Author: Pieter

Book Notes – Deep Work – Cal Newport

Book Notes – Deep Work – Cal Newport


  • Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.
  • CEO Bill Gates famously conducted “Think Weeks” twice a year, during which he would isolate himself (often in a lakeside cottage) to do nothing but read and think big thoughts.
  • The reason knowledge workers are losing their familiarity with deep work is well established: network tools.
  • Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.
  • Spend enough time in a state of frenetic shallowness and you permanently reduce your capacity to perform deep work.
  • Our work culture’s shift toward the shallow (whether you think it’s philosophically good or bad) is exposing a massive economic and personal opportunity for the few who recognize the potential of resisting this trend and prioritizing depth.
  • Evidence you are invaluable in todays economy: the vast majority of your work responsibilities could be automated by a “kludged together” Excel script.
  • Show up early in the morning before anyone else arrives and work without distraction. “On good days, I can get in four hours of focus before the first meeting.”
  • To remain valuable in our economy, therefore, you must master the art of quickly learning complicated things.
  • If you can create something useful, its reachable audience (e.g., employers or customers) is essentially limitless—which greatly magnifies your reward. On the other hand, if what you’re producing is mediocre, then you’re in trouble, as it’s too easy for your audience to find a better alternative online.
  • The Deep Work Hypothesis: The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive.
  • Cal maintained voluminous production while rarely working past five or six p.m. during the workweek. This compressed schedule is possible because Cal has invested significant effort to minimize the shallow in his life while making sure to get the most out of the time this frees up.
  • Cal builds his days around a core of carefully chosen deep work, with the shallow activities he absolutely cannot avoid batched into smaller bursts at the peripheries of my schedule. Three to four hours a day, five days a week, of uninterrupted and carefully directed concentration, it turns out, can produce a lot of valuable output.
  • Our technologies are racing ahead but many of our skills and organizations are lagging behind.
  • Three specific groups will fall on the lucrative side of this divide and reap a disproportionate amount of the benefits of the Intelligent Machine Age:
    • The High-Skilled Workers: The key question will be: are you good at working with intelligent machines or not?
    • The Superstars: who are doing productive work remotely. If you’re in a marketplace where the consumer has access to all performers, and everyone’s q value is clear, the consumer will choose the very best.
    • The Owners: because when else in history could such a small amount of labor be involved in such a large amount of value?
  • Two core abilities to thrive in the new economy:
    • The ability to quickly master hard things.
    • The ability to produce at an elite level, in terms of both quality and speed.
  • To learn requires intense concentration –> deliberate practice: a life-long period of deliberate effort to improve performance in a specific domain.
  • Core components of deliberate practice are usually identified as follows:
    • Your attention is focused tightly on a specific skill you’re trying to improve or an idea you’re trying to master;
    • you receive feedback so you can correct your approach to keep your attention exactly where it’s most productive.
  • New science of performance argues that you get better at a skill as you develop more myelin around the relevant neurons.
  • Low concentration: you’re firing too many circuits simultaneously.
  • To allow deep work: batch hard but important intellectual work into long, uninterrupted stretches.
  • High-Quality Work Produced = (Time Spent) x (Intensity of Focus)
  • When you switch from some Task A to another Task B, your attention doesn’t immediately follow—a residue of your attention remains stuck thinking about the original task.
  • But even if you finish Task A before moving on, your attention remains divided for a while.
  • People experiencing attention residue after switching tasks are likely to demonstrate poor performance on that next task,” and the more intense the residue, the worse the performance.
  • To produce at your peak level you need to work for extended periods with full concentration on a single task free from distraction.
  • Deep work is not the only skill valuable in our economy, and it’s possible to do well without fostering this ability.
  • Open offices might create more opportunities for collaboration, but they do so at the cost of massive distraction.
  • An interruption, even if short, delays the total time required to complete a task by a significant fraction.
  • Big trends in business today actively decrease people’s ability to perform deep work, even though the benefits promised by these trends (e.g., increased serendipity, faster responses to requests, and more exposure) are arguably dwarfed by the benefits that flow from a commitment to deep work (e.g., the ability to learn hard things fast and produce at an elite level)
  • Think about it: 160 e-mails processed at 30 seconds per e-mail still adds up to an hour and a half per day dedicated to moving information around.
  • In the current offices one is expected to read and respond to e-mails (and related communication) quickly.
  • In a test each member of the team was forced to take one day out of the workweek completely off, which led to more enjoyment in their work, better communication among themselves, more learning (as we might have predicted, given the connection between depth and skill development highlighted in the last chapter), and perhaps most important, “a better product delivered to the client.”
  • The Principle of Least Resistance: In a business setting, without clear feedback on the impact of various behaviors to the bottom line, we will tend toward behaviors that are easiest in the moment.
  • If you couldn’t count on this quick response time you’d instead have to do more advance planning for your work, be more organized, and be prepared to put things aside for a while and turn your attention elsewhere while waiting for what you requested feeling satisfyingly productive.
  • Some e-mails take the sender only a handful of seconds to write but can command many minutes (if not hours, in some cases) of time and attention from their recipients to work toward a coherent response.
  • Knowledge workers have no rack of repaired motorcycles to point to as evidence of their worth. Therefore, busyness is seen as a proxy for productivity: In the absence of clear indicators of what it means to be productive and valuable in their jobs, many knowledge workers turn back toward an industrial indicator of productivity: doing lots of stuff in a visible manner.
  • If you send and answer e-mails at all hours, if you schedule and attend meetings constantly, if you weigh in on instant message systems like Hall within seconds when someone poses a new question, or if you roam your open office bouncing ideas off all whom you encounter—all of these behaviors make you seem busy in a public manner.
  • We were, he noted, no longer discussing the trade-offs surrounding new technologies, balancing the new efficiencies against the new problems introduced. If it’s high-tech, we began to instead assume, then it’s good. Case closed.
  • Deep work struggles to compete against the shiny thrum of tweets, likes, tagged photos, walls, posts, and all the other behaviors that we’re now taught are necessary for no other reason than that they exist.
  • The skillful management of attention is the sine qua non of the good life and the key to improving virtually every aspect of your experience.
  • The idle mind is the devil’s workshop’… when you lose focus, your mind tends to fix on what could be wrong with your life instead of what’s right.
  • The best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile. This leads to a status of flow.
  • Ironically, jobs are actually easier to enjoy than free time, because like flow activities they have built-in goals, feedback rules, and challenges, all of which encourage one to become involved in one’s work, to concentrate and lose oneself in it. Free time, on the other hand, is unstructured, and requires much greater effort to be shaped into something that can be enjoyed.
