Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

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Can’t Hurt Me is about how David Goggins transformed himself through self-discipline, mental toughness, and hard work. He details his personal tools like The Accountability Mirror, The Governor, The 40% Rule, The Cookie Jar and Taking Souls

He didn’t come from a perfect family or had God-given talent, he says “It came from personal accountability which brought me self respect, and self-respect will always light a way forward.”

“Very few people know how the bottom feels, but I do. It’s like quicksand. It grabs you, sucks you under, and won’t let go. When life is like that it’s easy to drift and continue to make the same comfortable choices that are killing you, over and over again.”

“You’re probably living at about 40 percent of your true capability.”

“Heraclitus, a philosopher born in the Persian Empire back in the fifth century BC, had it right when he wrote about men on the battlefield. ‘Out of every one hundred men,” he wrote, “ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior…’”

“From the time you take your first breath, you become eligible to die. You also become eligible to find your greatness and become the One Warrior. But it is up to you to equip yourself for the battle ahead.”

“Only you can master your mind, which is what it takes to live a bold life filled with accomplishments most people consider beyond their capability.”

“Human beings change through study, habit, and stories. Through my story, you will learn what the body and mind are capable of when they’re driven to maximum capacity, and how to get there. Because when you’re driven, whatever is in front of you, whether it’s racism, sexism, injuries, divorce, depression, obesity, tragedy, or poverty, becomes fuel for your metamorphosis.”

“I brainwashed myself into craving discomfort. If it was raining, I would go run. Whenever it started snowing, my mind would say, Get your fu*king running shoes on. Sometimes I wussed out and had to deal with it at the Accountability Mirror. But facing that mirror, facing myself, motivated me to fight through uncomfortable experiences, and, as a result, I became tougher. And being tough and resilient helped me meet my goals.”

“Everything in life is a mind game! Whenever we get swept under by life’s dramas, large and small, we are forgetting that no matter how bad the pain gets, no matter how harrowing the torture, all bad things end.”

Goggins’s Commanding Officer told him,

In a society where mediocrity is too often the standard and too often rewarded. There is an intense fascination with men who detest mediocrity, who refuse to define themselves in conventional terms, and who seek to transcend traditionally recognized human capabilities. This is exactly the type of person BUD/S is meant to find. The man who finds a way to complete each and every task to the best of his ability. The man who will adapt and overcome any and all obstacles.

Goggins began changing his life by speaking to himself in the mirror every night.

He writes, I set goals, wrote them on Post-It notes, and tagged them to what I now call the Accountability Mirror because each day I’d hold myself accountable to the goals I’d set. At first, my goals involved shaping up my appearance and accomplishing all my chores without having to be asked. […] [It] kept me on point from then on, and though I was still young when this strategy came through me, since then I’ve found it useful for people at any stage in life.

According to Goggins, like a car with a governor that places a ceiling on the car’s performance, we, too, have a governor that impedes us from reaching our true potential.

In his own words,Our governor is buried deep in our minds, intertwined with our very identity. It knows what and who we love and hate; it’s read our whole life story and forms the way we see ourselves and how we’d like to be seen. It’s the software that delivers personalized feedback—in the form of pain and exhaustion, but also fear and insecurity, and it uses all of that to encourage us to stop before we risk it all. But, here’s the thing, it doesn’t have absolute control. Unlike the governor in an engine, ours can’t stop us unless we buy into its bulls*t and agree to quit.

Goggins writes that many of us live at 40% of their true capability. Only when we callous our mind through stepping out of our comfort zone on a regular basis can we move beyond it.

He writes, Most of us give up when we’ve only given around 40 percent of our maximum effort. Even when we feel like we’ve reached our absolute limit, we still have 60 percent more to give! […] Once you know that to be true, it’s simply a matter of stretching your pain tolerance, letting go of your identity and all your self-limiting stories, so you can get to 60 percent, then 80 percent and beyond without giving up. I call this The 40% Rule, and the reason it’s so powerful is that if you follow it, you will unlock your mind to new levels of performance and excellence in sports and in life, and your rewards will run far deeper than mere material success.

Before eating a cookie as a child, Goggins always took the time to admire it first as a way of practicing gratitude. Today, “The Cookie Jar” is a concept he employs whenever he needs a reminder of who he is and what he’s capable of.

