What I learned from So Good They Can’t Ignore You

I asked a dozen engineering VP’s and Directors for advice on getting a promotion. The best answer by far was “be so good I have to promote you.”

The advice reminds me of a book which often comes up in my 1 on 1 meetings with engineers. It’s called So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport. (affiliate link) (non-affiliate link) It’s an excellent book which challenges conventional career advice. If you’d like to borrow my copy, let me know. I thoroughly enjoyed this book along with Newport’s follow up title Deep Work (affiliate link) (non-affiliate link). More on that one in a future post…

Here are 10 of the book’s nuggets that resonated with me:

1. The passion hypothesis is false.

Instead of searching for work you love, start to love your work. Take ownership of your work and change it in subtle ways that make you love it more.

2. The craftsman mindset beats the passion mindset.

Do remarkable work. Take pride in your work. Whistle while you work. This will get you farther than chasing your passions.

3. Build career capital and invest it to gain creativity, impact, control

The path to gain creative freedom, have more impact, and take more control over your agenda requires career capital. You have to build career capital gradually over months and years of delivering great results and building a support network.

4. Record your day in 15 minute increments

Where is your time actually going? Are you spending time on important work that moves you toward your goals? Or low value tasks that have little ROI?

5. Limit email to 90 min/day

Email is not work. (Unless your job is primarily writing emails)

6. Look for career capital already available to you, right in front of you.

You have career resources you may not realize. Your network, alumni groups, community are great examples. Enroll these people in your support network. This is an important part of building career capital.

7. Control is the dream job elixir.

Spend and invest your career capital to gain more control over your work. This is the path to loving your work and producing something remarkable. The path to finding, carving out your dream job.

8. Get paid

Getting paid is a measure of the career capital theory. You are ready to pursue an idea when you find someone to pay you to pursue it. If no one will pay you for the work, you aren’t good enough yet.

9. Do marketable, remarkable work

Do work that stands out. Work that stands out is remarkable and marketable. It gets people’s attention because it stands out and it makes you stand out from the crowd.

10. Working right trumps finding the right work

Stop searching for the perfect project. YOU are the project.

What I learned from The Three Laws of Performance

Torrey’s Notes


Law #1 : Performance correlates to how the situation occurs to people involved

It doesn’t matter what you say or how you say it. What matters is how you are heard.

If the situation occurs to you as broken and unfixable, it won’t change. However if the situation occurs to you as unsustainable and needing to be changed, it is likely to change. Compare the ‘default future’ with the ‘ideal future’.

Our ‘default future’ is where we end up if the story is not changed. We can choose not to accept the default future, and embrace transformation. We can imagine a future we want and move towards it. Large groups of people can rally behind a compelling vision of the future.

Ask yourself: What is my default future? What is my vision for the ideal future?

Example

Personal Health Default future: Stress, over-eating, relationship issues will persist and I will die early and lonely.

Ideal future: eating healthy in moderation, drinking lots of water, pushing myself in the gym, will lead to a long and happy life.


Three Laws of Performance Law #2 : How the situation occurs arises in language

Whatever you resist persists. Leaders have to listen to verbal and non-verbal language. There is often tension in the room and controversial things are left unsaid. These issues need to confronted else they persist.What is unsaid? What is unsaid but communicated non-verbally? Leaders must have the courage to say what is unsaid, to confront issues that make people uncomfortable.


Three Laws of Performance Law #3 : Future based language transforms how situations occur to people.

To elevate performance, you have to change the story of the organization and get buy in from the whole community. The story is the vision of where the group is headed.

Ask yourself: Where do you see your team in 5 years? 10 years? What stories will you tell when you get to the old folks home?


Read More

The Three Laws of Performance: Rewriting th Future if You Organization and Your Life by Steve Zaffron and Dave Logan

(affiliate link)

(non-affiliate link)

What I learned from buying too many books

As part of 2017 retrospective, I found that I purchased wayy more books than I actually read. I decided in 2018 I will try to be more selective with books. I still suck at it.

In the first four months of 2018, I’ve acquired 8 books. Most of them are compulsive random buys from stores or from weekly BookBub ebook discounts email.