  • In a post-Enlightenment world we have tasked ourselves to identify what’s meaningful and what’s not, an exercise that can seem arbitrary and induce a creeping nihilism.
  • Our obsession with the advice to “follow your passion” (the subject of my last book), for example, is motivated by the (flawed) idea that what matters most for your career satisfaction is the specifics of the job you choose.
  • People fight desires all day long. The five most common desires fought include, not surprisingly, eating, sleeping, and sex. But the top five list also included desires for “taking a break from [hard] work… checking e-mail and social networking sites, surfing the web, listening to music, or watching television.
  • You have a finite amount of willpower that becomes depleted as you use it. Distractions drains your finite pool of willpower.
  • The trick is creating habits: add routines and rituals to your working life designed to minimize the amount of your limited willpower.
  • The monastic philosophy of deep work scheduling: This philosophy attempts to maximize deep efforts by eliminating or radically minimizing shallow obligations. The pool of individuals to whom the monastic philosophy applies is limited.
  • If I organize my life in such a way that I get lots of long, consecutive, uninterrupted time-chunks, I can write novels. But as those chunks get separated and fragmented, my productivity as a novelist drops spectacularly.
  • The bimodal philosophy of deep work: This philosophy asks that you divide your time, dedicating some clearly defined stretches to deep pursuits and leaving the rest open to everything else. The biggest obstacle to implementing this philosophy is that even short periods of deep work require a flexibility that many fear they lack in their current positions.
  • The minimum unit of time for deep work in this philosophy tends to be at least one full day. A few hours in the morning, for example, is too short to count as a deep work stretch for an adherent of this approach.
  • People will usually respect your right to become inaccessible if these periods are well defined and well advertised.
  • The chain method: Every day that he writes jokes he crosses out the date on the calendar with a big red X. When you miss a day, you break the chain.
  • Brian Chappell made a rule that he would wake up and start working by five thirty every morning. He would then work until seven thirty, make breakfast, and go to work already done with his dissertation obligations for the day. Pleased by early progress, he soon pushed his wake-up time to four forty-five to squeeze out even more morning depth.
  • You have to start doing something. Waiting for inspiration to strike is a terrible, terrible plan.
  • The four disciplines of execution:
    • The more you try to do, the less you actually accomplish. Execution should be aimed at a small number of wildly important goals.
    • Act on the Lead Measures: Lead measures measure the new behaviors that will drive success on the lag measures.
    • Keep a Compelling Scoreboard: It’s important that they have a public place to record and track their lead measures.
    • Create a Cadence of Accountability: recommend the habit of a weekly review in which you make a plan for the workweek ahead.
  • Execution is more difficult than strategizing.
  • Idleness is not just a vacation, an indulgence or a vice; it is as indispensable to the brain as vitamin D is to the body, and deprived of it we suffer a mental affliction as disfiguring as rickets… it is, paradoxically, necessary to getting any work done.
  • At the end of the workday, shut down your consideration of work issues until the next morning—no after-dinner e-mail check, no mental replays of conversations, and no scheming about how you’ll handle an upcoming challenge; shut down work thinking completely.
  • Shutdown is profitable because:
    • Downtime Aids Insights: Dutch psychologist Ap Dijksterhuis, set out to prove that some decisions are better left to your unconscious mind to untangle. Your conscious mind, according to this theory, is like a home computer on which you can run carefully written programs that return correct answers to limited problems, whereas your unconscious mind is like Google’s vast data centers, in which statistical algorithms sift through terabytes of unstructured information.
    • Downtime Helps Recharge the Energy Needed to Work Deeply: trying to squeeze a little more work out of your evenings might reduce your effectiveness the next day.
    • The Work That Evening Downtime Replaces Is Usually Not That Important.
  • When walking through nature, you’re freed from having to direct your attention, as there are few challenges to navigate.
  • For a novice, somewhere around an hour a day of intense concentration seems to be a limit, while for experts this number can expand to as many as four hours—but rarely more.
  • The Zeigarnik Effect: Incomplete tasks dominate our attention.
  • When you work, work hard. When you’re done, be done.
  • The ability to concentrate intensely is a skill that must be trained.
  • Constant attention switching online has a lasting negative effect on your brain.
  • The key here is instead to give yourself plenty of opportunities throughout your evening to resist switching to these distractions at the slightest hint of boredom.
  • Identify a deep task (that is, something that requires deep work to complete) that’s high on your priority list. Estimate how long you’d normally put aside for an obligation of this type, then give yourself a hard deadline that drastically reduces this time. Attack the task with every free neuron until it gives way under your unwavering barrage of concentration.
  • The goal of productive meditation is to take a period in which you’re occupied physically but not mentally—walking, jogging, driving, showering—and focus your attention on a single well-defined professional problem.
  • Be Wary of Distractions and Looping.
  • Your ability to concentrate is only as strong as your commitment to train it.
  • Facebook offers benefits to your social life, but none are important enough to what really matters to you in this area to justify giving it access to your time and attention.
  • If you service low-impact activities, you’re taking away time you could be spending on higher-impact activities. It’s a zero-sum game.
  • Stuff accumulates in people’s lives, in part, because when faced with a specific act of elimination it’s easy to worry, “What if I need this one day?”
  • Put more thought into your leisure time. Figure out in advance what you’re going to do with your evenings and weekends.
  • The mental faculties are capable of a continuous hard activity; they do not tire like an arm or a leg. All they want is change.
  • Very few people work even 8 hours a day. You’re lucky if you get a few good hours in between all the meetings, interruptions, web surfing, office politics, and personal business that permeate the typical workday.
  • Fewer official working hours helps squeeze the fat out of the typical workweek. Once everyone has less time to get their stuff done, they respect that time even more. People become stingy with their time and make sure the important stuff continues to get done.
  • For most businesses, if you eliminated significant amounts of this shallowness, their bottom line would likely remain unaffected, but a nontrivial amount of shallow work is needed to maintain most knowledge work jobs.
  • The most adept deep thinker cannot spend more than four of these hours in a state of true depth.
  • We spend much of our day on autopilot—not giving much thought to what we’re doing with our time.
  • Become Hard to Reach.
  • The technologies underlying e-mail are transformative, but the current social conventions guiding how we apply this technology are underdeveloped.
  • For proper e-mails answer: what is the project represented by this message, and what is the most efficient (in terms of messages generated) process for bringing this project to a successful conclusion?
  • Professorial E-mail Sorting: Do not reply to an e-mail message if any of the following applies:
    • It’s ambiguous or otherwise makes it hard for you to generate a reasonable response.
    • It’s not a question or proposal that interests you.
    • Nothing really good would happen if you did respond and nothing really bad would happen if you didn’t.

There is a reason these notes turned out so elaborate. The book is full of useful insights! If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either: Deep Work on
Amazon: Deep Work on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 5 out of 5.
Book Notes – Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle – Tom Venuto

Book Notes – Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle – Tom Venuto


  • If your goal is to shed fat permanently and safely without losing muscle, it’s truer to say, “Diets never work.”
  • Diets increase hunger and cravings.
  • Diets slow down your metabolism: “adaptive thermogenesis”.
  • When you cut calories, your NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) level drops. Many people already know that low-calorie diets make them lethargic.
  • Without enough fuel coming in, you’ll fatigue faster, your strength will suffer.
  • The odds of you losing fat permanently with traditional low-calorie diets are stacked against you biologically, psychologically, and environmentally.
  • The beginning of a habit is like an invisible thread, but every time we repeat the act we strengthen the strand, add to it another filament, until it becomes a great cable and binds us irrevocably.”
  • The best way to destroy bad habits is to replace them with new ones, rather than trying to overcome them with willpower.
  • Cut calories if necessary as your weekly results dictate. Do it slowly and progressively in stages, not all at once.
  • The fastest way to transform your body is to eat more and burn more.
  • Training (burning more):
    • Raises your metabolic rate
    • Creates a caloric deficit without triggering the starvation response
    • Provides countless health benefits
    • Builds and maintains lean body mass
    • Increases fat-burning hormones
  • Dieting (eating less):
    • Slows down your metabolic rate
    • Triggers the starvation response
    • May be harmful to your health
    • Promotes loss of lean body mass
    • Decreases fat-burning hormones
  • Your body composition is entirely under your own control:
    • How much you eat
    • What you eat
    • When you eat
    • What type of exercise you do
    • How frequently you exercise
    • How long you exercise
    • How hard you exercise
    • Your overall lifestyle
    • Who you socialize with and allow to influence you
    • Your mental attitude
  • Don’t try to become better than someone else; become better than you used to be.
  • Losing weight is the wrong goal. You should forget about your weight and instead concentrate on shedding fat and gaining muscle!
  • ‘Skinny fat’ may be fitness slang, but it’s a real clinical condition: Researchers call it “normal weight obesity.” Where you are lean but carrying excess fat around your frame.
  • John Wooden once said, “Being average means you’re as close to the bottom as you are to the top.”
  • There is no such thing as failure—only feedback, only results.
  • Everything looks like a failure in the middle. You can’t bake a cake without getting the kitchen messy. Halfway through surgery it looks like there’s been a murder in the operating room.”
  • Don’t just follow advice:
    1. Research your own experience.
    2.  Absorb what is useful.
    3. Reject what is useless.
    4. Add what is specifically your own.
  • When gaining/losing weight: Never panic over a one-week fluctuation. The trend over time is much more revealing. Don’t get emotional about short-term results.
  • Each time you make a change, watch carefully for what happens every day during the following week.
  • Performance improves when performance is measured, so always keep score!
  • Another way to penetrate the subconscious (although much slower) is through spaced repetition.
  • By constantly repeating negative commands such as “I can’t lose weight,” your subconscious will see to it that you never lose weight.
  • The instant you notice a negative thought, immediately replace it with a positive thought, affirmation, or question.
  • Most people never reach their full potential because they don’t believe it’s possible, so they don’t even try.
  • He who chases two rabbits catches neither.
  • Whatever idea is fixed in your subconscious will always express itself in physical form: behaviors and results.
  • Experimental and clinical psychologists have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the human nervous system cannot tell the difference between an actual experience and one imagined vividly and in detail.” – Dr. Maltz
  • When losing weight, use a maximum calorie deficit of 30 percent below maintenance.
  • The people with the best bodies in the world are meticulous about tracking calories.
  • Establish a foundation first (follow a program/diet), then experiment, adjust, and customize.
  • Remember the 80‒20 rule. That’s the efficiency principle, which says that 20 percent of your actions—the vital few—will produce the majority of your results. The other 80 percent—the trivial many—is minutiae.
  • When you see nutrient recommendations for the general population, keep in mind that the average person is not training and that minimum and optimum nutrition needs are two different concepts.
  • Fats to avoid: hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, and trans-fatty acids.
  • Oils are, by nature, unstable substances that go rancid quickly with exposure to light and air.
  • Potatoes had the highest satiety index score of all the foods tested by far.
  • As you become dehydrated, your body’s core temperature increases.
  • Save the drinking for weekends, or even less often—only for holidays and special occasions (you might enjoy it more that way).
  • Track everything: structure, numbers, and timing develops discipline and attention to detail. I believe these are major factors that separate people with average bodies from people with the best bodies in the world.
  • When you’re disciplined about eating, you become disciplined about training and other areas of life as well.
  • We often use the words “good foods” and “bad foods” as figures of speech, but in reality food doesn’t fall neatly into these two categories.
  • Cook in bulk.
  • Most (the leanest people) have two or three favorite meal plans—a total of 10 to 15 different favorite meals—and they rotate those over and over.
  • Diets can actually make you a smaller version of your old self—weighing less, but still flabby and weak.
  • Paradoxically, it’s often the busiest people who get more done than anyone else, because their schedule forces them to become masters of productivity and because of momentum. – How you do anything is how you do everything.
  • Progressive overload (more volume, more weight, more sets, more reps etc.) is the number one principle of all successful training programs.
  • Sometimes you’ll make fast strength gains and increase the weight every workout. At other times, you must be patient and move up one rep at a time.
  • The bad news about plateaus is that they’re common. In fact, you should expect them. You’re more likely to zigzag your way to your goal, with sticking points and good weeks and bad weeks, than you are to shoot to your goal in a straight line without a hiccup.
  • Your body will forever be adapting to everything you throw at it and you will always be working against your body’s tendency to remain the same.
  • I’ve always found that the more complex you make your training and nutrition, the more confused you get. Simpler is better.

