergence of Science and Spirituality (2006) … Discussing Darwinism, quantum mechanics, neurobiology, meditation, and the study of consciousness, the Dalai Lama draws substantial parallels between the scientific and contemplative examinations of reality. His conclusion is that these different approaches to understanding ourselves, our universe, and one another can be brought together in the service of humanity.
  • Toward a True Kinship of Faiths (2011) … Interfaith harmony, the Dalai Lama argues, does not require accepting that all religions are fundamentally the same or that they lead to the same place. He shows how believers can be pluralist with regard to other religions without compromising their commitment to their own faith.
  • 'Beyond Religion' by Dalai Lama (ISBN 054784428X) Beyond Religion: Ethics for a Whole World (2012) … The Dalai Lama is one of the world’s most famous religious leaders, yet he often supports a nonreligious path to an ethical, happy, and truly spiritual life. Transcending the religion wars, he outlines a system of ethics for our shared world and makes a stirring appeal for deep appreciation of our common humanity.
  • Stages of Meditation (2003) … The Dalai Lama explains the principles of meditation in a practice-oriented format especially suited to Westerners. Topics include the nature of mind, developing compassion and loving-kindness, and how to establish a union of calm abiding and insight. He draws on a favorite text that he calls “a key that opens the door to all other major Buddhist scriptures.”
  • Dzogchen: Heart Essence of the Great Perfection (2004) … The Dzogchen teachings are the heart essence of the ancient Nyingma tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Exploring this mysterious subject in print for the first time, the Dalai Lama offers comprehensions into one of Buddhism’s most profound systems of meditation. He discusses both the philosophic foundations and practices of Dzogchen and explains why it is called “the pinnacle of all vehicles.”
  • How to Practice: The Way to a Meaningful Life (2003) … Buddhism is often described as the practice of samadhi, prajna, and shila—meditation, wisdom, and morality. The Dalai Lama breaks down the Buddhist path into a series of distinct steps we can take to practice these three components of enlightenment. This accessible book will help you open your heart, refrain from doing harm, and maintain mental tranquility.
  • 'The World of Tibetan Buddhism' by Dalai Lama (ISBN 0861710975) The World of Tibetan Buddhism: An Overview of Its Philosophy and Practice (2005) … In this book, the Dalai Lama delivers a survey of the entire Buddhist path that is both concise and profound, accessible and engaging. He writes, “I think an overview of Tibetan Buddhism for the purpose of providing a comprehensive framework of the path may prove helpful in deepening your understanding and practice.”
  • Buddhism: One Teacher, Many Traditions (2017) … The Dalai Lama joins with American Buddhist nun Thubten Chodron to map out the convergences and the divergences between the Mahayana and Theravada schools of Buddhism. They examine the different ways these traditions treat foundational Buddhist principles such as the four noble truths, meditation practice, and the meaning of enlightenment.
  • How to See Yourself as You Really Are (2007) … The Dalai Lama explains how we recognize and dispel misguided notions of self and embrace the world from a more realistic—and loving—perspective. Through step-by-step exercises, The Dalai Lama helps readers see the world as it actually exists and explains how, through the interconnection of meditative concentration and love, true altruistic enlightenment is attained.
  • An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life (2002) … How does one actually become a compassionate person? What are the mechanisms by which a selfish heart is transformed into a generous heart? In An Open Heart, the Dalai Lama writes simply and powerfully about the everyday Buddhist practice of compassion, offering a clear and practical introduction to the Buddhist path to enlightenment.
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Posted in Faith and Religion

The Maxims of Epicurus, Greek Philosopher and the Initiator of Epicureanism

The Maxims of Epicurus, Greek Philosopher and the Initiator of Epicureanism

Diogenes Laertius (third century CE) is the chief source for the writings of Epicurus (341–270 BCE,) the Greek philosopher and the founder of Epicureanism. Diogenes Laertius tells us that Epicurus was the most productive author of his time (having produced approximately 300 papyrus rolls). Unfortunately little survives. Diogenes himself preserves three short letters summarizing Epicurus’s physical theory, ethics, and clarifications of celestial phenomena, though doubts exist that the last is from Epicurus’s script. Kuriai Doxai, a collection of passages quoted by Diogenes, and a parallel collection enduring in another manuscript, Sententiae Vaticanae, were seemingly intended to remind believers of Epicurus’s key teachings.