In his own words, We all have a cookie jar inside us, because life, being what it is, has always tested us. Even if you’re feeling low and beat down by life right now, I guarantee you can think of a time or two when you overcame odds and tasted success. It doesn’t have to be a big victory either. It can be something small.

On the toughest day of the hardest week in the world’s toughest training, Goggins tormented his instructors by motivating his team to push themselves harder.

Goggins coined the term “Taking Souls” after motivating himself to push him and his team harder as a means of getting inside his instructors’ heads.

He writes, Taking Souls is a ticket to finding your own reserve power and riding a second wind. It’s the tool you can call upon to win any competition or overcome every life obstacle. […] This is a tactic for you to be your best when duty calls. It’s a mind game you’re playing on yourself. Taking someone’s soul means you’ve gained a tactical advantage. Life is all about looking for tactical advantages.

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My Unfinished Business by Dan Kennedy

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My Unfinished Business is Dan Kennedy’s memoir. Covering a wide array of topics in short autobiographical essay form, Dan’s autobiography offers a valuable insight into the marketing mind of a man known by many as the “Millionaire Maker.”

My Unfinished Business Summary

Throughout Dan’s adult life, he’s made a diligent effort to devote some time every day toward working on positive steps towards goals, never just survival.

Dan on how he focuses on what matters,

I’m a very good compartmentalizer. In Psycho-Cybernetics language, I can ‘clear the calculator’ almost anytime, anywhere, lock whatever was getting my attention away, focus on whatever I need or chose to focus on. I have little storage boxes in my head, and I can put even the most dire things away in a box, close the lid, and then not think about it until I deliberately take that lid back off that box.

There are many, many reasons to be poor in America, but there are really no good reasons to stay poor.

No financial condition is permanent unless the individual accepts it as such.

Financial problems cannot be permanent without permission.

Give into momentary fear, get a lifetime of regrets.

Anytime you find yourself making a business decision based on fear, fear that decision more than you fear whatever’s scaring you into making it.

Dan’s office is full of “psychological triggers”, including lots of clocks (for awareness of time), lots of wealth and money symbols (for prosperity consciousness), Disney art and items (for creativity), and many other items that have meaning for him, that reinforce the kind of thinking he wants.

If you want to break in and get going in any field, somewhere there’s a big winner in that field who’d let you work for nothing.

One of the most difficult tricks to a successful life is living a self-aware, conscious life, of being honest with yourself.

The more successful we become, the more important it is to constantly question ourselves.

Dan’s first piece of business advice is to avoid anything that might lead you in a criminal situation.

His second piece of advice is to prevent unhappy customers from complaining to anybody.

When it comes to information marketing, it’s all about the pitch, the proposition. When you have a really terrific pitch and can present it with people who are authentic and believable, you don’t need celebrities, beautiful settings, Hollywood production values, or other trappings.

Dan believes in the importance of having a “reading program” and budgets time to read. He typically three to five books at a time, taking notes or, in some cases, tearing out pages to keep and discarding the bulk. He reads business, marketing, and self-improvement books predominately to extract fodder for his own writing, speaking, and coaching, as well as for personal benefit.

There is no value in “things”. Rather, there is value in selling “things”.

Dan mentions the following books, Possibility Thinking by Robert Schuller, Magic of Believing by Claude Bristol, and The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity by Catherine Ponder.

Dan recommends Earl Nightingale’s “Lead the Field” audio program.

Dan believes you should never let a dream die without extraordinary effort. Most people get stopped too easily. Most people give up on their dreams without putting up much of a fight.

Dan on never giving up,

I believe you are never too old, never too young, never too poor, never too anything to be required to give up on your dreams. Most people who make a lifelong practice of giving up on their dreams, ideas and opportunities wind up mastering only one skill: excuse-making, so they have a long, comforting list of reasons why they have not done more with life. I prefer achievement.

Dan on the one thing that makes people successful,

If you would like to know what I’ve decided is THE single biggest difference between successful people and ‘the mediocre majority’, between leaders and followers, between those who enjoy generally rewarding lives vs. those who lead mostly frustrating lives, here it is: how easily they take ‘no’ for an answer. If you wanted to focus on the one single behavior that has more to do with success than any other, this is it.

Goal-setting is fine and useful, but what good is it if you are willing to give up on or compromise the goal you set? The real key to success is “adamant refusal”—what conditions or circumstances or limits do you adamantly refuse to accept?