I found the nutrition and strength training advice in this book very applicable to other area’s in life. I therefore recommend this book even to people moderately interested in having an improved physique. If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either: Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle on
Amazon: Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 4 out of 5.
Book Notes – The Obstacle Is The Way – Ryan Holiday

Book Notes – The Obstacle Is The Way – Ryan Holiday


  • Whatever we face, we have a choice: Will we be blocked by obstacles, or will we advance through and over them?
  • In the face of obstacles, we do nothing because of our attitude and approach.
  • Within an obstacle is the opportunity to improve, learn, test ourselves and try new things.
  • The steps to overcoming obstacles are:
    • Perception
    • Action
    • Will
  • In the face of an obstacle, we must try:
    • To be objective
    • To control emotions and keep an even keel
    • To choose to see the good in a situation
    • To steady our nerves
    • To ignore what disturbs or limits others
    • To place things in perspective
    • To revert to the present moment
    • To focus on what can be controlled
  • “Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so” – Shakespeare
  • Obstacles make us emotional (panic), but the only way we’ll survive or overcome them is by keeping those emotions in check (apatheia).
  • Perspective determines how an obstacle appears. Take what you are affraid of and break it apart. Reason it away.
  • Accept what can’t be changed and focus only on what you can control (even when odds are low).
  • Don’t waste time on false constructs: It doesn’t matter whether this is the worst time to be alive or the best. What matters is that right now IS right now.
  • Example, your rival at work may be an obstacle, or they:
    • Keep you alert
    • Raise the stakes
    • Motivate you to prove them wrong
    • Harden you
    • Help you appreciate true friends
    • Provide an instructive antilog: an example of whom you don’t want to become.
  • Action creates momentum for success.
  • Obstacles become bigger because of made-up reasons instead of action.
  • If we’re to overcome our obstacles, this is the message to broadcast – internally and externally. We will not be stopped by failure, we will not be rushed or distracted by external noise. We will chisel and peg away at the obstacle until it is gone. Resistance is futile.
  • Persistence: finding the new way through trying all the wrong ways. The solution is never a flash of insight.
  • Failure brings 2 options:
    • Quit
    • Going back to the drawing board (action)
  • Persistence is not insanity (doing the same thing over and over expecting a different outcome).
  • The Process: don’t focus on the ultimate goal, but break it down and do what you need to do right now. Do it well and move on to the next thing.
  • The Process: we are A-Z thinkers:
    • Fretting about A
    • Obsessing over Z
    • Forgetting about B-Y
  • To whatever we face, we respond with:
    • Hard work
    • Honesty
    • Helping others as best we can
    • For it is our job!
  • There are a lot of ways to get from A to B. It doesn’t have to be a straight line, it’s just got to get you where you need to go.
  • Doing more is often doing less.
  • Example of using obstacles against themselves:
    Russia defeating the Nazi’s and Napoleon by retreating and luring the opponent into the fierce winters of Russia.
  • Turn a crisis to your advantage, for example: Obama reframed a scandal into a ‘teachable moment’.
  • Although you have tried your best, you can still fail. Accept that this is an opportunity to practice acceptance and forgiveness.
  • Be patient, because difficult things take time.
  • Some things you can’t control. Be ready for the worst, then be prepared to make the most of it.
  • We can always 100% control our will.
  • In adversity we can always:
    • Prepare ourselves for more diffucult times.
    • Accept what we’re unable to change.
    • Manage our expectations.
    • Persevere.
    • Learn to love our fate and what happens to us.
    • Protect our inner sel, retreat into ourselves.
    • Submit to a greater, larger cause.
    • Remind ourselves of our own mortality.
    • Prepare to start the cycle once more.
  • Are you ready for obstacles, are you prepared?
  • You’ll have far better luck toughening yourself up than you ever will trying to take the teeth out of a world that is at best indifferent to your existence.
  • Sometimes the only answer to “What if…” is: it will suck, but we’ll be okay.
  • Things will go wrong, so anticipate.
  • Acquiescence: accept and move on.
  • Amor fati: whatever happens, love it.
  • Perseverance = persistence. Love the long game.
  • If you can’t make something better for yourself, make it better for others. That way you are drawing purpose from adversity.
  • Everyone is being part of a whole. Contribute your little bit to the universe before it swallows you up.
  • Life is a series of obstacles, when faced will lead to the best version of yourself.
  • The long game is about gathering strength as you go.
  • Philosophy was meant to be in your hands.
    • See things for what they are.
    • Do what you can.
    • Endure and bear what you must.

      “What blocked the path now is the path. What once impeded action advances action. The obstacle is the way.”

This book is by far one of the most accessible books on stoicism and this can all be attributed to the effort Ryan put into this book. If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either: The Obstacle Is The Way on
Amazon: The Obstacle Is The Way on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 5 out of 5.
Book Notes – The 48 Laws Of Power – Robert Greene

