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Excerpts from Hagakure, Chapter 1

I started reading "Hagakure," which was written by the samurai Yamamoto Tsunetomo from 1709 to 1716. I don't agree with everything in the book - some of the things Yamamoto-sama says sound crazy to my modern sensibilities, but there's some powerful quotes in here about bushido. Here's some I liked, with some thoughts of my own -

We all want to live. And in large part we make our logic according to what we like. But not having attained our aim and continuing to live is cowardice. This is a thin dangerous line. To die without gaming one's aim is a dog's death and fanaticism. But there is no shame in this. This is the substance of the Way of the Samurai. If by setting one's heart right every morning and evening, one is able to live as though his body were already dead, he pains freedom in the Way. His whole life will be without blame, and he will succeed in his calling.

The first book of philosophy on bushido I read was the Budoshoshinshu. It had a significant impact on my thinking. One of the largest tenets of bushido is keeping awareness of your death in mind when you live. I try to do this, because it gives you a sense of urgency and importance.

A lot of times the principle is misunderstood - the principle is actually make preparations as if you'll live forever, but live this day that you'd be proud if it was your last. Bushido is not about being reckless. It's about keeping awareness of the end with you, and in doing so, living much more.

It's almost paradoxical - the man who is aware of his death, who relinquishes his claim on life, he lives much more fully. The man who is ignorant of his death does not live as much. Death is not something to be afraid of - it's something to be aware of. Being aware of it makes you more alive, and more effective, and more purposeful.

Customer Service -- If Not Sincere, Don't Brand It Strategically

When I started in contracting, I used to brand our company and work with "we have the very best service in the world, we'll do whatever you need to get things right."

Eventually, I got away from that. While I liked solving client challenges and working really hard to get a great ROI for clients, it didn't ring correctly to me. Something about how we said it, and how we did it, made things not quite right.

We always liked going the extra mile, and we offered a 100% guarantee on our work (sometimes even 100%+) to take the risk away from the client. We priced our services aggressively below market and looked to demonstrate results, in order to get repeat business. And indeed, we did -- it was just a few clients that provided the huge bulk of our revenue by coming back to us with orders for 5x and 10x larger than their original, and eventually getting to a trusted point where they'd ask for work over email and say "just bill me whatever, you guys have always been fair." That's a nice feeling.

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