Jim Rohn once said that, if you’re broke, don’t start our by sticking up happy, positive affirmations like “I am wealthy” all over the place. Not yet. First, put up a big sign next to your mirror that says, “I’m 42 years old, I’ve got an education, a family to take care of, and I’m flat broke and I ought to be damned embarrassed to be that way in this land of abundant opportunity.”

“You can tell a lot about a person by what they refuse to accept or tolerate.”

Dan has a paperweight on his desk that reads: “It can be done.”

Dan believes that the big, big turning points or breakthroughs in life aren’t found in the seminar room. Rather, they’re found in the hallway or the bathroom, places you wouldn’t expect. For instance, Dan changed his entire business model when he heard Gary Halbert mention, as a throwaway remark, that he charged a $15,000 fee plus a 5% royalty on the sales that come from the client’s use of the copy.

In Dan’s words,

You have to be alert all the time, with your subconscious mind conditioned to run everything heard against a master-list of everything going on in your businesses and lives, to ring a bell when something’s said that might be used.

“Motion beats meditation”—Gary Halbert.

Dan on overcoming setbacks:

I have outright failed at first, at just about everything I’ve wound up doing successfully. In some instances, I’ve left an endeavor to return years later, and be successful at it. In most cases, I’ve started over right after a meltdown, the ashes still swirling around me. Generally, my viewpoint is not one of ‘success’ and ‘failure’, but rather of ‘unfinished business.’

Following are three business secrets Dan wished he’d discovered twenty years sooner.

Price elasticity. There is no restriction on what people will pay; there is only self-imposed limits, both psychologically and practical in nature. Most people undervalue themselves, their services, their products, poorly package and present those things, and underestimate what the market will pay. It is vital to grasp that we set our own prices.

Transaction size. It requires fewer $5,000 sales than $500 sales or $50 sales to get to each million dollar benchmark. But it is not proportionately difficult to create and sell a $5,000 think that to create and sale a $50 thing.

Continuity. Everybody ought to try to strive and fight and work to find ways to create continuity income streams in their business, and if they can’t, to get involved in a business where they can.

Study and emulate people who are great successes. Why? For verification and validation. Modeling is almost as useful as the discovery of a new or better way of doing something.

It’s easier to impress people that inspire them.

Dan recommends people read Grow Rich with Peace of Mind over Napoleon Hill’s other book, Think and Grow Rich.

“Renegade Millionaires,” entrepreneurs who make money on their terms, have some clear, strong ideas about how they want to live their lives.

Earl Nightingale once said that if you don’t have a successful model to follow, you could just observe what everybody else was doing and do the opposite.

Dan on excuse-making,

[It] is a destructive cancer that destroys your reputation with others as well as your own self-respect and self-esteem. Excuse-making is a sickness, a type of mental illness, a delusional distancing from rational thought and reality. Excuse-making robs you of opportunity, squanders talent and ability. Excuse-making is a sad statement of lack of character and integrity, a warning to others that you are not to be trusted.

Dan’s thoughts on excuse-making and raising your standards echoes Jack Canfield’s advice in The Success Principles and Tony Robbins advice in Awaken the Giant Within.

Other Books by Dan Kennedy

No B.S. Time Management for Entrepreneurs

The Ultimate Sales Letter

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An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth : Notes

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Things are never as bad (or as good) as they seem at the time.

Success is feeling good about the work you do throughout the long, unheralded journey.

Fear comes from not knowing what to expect and not feeling you have any control over what’s about to happen. When you feel helpless, you’re far more afraid than you would be if you knew the facts. If you’re not sure what to be alarmed about, everything is alarming.

The Five Big Ideas

  • In order to stay calm in a high-stress, high-stakes situation, all you really need is knowledge.
  • Feeling ready to do something doesn’t mean feeling certain you’ll succeed. Truly being ready means understanding what could go wrong—and having a plan to deal with it.
  • Anticipating problems and figuring out how to solve them is actually the opposite of worrying: it’s productive.
  • Optimism and confidence comes not from visualizing victory, but from visualizing defeat and figuring out how to prevent it.
  • If you’re striving for excellence—whether it’s in playing the guitar or flying a jet—there’s no such thing as over-preparation. It’s your best chance of improving your odds.

“What I do each day determines the kind of person I’ll become”.

“My attitude was more, ‘It’s probably not going to happen, but I should do things that keep me moving in the right direction, just in case—and I should be sure those things interest me, so that whatever happens, I’m happy’.”

