Madison Maxey — a very insightful multi-discipline designer/technologist/entrepreneur/fashioner/etc briefly dialoged on this question with me, and graciously gave permission to share her to —
"How do you evaluate people to see whose "got it" and who hasn't?"
What a great question! I'm going to assume that "having it" means having some sort of promise for success (whatever one's definition of success may be). With that in mind, I've found that people who I've seen do really well live loosely by the same guiding mantras:
"I am putting small (or large), consistent amounts of effort into achieving my long term goal of X" (seeing success as a marathon or adventure rather than a sprint)
Small detail, outsized productivity benefit.
Listen to flow-inducing, world-drowning-out music when needing intense focus.
Listen to disruptive, stimulating, amusing, entertaining music when doing something boring, and let the mind enjoy the music while executing.
Started doing this and it's an extraordinary improvement. I'll put on minimal techno when doing deep work, and then put on 50 Cent or something when doing something boring.
Sounds small. It's actually pretty big. Play with your music choices based on activity, and let me know how it goes eh?
It was something of a shocking revelation to me, an epiphany, a breakthrough — these daydreams...
I let my mind wander a lot. I think it's good and healthy. Lots of good ideas will come suddenly to me.
But there's a whole class of thinking that seems valuable and is pleasurable at first, but of which almost nothing useful comes out of: daydreams about future successes.
There's a word for that —
Question from a reader --
My answer --
Consider using Freedom or SelfControl (or a similar app) to ensure you don't get online right away.
Do SOMETHING every day, even if it's imperfect. My default: pushups, situps, air squats, bicycle situps, jumping jacks, and -- if a chair/ledge is around -- dips. In a real hurry, I can bang out a quick version of that in 5-8 minutes, which is enough to get SOMETHING going.
It was a couple trips to Shanghai ago. The ever-brilliant CEO of ChaseFuture, Greg Nance, and I went running with a couple members of his team.
Nance is just hardcore, a total animal, always looking to expand and challenge himself in mountaineering, business, physical fitness, the nonprofit world, academia and policy, and just about everything else.
Not satisfied with just a couple mile run, Greg says drop it and hit the decks and do pushups at every red light.
I was going through a big pile of mail recently, finally making notes and trashing all the various mailings from bank statements and credit cards and whatever, and something caught my eye: the concierge ability on high-end cards.
AMEX I think was the first to do it, though now Visa Signatures and World Mastercards have concierge, among others. I got a new American Express Platinum a couple months ago, and so I decided to call.
I'm not so into entertainment. I love to work, I love working all the time, and when I'm not working on business work, I do creative and nonprofit projects with my friends and colleagues. So I generally skip on fine dining and fancy entertainment, given that that's cash I could use to do more adventurous enterprising world-building type stuff.
So, then, what would be useful to call the concierge and ask about?
One thing I'd been meaning to get around to are fixing two fraying cords -- on my Mac Air and iPhone 4S. I was wondering if it's possible to fix myself, and if not, there's no Apple Store in Taipei so where is best to get it serviced?
My strategy on buying clothing: generally hold off on shopping for clothing until I wind up in very favorable conditions for buying, and then buy a lot at once.
That means if a very good 70% or 90% off sale is happening at a high-end American store, that might be a good time to restock everything.
Failing that, I'll look to buy my clothing in China or Malaysia. Recently, I was in Istanbul where clothes were incredibly inexpensive for very high quality, perhaps the least expensive country I've seen in that regard, and foreigners taking their materials will them got all taxes refunded at the airport. It's a good deal.
So I bought a lot of clothing. For a couple hundred dollars, I've got all my casual clothing taken care of for the next couple years. I'll pick up a couple nicer items in New York City for occasions that dictate it, get tailoring done in Beijing, and be good to go.
There is a downside, though: by doing this relatively quickly, I don't agonize over every single piece. Sometimes, I buy things that don't fit so well or aren't so durable. If you look at it mathematically, you can just put into the cost of the items you do like. Quite cool casual shirts in Istanbul started as low as $3 USD (no joke) up to $25 or so. This is roughly the same quality level you'd be looking at for $25 to $70 in the United States.
From Ray Dalio's "Principles," my favorite work of nonfiction —
While the logic here is incredibly sound, the vast majority of people do not think this way.
It doesn't help that experts encourage you to delegate your authority to them, and specialized topics are confusing.
Dalio uses the health/doctor example, which is a good one. But here is another obvious one: if you're pursuing a legal case, it is absolutely up to you to plan your legal strategy, set your budget, interview attorneys while communicating your expectations and plan, pick an attorney that "gets it" and communicate your expectations to him or her, and then manage and followup appropriately.
The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger is surprisingly insightful, riveting even. Excerpt, emphasis added by me:
This process [of international shipping] was so expensive that in many cases selling internationally was not worthwhile. "For some commodities, the freight may be as much as 25 per cent of the cost of the product," two engineers concluded after a careful study of data from 1959. Ship ping steel pipe from New York to Brazil cost an average of $57 perton in 1962, or 13 percent of the average cost of the pipe being exported-a figure that did not include the cost of getting the pipe from the steel mill to the dock. Shipping refrigerators from London to Capetown cost the equivalent of 68 U.S. cents per cubic foot, adding $20 to the wholesale price of a midsize unit. No wonder that, relative to the size of the economy, U.S. international trade was smaller in 1960 than it had been in 1950, or even in the Depres sion year of 1930. The cost of conducting trade had gotten so high that in many cases trading made no sense.
By far the biggest expense in this process was shifting the cargo from land transport to ship at the port of departure and moving it back to truck or train at the other end of the ocean voyage. As one expert explained, "a four thousand mile voyage for a shipment might consume 50 percent of its costs in covering just the two ten-mile movements through two ports." These were the costs that the container affected first, as the elimination of piece-by-piece freight handling brought lower expenses for longshore labor, insurance, pier rental, and the like. Containers were quickly adopted for land trans portation, and the reduction in loading time and transshipment cost lowered rates for goods that moved entirely by land. As ship lines built huge vessels specially designed to handle containers, ocean freight rates plummeted. And as container shipping became inter modal, with a seamless shifting of containers among ships and trucks and trains, goods could move in a never-ending stream from Asian factories directly to the stockrooms of retail stores in North America or Europe, making the overall cost of transporting goods little more than a footnote in a company's cost analysis.
Again, "By far the biggest expense in this process was shifting the cargo from land transport to ship at the port of departure and moving it back to truck or train at the other end of the ocean voyage. As one expert explained, "a four thousand mile voyage for a shipment might consume 50 percent of its costs in covering just the two ten-mile movements through two ports."
This week is the final week of the first version of the Lights Spreadsheet. I upgraded it, and will share the upgrades with you shortly after I hammer out the details.
This week, I want to talk about pragmatism and mantras.
First, pragmatism: I have a theory that I call The Theory of Rapid Repairs.
It goes like this: