Smartcuts Book Summary

Smartcuts

Smartcuts by Shane Snow
How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success

My Thoughts

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.

The 84th book read in my 2018 reading list.

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

Best Questions

  • 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?

Key Concepts

  • 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%.

Introduction

The book contains nine patterns of lateral thinking, divided into three classes (parts).

  1. Shorten
    1. Hacking the Ladder
    2. Training with Masters
    3. Rapid Feedback
  2. Leverage
    1. Platforms
    2. Waves
    3. Superconnectors
  3. Soar
    1. Momentum
    2. Simplicity
    3. 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)
Switching ladders.
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:

  1. Gives rapid feedback
  2. Depersonalizes the feedback
  3. 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.
Selective slacking.
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.
Surfing.
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: Malcom Gladwell Tipping Point.
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.
JJ Abrams.
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. Double rainbow YouTube video.
Michelle Phan make up 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

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.

Hope you enjoyed this and got value from my notes.
📚Here is my complete list of book summaries.

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