“As I have discovered again and again, things are never as bad (or as good) as they seem at the time”.

“An astronaut is someone who’s able to make good decisions quickly, with incomplete information, when the consequences really matter”.

“It sounds strange, probably, but having a pessimistic view of my own prospects helped me love my job”.

“However, success, to me, never was and still isn’t about lifting off in a rocket (though that sure felt like a great achievement). Success is feeling good about the work you do throughout the long, unheralded journey that may or may not wind up at the launch pad”.

“Ultimately, I don’t determine whether I arrive at the desired professional destination. Too many variables are out of my control. There’s really just one thing I can control: my attitude during the journey, which is what keeps me feeling steady and stable, and what keeps me headed in the right direction. So I consciously monitor and correct, if necessary, because losing attitude would be far worse than not achieving my goal”.

“‘Be ready. Work. Hard. Enjoy it!’ It fits every situation”.

“I never stopped getting ready. Just in case”.

“In my experience, fear comes from not knowing what to expect and not feeling you have any control over what’s about to happen. When you feel helpless, you’re far more afraid than you would be if you knew the facts. If you’re not sure what to be alarmed about, everything is alarming”.

“Knowledge and experience have made it possible for me to be relatively comfortable with heights, whether I’m flying a biplane or doing a spacewalk or jumping into a mountain of corn. In each case, I fully understand the challenge, the physics, the mechanics, and I know from personal experience that I’m not helpless. I do have some control”.

“But in order to stay calm in a high-stress, high-stakes situation, all you really need is knowledge”.

“Feeling ready to do something doesn’t mean feeling certain you’ll succeed, though of course that’s what you’re hoping to do. Truly being ready means understanding what could go wrong—and having a plan to deal with it”.

“‘Working the problem’ is NASA-speak for descending one decision tree after another, methodically looking for a solution until you run out of oxygen”.

“No one was moving in a leisurely fashion, but the response was one of focused curiosity, as though we were dealing with an abstract puzzle rather than an imminent threat to our survival”.

“Each time you manage to do that your comfort zone expands a little, so if you ever face that particular problem in real life, you’re able to think clearly”.

“To drive that message home, we have what we euphemistically refer to as “contingency sims”—death sims, actually—which force us to think through our own demise in granular detail: not only how we’d die, but what would happen afterward to our families, colleagues and the space program itself”.

“Rehearsing for catastrophe has made me positive that I have the problem-solving skills to deal with tough situations and come out the other side smiling”.

“Anticipating problems and figuring out how to solve them is actually the opposite of worrying: it’s productive”.

“My optimism and confidence come not from feeling I’m luckier than other mortals, and they sure don’t come from visualizing victory. They’re the result of a lifetime spent visualizing defeat and figuring out how to prevent it”.

“Like most astronauts, I’m pretty sure that I can deal with what life throws at me because I’ve thought about what to do if things go wrong, as well as right. That’s the power of negative thinking”.

“I couldn’t afford to be unprepared in any situation where I was going to be evaluated, formally or not. I had to be ready, always”.

“But if you’re striving for excellence—whether it’s in playing the guitar or flying a jet—there’s no such thing as over-preparation. It’s your best chance of improving your odds”.

“In any field, it’s a plus if you view criticism as potentially helpful advice rather than as a personal attack”.

“During a sim, the flight director or lead astronaut makes notes on major events, and afterward, kicks off the debrief by reviewing the highlights: what went well, what new things were learned, what was already known but needs to be re-emphasized. Then it’s a free-for-all. Everyone else dives right in, system by system, to dissect what went wrong or was handled poorly”.

“It’s not a public flogging: the goal is to build up collective wisdom”.

“That’s one good thing about habitually sweating the small stuff: you learn to be very, very patient”.

“This is why, individually and organizationally, we have the patience to sweat the small stuff even when—actually, especially when—pursuing major goals. We’ve learned the hardest way possible just how much little things matter”.

“Good leadership means leading the way, not hectoring other people to do things your way”.

“Whining is the antithesis of expeditionary behavior, which is all about rallying the troops around a common goal”.

“When you have some skills but don’t fully understand your environment, there is no way you can be a plus one”.

“If you start thinking that only your biggest and shiniest moments count, you’re setting yourself up to feel like a failure most of the time”.

“Life is just a lot better if you feel you’re having 10 wins a day rather than a win every 10 years or so”.