Diogenes Laertius ends his biography of Epicurus with four authentic documents, three of them letters to disciples in which, among other things, he presents purely mechanistic explanations for various natural occurrences. The last document is a set of Epicurus’s maxims to direct a person seeking a happy life. .

  • Epicurus, Greek Philosopher and the Initiator of Epicureanism What is happy and imperishable suffers no trouble itself, nor does it cause trouble to anything. So it is not subject to feelings either of anger or of partiality, for these feelings exist only in what is weak.
  • Death is nothing to us, for that which is dissolved has no feeling whatsoever, and that which has no feeling means nothing to us.
  • A person cannot have a pleasant life unless he lives prudently, honorably and justly, nor can he live prudently, honorably and justly without a pleasant life. A person cannot possibly have a pleasant life unless he happens to live prudently, honorably and justly.
  • No pleasure is intrinsically bad, but what causes pleasure is accompanied by many things that disturb pleasure.
  • Vast power and great wealth may, up to a certain point, grant us security as far as individual men are concerned, but the security of men as a whole depends on the tranquility of their souls and their freedom from ambition.
  • 'The Art of Happiness' by Epicurus (ISBN 0143107216) Of all the things that wisdom provides for the happiness of a whole life, the most important by far is acquiring friends.
  • Natural justice is an agreement among men about what actions are suitable. Its aim is to prevent men from injuring one another, or to be injured.
  • Justice has no independent existence: it results from mutual contracts, and we find it in force wherever there is a mutual agreement to guard against doing injury or sustaining it.
  • Injustice is not intrinsically bad: people regard it as evil only because it is accompanied by the fear that they will not escape the officials who are appointed to punish evil actions.
  • The happiest men are those who have reached the point where they have nothing to fear from those who surround them.

Reference: Diogenes, “Epicurus,” The Lives of the Eminent Philosophers. Book 10, Sec. 31. Trans. C. D. Yonge

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Quotes from Jeswald W. Salacuse’s Leading Leaders

'Leading Leaders' by Jeswald Salacuse (ISBN 0814417663) Jeswald W. Salacuse‘s Leading Leaders shows readers how to improve your capability to control three key facets of negotiation—interests, voice, and vision—towards advance your power and persuasiveness as a leader. His practical guide scrutinizes the vital role of negotiation in expanding, using, and maintaining leadership within organizations, large and small, public and private. Its purpose is to educate readers on the way to use negotiation to lead effectively. Here are quotes from his book.

