Books and Courses Completed

In the past, I used  LibraryThing to keep track of all the books I read, but I hit their limit. Now, they’re asking for money….Instead, I’ll try throwing all my new books on here.

Books

The 4-Hour Chef by Tim Ferriss

So Good They Can’t Ignore You – Unabridged by Cal Newport

Asshole: How I Got Rich & Happy by Not Giving a Damn About Anyone & How You Can, Too by Martin Kihn

American Lion Andrew Jackson in the Whitehouse by Jon Meacham

SPIN Selling by Neil Rackham

Courses:

CreativeLive with Tim Ferriss

CreativeLive with Remit Sethi

Followup to One Leap Easy Wins – Missing Piece of Changing Behavior

I wasn’t happy with my last post, One Leap Easy Wins.

I wanted to distinguish between the seemingly grand yet actually easy wins that require little effort versus the everyday, difficult work that lead to real, long term wins. Instead, I ended up tying the leap and daily effort onto a continuum where everyday efforts lead you to be capable of those giant leap wins. But that wasn’t my original idea and didn’t capture my RV journeys correctly.

I realized the missing piece was factoring in the difficulty of behavioral change.

The one-off wins don’t require any behavioral change. Quitting your job or buying a RV can be the result of an impulse.

What I’m looking for is consistency, for changing behavior and attitudes. That’s a much harder challenge.

Behaviors don’t change overnight. You can make the decision to start a diet today. That’s the first step, a hard first step. But the real hell is going to be the next 30 days.

What’s really impressive is someone that’s consistently really good rather than the person who makes a bunch of one-off leaps.

This post doesn’t have the polish I wanted, but the thoughts are going in that direction.

One Leap Easy Wins

It was a huge leap of faith purchasing my RV. But I didn’t expect the sudden change in how people perceived me. My identity suddenly became “that RV guy“; it’s how my friends introduced me. I was expected to be this courageous, adventurous guy who fearlessly had crossed the country.

When I got the RV though, it was a foregone conclusion I was going to travel cross country. It was just a matter of time. I didn’t really have a choice in the matter anymore. And once I was thousands of miles away from home, the momentum to just keep going was natural.

I consider buying the RV and traveling cross country an easy, one leap win. It did require an initial leap of faith, but it required no effort afterward. Traveling isn’t hard. Anyone can do it eventually, and it’s easy once you start.

It’s funny that we celebrate these easy, giant leap wins like buying a RV, traveling abroad, or quitting your job. Once you get past the fear though and take the plunge, you’re done. You’ve won.

Yet, the hardest and biggest wins are the ones that you can’t leap, and you get no reward for starting. In fact, you usually feel pain, frustration, and confusion when you begin. I’m talking about projects like learning a new language, starting a business, changing your diet, or starting to exercise. You must do consistent, small steps everyday to accomplish these huge, difficult wins.

But maybe the opposite perspective is the right one. Those giant leaps are possible only because of the countless small steps taken before. I was only able to buy & travel in the RV after saving up a ton of money and doing a crazy amount of research and work.

The bulk of our time and thereby future success lies in those daily small tasks. Picking up that phone to make a sales call. Going to the gym again. Not eating that chocolate cake. We should admire and celebrate those small successes everyday too.

By the time Neil Armstrong landed on the moon, his giant leap for mankind was the reward, the fruit of a decade of development by countless people.

Paul Graham’s How to Get Startup Ideas

Paul Graham is the Founder of the Y Combinator and the Godfather of Startup Companies.

He wrote a new article today entitled, “How to Get Startup Ideas” that would help anyone in any field trying to accomplish anything. I wish I read this article back when I was a child. His advice? Live in the future and build what seems interesting.

It’s amazing to me all the fringe ideas and questions I was fascinated about years ago have become main stream topics and huge businesses. Yet, I felt all the “adults” and traditional power structures didn’t validate those passions so I discarded them, and choose the “realistic” options. Now, all those passions are huge now. Here’s some examples:

1) E-Sports
I used to play computer multiplayer games back in 1998 when dialup was still fairly common. Playstation didn’t support network multiplayer yet. I don’t even think Xbox was around yet. Years later, hundreds of people make a living in E-Sports aka competitive gaming whether they’re youtube stars, competitive players, or commentators. It’s amazing. (Look up Starcraft 2, countless MMORPG games, or Call of Duty)

2) Importance of Web Development
I can say unequivocally I was the only expert at web design and web development at my high school. I knew more than   my high school, 25 year old compsci mentor/teacher. At the time, most schools didn’t even teach PHP or Ruby but stuck with C++ or Java. My college offered a single course in Advanced Web Technologies which included Java, CSS, and AJAX. At the same time, my computer boss looked down on AJAX saying that was an old Microsoft protocol. That was before Google showed the world what AJAX can really do. Today, everyone in Silicon Valley programs in PHP, Ruby on Rails, or some webdev language.

3) Meditation Outside the Context of Buddhism
When I applied for graduate schools, I asked professors what their stance on meditation and other contemplative practices were. All of them said it was a nice idea, but it’s not part of academia. I should have applied for Psychology programs instead because mindfulness has blown up as a field of study from neuroscience to therapy. There are also tons of teachers outside the confines of Buddhism teaching meditation whether it’s in prisons or children class rooms.

Looking back, it’s easy to see where my logic went wrong. Traditional institutes are where all the wealth and power lie. But they don’t set the direction for the future. In fact, they are by definition going to be behind the times whether that’s your university or your old boss. Colleges and businesses follow markets. At best, they keep up with the times, but very few companies are ever ahead of the times like a Google, Apple, or IBM.

I gave up on a lot of my early dreams believing there wasn’t an audience or market for my interests. But, what I failed to realize back then is that if I’m interested in these things then there’s probably thousands of other young people that feel the same way. That the zeitgeist is likely moving in my favor, and I just have to wait a few years (or even a year). In the meantime, now is the best time to start building for when that wave comes.

Is Following Your Passion Bad Advice?

I started listening to a new audiobook, So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. I’ve only gone through the first few chapters so far. I’m hesitant to praise or hate the book yet. I was interested in the book because the usual advice is to follow your passion which Cal is debunking. He argues that passion is created after gaining experience and mastery level skill in a career.

I’m really ambivalent on this issue because I’ve been on both sides of the argument. On one hand, I see a lot of smart kids pushed into becoming lawyers and doctors, and I don’t think they will ever feel passionate about their field. On the other hand,  a lot of people fall in love with the dream of a career or lifestyle without any experience in it and end up settling for a more realistic career or just plain horrible job. The world can only feed so many wanna-be artists and writers.

I don’t know. I’m really conflicted here. I’ll write up a fuller review once I’m done the book.

One positive is that I found Road Trip Nation from the book. Four people who traveled in a RV and transformed it into a PBS show and business.