Buy The Book: An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth

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The Snowball Summary

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The Snowball is the only authorized biography of Warren Buffett, the “Oracle of Omaha,” legendary value investor and once richest man on earth, detailing his life from the very humble beginnings all the way to his unfathomable success.

Drawn to math, statistics, numbers and stocks from a very early age, Warren had read every finance book in the Omaha library at age 10. After getting a college degree, a brief stint in his father’s investing company and a few years of tutelage under Benjamin Graham, he launched his own investment partnership. He went on to beat the S&P 500 in over 40 out of 50 years and in the course of it, became one of the richest three people in the world, briefly taking the number one spot in 2008.

Alice Schroeder, who authored this book, was the only Wall Street analyst Buffett even talked to for several years, before he approached her about writing his biography.

Since the summary is long and detailed, I’ve decided to draw 3 general, overall lessons from his life:

  • Start early. If you’re late already, start now.
  • Be patient. Choose tomorrow over today.
  • Build a reputation. It comes hard but goes fast.

Ready to learn what it means to live a good life from one of the wisest, richest, most successful men in the world? Here we go!

Lesson 1: Start early.

With a stockbroker father and a loving, but overbearing mother, the two defining traits of a young Warren Buffett were introversion and an interest in numbers. He memorized entire pages from a book about baseball statistics his grandfather gave him at age eight and loved visiting his Dad’s office. As a natural consequence, Warren started making money at a very early age:

At nine, he sold gum and Coke.

At ten, he sold peanuts at football games.

At eleven, he’d saved $120 – about $2,000-$4,000 in today’s worth.

At twelve, he delivered newspapers and sold subscriptions – earning $175/month, more than most of his teachers at the time.

Warren was lucky to find his passion – making, calculating, investing and growing money – early on in life. Most of us don’t, but even those of us who do, often put off starting. Warren didn’t just read. He closed the books, went outside and started doing.

No matter at what point in your life you’re reading this: If you have even the hint of a gut feeling of what it is you want to do with your life, go for it. Start now. Not tomorrow, but today. It’s the earliest it’ll ever be.

And if you haven’t, just pick something you enjoy. Passion has a way of finding us, once we start working.

Lesson 2: Be patient.

If there’s one guiding value, a North star, that’s floating above Warren Buffett’s life, it has to be patience. Time and time again, he chose to sacrifice a good today for a better tomorrow.

For example, his mentor Ben Graham taught him that good businesses are like thrown away cigar butts: people think they’re worthless, but there are still a few puffs in them. Warren would only invest in businesses, which had more intrinsic than perceived value, and those don’t come by all too often. But he patiently waited for the right opportunity, not just the next one.

He also told all of his early partners that each and every dollar made from his investments would go right back into further investments and that he intended to never cash out on stocks. When Berkshire Hathaway, the textile business he’d bought with a steep discount of $10 million, wasn’t doing well, he patiently continued to invest instead of injecting capital. The managers of his companies he patiently got to know before settling on new ventures to invest in.

And the SEC investigation in 1974 and the newspaper lawsuit ending in 1981? He patiently waited throughout those too.

Lesson 3: Build reputation.

One of the great things patience allows you to do is never choose what seems like a shortcut over the long-term, right thing to do. When you’re not worried about getting your results fast, you can commit to integrity like few people can. All of his life, Warren’s been concerned with his reputation much more than his net worth:

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently. ~Warren Buffett

Not only is your legacy the only thing that counts once you’re gone, it’s also hard to build even while you’re still here. Warren treaded lightly all his life, as he knows a good image is quickly lost. The best thing he’s done in times of crisis though, is stick to it.

For example, integrity is what brought him to help his good friend John Gutfreund (which literally means good friend in German), in exchange for his support in investing in GEICO. The company who’s board he joined, Salomon Brothers, was caught up in a massive scandal in 1991, which Warren navigated as interim-CEO by putting together a new leadership team and making plenty of reforms, living his integrity when it was most at stake.

My personal take-aways

I’m 100% positive this is the next biography I’ll read. It’ll fit nicely in between Ryan Holiday’s and Gary Vaynerchuk’s bibliographies, both of which I’ve just ordered. So far, I can recommend the summary for sure!

The House Of Rothschild Summary

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The House Of Rothschild examines the facts and myth around the wealthiest family in the world in the 19th century, and how they managed to go from being outcast and isolated to building the biggest bank in the world.

