Flow Summary

Categories Business, Mindfulness & Happiness, Top 10Posted on

 Flow explains why we seek happiness in externals and what’s wrong with it, where you can really find enjoyment in life, and how you can truly become happy by creating your own meaning of life.

Flow is a simple title for a book the author’s name I can’t pronounce to save my life, you do it: Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (apparently it’s mi-ha-yee cheeks-sent-me-high). Published in 1990, Mihaly digs into “the state of effortless work”, where challenges and skills align perfectly and time seems to fly.

Here are my 3 take-aways:

  • Pleasure and enjoyment are two different things.
  • Flow is where challenges and skills match.
  • Life goals are irrelevant, so set a life goal.

I bet 1 and 3 have you scratching your head, so let’s do some explaining!

Lesson 1: Pleasure and enjoyment are not the same thing.

This is a really cool differentiation. Pleasure is what most people nowadays confuse with happiness. It comes from sensory experiences, like eating a pizza, getting a massage, or having sex and takes away your control of your attention.

When you’re busy munching on a tasty slice of chicken supreme, you can’t really control what you pay attention too, because all of it is taken up by your sense of taste.

Enjoyment, on the other hand, comes from concentrating and consciously focusing, which gives you back your control over your attention.

This is where true happiness lies, as enjoyment allows you to work towards your most important goals and to go beyond the limitations of your genes.

Many people opt for pleasure instead of enjoyment, which the world makes easy, as we seem to live in instant gratification-land now, which is also why many people are so miserable.

But how can you find enjoyment? By trying to spend a lot of time in flow.

Lesson 2: Flow is the state where challenges and skills match, so that time flies by.

Flow is what’s behind every good video game. It is the state where you are so immersed in the activity you’re doing, that you’re completely forgetting about all your worries and anxieties, and you look up after hours, wondering where time went.

How can you trigger it?

2 things:

Pick an activity you find rewarding, something that’s meaningful to you, without any external incentive (like money or fame).

Make sure the challenge of the activity matches your skill level.

The first part is straight forward. It means you should have fun. Plant a tree, draw a comic, write an article about the Minions, whatever you think is meaningful to you.

There can’t be any money involved. Don’t do it for fame, wealth, or even religion. Just because you think it’s awesome.

Part 2 is a bit harder. Flow is triggered when the challenge isn’t so hard you’ll get frustrated, while your skills aren’t so good already that you get bored.

It’s right in between.

If you decide to pick up chess, play on an easy setting against your computer first. Then, get a friend to play against you who’s slightly better than you. Once you consistently beat her, you can move to the next level.

Basically, flow is where your life feels like the perfect game: you just want to keep on going and going and going.

So make some time for your hobbies or take up a fun project – you never know what the skills might be good for.

Lesson 3: Life goals are irrelevant, so set a life goal.

I love this. The summary says you can create your own meaning of life. To do so, you simply have to set an ultimate goal for your life.

Here’s the best part: It doesn’t matter what that goal is, as long as it keeps getting you into flow without caring what other people think.

This is the best thing a book could tell you.

It’s all you want to hear.

Go set some crazy goal and tell others to get lost if they tell you it’s stupid. If it keeps you challenged so your skills keep growing and gets more complex as you go along, you’re golden.

This is exactly what I’m doing with Four Minute Books. I make sure I read and write every day, no matter if no one reads it. I do share it, so people can benefit, but I’m doing it for the sake of itself.

I have a hunch that the more you do of that, the more successful you’ll be.

My personal take-aways

First tip: Read the Happiness Hypothesis first, then this will make even more sense. It lists flow as the best option of one of the two voluntary activities you should strive for, to maximize your happiness.

Second tip: Think back to when you were 8-14 years old. What did you enjoy doing the most? Chances are your flow activity is somewhere in there.

I can’t recommend this summary enough, it’s so packed with insights, I had some serious trouble picking 3 things. It makes sense from start to finish and it’s a very down-to-earth call-to-action for happiness.

