Best of Season 4 2020

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Thanks for listening to Season 4 of What You Will Learn!

In this episode, we’ll recap our favourite lessons from our favourite books of Season 4.

We’ll be back in July for our regular ‘juggernaut month’.

In this post you can click title to check out the full episode. Plenty of enjoyable content to listen to until we’re back at the start of July.

Or get a book from our Top 50: www.whatyouwilllearn.com/top50

Ashto’s Top 10

10. Paradox of Choice

Barry Schwartz is the author of The Paradox of Choice. One day, went to the store to buy a new pair of jeans. He said to the store person that he wanted a pair of blue jeans: 32 waist, 28 leg. She asked – do you want them stone washed, acid washed, torn, distressed? do you want zip fly or button fly? do you want them faded or regular? do you want them slim fit, easy fit, or relaxed fit? straight leg, skinny leg or extra baggy?

Barry just wanted “the regular kind”, but there’s no such thing any more

Buying jeans is a trivial matter, but its indicative of a much greater theme in the world today. When people have NO choice it becomes restrictive and unbearable. As choices increase, we feel a sense of autonomy, control, and liberation – variety brings us a feeling of power and positivity. BUT, as the number of choices KEEPS growing more and more, there are negative aspects of having TOO MANY choices. More choice no longer liberates, it debilitates.

This book argues that:

  • We would be better off if we embraced certain voluntary constraints on our freedom of choice, instead of rebelling against them
  • We would be better off seeking what was “good enough” instead of seeking the best
  • We would be better off if we lowered our expectations about the results of decisions
  • We would be better off if the decisions we made were nonreversible
  • We would be better off if we paid less attention to what others around us were doing

9. How to Stop Worrying and Start Living – Dale Carnegie

On the slope of Long’s Peak in Colorado lies the ruin of a gigantic tree. Naturalists tell us that it stood for 400 years. During the course of its long life it was struck by lightning fourteen times, hit by avalanches, bushfires and  storms of four centuries.  It survived them all.

In the end, however, an army of beetles attacked at the tree and levelled it to the ground. The insects ate their way through the bark and gradually destroyed the inner strength of the tree by their tiny but incessant attacks.

Like this magnificent tree, it isn’t the big events that necessarily take us down. It is usually the small nagging little worries that have the ability to eat us from the inside out. In this episode we talk about how to stop these nagging little worries, change our perceptions about the world and make the most of bad situations.

8. Finite and Infinite Games – Simon Sinek

There are two types of games: finite and infinite. Finite games have clearly defined rules and boundaries, and all players know what the objectives are and what they need to do to win. Infinite games have no clear rules and there is no winning or losing – the only objective is to keep playing. Business is an infinite game, but too many companies are playing with a finite mindset.

In this episode, we’ll talk about the five essential practices for cultivating an infinite mindset. These lessons are crucial to the times we’re living through right now. 

7. Stillness is the Key – Ryan Holliday

This is the third and final instalment of Ryan Holiday’s modern stoicism trilogy. We’ve previously review The Obstacle Is The Way and Ego Is The Enemy, now it’s time for Stillness Is The Key.

With all of the chaos going on in the world around us, it’s hard for us to find the time and mental focus we need to get things done. We’re always reachable, the news constantly has something new we need to read, there’s always another podcast to listen to, our to-do list keeps getting longer and longer. In order to do more and achieve me, we must cultivate Stillness.

6. The Slight Edge – Jeffrey Olson

The alarm goes off at 6am. Without conscious thought your hand shoots out and hits snooze… A 10 minute reprieve. You tentatively slip a foot out from under the covers. You open one eye. Still dark out.

Now you face a choice: You could sit up, switch on the light and start grinding your brain into gear, prod your groggy grey matter to search out three things you’re grateful for so you can write them down. You could then fire up the machinery of tired legs, hips, and back to crane yourself out of bed and go do the 20 sit-ups you promised you’d do every day and then read 10 pages of a book.

When you said that, did you even mean Saturdays? Today is Saturday? You yawn. Or you could slip down under the sheets and catch some more Z’s. No, that’s lazy. Compromise, flip on the news. Catch up on that unfolding juicy political scandal, see what’s happening with the manhunt for the murderer of the week. You reach for the remote.

And you just set the direction your life will take.

The single most important thing about The Slight Edge is this: it’s already working, right now, either for you or against you. So don’t wait. Our hope that you will put in place something. Perhaps a financial plan for yourself so that you are constantly building equity. Some simple, daily, weekly or monthly discipline that over time will buy you your financial freedom.

Easy to do? Surprisingly so… Easy not to do? Tragically so.

5. Linchpin – Seth Godin

Our world is filled with factories. Factories that make widgets, insurance, websites, movies, take care of sick people and answer the phone. You can become a great factory worker if you pay attention in school, follow instructions, show up on time and try hard and in return they would take care of you. You won’t have to be brilliant, creative or to take big risks. The factories would pay you a lot of money, give you health insurance and offer you job security. It’s a pretty seductive bargain, so seductive for that century, we embraced it. We set up our school and our systems and our government to support that bargain.

For a long time it worked, but in the face of competition and technology, the bargain has fallen apart: job growth is flat at best, wages in many industries are on a negative cycle, the middle class is under siege like never before, and the future appears dismal. People are no longer being taken care of: pensions are gone, 401ks have been sliced in half and it’s hard to see where to go from here.