  • “Smart, talented, rich, and powerful people require one-on-one leadership, tailor-made leadership, leadership up close and personal.”
  • “Elicit as much relevant information as possible in conducting a one-on-one encounter and strive to interpret that information accurately.”
  • “Lack of authority does not necessarily mean lack of power.”
  • “You find leaders at all levels throughout any organization, whether or not they have an office in the executive suite or a seat on the governing board.”
  • “Failures of an organization to achieve desired results lie as often in mistakes of leadership as in the intractable structure the situation.”
  • “People follow you because they believe it is in their interests to do so.”
  • “The test of leadership is followership.”
  • “Smart, talented, rich, and powerful people require one-on-one leadership, tailor-made leadership, leadership up close and personal.”
  • “The medium you use says things about you and about your relationship with the person you are trying to lead.”
  • “Avoid the tendency to dominate conversations and to talk more than listen, a tendency that has the effect of inhibiting the persons you are trying to lead.”
  • “Use questions to probe the underlying interests of the persons you hope to lead.”
  • “Move your followers to take action by characterizing a problem or challenge in such a way that it is in their interests to do something about it.”
  • “Mere articulation of the vision is not enough. You must convince your followers to accept it.”
  • “Persons you lead will look to you to motivate them, encourage them, and strengthen them to do the right thing for the organization.”
  • “Without creating trust you will find it difficult, if not impossible, to direct, integrate, mediate, educate, motivate, or represent the persons you lead.”
  • “In organizations and groups composed of leaders, each of them is likely to have a quite distinct organizational vision.”
  • “Beware of becoming so intoxicated by your own vision that you fail to see clearly the reservations that members of your organization may have about pursuing that vision enthusiastically.”
  • “You need to find and develop a process that will enable the organization’s members to participate in determining new directions.”
  • “In leading leaders, the most effective instrument is not an order but the right question.”
  • “The follower’s dilemma creates a constant tension between the drive to assert individual interests and the drive to assert organizational interests.”
  • “An organization without a common accepted culture may experience constant conflict, miscommunications, disappointed expectations, and dysfunction.”
  • “You first need to understand the nature of the cultural differences that divide your organization’s members and then seek to find ways to bridge that gap.”
  • “Leaders need to be cheerleaders for the organization both inside and outside.”
  • “A mediator may move a dispute toward resolution by bringing to the situation the skills and resources that the parties themselves lack.”
  • “The more an organization allows its members autonomy of action, the more likely it is that a resolution of conflicts will require mediation.”
  • “A first principle for any leader teacher is to know the persons to be taught; it affects what you teach and how you teach it.”
  • “When you educate leaders, you need to identify their frameworks and figure out how to use them for the educational purposes you want to achieve.”
  • “To the extent that “command and control” leadership does not work with other leaders, seek to rely on “advice and consent” leadership.”
  • “One of your basic tools as an educator of other leaders is not the declarative sentence but the question.”
  • “Leaders usually do not view their professional activities as just a job, but as a profession, a calling, a life-long commitment to an area of endeavor.”
  • “Understanding the interests of the people you lead comes from getting to know those people extremely well, as persons, a process that requires one-on-one interactions.”
  • “Before seeking to convince other persons of the rightness of a particular position, first work hard to convince yourself.”
  • “Motivate your followers by envisioning a future that will benefit them and communicating that future to them in a convincing way.”
  • “You must not only focus your efforts on the people you lead, but also concentrate enormous attention on the world outside your organization.”
  • “One of the most important functions that leadership representation serves is the acquisition of needed resources.”
  • “Don’t confuse trust with friendship. Creating a friendly relationship with people you lead doesn’t automatically mean that they will trust you.”
  • “Persons who trust each other are more likely to achieve a higher level of performance.”
  • “Openness is not just an easy smile or a charming manner; it refers to the process by which you make decisions that have implications for your followers’ interests.”
  • “Developing trust among the people you lead is also an incremental process. They will learn to trust one another through experiences of working together.”
  • “In organizations and groups composed of leaders, each of them is likely to have a quite distinct organizational vision.”
  • “Beware of becoming so intoxicated by your own vision that you fail to see clearly the reservations that members of your organization may have about pursuing that vision enthusiastically.”

Salacuse is Distinguished Professor and Braker Professor of Law at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University.

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Posted in Business and Strategy Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology

Quotes from David Allen’s Masterpiece “Getting Things Done”

'Getting Things Done' by David Allen (ISBN 0143126563) Time management guru David Allen has established a cult following. His bestselling book, Getting Things Done, has produced an international crusade of dedicated adopters from executives, techies, soldiers, businesspersons, university lecturers, musicians, scholars, and ordained priests. It has spread into a flourishing “GTD” trade of web sites, blogs and software applications. Internet searches bring up tens of millions of references.