When analyzing the data, two patterns jump out immediately. The books I actually read are: a. the most expensive books in the list, and b. books I deliberately sought out, not random finds. This is a very clear signal: Don’t buy random, cheap books!

My book list for 2018 so far…

Title Author Type I Paid Note

The Aeronauts Windlass

(affiliate link)(non-affiliate link)

Jim Butcher Hardcover, new $2.99  The only fiction book in the list
The Power of Myth (affiliate link)(non-affiliate link) Joseph Campbell Hardcover, new $3.99

The Power of Broke

(affiliate link)(non-affiliate link)

Daymond John Kindle $1.99 Started reading, lot’s of fun stories!

High Performance  Habits

(affiliate link)(non-affiliate link)

Brendon Burchard Kindle $9.00 Read!

The Student Leadership Guide

(affiliate link)(non-affiliate link)

Brendon Burchard Paperback, new $6.94

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking

(affiliate link)(non-affiliate link)

Susan Cain Hardcover, used $7.00 Read! Awesome guide to introversion

The Dip

(affiliate link)(non-affiliate link)

Seth Godin Kindle $2.99

Rise of the Youpreneur: The Definitive Guide to Becoming the Go-To Leader in Your Industry and Building a Future-Proof Business

(affiliate link)(non-affiliate link)

Chris Ducker Paperback $0.00

The 50th Law

(affiliate link)(non-affiliate link)

Robert Greene & 50 Cent Kindle $1.99

HELL YEAH or NO

Reflecting on Derek Sivers “Either HELL or NO“.

It’s okay if you don’t have something you’re really excited about. Books. Podcasts. Albums. Projects.

It’s okay to take a break.

It’s okay to wait for a HELL YEAH option to present yourself.

It’s not okay to fill every moment with activities you aren’t thrilled about.

Nugget from Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Happiness comes from four things:

  • Perceived control
  • Perceived progress
  • Human connection- depth and number of relationships
  • Being part of something bigger than yourself

How to Apply It:

Set aside time for all of these things. Build career capital for later investment, to gain more control of your life. Set incremental SMART goals to progress on. Take time to reconnect with friends and family. Don’t forget how large the universe is compared to you.

The library of traveling books – What if books could walk and talk?

I am seeking partners to execute this idea; I don’t much enjoy solo projects. Would you like to join me on this venture?

Buzz Aldrin, Apollo 11 astronaut, famously said: “You promised me Mars colonies. Instead I got Facebook”. For the past 20 years or so, the human race has been really busy exploring cyber-space. We took a detour from the real world, which I call meat-space. I am fascinated by cyber-space ideas that enhance meat-space. The idea I describe below is one such idea which combines elements of book-love and the sharing economy.

The idea is driven by two questions:

  1. What if books had legs?
  2. What if books could talk?

By pondering these two questions I ended up at: we could build the world’s most distributed library, and it would enable books to walk and talk. What if you could give away a hundred books and follow their travels?

How would it work?

We need a few technology elements to execute on The Library of Traveling Books. We need a website and we need stick-on labels.

The website would be the hub of our library. It provides guest books for all of the traveling books. It provides educational material, instructions for how to contribute to the community by adding new books to the library. The website must also encourage new guests to keep the books traveling.

The labels are crucial for educating new guests and connecting books to their unique guest book. Each book in the library requires a unique label, with a unique URL, and a unique QR-style barcode. The labels are the gateway, and they need to concisely explain and encourage new guests to make their way to the website.

What is a QR code?

A QR code is a 2 dimensional barcode. QR codes are great for connecting meat-space objects to their digital identities.

This is an example of a QR-code. When scanned, it leads you to this blog.

QR code for torrey.blog

The Fun Bits – We Love Books

As book lovers, curation of the library is exciting! Which books would be selected for traveling? Would we choose only classics? Books that change lives? Hardcovers only with protective covers?
How will this invention help book-lover community and connect like-minded people? Make the world a bigger place, spread gratitude and love?

The Problems – What could go wrong?

Of course, there are pitfalls to this approach. Problems make it more interesting! It’s not an adventure until something goes wrong.
Books may end up on the trash

Books may sit on a shelf for a really long time.