It doesn’t scream at you to get happy, like some of the more over-enthusiastic self-help books (which have their place, ain’t that right, Spartan Up?), but just shows you the path that’ll most likely get you there. He also has a TED talk, which I have to check out yet, but I’m sure is worth watching

Buy this bookhttps://amzn.to/2SBhirB

Built To Last :Notes

Categories Entrepreneur, Top 10Posted on

Built To Last examines what lies behind the extraordinary success of 18 visionary companies and which principles and ideas they’ve used to thrive for a century.

Favorite quote from the author:

When building are revolutionary company, understand who you are rather than where you are going—for where you are going will almost certainly change.

This book is the result of six years of research. Published in 1994 by James C. Collins (more commonly known as Jim Collins) and Jerry Porras, it’s long been a modern classic, and has been translated in over 25 languages.

Collins and Porras conducted a survey among hundreds of CEOs of the world’s top corporations at the time and then compiled a list of 18 visionary companies, which they then thoroughly analyzed, investigated and compared with their non-visionary peers.

They wanted to find out what has helped them stay successful over decades, and, in some cases, even a century. Here are the 3 tidbits that most struck me:

You don’t need a great idea to start a great company.

Without a core ideology, a company will never be visionary.

Visionary companies are like a cult.

Let’s dig in!

Lesson 1: You don’t need a great idea to start a great company. Or any idea, for that matter.

James Altucher would love this. It’s right in line with his theme of becoming an idea machine.

You don’t need a great idea to start a great company. In fact, you don’t need any idea at all.


Because truly great and visionary companies constantly turn out great ideas, just because they generate so many in the first place.

For example, guess what Akio Morita and Masaru Ibuka did, right after founding Sony He held a meeting to brainstorm business ideas. They discussed sweetened bean-paste and mini-golf equipment, among other things.

American Express started as a mail business, Motorola with something very interesting (and soon obsolete) called battery eliminators and even though Apple’s computers were a great success, eventually they would create the most profitable product in history – a phone.

The reason these companies succeeded is that instead of focusing on one idea or one great leader, they focused on the process of coming up with ideas, and producing leaders, either good, or bad.

Being restless and persistent matters much more than having that one in a million idea.

Lesson 2: Without a core ideology, your company can’t be visionary.

A core ideology consists of two things: a higher purpose and a set of core values.

For example, Walmart’s core ideology is to bring people retail products at the lowest prices, with the greatest customer service.

Apple’s purpose: Think different. They are here to disrupt, to change, to improve. The industry doesn’t matter. They did it with computers, then music, then phones.

One of their values is user-friendly and beautiful design. Notice how these don’t stand in the way of progress. Apple never stopped experimenting. Otherwise they would never have moved from computers to music players.

However, doing something different and making all their products look beautiful are universal principles, which can always be applied.

Your core ideology has to live through all products, employees and times. It doesn’t matter what it contains, but rather that it exists.

If you have no purpose and no principles to hold up high, you’ll never create a vision great enough to attract fellow great minds to help you build it.

So much more than an idea you need a purpose and a set of values.

Lesson 3: Visionary companies are like a cult – you’re in or you’re out!

This was interesting to me, I had never considered it.

Since their core ideology doesn’t leave much room for compromises, visionary companies will settle only for the best employees, with the same mindset.

The core ideology is something that you either share, or you don’t. There’s nothing in between, which is why new employees either thrive or leave very quickly.

For example you couldn’t say the f-word, damn, or shit around Walt Disney. If he heard you use a four-letter word other than love, you were fired. No exceptions.

Same with Apple. You either got why the serifs on a font were so important, or you didn’t. The reason that this is important is that the company feels like a big family, almost like a cult.

Only once you’re sure employees follow your core ideology can you trust them enough to give them room to experiment and generate those ideas your company relies on.

Final thoughts

I had no idea that this book was so popular and such a classic. Incredible effort went into this book and you can see it in the countless examples, many of which made it into the summary on Blinkist, which I think is great.

Lesson 1 was a game-changer for me, I didn’t think you’d need to have a great idea, but I sure thought you had to have one. Imagining just sitting together with 2 good friends, starting a company, and then coming up with something surely puts entrepreneurship into a new light for me. I always knew it was a jump into a cold pool, but this actually makes it sound fun.

I’ve also never seen the idea of a core ideology formulated so clearly. The summary made it really easy to understand, I feel as if I could come up with my own right now.