  • “The art of resting the mind and the power of dismissing from it all care and worry is probably one of the secrets of our great men.”
    –Captain J.A. Hatfield
  • “Anxiety is caused by a lack of control, organization, preparation, and action.”
    –David Kekich
  • “Time is the quality of nature that keeps events from happening all at once. Lately, it doesn’t seem to be working.”
    –Anonymous
  • “We can never really be prepared from that which is wholly new. We have to adjust ourselves, and every radical adjustment is a crisis in self-esteem: we undergo a test, we have to prove ourselves. It needs subordinate self-confidence to face drastic change without inner trembling.”
    –Eric Hoffer
  • “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”
    –Anonymous
  • “The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.”
    –Edward Gibbon
  • “Life is defined by lack of attention, whether it be to cleaning windows or trying to write a masterpiece.”
    –Nadia Boulanger
  • “If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything.”
    Shunryu Suzuki
  • “There is one thing we can do, and the happiest people are those who can do it to the limit of their ability. We can be completely present. We can be all here. We can… give all our attention to the opportunity before us.”
    –Mark Van Doren
  • 'The Power of Habit' by Charles Duhigg (ISBN 081298160X) “Think like a man of action. Act like a man of thought.”
    –Henry Bergson
  • “The ancestor of every action is a thought.”
    –Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • “This constant, unproductive preoccupation with all the things we have to do is the single largest consumer of time and energy.”
    –Kerry Gleeson
  • “Rule your mind or it will rule you.”
    –Horace
  • “The beginning is half of every action.”
    –Greek proverb
  • “Vision is not enough; it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must step up the stairs.”
    Vaclav Havel
  • “It is hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.”
    –Sally Kempton
  • “The knowledge that we consider knowledge proves itself in action. What we now mean by knowledge is information in action, information focused on results.”
    –Peter F. Drucker
  • “Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are the most active.”
    –Leonardo da Vinci
  • “It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires a great deal of strength to decide what to do.”
    Elbert Hubbard
  • “Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”
    –Michael McGriffy, M.D.
  • 'Thinking, Fast and Slow' by Daniel Kahneman (ISBN 0374533555) “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
    –Albert Einstein
  • “The affairs of life embrace a multitude of interests, and he who reasons in any one of them, without consulting the rest, is a visionary unsuited to control the business of the world.”
    –James Fenimore Cooper
  • “You’ve got to think about the big things while you’re doing the small things, so that all the small things go in the right direction.”
    –Alvin Toffer
  • “Don’t just do something. Stand there.”
    –Rochelle Myer
  • “Fanaticism consists of redoubling your efforts when you have forgotten your aim.”
    George Santayana
  • “Celebrate any progress. Don’t wait to get perfect.”
    –Ann McGee Cooper
  • “Simple, clear purpose and principles give rise to complex and intelligent behavior. Complex rules and regulations give rise to simple and stupid behavior.”
    –Dee Hock
  • “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
    –Albert Einstein
  • “Your automatic creative mechanism is teleological. That is, it operates in terms of goals and end results. Once you give it a definite goal to achieve, you can depend upon its automatic guidance system to take you to that goal much better than ‘you’ ever could by conscious thought. ‘You’ supply the goal by thinking in terms of end results. Your automatic mechanism then supplies the means whereby.”
    –Maxwell Maltz
  • “I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific.”
    –Lily Tomlin
  • “The best way to get a good idea is to get lots of ideas.”
    –Linus Pauling
  • “Nothing is more dangerous than an idea when it is the only one you have.”
    –Emile Chartier
  • 'The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People' by Stephen R. Covey (ISBN 1451639619) “Only he who handles his ideas lightly is master of his ideas, and only he who is master of his ideas is not enslaved by them.”
    Lin Yutang
  • “Plans get you into things but you’ve got to work your way out.”
    –Will Rogers
  • “It is easier to act yourself into a better way of feeling than to feel yourself into a better way of action.”
    –O.H. Mowrer
  • “I am rather like a mosquito in a nudist camp; I know what I want to do, but I don’t know where to begin.”
    –Stephen Bayne
  • “I got it all together, but I forgot where I put it.”
    –Anonymous
  • “I would not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”
    –Oliver Wendell Holmes
  • “We must strive to reach the simplicity that lies beyond sophistication.”
    –John Gardner
  • “Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its shortness.”
    –Jean de la Bruysre
  • “What lies in our power to do, lies in our power not to do.”
    –Aristotle
  • “To make knowledge productive, we will have to learn to see both forest and tree. We will have to learn to connect.”
    Peter F. Drucker
  • 'The Effective Executive' by Peter Drucker (ISBN 0060833459) “‘Point of view’ is that quintessentially human solution to information overload, an intuitive process of reducing things to an essential relevant and manageable minimum. In a world of hyperabundant content, point of view will become the scarcest of resources.”
    –Paul Saffo
  • “Thinking is the very essence of, and the most difficult thing to do in, business and in life. Empire builders spend hour-after-hour on mental work… while others party. If you’re not consciously aware of putting forth the effort to exert self-guided integrated thinking… then you’re giving in to laziness and no longer control your life.”
    –David Kekich
  • “We all have times when we think more effectively, and times when we should not be thinking at all.”
    –Daniel Cohen
  • “To ignore the unexpected (even if it were possible) would be to live without opportunity, spontaneity, and the rich moments of which ‘life’ is made.”
    –Stephen Covey
  • “Your work is to discover your work and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”
    –Buddha
  • “The best place to succeed is where you are with what you have.”
    –Charles Schwab
  • “The middle of every successful project looks like a disaster.”
    –Rosabeth Moss Cantor
  • “Luck affects everything. Let your hook always be cast; in the stream where you least expect it there will be a fish.”
    –Ovid
  • “How do I know what to think, until I hear what I say?”
    E.M. Forster
  • “Let your advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.”
    –Winston Churchill
  • “Out of the strain of the doing, into the peace of the done.”
    –Julia Louis Woodruff
  • “It is the act of forgiveness that opens up the only possible way to think creatively about the future at all.”
    –Fr. Desmond Wilson
  • 'How to Win Friends & Influence People' by Dale Carnegie (ISBN 0671027034) “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting with the first one.”
    –Mark Twain
  • “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
    –Mark Twain
  • “No matter how big and tough a problem may be, get rid of confusion by taking one little step toward solution. Do something.”
    –George F. Nordenholt
  • “You can only cure retail but you can prevent wholesale.”
    –Brock Chisolm
  • “Talk does not cook rice.”
    –Chinese proverb
  • “There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”
    John F. Kennedy
  • “People are always blaming their circumstances for what they are. I don’t believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and, if they can’t find them, they make them.”
    –George Bernard Shaw
  • “Life affords no higher pleasure than that of surmounting difficulties, passing from one step of success to another, forming new wishes and seeing them gratified.”
    –Dr. Samuel Johnson
  • “An idealist believes that the short run doesn’t count. A cynic believes the long run doesn’t matter. A realist believes that what is done or left undone in the short run determines the long run.”
    –Sidney J. Harris
  • “A vision without a task is but a dream, a task without a vision is drudgery, a vision and a task is the hope of the world.”
    –From a church in Sussex, England, ca. 1730
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Posted in Education and Career Mental Models and Psychology