Book Notes – The 48 Laws Of Power – Robert Greene


  • #1: Never outshine the master
    • Make those above you feel comfortably superior
    • Displaying talent may inspire fear/insecurity in others
    • Make your master appear more brilliant than they are and you will attain the heights of power (The Canvas Strategy – Ryan Holiday)
  • #2: Never put too much trust in friends, learn how to use your enemies
    • Friends are the ones who will betray you more quickly due to envy
    • Enemies are more loyal, since they have more to prove
    • Men are more ready to repay an injury than a benefit, because gratitude is a burden and revenge a pleasure.
    • An enemy at our heels sharpens our wits, keeping us focussed and alert
  • #3: Conceal your intentions
    • If people have no clue what you are up to, they cannot prepare a defense
    • Everything in seduction depends on suggestion:
      • You cannot announce your intentions
      • Appear to want things you do not desire
      • Support ideas contrary to your sentiment
      • Do not close yourself off
    • The simplest form of a smoke screen is (a bland) facial expression
    • Create patterns, only to break them when the right moment arrives.
  • #4: Always say less than necessary
    • The more you say, the more common you appear
    • The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish
    • Once words are out, you can NEVER take them back
  • #5: Guard reputation with your life
    • Ruin the reputation of others by instilling doubt in the public
    • By not caring how you are perceived, you let others decide how you are perceived for you
  • #6: Everything is judged by its appearance.
    • What is unseen accounts for nothing
    • Never let yourself get lost in the crowd, or buried in oblivion. Stand out, be conspicuous at all cost.
    • Make yourself a magnet of attention by appearing larger, more colorful, more mysterious than the bland and timid masses.
    • Attention – whether positive or negative – is the main ingredient for success
    • People feel superior to those whose actions they can predict
    • There is power in contradiction: remaining mysterious
  • #7: Get others to do the work for you, but always take the credit
    • Never do yourself what others can do for you
  • #8: Make other peopple come to you
    • When you force the other person to act, you are in control
    • Alternatively, force the other by a fast attack
  • #9: Win through actions, never through argument
    • Argument = resentment
  • #10: Avoid the unhappy and unlucky
    • Misery is infectious, though positivity is too
  • #11: Learn to keep people dependent on you
    • Therefore becoming inexpendable
    • To maintain independence, always be needed and wanted
  • #12: Use selective honesty and generosity to disarm your victim
  • #13: When asking for help, appeal to peoples self-interest, never to their mercy or gratitude
    • Gratitude is a burden
    • Though sometimes mercy pays as you paint someone as being more powerful, therefore tickling a peoples desire for power
  • #14: Pose as a friend, work as a spy
    • Ask indirect questions
    • Reveal a fake secret
    • Truth should be attended by a bodyguard of lies
  • #15: Crush your enemy totally
    • Otherwise he will recover
  • #16: Use absense to increase respect and honor
    • Create value through scarcity;
    • But only after creating engagement
  • #17: Keep others in suspended terror: cultivate an air of unpredictability
    • Being predictable = being controlled
    • When you are unpredictable, people make up their own reasons and stories for your behavior
  • #18: Do not build fortresses to protect yourself – isolation is dangerous
    • Don’t be cut off from information
  • #19: Do not offend the wrong person
    • Every person will react differently to your strategies;
      • The arrogant man: will overreact
      • The insecure man: will nibble you to death
      • The suspicious man: sees the worst in people
      • The serpent: will wait and strike
      • The plain man: will not take bait because he will not recognize it
  • #20: Do not commit to anyone
    • Do not choose sides
    • Maintain independence
    • Play people against eachother
    • Everyone wants the virgin queen
    • Let others do the fighting. Be supportive but stay neutral
    • Secure your interests by being a mediator
  • #21: Play a sucker to catch a sucker
    • Seem dumber than your mark
    • People will never suspect your ulterior motives
    • We try to justify people being smarter than us
  • #22: Surrender when you are weaker as a tool of power
    • It gives you time to recover and irritate
    • Surrendering will unsettle the opponent
  • #23: Concentrate your forces
    • Intensity over extensity
    • ‘If you are not in danger, dont fight’ – Sun Tzu
  • #24: Play the perfect courtier
    • Avoid focusing attention on yourself
    • Practice nonchalance
    • Subtly arrange to be noticed
    • Never be the bearer of bad news
    • You are not your masters’ friend
    • Do not criticize those above you directly
    • Be frugal in asking for favors
    • Don’t be the court cynic
    • Be your own mirror
    • Master your emotions
    • Be a source of pleasure
    • Never try to hard to impress, as it is as if you are trying to cover up a deficiency
  • #25: Recreate yourself
    • Be the master of your own image
    • Don’t let others define your image for you as you will be limited to your assigned role
  • #26: Keep your hands clean by using:
    • Scapegoats
    • A cat’s paw
  • #27: Play on people’s need to believe something to create a cultlike following
    • Offer a cause but keep it vague
    • Provide rituals, ask for sacrifices
    • We are in a rush to believe something, that is why silver bullets appeal so much
    • Create an us vs. them dynamic
  • #28: Enter action with boldness
    • Hesitation will infect execution
    • Mistakes are easily corrected by more boldness
    • If boldness does not come natural, neither does timidity. It is an acquired habit
  • #29: Plan all the way to the end
    • The ending is everything
    • Don’t be overwhelmed
  • #30: Make your accomplishments seem effortless
    • Act as if you can easily do much more
    • Teach no one your tricks
  • #31: Get others to play with the cards you deal
    • Provide options that lead to outcomes favorable to you
    • The other party will feel in control
    • When provided with a choice between A and B, we rarely think of the other letters
  • #32: Play to people’s fantasy. Manufacture romance
    • Truth and reality are equal to disenchantment
    • Reality: change is slow and gradual. It requires hard work, a bit of luck, a fair amount of self-sacrifice and a lot fo patience.
    • Fantasy: a sudden transformation will bring total change in ones fortunes, bypassing work, luck, self-sacrifice and time in one fantastic stroke.
  • #33: Everyone has a weakness
  • #34: Act like a king to be treated as one
  • #35: Master the art of timing
    • Never seem to be in a hurry (as it is perceived as a lack of control)
    • Always seem patient
    • Learn to stand back when the time is not yet ripe
    • Time is an artificial concept created to make the limitless of eternity more bearable
    • Success that is built slowly will last
  • #36: Ignore the things you cannot have
    • Sometimes it is better to leave a small mistake than to try and fix it
    • You choose to let things bother you
  • #37: Create compelling spectacles
    • Dazzled by appearances, nobody will notice what you are really doing
    • Words put you on the defensive
  • #38: Think as you like, but behave like others
    • Unconventional ideas as a cry for attention
    • Blend in and show yourself only to tolerant friends
  • #39: Make your enemies angry while staying calm yourself
    • The cause of anger is oten larger than what seems to be its instigator
  • #40: Despise the free lunch
    • It usually involves a hidden obligation
    • Stay clear of gratitude, guilt and deceit
    • Be generous
    • The value of something increases irrationaly due to sentiment and emotion
  • #41: Avoid stepping in a great man’s shoes
    • It comes with expectations
    • Create your own name and identity
  • #42: Strike the shepherd and the sheep will scatter
    • Within a group, trouble almost always has a single source
  • #43: Work on the hearts and minds of others
    • The key to persuasion is softening people up and then breaking them down.
    • The keyhole analogy: “People build walls to keep you out; never orce your way in – you will find only more walls within walls. There are doors in these walls, doors to the heart and mind, and they have tiny keyholes. Peer through the keyhole, find the key that opens the door, and you have access to their will with no ugly signs of forced entry”
  • #44: Disarm and infuriate with the mirror effect
    • Seduce the enemy into thinking you share the same values
    • Narcissus effect: mirror others to appeal to their self love
    • Avoid being negatively associated to someone
  • #45: Preach the need for change, but never reform too much at once
    • Make change feel gentle
  • #46: Never appear too perfect
    • Envy creates silent enemies
  • #47: Do not get overconfident by victory. Learn when to stop
    • Past results are no guarantee for the future
  • #48: Assume formlessness
    • Become unable to grasp by your enemies
    • Never show defensiveness

Each law in in itself is a complete life lesson. Robert explains each law by observances, transgressions and reversals of each law, denoting the key points to power. I therefore highly recommend this book for anyone in a corporate setting, however the advice is very relevant for (romantic) relationships in general. If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either: The 48 Laws Of Power on
Amazon: The 48 Laws Of Power on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 5 out of 5.
Book Notes – Starting Strength – Mark Rippetoe