I love a good conspiracy theory. Do you? I remember watching a lot of 9/11 documentaries a few years ago and learning about aliens and Area 51. At some point, I also saw a documentary about money. How it works, when it was created, and why it’s so complex. This documentary mentioned the Rothschilds (which translates to “red shield” by the way), a German family, who was apparently majorly involved in creating the banking system we know today.

This book tells the story of that family. Over the last 250 years, many myths and conspiracy theories about the Rothschild family have come and gone, so I’m glad Niall Ferguson took the time to tell fact from fiction.

Of course we’ll also draw some actually useful lessons about business from them. Here are 3 lessons from The House of Rothschild:

  • In business, use whatever industry is available to you as a springboard into the next one.
  • If the best solution isn’t good enough, build your own.
  • Expect the 80/20 rule to apply, even in the most extreme cases.

Ready for a trip down memory lane Wall Street? Let’s learn more about the Rothschilds!

Lesson 1: Use whatever industry’s available to you as leverage for the one you really want to break into.

Even though you might think the name sounds aristocratic, the Rothschilds weren’t always rich. Far from it, the head of the family, Mayer Amschel Rothschild lived, like all Jews, in a ghetto in Frankfurt, Germany, with very few narrow streets, in the 1750s. The family name is simply derived from the house they inhabited, which was marked with a red shield.

It wasn’t a particularly great time for Jews, as they weren’t allowed to live outside Jews’ Lane (Judengasse), stay overnight elsewhere, use parks, inns, coffee houses or even walk along the promenade.

However, what they were allowed to do is trade. Hence, Mayer built a business buying and selling antiques. He knew how to handle money and turn a profit, so he kept leveraging smaller items into bigger, rarer ones, and thus eventually grew into Frankfurt’s leading antique dealer.

And do you know what antique dealer’s also deal with, except old chairs and lamps? Coins. Knowing a lot about currency and exchange rate, banking was a logical next step and soon Mayer extended his business to banking, scoring a few prominent clients and gaining the trust of even the Crown Prince Wilhelm of Hesse.

Instead of thinking inside his own limitations, Mayer picked an industry adjacent to the one he wanted to get into, in which he could win, and leveraged it into bigger things.

Lesson 2: If the best solution that’s currently available still isn’t good enough, build your own instead.

By the time Mayer died in 1812, he had set up his business and family for success. His five sons were establishing and running banks in Frankfurt, Vienna, London, Paris and Naples. Because the brothers cooperated and used their partnerships to their advantage, the five Rothschild houses in the finance hubs of Europe comprised the largest bank in the world at the time.

One thing they did to stay transparent amongst each other was that each brother informed the other four of his banks’s transactions on a weekly basis. However, since in the 1800s you couldn’t just send call someone on the phone, let alone send an iMessage or email, communicating across distances was a problem.

In a business that thrives on information, speed of communication is key. Moreover, since the government postal services weren’t only slow, but also nosy and kept opening letters with sensitive information, paying a premium for express delivery also stopped working at some point.

Since even the best solution wasn’t good enough any longer, the Rothschilds created their own, private courier service.

They picked people they knew and trusted, paid them well and chose the fastest routes from A to B for them. And until the telegraph and railway came around in the 1830s, it remained the best way to communicate privately and quickly within Europe.

When nothing works quite like you want it to, build your own solution. Not only will you solve your own problem, you’ll even have something you can sell to people.

Lesson 3: You can expect the 80/20 rule to apply in even the most extreme circumstances and businesses.

The 80/20 Principle says that 20% of the input will get you 80% of the results. You’ll find it’s true in most aspects of life – for example 20% of the items in the trash can I’m looking at right now account for 80% of the volume that’s filled up (I’m guessing it’s the pizza boxes) – but it’s especially important to remember in business.

In case of the Rothschilds, this showed in a surprising way. In 1848 many revolutions took place across Europe, including Germany. And one party, who always loses in revolutions, is the rich and elite faction. Houses of the Rothschilds were attacked and their banking business suffered tremendous losses.

So many in fact, that the conglomerate was about to go bankrupt. However, because the London branch had always outperformed the others (and Britain was spared from social upheaval), the English Rothschild bank was able to bail out all other four banks.

As you can see, even in extreme cases like this one, where super wealthy businesses are about to go bust quickly, the 80/20 rule still applies. Chances are, you’ll find it somewhere in your business too, and it’s worth remembering.