Sun Tzu’s The Art of War for Millennials

If you’re like most millennials in business, you haven’t read Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. It perhaps never fascinated to you. In actual fact, if you’re like many smart and talented millennials I’ve met, you may believe it to be completely contrary to your nature.

There are certainly millennials who’ve read The Art of War and used it to their lives and their businesses. But if you’re like most, you may wonder how you can possibly familiarize the wisdom of a Chinese military strategist from 500 B.C. to your daily business encounters.

The answer is in an approach to business and life that is both time-tested and groundbreaking. Sun Tzu’s classic has had overwhelming influence the world over. It’s shaped Eastern military and business thinking, and in the West, its attractiveness continues to grow as managers and leaders apply its principles to their business challenges.

The book is about how to seize the advantage in all battles, including those you choose not to fight. While The Art of War is rather literally about warfare, presuming it’s about seeking combat as the best option is very far from the real Sun Tzu. In fact, a major theme of The Art of War is “He who knows when to fight and when not to fight will win.”

'The Art of War' by Ralph D. Sawyer (ISBN 081331951X) For most business readers, waging war doesn’t mean assembling forces to take a city. It means mobilizing ourselves or our teams to win a big contract, seize a market opportunity, control an industry, or reposition a company. Sun Tzu says a great deal about the traits and characteristics necessary for this type of victory. To be successful, Sun Tzu calls for vigilant strategy and proficient perception, superior subtlety and technique, and skillful application of your assets and attributes. He stresses that you understand yourself, your opponent and the conditions of the battleground, however you define that field. Below are just a few ways to apply Sun Tzu to business challenges that plague many millennials.

