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Smartcuts by Shane Snow
How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
Contains concepts and mental models for accelerating success in business and personal career. Includes many real life examples including Elon Musk, JJ Abrams, and Jimmy Fallon.
My Favorite Quotes
- True success has more to do with our becoming better people and building a better world, than it does with the size of our bank accounts.
- It is better to know how to learn than to know.
- Teach children how to learn and how to think.
- Experts vastly prefer negative feedback to positive.
- World champions are tireless students.
- Simplification often makes the difference between good and amazing.
- Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Steve Jobs
- Which is easier? Making friends with one thousand people one at a time, or making friends with one person that already has one thousand friends?
- How can we make this product simpler?
- Ladder switching. The possibilities of career switching through lateral movement.
- Lateral thinking.
- Creative problem-solving is more valuable than computational skill.
- It’s often easier to improve by 10x instead of 10%.
The book contains nine patterns of lateral thinking, divided into three classes (parts).
- Hacking the Ladder
- Training with Masters
- Rapid Feedback
- 10x Thinking
Part One: Shorten
Chapter 1: Hacking the Ladder, Bored Mormons
Average age of president of the US is lower than congressmen, why?
Lyndon B Johnson study.
Break a big challenge into easier repeatable challenges. The psychology of small wins.
Reduce cycle time.
Author’s link for more information on cycle time. (no content at the time of this posting, 11/07/18)
Use Sinatra style credibility to switch ladders. Example: United States presidents.
Chapter 2: Training with Masters, the Vocal Thief
Jimmy Fallon trying to get on SNL.
Justin Bieber and his music mentors.
Mentorship is the secret of many of the highest profile achievers throughout history.
Socrates mentored Plato mentored Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great.
A master can help you accelerate things.
Chapter 3: Rapid Feedback, The F Word
Launch of upworthy.
Hospital team learning from Ferrari racing team pit crew.
Attribution theory: we attribute successes and failures to reasons that make us feel better.
We attribute failures to external factors and successes to internal factors.
We tend to do the opposite for others. We blame their failures on their lack of effort and their successes on luck or external factors.
Surgeons learned more from watching the failure of other surgeons than from their own failures.
Second City training comedians.
Feedback that causes a person to focus on the task and not themselves is much more effective.
Experts vastly prefer negative feedback to positive.
Experts tend to be able to turn off the part of their ego that takes legitimate feedback personally.
Three things The Second City accomplishes to accelerate its performers’ growth:
- Gives rapid feedback
- Depersonalizes the feedback
- Lowers the stakes and pressure so students take risks that force them to improve
Part Two: Leverage
Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Seuss
Chapter 4: Platforms, the Laziest Programmers.
Programmer David Heinemeier Hansson (DHH)
Layers of asphalt comparison to layers of computer language and programming.
Methodically searching for the least wasteful way to learn something.
Ruby on Rails programming language.
Hopscotch Technologies is a company that teaches and helps children to program and make games.
Finland’s education system.
Creative problem-solving is more valuable than computational skill.
Children should be taught to use excel spreadsheets and calculators.
Teach children how to learn and how to think.
It is better to know how to learn than to know.
Chapter 5: Waves, More and More
Bands selling through social media and the web in the early 2000s.
Waves colliding can cancel each other out or combine and increase in intensity.
Destructive and constructive interference.
Catching waves: paddling versus pattern recognition.
Intuition as a result of non-conscious pattern recognition.
Deliberate analysis can produce better results than intuition from an expert.
World champions are tireless students. Talking about surfers.
Google’s 20% time produced Gmail and AdSense. Google borrowed this concept from 3M’s 15% rule.
The best way to be in the water when the wave comes is to budget time for swimming.
Actively experiment with trends when they are still early. Example of Skrillex.
Chapter 6: Super Connectors, Space, Wars and Storytellers
Which is easier? Making friends with one thousand people one at a time, or making friends with one person that already has one thousand friends?
Book Reference: The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell
Author’s website for further information on superconnectors. (no content at the time of this posting, 11/07/18)
Fidel Castro using radio transmitters to overthrow Cuban government.
Build relationships through giving.
Mint app and website was spread by blog.
Giving is the timeless smartcut.
Part Three: Soar
Chapter 7: Momentum, Depressed Billionaires
Paul “Bear” Vasquez and the viral double rainbow YouTube video.
Michelle Phan makeup videos on YouTube.
Oreo tweet during 2013 Super Bowl.
How can we manufacture and harness momentum?
Chapter 8: Simplicity
Jane Chen. Embrace baby warmer.
Simplification often makes the difference between good and amazing.
How can we make this product simpler?
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. Steve Jobs
Chapter 9: 10x Thinking, the Rocketeer
Falcon 1 rocket by SpaceX. Elon Musk.
Thinking about first principles.
It’s often easier to improve by 10x instead of 10%.
We are less likely to perform at our peak potential when reaching for low hanging fruit.
Story of Dwayne Edwards growing up, drawing shoes, eventually launching Pensole Footwear Design Academy.
More Resources and Links
- Author’s start up company is Contently
- Shane Snow’s book recommendations
- Derek Sivers Book Notes on Smartcuts
My Action Steps After Reading
- Included the mental model of Ladder Switching into my library of mental models.
- Shared the story of Dwayne Edwards with a friend and aspiring artist.
Related Book Summaries
Hope you enjoyed this and got value from my notes.
This is the 84th book read in my 2018 reading list.
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