books

Be a starter

This is one of my favourite essay in the book REWORK. Many people thought that only entrepreneurs get to create and start something. The rest that doesn't have the qualifications, the resources, the talent or the risk appetite wont be able to make it.

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The thing is, you don't have to be identified as an entrepreneur to start a profitable company or create a remarkable product. All you need to is to start doing it. Start executing the idea you have since you were a kid.

So let's replace the fancy-sounding word with something a bit more down-to-earth. Instead of entrepreneurs, let's just call them starters. Anyone who creates a new business is a starter. You don't need an MBA, a certificate, a fancy suit, a briefcase, or an above-average tolerance for risk. You just need an idea, a touch of confidence, and a push to get started. - Excerpt from "Enough with entrepreneurs" from REWORK

Everyone should be encourage to start something on their own. You might not have all the "prerequisite" skills yet but you just need the most important one. The ability to start something. The ability of a starter.

Blogging is marketing

Someone asked if I'm using blogging as some sort of marketing strategy. The simple answer is yes. In fact, if you remember the picture below from REWORK, everything you do is marketing.

You might be blogging to talk about your personal life, to share your passion or to improve your writing skills. Whatever the reason may be, since your blog is public, you are directly or indirectly marketing yourself.

This is true for the other online presence you have like Twitter and Facebook. Marketing isn't just about the product. It's also about who made it, why it was made and how it was made.

I'll encourage everyone to start a blog because it's really free marketing. However, you need to realize that everything you post on it will affect not just your personal life but your professional life too. When it comes to marketing, everything matters.

First and last impression

As demonstrated by Gladwell in his book Blink, we can judge someone with as little information as just looking at them. These snap judgments are the reason why the first impression is important.

When someone visits your blog, depending on the font you used, the theme's color scheme, your photo or the things you blogged about, they can and will form an impression of you. It will probably be a stereotypical assessment but since it might be their last impression, that will be what they think of you.

This is the reason why I'm very careful about things I do online. As I said before, the web never forgets so I wouldn't one someone to stumble on my rant on my blog and have the wrong impression.

Every online interaction someone have with you could be their first and last. I suggest you make it a good one.

Books, education and life

When I was kid, I was quite proud with the fact that I knew the names of all the 9 planets (yes it was 9 back then) in the Solar System. I read about them in books and one of my favourite book was the Oxford Children's Pocket Book of Facts. It's like a mini encyclopedia with lots of colorful illustration. 

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In high school, however, the only books that I read or rather forced to read are textbooks. Textbooks are these evil tomes of facts strung together in random order to vaguely resemble a story. Basically, reading a textbook is boring and that somehow made reading itself seemed boring too.

My passion for reading books was re-ignited with the release of The Da Vinci Code after I just entered the workforce. From there, I went on to non-fiction books like The Innovator's DilemmaCrossing the Chasm and Permission Marketing. It's more fun when you get to choose what to read.

Some of these books literally changed my life and the best part is about reading is that the more you read, the more you want to. There is always more things to learn out there. Things you'll never learn in school.

So is it possible that the negative experience from reading textbooks in school is the reason many of us stop reading? Or could it be that the education system actually stifled our curiosity and creativity? Whatever the reason, I do hope everyone can rediscover their passion to read again. It shouldn't be that hard. After all, you are reading this post.

Rework your business

The guys from 37signals just released their new book REWORK. I'm hoping to get my hands on one soon. It's a compilation of essays that give you great new insights on how you should run your business. A must read for every entrepreneur out there.

In the real world, you can't have over a dozen employees spread out across eight different cities over two continents. In the real world, you can't attract millions of customers without any salespeople or advertising. In the real world, you can't reveal your formula for success to the rest of the world. But we've done all those things and prospered. The real world isn't a place, it's an excuse. It's a justification for not trying. It has nothing to do with you. - Excerpt from REWORK

If you would like to know more about the book. check out the REWORK manifesto on Changethis.

Altruism

Are we inherently altruistic? Philanthropists donate millions of dollars every year to charity. To understand this behavior, economists designed an experimental game named Ultimatum to see how 2 parties interact when asked to divide a sum of money. There are also variations of the game called Dictator and Trust Game.

Ultimatum - Alice is given $10 to decide how much to split with Ben. Ben can either accept or reject the offer. If he rejects, neither of them get anything.

Dictator - Similar to ultimatum but this time Ben can't reject the offer. This is puts Alice in control hence the name.

Trust Game - Variation of Dictator game. An additional step is introduce before the 2 parties proceed with the Dictator game. Ben will offer an initial gift in hopes of getting more back.

All three games show that we consistently prefer fairness and mostly offer a portion of the initial sum to the other party. But things start to get confusing when an economist named John List tweaked the experiments a little.

Dictator 2.0 - Alice can additionally choose to take a dollar from Ben. This shouldn't matter since most of the time Alice decides to share some with Ben.

It turns out that in this variation, less dictator decide to share and one out of five took money from Ben. What John List has discovered is that, with a little variation to the game rules, he can influence the behavior of the participants.

He didn't stop there and did a bunch of other experiments to illustrate that the results of the experiment is affected by its set-up. You can read more about it in Superfreakonomics. I honestly do not know if we innately altruistic but I do hope you will donate to help the earthquake victims in Haiti.

Get started NOW!

In the book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell argues that the reason for success lies in the accumulation of experience and practice on a specific task. He said in order to be good and successful at something, you need to spend around 10,000 hours doing it. In one of his research, he discovered a disproportionate number of elite Canadian hockey players are born in the first few months of the calendar year. (e.g. January to April) The reason for this was since the hockey leagues determine eligibility by the calendar year, someone that is born in the beginning of the year will be bigger compared to someone born in December. This is often enough to identify the children as better athletes and once they get into training camp, they get an head-start in accumulating practices and experience. Gladwell refer to this as the accumulated advantage.

If he is right and if practice does in fact leads to perfection, shouldn't you get started on what you always wanted to do and be good at? We don't get to decide which month are we born in but we can decide when we start practicing. The best day to start was yesterday but starting today is definitely better than tomorrow.

What matters now EBook

A while ago, Seth Godin posted about an ebook with ideas and insights from many influential individuals and great thinkers of our time. Here's an excerpt from his post.

Here are more than seventy big thinkers, each sharing an idea for you to think about as we head into the new year. From bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert to brilliant tech thinker Kevin Kelly, from publisher Tim O'Reilly to radio host Dave Ramsey, there are some important people riffing about important ideas here. The ebook includes Tom Peters, Fred Wilson, Jackie Huba and Jason Fried, along with Gina Trapani, Bill Taylor and Alan Webber.

It is so good and thought provoking that I just had share this to everyone. You can download it here or view it online on Scribd or wepapers.