My personal take-aways

Given how long I procrastinated on writing this today, I’m super happy how it turned out (it’s my first calm Saturday in three weeks). I’m happy I found this out-of-the-box read, because one of the aspects of learning to be good at making and handling money is knowing its history. Especially recommended to all investors!

The Everything Store Summary

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The Everything Store is the closest biographical documentation of the unprecedented rise of Amazon as an online retail store with an almost infinite amount of choice, based on over 300 interviews with current and former Amazon employees and executives, family members of the founder and the hard facts available to the public.

Brad Stone surely took on no easy task, when he ventured out to publish this book. Amazon is one of the world’s most secretive companies and an interview with its founder, Jeff Bezos, is near impossible to get. However, he did pull it off, thanks to interviews with over 300 current and former employees, as well as Bezos family members (including Jeff Bezos’s biological father, which he tracked down).

If you have your own vision that seems to be bigger than the world itself, you can learn a couple lessons from the meteoric rise of this $100+ billion per year company and the philosophy of its founder.

Here are 3 to remember:

Your customer service should know no limits.

Don’t think tomorrow or next month, think 20 years from now.

DIY. Do it yourself.

Have a grand vision? Let’s get on executing it!

Lesson 1: Let your customer service know no limits.

Amazon started with books. Initially, that’s all they sold. But they made sure it was the best book buying experience you could possibly have.

When publishers told them not to let people publicly review the books, they did so anyway, because they knew it’d help customers decide. People were worried about Amazon then letting individuals sell their used books and products on the platform themselves, but that too helped customers make the best choice.

What’s more, because tracking customer behavior is so easy online, you always seem to get the perfect product recommendations, another experience Amazon strives to optimize relentlessly.

It is sure no bold claim to put “Our goal is to be earth’s most customer-centric company.” into your mission statement, but that’s exactly what Amazon’s reads, and it’s the key ingredient for their success.

Fun fact: Sam Walton, founder of the past century’s retail giant Walmart had the exact same philosophy – everything for the customer.

Lesson 2: Don’t think tomorrow, don’t think next month, think 20 years from now.

Jeff Bezos personally supports a project building a gigantic clock underground in Texas, which will run for 10,000 years. The arms of the clock will tick away centuries and millennia, providing visitors with a completely new perspective on time.

Bezos is a huge proponent of long-term thinking and he wants to spread the message. He’s shown it again and again with his business decisions as well. In order to be everywhere, Amazon had to build many service centers and a massive infrastructure, which cost a lot of money. The red numbers year in and year out worried investors, but Bezos knew that being the world’s first universal online retailer was a license to print money – and he was right.

Similarly, when ebooks first made their debut, Amazon paid full print copy price, but sold all ebooks for $9.99, thus losing around $5 per book on average. But eventually, publishers had to lower their prices too, but by then Amazon had long been the go-to marketplace for ebooks, which helped them reach billion dollar revenue territory.

Whether in life or in business, don’t focus so much on the short-term, whether it’s the week, the month, or even the year. Know that what you’re doing will have an impact 10, 20 years later and base your actions on that and you’ll trade short-term wins for long-lasting success.

Lesson 3: D-I-Y. Do it yourself.

Did you know that Amazon hands out a “Just Do It” award, giving the winner an old, worn out Nike basketball shoe in huge size. Being a rather symbolic award crowning the best idea (even if it failed), rather than the hardest work, it shows Amazon’s DIY policy.

It was sparked after the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars, which Amazon invested in online startups right before the dot-com bust, and never saw again. Instead of betting on others, why not bring innovation home?

Amazon spends a ton of time experimenting and building its own products. You should do the same. Stop searching for that golden ticket, whether it’s a certain stock, startup, software to buy for your company, or a literal lottery ticket and instead build your own products.

The only cost of innovation is time, and while it’s the thing most people are afraid to spend, it’s actually your biggest chances of building something with an impact.

Amazon’s 1-click purchasing option, for example, was one of those experiments. The feature has been patented in 1999 and is worth billions in revenue each year, since it removes the friction of the checkout process entirely.

My personal take-aways

Even the summary of this book takes you on an emotional rollercoaster. I was thrown around from loving the creativity and boldness of the ideas, to disliking the stingy and strict working style, to admiring the grand vision and back.

Amazon’s story is quite controversial and so is its founder, but the book manages to capture both the historic side of the path of Amazon’s success, as well as the quirks, ups and downs of human nature, that made it into what it is today.