Book Notes – Starting Strength – Mark Rippetoe


  • “exercise is substitute cave-man activity, the thing we need to make our bodies, and in fact our minds, normal in the 21st century. And merely normal, for most worthwhile humans, is not good enough.”
  • “Our strength, more than any other thing we
    possess, still determines the quality and the quantity of our time here in these bodies.”
  • “Properly performed, full-range-of-motion barbell exercises are essentially the functional expression of human skeletal and muscular anatomy under a load.”
  • “A straight vertical line is also the most efficient bar path for a barbell moving through space in a gravitational framework.”
  • For the squat and the deadlift that means: “Weight is moved most efficiently directly over midfoot”.
  • “There is simply no other exercise, and certainly no machine, that produces the level of central nervous system activity, improved balance and coordination, skeletal loading and bone density enhancement, muscular stimulation and growth, connective tissue stress and strength, psychological demand and toughness, and overall systemic conditioning than the correctly performed full squat.”
  • Lower position of the squat:
    • The spine will be held rigid in lumbar and thoracic extension.
    • The bar will be directly over the middle of the foot.
    • The feet will be flat on the ground at the correct angle for the stance width.
    • The thighs will be parallel to the feet.
    • The hip joint will be in a position lower than the top of the patella
  • Use your hips! “The complete concept of the correct use of the hips in the squat is best understood as the use of both an actively locked lumbar extension and actively shoved-out knees, resulting in a below-parallel squat that incorporates a stretch reflex, using all the muscles of the posterior chain in the most optimal way possible. This movement pattern gets the thighs out of the way of the pelvis so that good depth can be more easily obtained. At the same time, it makes the squat stronger because the active use of the external rotators holds the femurs in a position that enables both the external rotators and the adductors to contribute to hip extension. This hip extension produces a more effective use of more muscles over a wider range of motion.”
  • “For example, if you are tall with very long femurs and relatively narrow shoulders, you need a wider stance than is usually recommended.”
  • “A mirror is a bad tool because it provides information about only one plane of the three: the frontal, the one that gives you the least information about your position and your balance. The most important reason to squat without a mirror in front of you is that you should be developing your kinesthetic sense while you squat.”
  • “As a general rule, the more of the body involved in an exercise, the better the exercise. The press produces strength in the trunk muscles – the abs, obliques, costals, and back – as well as in the shoulders and arms. It trains the whole body to balance while standing and pressing with a heavy weight in the hands and overhead. It uses more muscles and more central nervous system activity than any other upper-body exercise.”
  • In the (shoulder) press: “Lean back slightly by pushing your hips forward. This slight movement must not be produced by bending the knees or the lumbar spine. Rather, the movement is a function of only the hips. Without the bar and with your hands on your hips, push your pelvis forward and back a few times, keeping your knees and your low back locked in position.”
  • “You will have to take a new breath before each rep, at least for a while, or you risk a “blackout” at heavier weights.” – Unfortunately I have experienced this once in the form of an exertion headache.
  • “For the vast majority of lifters, the deadlift should be an essential part of training. It is the primary back strength exercise, and it is an important assistance exercise for the squat and especially for the clean (for which it is an important introductory lesson in position and pulling mechanics). The deadlift also serves as a way to train the mind to do things that are hard.”
  • “The deadlift starts at the mechanically hardest part of the movement and requires the lifter to generate the entire explosion necessary to break the bar off of the floor and get it moving up, without any help from a negative or anything else.”
  • Deadlift grip: grip the bar in the hook of the fingers, not in the meat of the palm. Otherwise the bar will slide down.
  • “In the squat and deadlift: The back muscles and the hamstrings are in a war for control over your pelvic position, and the lower back must win.”
  • The five steps for a perfect deadlift.
    1) Take the correct stance.
    2) Take your grip on the bar.
    3) Drop your shins forward to touch the bar, pushing your knees out slightly and without dropping your hips.
    4) Squeeze your chest up, with your weight on the mid-foot.
    5) Drag the bar up the legs.
  • “Because our muscles can contract only a small percentage of their length, our skeletal system is composed of levers that multiply the distance of their contraction at the expense of an increased force production requirement.”
  • “The arms are not plumb in a deadlift because the lats do not attach to the arms at 90 degrees when the arms are plumb. The arms must slant back to achieve a position of stability as they hang from the shoulders.”
  • “If the back rounds during the pull, some of the force that would have gone to the bar gets eaten up by the lengthening erectors. If the weight is sufficiently heavy, the rounded back cannot be re-straightened and the deadlift cannot be locked out.”
  • “People with long femurs, long tibias, and relatively short torsos will have a more horizontal back angle and a more closed hip angle. Long arms produce a more vertical back angle. Long arms tend to mitigate the effects of a short torso.”
  • “The use of the full range of motion is therefore important for two very good reasons. First, it allows you to quantify the amount of work you do: if you hold the range of motion of an exercise constant, you are holding constant the distance variable in your work equation.”
  • “Second, full-range-of-motion exercises ensure that strength is developed in every position in which the joints can operate. Strength development is extremely specific: muscles get strong in the positions they are made to be strong in, and in precisely the way they are trained.”
  • Bench press: “Correct use of the legs and hips involves only the maintenance of chest and back position, with the force directed horizontally along the bench and not vertically up off of the bench.”
  • Bench press: “The proper position for the feet is flat against the floor so that the heels can be used as the base of the drive up the legs. As with most of the things in the weight room, your heels need to be nailed down to the floor.”
  • “The best assistance exercises are those that directly contribute to the performance of the basic movements that produce the most benefit.”
  • “Assistance exercises fall into three categories. These exercises 1) strengthen a part of a movement, as with a partial deadlift (either a rack pull or a halting deadlift); 2) are variations on the basic exercise, as with a stiff-legged deadlift; or 3) are ancillary exercises, which strengthen a portion of the muscle mass involved in the movement in a way that the basic exercise does not, as with the chin-up.”
  • “Your bench press strength doesn’t adapt to the total number of times you’ve been to the gym to bench or to your sincerest hope that it will get stronger. It adapts to the stress imposed on it by the work done with the barbell. Furthermore, it adapts to exactly the kind of stress imposed on it. If you do sets of 20, you get good at doing 20s. If you do heavy singles, you get better at doing those. But singles and 20s are very different; the muscles and nervous system function differently when doing these two things, and they require two different sets of physiological capacities, and thus cause the body to adapt differently.”
  • “Exercise follows exactly the same principle as getting a tan – a stress is imposed on the body and it adapts to the stress, but only if the stress is designed properly. You wouldn’t lay out for 2 minutes and assume that it would make you brown, because 2 minutes isn’t enough stress to cause an adaptation.”
  • “As a general rule, you need to try to add weight to the work sets of the exercise every time you train, until you can’t do this anymore. This is the basic tenet of “progressive resistance training,” and setting up the program this way is what makes it different from exercise. For as long as possible, make sure that you lift a little more weight each time.”
  • Exercise is specific: training a lift for one set will make you better at lifting one set. Sets of 20 will make you better able to do sets of 20.