The Richest Man in Babylon

Categories Money, Top 10Posted on

The Richest Man in Babylon

by George S. Clason

Print | eBook | Audiobook

The Book in Three Sentences: Save at least 10 percent of everything you earn and do not confuse your necessary expenses with your desires. Work hard to improve your skills and ensure a future income because wealth is the result of a reliable income stream. You cannot arrive at the fullest measure of success until you crush the spirit of procrastination within you.

Read the full book summary »

The Richest Man In Babylon Summary

1-Sentence-Summary: The Richest Man In Babylon gives common sense financial advice, which you can apply today, told through tales and parables from the times of ancient Babylon.

Read in: 4 minutes

Favorite quote from the author:

The Richest Man In Babylon Summary

George S. Clason was a soldier, businessman and writer. The Richest Man In Babylon is his most popular piece of work, consisting of numerous parables, metaphors and stories set in ancient Babylon.

Originally published in 1926, the advice in this book is still as sound as it was almost a century ago.

The Babylonians discovered many of the basic principles behind wealth, such as saving a small part of your income each month, investing it wisely, learning how to lend money instead of borrowing it and how to protect your wealth.

Here are 3 lessons that you can apply right now to start building wealth:

Live below your means.

Learn how to be lucky.

Never take on debt.

Ready to become the richest man (or woman) in Babylon? Let’s go!

Lesson 1: Live below your means.

What is it that makes rich people rich?

I’m not talking about the kids of millionaires or oil sheiks, who’ve always been rich.

I’m talking about the people who, after working hard for a few decades, can walk out the door of their job and never return again, because they can live off the wealth they have accumulated.

Do they stuff every penny they earn into their mattress? Or do they just work abnormal hours no one can keep up with?

The truth is in the middle.

Wealthy people develop their riches mostly based on 2 things:

Living slightly below their means.

Investing the money they save well.

Living below your means is the first checkpoint you have to pass to even have the money to invest, so why not start there?

The goal of our Western economy and education system is for you to take on a 40-hour day job and then spend everything you earn.

But nobody said you have to play that game.

You don’t have to stop drinking the occasional Latte or going to the movies. But you can still spend less than you earn.

You know best where you’re spending money just for the sake of convenience, entertainment and gratification, that’s really not necessary and that’s exactly the money you should be saving and investing instead.

The Richest Man In Babylon suggests you save 10% of your income to invest.

I personally have been saving 20% of my income for the past year and it’s put me in a much more relaxed situation financially where I have some savings and even a small portfolio of stocks.

So look at your expenses and cut the ones that are really unnecessary and you’ll see finding those 10% is easier than you think!

Lesson 2: Learn how to be lucky by working hard.

The summary intro said “learn how to be lucky”. What a fascinating idea, isn’t it?

But how can this book teach you something that’s really not in your hands?

This is where most people are mistaken. No one ever said luck was something that can’t be manufactured. We just expect it to be.

That’s something called chance. A random occurrence with very little likelihood of happening, such as winning the lottery or being struck by lightning.

Luck, however, is based on opportunity and you can create more opportunities by working hard.

Consider Jerry Weintraub’s story.

This man called Elvis’s manager every day for a year to pitch him a tour he wanted to take Elvis on.

364 times, the man said ‘No’. But eventually, on the 365th day, he said yes.

Jerry didn’t get lucky. He worked. Every day he called, until the timing was right and the opportunity presented itself to him.

That’s how you become lucky.

Lesson 3: Never take on debt.

This should (in theory) be a no-brainer for anyone, yet we find ourselves in a world where the average American is over $150,000 in debt.

One of the first steps to build wealth is quitting the irrational self-talk that makes you justify purchases you can’t afford.

Money is a pretty rational thing and it’s about time you started treating it that way.

When you can’t afford a fancy new car, or a flashy TV, well, you can’t afford it.

But when you go out and get a loan to finance it, you’ll delay your journey to wealth for months or even years, because you now have to spend the money you save each month to pay off the debt, instead of being able to invest it.

Instead of solving your problems with loans, ask “how can I afford this?” and figure out ways to make more money or save more money, so you can buy the things you want.

Taking on debt has never solved any problems, it just creates more, so finish the spending spree and start saving!

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