Books get wet and books get damaged

How do we make super-durable books? Library-grade books, battle-hardened books. Books that will last forever.

Celebrate the Winners

While acknowledging problems will be run into, we will celebrate the successes. Celebrate the books that keep traveling. The books that are so remarkable that the reader insists on passing it to a friend, or giving it back to the universe, sending it on it’s traveling way.
What will be the longest book journey?

What will the guests say about the books in the travel log?

What Ifs

What if you put money in the books to incentivize book hunting, like geocaching.

What if it took off and we formed a 501c3, accepting charitable donations to add more books?

What if we went for-profit and used the attention to market to book lovers.

What if we turn the library into a sort of “perennial bestsellers list” which authors aspire to land on. We could position the list as a higher honor than New York Times bestseller.

What if we get really techno-fancy, and embed some kind of low power computer into the books, making them “smart books”.


Summary

What would it take to implement this:

  •  A website
  •  A printer
  •  Labels
  •  A Books
  •  A person to take a book to an airport.

Iterate! Experiment! Learn! Adapt! Evolve!



Thanks for reading. Together we build a world free of fear. What would you do if you were not afraid? Be legendary.

Reading Roundup – Second Quarter 2017

In April, May, and June I read some great books. I want to take some time to share what I’ve learned. Enjoy!


Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl

Dr. Frankl practiced psycho-therapy and miraculously survived Nazi work camps. He studied himself and peers throughout the experience. Being in the camps is described as worse than nightmares. Accounts of atrocities committed in the camps are best not paraphrased. Go read it!

One insight taken away is: man finds meaning in love, work, and suffering. The author pulled himself through hell by frequently thinking about his wife, the love of his life.


Living with a Seal by Jesse Itzler

Jesse Itzler invited a Navy Seal to live with and train him for a month. The ensuing tale is hilarious.

Lessons learned: 

  • Mind over matter. You have more in you than you think (60% more).
  • Make big decisions by considering, after it plays out, how great telling the story will be.
  • Watch out for getting stuck on routines and call in outside help (e.g. Personal trainer) to get unstuck.
  • The human spirit is powerful, and the mind gives up before the body gives up (usually).

I discovered the book via this YouTube video.


Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Sandberg abruptly lost her husband. She embarked on a journey to deal with own grief and in the process learned how to give better support to others overcoming tragedy.

Many of the stories in the book refer back to the three P’s of tragedy processing.

Personalization – I am the reason this happened. I failed to stop it from happening. It is my fault.

Pervasiveness – Because this happened, every part of my life is ruined.

Permanence – Life is going to be like this forever. It will never get better.

When consoling grief-stricken friends, try not to say things like “let me know if there is anything I can do”. The phrase pushes the burden of asking onto them. Instead, take action, show up at the door with a casserole. Help them through the three P’s: tragedy isn’t their fault, it won’t ruin everything, and the feelings are temporary.


Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson

The focus of Expert Secrets is how to create and sell information products, after becoming a subject matter expert. Expert Secrets has many nuggets, and I’ll share the few most memorable to me.

Status – Why People Buy Things
The reason people buy most things is to increase their status. Status means different things to different people. To some a luxury car is a status symbol, and to others a ten year old junker is a status symbol.

Big Domino Theory
Instead of trying to solve a hundred small problems, look for the biggest domino. The biggest domino, once knocked over, knocks over all the smaller ones.

The Heroes Two Journeys
Most stories follow the format of the heroes two journeys. The hero has an external goal and a more subtle internal struggle. The hero may never achieve the external goal, but while on the journey resolves the inner struggles and completes a transformation.


I also really enjoyed these works by Derek Sivers

To hone your writing, hire a translator 

I think creating less noise is a measure of emotional maturity. Optimize for action instead of talk. Do work, not just press releases.

Parenting: Who is it really for? 

A long attention span is a super power when among highly distractible masses. This reminds me of Cal Newport’s Deep Work which says a blacksmith may work a single blade for seven hours uninterrupted.

Meaningful, quality work requires an above-average attention span.

Long attention span might be a key to success. It could require a decades long focus to turn vision into reality.


Thank you for reading!

Together we build a world free of fear.  What would you do if you were not afraid?


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