These were my personal notes, which I wrote down based on my own strength training needs. The book contains far more information on the power clean and assistance exercises. If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on:
Amazon: Starting Strength on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 5 out of 5.
Lose weight with delicious apple cider tea

Lose weight with delicious apple cider tea

I came across this tip by Fledge Fitness, a youtuber primarily concerned with intermittent fasting and whose channel I dearly recommend. He advocates prolonging the fasted period by consuming apple cider vinegar (ACV). The vinegar in itself is a powerful appetite suppressant, which should be the main use for consuming the ACV even though a host of benefits are ascribed to it all across the internet like:

  • Decreased insulin: supposedly increasing fat breakdown and the ratio of fat burned when losing weight.
  • Lower blood sugar overall.
  • Improved metabolism.
  • Sometimes ACV is claimed to even burn fat by increasing fat burning genes (link).

Though I don’t believe in the aforementioned claims necessarily, I have tried ACV for its appetite suppressing effects. In my experience, the ACV does indeed stave of hunger for at least a couple of hours.

In order to make the apple cider vinegar more palatable, Fledge Fitness provides a recipe containing: a splash of apple cider vinegar, a splash of lemon juice, a pinch of cinnamon and hot water. These ingredients culminate to form an apple cider vinegar tea that is easier on the teeth and throat due to the disolved acids.

This is especially beneficial for people who don’t like to drink black coffee or to ingest caffeine, since it brings another option to the table.

Improved apple cider tea

After being introduced to the apple cider vinegar tea, I drank it multiple mornings in the week in order to stall my first meal until noon. After a while, I began to grow bored of the taste and increasedly substituted the tea by coffee. Even though coffee is great, and the office coffee machine provides a sort of decent coffee, I tend to get jittery after 2-3 cups. Furthermore, my sleep tends to suffer when I drink coffee in the early afternoon.

I therefore tried to add a splash of apple cider vinegar to a multitude of flavored teas using store bought tea bags. This turned out to be delicious. I have tried this with rooibos tea, green tea, cranberry tea, lemon tea, chamomile tea and mango tea. Surprisingly, the result is great with each of the teas I tested this with.

I suggest adding apple cider vinegar to your tea to give it a more tangy taste and make it more flavorful overall.

You should create a personal online space

You should create a personal online space

Obviously, there are several benefits to writing. Writing is one of the most important meta-skills in life. Just think about the amount of e-mails people send daily. Your style and the clarity of your writing will determine how willingly your colleagues will respond to your requests. Especially when sending e-mails externally to clients, you will be judged by the effectiveness by which you can put your thoughts on the figurative paper.

Additionally, you create an online platform where you can express yourself. You set a stage where you can influence people, perhaps change lives by putting out meaningful content. This is arguably the most important reason of creating an online space for yourself. However, becoming an increasingly more important reason for creating an online space for yourself is:

Controlling the information people find when they search for your name online.


In the current day and age, the information people find about you online is having a greater and greater role in your daily life. For example, when applying for a job, the first impression is not just created by your cover letter, motivation or curriculum vitae. Online presence is arguably even more important. Your online presence is not just determined by your social media for example. It is also very dependent on what other people write about you. Enough examples exist of careers being destroyed by online accusations. Since it becomes more and more easily to put out content, it is progressively more important to manage what people find when they enter your name in Google.

By creating an online space, you can mitigate the risk of having your reputation ruined by false allegations. Furthermore, by putting out quality content, you distinguish yourself from the people who’s online presence consists just of pictures of them getting wasted with friends.

This shouldn’t be the first thing that comes up when people search for you online.

Creating a blog is free. If you have purposeful information to share, there is no reason not to start one, so I encourage everyone to do so.

Spend more money to save more

Spend more money to save more

I read Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich a couple of weeks ago, and one of his advices has been resonating with me:

“Spend extravagantly on the things you love, and cut costs mercilessly on the things you don’t.”

Initially, this seems to be just solid financial advice. By spending only on the things you enjoy and cutting costs everywhere else, money goes towards the areas in life that provide the highest value for money. Subsequently, this will steer life away from the areas that aren’t providing value at all. Like most of Ramit’s advice, though financially minded, it is applicable to a lot more of life’s areas.

For example:

  • Friendship: spend most of your time with the friends closest to you, while avoiding toxic relationships with people who tend to drain more energy than they ultimately end up providing.
  • Fitness: do the exercises that provide you with the most benefit, like compound movements (squats, deadlifts, bench press, rows), while avoiding exhausting yourself doing just isolation work.
  • Nutrition: especially when trying to lose weight, ‘spend’ your minimally available calories on foods that you enjoy and keep you full, while declining on mindlessly eating the dense foods that do not provide the same satisfaction.
  • Time: since time is a non-renewable resource, use it wisely by only dedicating it to activities that provide value to your life. So read a book instead of aimlessly wandering around Reddit or Facebook.

By applying this advice to your entire life, you will guarantee that all of life’s resources are used optimally. That means being completely honest with yourself and sometimes making the most difficult decisions ruthlessly, in order to decrease every distraction to make the most valuable investment of all resources.

Consequently, by guiltlessly spending more on the most enjoyable area’s of life, it will in fact become a lot easier to avoid the value draining activities, therefore:

  • Increasing your savings while getting more for your money.
  • Losing more weight by actually eating the foods you enjoy.
  • Inceasing free time by doing more of the activities that provide value.

So start consciously making decisions with this advice in mind, in order to transform your life step by step.