A truly fascinating book about a fascinating man and a company which will make it into many more people’s vocabulary within the next few decades.

Buy this book

The Autobiography Of Malcolm X Summary

Categories ExperiencesPosted on

The Autobiography Of Malcolm X chronicles the life and work of one of the most influential members of the civil rights movement in the United States.

Not everyone who deserves an autobiography gets one. Some people die early, others don’t think of it as important. Often, the people we most crave an autobiography from wait until the last minute to publish one, for example Sam Walton or Steve Jobs, who published theirs shortly before their deaths.

In the case of Malcolm X, it’s all the more surprising that we have one, given his assassination in 1965, when he was just 39 years old. Lucky for historians, political activists and you and me, he’d been working on an autobiography for the two years prior to this tragic event, collaborating with journalist Alex Haley to get his story out into the world.

Considered a ghostwriter by Malcolm, Haley actually shaped the book and Malcolm’s story in big ways, for example by getting him to keep sections about the Nation of Islam, from which X had distanced himself in 1964, and re-writing anti-semitic sections.

I looked at his life and tried to come up with 3 lessons from it, here they are:

  • What happens in your childhood will leave a mark on you for life.
  • Sometimes you have to get totally lost to find yourself.
  • Even the best of us can get it wrong.

Are you ready to learn from one of the most interesting figures in human history? All aboard the autobiography train!

Lesson 1: The events of your childhood will shape you for the rest of your life.

Malcolm Little would never have become the iconic figure with an X for his last name (which hinted at his true last name being taken by “some blue-eyed devil”) if it weren’t for all the things that happened in his childhood.

Due to his particularly light skin color, which resembled his mother’s (which in turn was a result of her mother being raped by a white man), he ended up being preferred by his father, but despised by his Mom. This made him enjoy his father’s company, who was very active in the black community and a civil rights movement leader himself.

Add to that the tragedy of his father’s alleged murder when he was six years old, his mother’s coercion into a mental hospital when he was 12, with him being sent to live with a white family and three of his uncle’s dying from violence and you already have someone who’s going to be hell bent on justice and fair treatment of black people.

School further increased this dedication, with teachers discouraging from his plans of being a lawyer (“Be more realistic, try being a carpenter, maybe!”) and him not being allowed to dance in front of white girls at basketball after parties.

His entire childhood channeled him into becoming someone, who hated the status quo and who saw only one way to escape it…

Lesson 2: In order to find yourself, you might have to get completely lost first.

This escape brought him right into the crime scene of Boston and later Harlem in the 1940s. Malcolm spent the majority of his teenage and early adult years hustling, dealing drugs, “steering” white people to secret prostitution locations, resulting in bigger and more dangerous crimes as he went on.

He was caught when trying to pawn (loan to a money lender) a stolen watch in 1946 and received a hefty ten year prison sentence.

For most people, going to prison would mean the end. For Malcolm X, it was the only way to become who he was meant to be. I’m not saying you should become a master thief, but sometimes there’s no alternative to getting completely lost, confused and traveling along all the wrong paths to finally discover who you really are.

Malcolm spent all of his time in prison reading, learning about the religion of Islam and becoming a great public speaker, even getting his opponents to admit to statements such as “Jesus was brown.” After his parole in 1952, he was a changed man, ready to spread the message of the Nation of Islam and become a minister, activist and speaker.

Lesson 3: Even the best of us can get it wrong sometimes.

In 1963, Malcolm found out that the leader of Nation of Islam, Elijah Muhammad, to whom he had devoted himself, had slept with several of his secretaries, who were now filing paternity suits. He felt betrayed, disappointed and misguided.

A year later, he broke with the organization altogether. On a following pilgrimage to Mecca he witnessed kindness and hospitality from Muslims of all races, eye-colors and heritages, which surprised him and forced him to second-guess his own beliefs.

There he was, one of the most iconic figures of the African-American movement, having to confess he’d been wrong. Instead of falling into a state of regret though, he embraced a new message and opened up his speaking to a much wider audience.

No matter how good you are, it’s never too late to admit when you’re wrong and change for the better.

My personal take-aways

Writing summaries like this one always takes forever. Why? Because I always end up reading 17 Wikipedia articles on the person in question and his or her entire family. If I let myself daydream for a bit, I see the day unfold watching documentaries, reading, and then discuss Malcolm X with an expert. Sadly, that’s not going to happen (yet).

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