  • Ditch the Rules: Too many millennials fall into the trap of assuming that success will be found in following prearranged standards. This mistaken belief has its origin in childhood when most millennials are content with playing by rules and being patient and polite. While times have changed, you were probably habituated to be reactionary. There’s a time for patience and politeness, but in business, waiting your turn will often result in missed opportunities. Sun Tzu calls for the perception to move with intensity when the time is right: “An army superior in strength takes action like the bursting of pent up waters into a chasm of a thousand fathoms deep.”
  • Overcome Mistakes: Writing of ideals, Sun Tzu had no regard for mistakes. But the rest of us live in a very distinctive reality. Habituation often extends to how differently men and millennials regard mistakes. millennials, in general, have a more difficult time with mistakes, largely because we’re socialized to feel differently about mistakes. Mistakes are an opportunity to do better next time. But when millennials make mistakes, they’re solaced, emphasizing the idea that they should feel badly about making them.
  • Take the Right Risks: Risk taking is another area where millennials tend to function very differently, but where Sun Tzu delivers lucidity. A student of war, taking calculated risks is fundamental to him. He recognizes that we’re the architect of our victories, which means we need to define winning on our terms, and when necessary, change the game entirely. Sun Tzu writes repeatedly of manipulating circumstances. Many millennials find themselves on career paths or within organizations where their skills and strengths are painfully limited. Victory demands excellence and the only way to excel is to be positioned to achieve. If this doesn’t describe your circumstances, a game change is in order.

'Sun Tzu Machiavelli Leadership Secrets' by Anthony D. Jensen (ISBN 1530006619) So what’s in The Art of War for millennials? For one thing, it provides awareness into how to gain a decisive business advantage by leveraging your strengths and assets to craft and execute effective strategies. It will help you understand and develop the traits and obstinacy necessary to make major achievements. And significantly, the Chinese philosopher-general will show you to do it in ways least expected: “Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness, make your way by unexpected routes.”

In a competitive world, the currency of the people, businesses, products and ideas that are winning is innovation. For Sun Tzu, and for you, winning requires careful preparation and the opportune launch of unexpected strategies and tactics.

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Posted in Mental Models and Psychology Philosophy and Wisdom

A Value Investing Checklist from ‘Poor Charlie’s Almanack’

'Poor Charlie's Almanack' by Charles T. Munger (ISBN 1578645018)

From Poor Charlie’s Almanack: The Wit and Wisdom of Charles T. Munger

Risk—All investment evaluations should begin by measuring risk, especially reputational

  • Incorporate an appropriate margin of safety
  • Avoid dealing with people of questionable character
  • Insist upon proper compensation for risk assumed
  • Always beware of inflation and interest rate exposures
  • Avoid big mistakes; shun permanent capital loss

Independence—“Only in fairy tales are emperors told they are naked”

  • Objectivity and rationality require independence of thought
  • Remember that just because other people agree or disagree with you doesn’t make you right or wrong—the only thing that matters is the correctness of your analysis and judgment
  • Mimicking the herd invites regression to the mean (merely average performance)

Preparation—“The only way to win is to work, work, work, work, and hope to have a few insights”

  • Develop into a lifelong self-learner through voracious reading; cultivate curiosity and strive to become a little wiser every day
  • More important than the will to win is the will to prepare
  • Develop fluency in mental models from the major academic disciplines
  • If you want to get smart, the question you have to keep asking is “why, why, why?”

Intellectual humility—Acknowledging what you don’t know is the dawning of wisdom

  • Stay within a well-defined circle of competence
  • Identify and reconcile disconfirming evidence
  • Resist the craving for false precision, false certainties, etc.
  • Above all, never fool yourself, and remember that you are the easiest person to fool

Analytic rigor—Use of the scientific method and effective checklists minimizes errors and omissions

  • Determine value apart from price; progress apart from activity; wealth apart from size
  • It is better to remember the obvious than to grasp the esoteric
  • Be a business analyst, not a market, macroeconomic, or security analyst
  • Consider totality of risk and effect; look always at potential second order and higher level impacts
  • Think forwards and backwards—Invert, always invert

Allocation—Proper allocation of capital is an investor’s number one job

  • Remember that highest and best use is always measured by the next best use (opportunity cost)
  • Good ideas are rare—when the odds are greatly in your favor, bet (allocate) heavily
  • Don’t “fall in love” with an investment—be situation-dependent and opportunity-driven

Patience—Resist the natural human bias to act

  • “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world” (Einstein); never interrupt it unnecessarily
  • Avoid unnecessary transactional taxes and frictional costs; never take action for its own sake
  • Be alert for the arrival of luck
  • Enjoy the process along with the proceeds, because the process is where you live

Decisiveness—When proper circumstances present themselves, act with decisiveness and conviction

  • Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful
  • Opportunity doesn’t come often, so seize it when it comes
  • Opportunity meeting the prepared mind; that’s the game

Change—Live with change and accept unremovable complexity

  • Recognize and adapt to the true nature of the world around you; don’t expect it to adapt to you
  • Continually challenge and willingly amend your “best-loved ideas”
  • Recognize reality even when you don’t like it—especially when you don’t like it

Focus—Keep things simple and remember what you set out to do

  • Remember that reputation and integrity are your most valuable assets—and can be lost in a heartbeat
  • Guard against the effects of hubris and boredom
  • Don’t overlook the obvious by drowning in minutiae
  • Be careful to exclude unneeded information or slop: “A small leak can sink a great ship”
  • Face your big troubles; don’t sweep them under the rug
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Posted in Investing and Finance

Bernard Baruch’s 10 Rules of Investing

Bernard Baruch (1870–1965) was the son of a South Carolina physician whose family moved to New York City when he was eleven year old. By his mid-twenties, he is able to buy an $18,000 seat on the exchange with his winnings and commissions from being a broker. By age 30, he is a millionaire and is known all over The Street as “The Lone Wolf”.

Bernard Baruch's 10 Rules of Investing Born in Camden, South Carolina, and raised in New York City, Bernard Mannes Baruch graduated from the City College of New York in 1889. His original job on Wall Street, at the brokerage firm of A. A. Housman & Co., paid $3 a week, but he became a millionaire by the time he was thirty. He was a director of the New York Stock Exchange, a front-runner in mining finance, and an irregular investor in properties ran by the Guggenheim household. Even though he did not sell out just before the stock market crash of 1929, as fable has it, he did recover the bulk of his fortune.

In his two-volume 1957 memoirs, My Own Story and The Public Years, Baruch left us with the following timeless rules for investing

Being so skeptical about the usefulness of advice, I have been reluctant to lay down any ‘rules’ or guidelines on how to invest or speculate wisely. Still, there are a number of things I have learned from my own experience which might be worth listing for those who are able to muster the necessary self-discipline.

  • Don’t speculate unless you can make it a full-time job.
  • Beware of barbers, beauticians, waiters—of anyone—bringing gifts of “inside” information or “tips.”
  • Before you buy a security, find out everything you can about the company, its management and competitors, its earnings and possibilities for growth.
  • 'Baruch My Own Story' by Bernard Baruch (ISBN 1607969130) Don’t try to buy at the bottom and sell at the top. This can’t be done—except by liars.
  • Learn how to take your losses quickly and cleanly. Don’t expect to be right all the time. If you have made a mistake, cut your losses as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t buy too many different securities. Better have only a few investments which can be watched.
  • Make a periodic reappraisal of all your investments to see whether changing developments have altered their prospects.
  • Study your tax position to know when you can sell to greatest advantage.
  • Always keep a good part of your capital in a cash reserve. Never invest all your funds.
  • Don’t try to be a jack of all investments. Stick to the field you know best.

Baruch would afterwards continue from Wall Street to Washington DC as an consultant to both Woodrow Wilson and to Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II.

Later on, he became identified as the Park Bench Statesman, due to his keenness for debating policy and politics with his associates in the open air.

He lived until a few days before his 95th birthday in 1965. You could do worse than to invest and live based on these facts.

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Posted in Investing and Finance

Quotes from David Ogilvy’s ‘Ogilvy On Advertising’

David Ogilvy famously said his secret to success was simple: “First make a reputation for being a creative genius. Second surround yourself with partners who are better than you are. Third leave them to get on with it.”

'Ogilvy on Advertising' by David Ogilvy (ISBN 039472903X) Imaginably no other advertising practitioner has been so liberal with sharing his knowledge and experience than David Ogilvy.

In Ogilvy On Advertising, Ogilvy’s judgements on advertising and his appeal shines through his guidebook to the advertising business. His words are a discovery into consumer behavior. His love for the art and science of using words (and sometimes pictures) to coo and coax is fascinating.

Written with sincere enthusiasm, each chapter begins with a frontispiece describing a personal experience that demonstrates a basic advertising concept. Consequently, the reader’s attention is engaged and is brought into the situation immediately.