If you liked this article, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either: I Will Teach You To Be Rich on
Amazon: I Will Teach You To Be Rich on Amazon 


Book Notes – The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo

Book Notes – The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up – Marie Kondo


  • Tidying mistakes: “it’s best to tackle one room at a time” or “it’s better to do a little each day” or “storage should follow the flow plan of the house.”
  • “If you tidy up in one shot, rather than little by little, you can dramatically change your mind-set”, this is in line with the saying: “how you do anything is how you do everything”.
  • Tidying is no magic solution: “If you can’t feel relaxed in a clean and tidy room, try confronting your feeling of anxiety. It may shed light on what is really bothering you.”
  • The task of putting your house in order should be done quickly. It allows you to confront the issues that are really important. Or: keep your inbox empty, as the tidyness of the inbox will provide you with the rest to tackle more important problems.
  • When tidying: Sort by category, not by location.
  • Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first.
  • Make tidying a special event, not a daily chore.
  • (When you’re holding on to an item,) ask yourself “Why?”. And again, for each answer. Repeat this process three to five times for every item, and you will find the true reason for holding on. This also works for other areas in life where you are trying to distill true motivation.
  • Take each item in one’s hand and ask: “Does this spark joy?” If it does, keep it. If not, dispose of it.
  • People have trouble discarding things that they could still use (functional value), that contain helpful information (informational value), and that have sentimental ties (emotional value). When these things are hard to obtain or replace (rarity), they become even harder to part with .
  • The best sequence is this: clothes first, then books, papers , komono (miscellany), and lastly, mementos.
  • “It may sound incredible, but when someone starts tidying it sets off a chain reaction.” See: “How you do anything is how you do everything”.
  • To truly cherish the things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.
  • Tidying clothes: “hang heavy items on the left side of the closet and light items on the right.”
  • On keeping books: “In the end, you are going to read very few of your books again”. For example, limit the books you keep to the number that fits in your bookcase. Create a “hall of fame”.
  • There’s no need to finish reading books that you only got halfway through. Their purpose was to be read halfway. So get rid of all those unread books.
  • On keeping studying material: “People often insist, “I want to restudy these materials sometime,” but most never do so.”
  • It’s paradoxical, but I believe that precisely because we hang on to such materials, we fail to put what we learn into practice.
  • Presents are not “things” but a means for conveying someone’s feelings.
  • Discard or recycle the box your [electronic device] comes in as soon as you unpack it. You don’t need the manual or the CD that comes with it either.
  • No matter how wonderful things used to be, we cannot live in the past. The joy and excitement we feel here and now are more important.
  • Paring down to the volume that you can properly handle, you revitalize your relationship with your belongings.
  • By eliminating excess visual information that doesn’t inspire joy, you can make your space much more peaceful and comfortable.
  • Tidying is a way of taking stock that shows us what we really like.
  • “But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” And ask why 3-5 times!
  • There are three approaches we can take toward our possessions: face them now, face them sometime, or avoid them until the day we die.

If you liked these notes, you can support my blog by purchasing the full book on either: The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up on
Amazon: The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up on Amazon
Check out this book on Goodreads. I rated it 4 out of 5.
Book Notes – Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead And Win

Book Notes – Extreme Ownership: How U.S. Navy Seals Lead And Win

Extreme Ownership

Rating: 5/5

Book notes:

  • In a team, the sum of all members is far greater than the individual parts.
  • Do not become overwhelmed: “Relax, look around, make a call”.
  • The laws of combat:
    – Cover and Move
    – Simple
    – Prioritize and Execute
    – Decentralized Command
  • Preperation: 80% is knowing, 20% is effort.
  • Extreme Ownership: leaders must own everything in their world. No one else is to blame.
  • A leader is responsible for everything (that goes wrong).
  • Extreme Ownership includes the performance of subordinaties. When subordinates aren’t doing what they should, leaders should first look in the mirror.
  • Accept responsibility for failures, but attribute success to the team.
  • Take ownership of your failures and seek constructive critisism to improve.
  • There are no bad teams, only bad leaders.
  • Leaders should never be satisfied. They must strive to improve, and build that mind-set into the team.
  • When it comes to performance standards, it’s not what you preach, it’s what you tolerate.
  • As a leader you have to understand and BELIEVE in a mission, before you pass it on.
  • Leaders must understand that they’re part of something greater than themselves and their own personal interests.
  • Leaders must be able to detach, to take a step back and deconstruct the situation, analyze the strategic picture and then come to a conclusion. If they cannot determine a satisfactory answer, they must ask questions up the chain of command.
  • Do not explain just what to do, but WHY.
  • Asking questions will not make you look stupid. Not overcoming daring to ask questions will make you look stupid.
  • Leaders cannot let their ego’s take precendence over doing what’s best to accomplish the mission.
  • In a conflict situation, take the blame to disarm the other one’s ego.
  • A team requires every member to be able to depend on the other members.
  • Share success with every member of a team.
  • Make everybody part of the team and focus on the bigger mission.
  • Simplifying is critical to success, make plans clear and concise.
  • People generally take the path of least resistance.
  • Remember, even when everybody understands their plan, the enemy still gets a vote.
  • Focus on the first priority, execute. Then focus on the second priority and execute. Continue…
  • Relax, look around, make a call.
  • Allow for mistakes to be a learning opportunity.
  • Decentralized command means placing full faith in your junior leaders.
  • Decentralize your command. Manage a maximum of 6-10 people.
  • Every leader must know what to do, but also why they are doing it.
  • In the role of junior leader: tell what you plan to do instead of asking your senior what to do.
  • Battlefield aloofness: when leaders appear in control but have no idea what their troops are doing.
  • Decentralized command requires simplicity.
  • It is important to let junior leaders perform tasks, even though the senior leader may be more efficient.
  • Planning starts by asking: what is the mission?
  • Planning:
    – Analyze the mission
    – Identify personnel
    – Decentralize the planning process
    – Determine course of action
    – Empower key leaders
    – Plan for likely contingencies
    – Mitigate risks
    – Delegate portions of the plan
    – Check and question the plan against emerging information
    – Brief the plan to all participants
    – Conduct a post-op debrief
  • Ask your team members “test questions” to assess whether they understand the plan.
  • Let junior leaders make the plan.
  • A good leader does not need insight in the operational level jobs, just their roles in the bigger picture.
  • Lead up the chain of command: be proactive.
  • One of the most important jobs you have is supporting your leader.
  • – Take responsibility in leading subordinates AND superiors.
    – Look in the mirror if someone isn’t doing what you need them to.
  • Do your superiors want you to fail? Of course not.
  • Even impactful decisions can be reversed.
  • It is critical to act decisively amid uncertainty based on the available info.
  • Be proactive rather than reactive.
  • Counter resistance by explaining the WHY.
  • Discipline(d procedures) equal(s) freedom.
  • Weakness translates to more significant decisisons (how you do anything is how you do everything).
  • Being open to suggestions:
    – Be calm, but not robotic
    – Confident, but not cocky
  • Be close to your people.