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Book review: How to fail at almost everything and still win big

book review

The goal of the book: to learn how to keep going when you fail at so many things

My questions and author's answers to them

What do you mean by "goals are for losers" and how does it fit with this quote: “If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.”?

Use systems instead of goals. Losing 10 pounds is a goal. Going to the gym every day is a system. The former makes you miserable until you lose 10 pounds. The latter is better because it has no deadlines. The "goal people" are fighting the feeling of discouragement at every turn. The "system people" are feeling good every time they apply their system. The key is maintaining your personal energy in the right direction.

A system is something you do on a regular basis that increases your odds of happiness in the long run.

Why do you consider a mind a moist computer? How do you know how a mind works?

The author does not know that, but he argues that we control our perceptions about reality. We should avoid downers, negative music and books and fill our brains with feel-good content. Also, we need to have a positive imagination and dream about things that make us excited, even though maybe they will never come true.

Why do you consider my personal energy the most important metric? What about freedom?

Great personal energy makes you better perform all the other tasks, so investing in that is a great idea. Sleep well, go to the gym and eat well. Have some side project that makes you excited and you’ll have great energy.

Every skill I acquire doubles my odds of success? What about guitar playing?

You can raise your market value by being merely good at multiple skills. You don’t have to be exceptional at that skill only merely good. Good + good + good = excellent. You’re better off by being good at two complementary skills than being exceptional at one. The more concepts you understand the easier it is to learn more concepts.

Key takeaways from the book

Fail your way to success. Everyone will quit after failing one or two times. Use that to your advantage.

Market rewards execution, not ideas. Concentrate on ideas you can execute.

Failure is a tool, not an outcome. Use it to your advantage to not let it go until you have learned something from it. Failure is a resource that can be managed. When a cow takes a dump on your lawn, use it as a fertilizer.

Timing is often the biggest component of success. And since timing is often hard to get right, try different things until you get the timing right by luck.

My question: How do you know when to stop and try other things?

CEO lessons

  1. as soon as you find a job, start looking for a better one - the job you want won’t be available at precisely the time you declare yourself ready, the better deal has its own schedule (systems vs goals thinking)
  2. you don’t owe your current employer loyalty - the employer didn’t invent capitalism and he didn’t create its rules; you should simply play by the rules of capitalism, like how your employers do; they wouldn’t hesitate to fire you at the drop of a hat for any reason that fit their business needs; follow their example

The six filters of truth

  • Personal experience
  • Experience of people you know
  • Experts
  • Scientific studies
  • Common sense
  • Pattern recognition

When seeking truth, look for confirmation on at least two of the dimensions.

Product lessons

If your work inspires some excitement and some action from customers, get ready to chew through some walls.

Trust people’s actions more than their words of encouragement. What they do is more important than what they say.

Resume tips

When writing a resume handy trick you’ll learn from experts is to ask yourself if there are any words in your first draft that you would be willing to remove for $100 each.

Each Unnecessary Word Removal = $100

I think this applies to general writing too.

Want to talk more about this or any other topic? Email me. I welcome every email.