On The Power Of Advertising

The first thing I have to say is that you may not realize the magnitude of difference between one advertisement and another. Says John Caples, the doyen of direct response copywriters:

‘I have seen one advertisement actually sell not twice as much, not three times as much, but 19.5 times as much as another. Both advertisements occupied the same space. Both had photographic illustrations. Both had carefully written copy. The difference was that one used the right appeal and the other used the wrong appeal.’

The wrong advertising can actually reduce the sales of a product.

On ‘Creativity’ in Advertising

I do not regard advertising as entertainment or an art form, but as a medium of information. When I write an advertisement, I don’t want you to tell me that you find it ‘creative’. I want you to find it so interesting that you buy the product. When Aeschines spoke, they said, ‘How well he speaks.’ But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, ‘Let us march against Philip.’

On the Pursuit Of Knowledge

I asked an indifferent copywriter what books he had read about advertising. He told me that he had not read any he preferred to rely on his own intuition. ‘Suppose’, I asked, ‘your gall-bladder has to be removed this evening. Will you choose a surgeon who has read some books on anatomy and knows where to find your gall-bladder, or a surgeon who relies on his intuition? Why should our clients be expected to bet millions of dollars on your intuition?’

This willful refusal to learn the rudiments of the craft is all too common. I cannot think of any other profession which gets by on such a small corpus of knowledge.

On the underestimated weapon known as Direct Mail

One day a man walked into a London agency and asked to see the boss. He had bought a country house and was about to open it as a hotel. Could the agency help him to get customers? He had $500 to spend. Not surprisingly, the head of the agency turned him over to the office boy, who happened to be the author of this book. I invested his money in penny postcards and mailed them to well-heeled people living in the neighborhood. Six weeks later the hotel opened to a full house. I had tasted blood.

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Posted in Global Business Hobbies and Pursuits Philosophy and Wisdom

Marissa Mayer’s Tardiness at Google

'Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo' by Nicholas Carlson (ISBN 1455556610) Tardiness has a detrimental effect on the organization. Tardiness is a display of disrespect. Establishing ground rules, documenting violations, using an official discipline process and identifying larger workplace issues can go a long way toward correcting issues with executive tardiness.

Per this noteworthy anecdote from Marissa Mayer and the Fight to Save Yahoo by Nicholas Carlson:

The other factor compounding Mayer’s coldness was that she had the awful habit of being late, all the time.

Every Monday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. California time, Mayer’s staff would gather for a three-hour meeting with the boss. Mayer demanded all of her staff across the world join the call, so executives from New York, where it was 6:00 p.m., and Europe, where it was 11:00 p.m. or later, would dial in, too. Inevitably, Mayer would show up at least forty-five minutes late. Some calls started so late that Yahoo’s executives in Europe didn’t hang up till after 3:00 a.m. their time. Mayer had approximately two dozen people reporting to her during her first year at Yahoo. In theory, she was keeping up with each of them in a regularly scheduled weekly meeting. In practice, she would go weeks without talking to people because she was so busy.

For a while, each of those two dozen people thought that Mayer was just picking on them, individually. The people who had been at Yahoo before Mayer joined assumed that this meant she was going to fire them soon. The people Mayer had hired into the company, including HR boss Jackie Reses and CMO Kathy Savitt, were even more puzzled. Why had they been hired only to be ignored?

But then, during one of those long waiting periods after 3: 00 p.m. on a Monday, a conversation unfurled that revealed all. Making small talk, one executive said to another: “Did she cancel one of your one-on-ones again?”

A third jumped in: “Oh my God, she does that to you, too?” It turned out that everyone in the room and on the call had been canceled on by Mayer, frequently.

Mayer was also constantly late to product reviews. The meeting would be scheduled for 2:00 p.m., and around 2:15 p.m., Mayer’s assistant, Trish Crawley, would come out and say, “Really sorry. She’s going to be late. We’re not sure when she’ll get here.” Then it would 3:00 p.m. and then 4:00 p.m., and then Crawley would come out and say the meeting was canceled.

The standard joke was that if you had a review with Mayer, you should expect not to know when it was going to be and that it would change at the last minute. It was annoying for people who worked in Sunnyvale. It was brutal for remote teams in India and Europe.

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Posted in Leaders and Innovators Management and Leadership