Suddenly, in the scheme of things, it seems like the obedient worker bought into a suckers deal. You weren’t born to be a cog in the giant industrial machine, you were trained to become a cog. The bargain is gone and it’s not worth whining about and it’s not effective to complain. There’s a new bargain now, one that leverages talent and creativity and art more than it rewards obedience

A linchpin is an unassuming piece of hardware, something you can buy for 69 cents at the local hardware store. It’s not glamorous, but it’s essential. It holds the wheel onto the wagon, the thingamajig onto the widget. Every successful organization has at least one linchpin, some have dozens or even thousands. The linchpin is the essential element, the personal who holds part of the operation together. Without the linchpin, things fall apart.

4. Mindset – Carol Dweck

This book is about one pervasive view we adopt for ourselves and our abilities: we either have a ‘fixed mindset’ or a ‘growth mindset’. Those with the fixed mindset believe that we have a natural level of talent or ability that we are born with and cannot change, whereas those with a growth mindset believe that everything can be learned and improved upon. These ‘mindsets’ rear their heads in business, sport, relationships. This simple distinction becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and permeates all aspects of our lives, from the way we view failures, to the success we achieve, to how we view effort, and everything in between.

Read this book. Adopt a growth mindset. Apply it to all areas of your life.

3. Mastery – Robert Greene

All of us are born with an essentially similar brain, with more or less the same configuration and potential for mastery. Why is it then that in history only a limited number of people seem to truly excel and realise this potential power?

We are a one time phenomenon in the universe – our exact genetic makeup has never occurred before nor will it ever be repeated. At your birth a seed is planted, that is your uniqueness.

We loved this book so much, we did a mammoth three part series on this episode.

Part 1 = Discover Your Calling

Part 2 = The Apprenticeship

Part 3 = Unleashing Creativity

2. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – By Stephen Covey

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People is a book that everyone needs to read. The habits aren’t specific to an industry or a point in time, these are pervasive habits that you should constantly be practicing and applying. When we first read this book it shot straight to our #1 and it stayed there for years – it was very hard to knock off top spot.

The seven habits are grouped: the first three habits for them ‘private victory’ (the things that relate to you as an individual – personal effectiveness), the next three are the ‘public victory’ (how you interact with others and the world – interpersonal effectiveness), and the final is an overarching call to be constantly learning, growing and improving. 

Private Victory:

Habit 1 – Be Proactive

Habit 2 – Begin with the End in Mind

Habit 3 – Put First Things First

Public Victory:

Habit 4 – Think Win/Win

Habit 5 – Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood

Habit 6 – Synergise

Balanced Self-Renewal:

Habit 7 – Sharpen The Saw

1. Range – David Epstein

There are two paths to success. One is ‘specialisation’: committing to a field early, getting a head start on your peers, rigorous deliberate practice, refining a narrow focus on specific skills. This approach is popularised in many books and many biographies. But the other approach is ‘generalisation’. This means going wide not deep, going through an early ‘sampling period’ where you test a lot of different potential paths forward, then recognising that switching careers later in life isn’t career suicide but you can actually combine different ideas from different fields to get an advantage. 

Jonesy’s List

10. Brief History of Time

A Brief History of time is a popular science book on cosmology written by Stephen Hawking. It is a book for readers who have no knowledge of the universe and are curious to learn more about science. In this episode we’ll talk about  Space and Time, Black Holes, The Expanding Universe and the Universe and Meaning.

9. Principles – Ray Dalio

Over the course of our lives we make millions of decisions, essentially bets, some large and some small. It pays to think about how we make them because they ultimately determine the quality of our lives.

Ray Dalio is an American billionaire investor, hedge fund manager and philanthropist. Ray Dalio wrote a set of principles to help with his daily decisions which many have a similar rhyme that can be executed via a set of principles. In this episode we cover: embrace reality and deal with it, being radically open minded and understanding that people are wired differently.

8. Range – David Epstein

7. Linchpin – Seth Godin

(see above)

6. Mastering the Market Cycle – Howard Marks

Between 2010 – 2020 there has been an unprecedented growth in the world’s stock market. But in March 2020 it  dropped suddenly and significantly.  The question is: when is the time to be defensive or aggressive, when buying shares in the market, start your new business or borrow money to buy property?  When things are going well and everyone is optimistic, or when things are poor and everyone is pessimistic?

Warren Buffet said “the less prudence with which others conduct their affairs, the greater the prudence with which we should conduct our own affairs”  and “be fearful when everyone is greedy, and greedy when everyone is fearful.”

In this episode we look at:

  • The economics of the cycle
  • Governments and central banks
  • Credit and debt in the world economy
  • Real Estate
  • Investor Psychology

5. The Slight Edge – Jeffrey Olson

(see above)

4. Guns, Germs and Steel – Jared Diamond

Jared was studying bird watching in New Guinea when he came across a local politician Yali; who asked the question he asked was “why is it that you white people developed so much cargo and brought it to New Guinea, but we black people have little cargo of our own?” It was a simple question and this book is the answer. 

Diamond shows us how “History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples’ environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves” 

3. Mindset – Carol Dweck

(see above)

2. Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – By Stephen Covey

(see above)

1. Mastery – Robert Greene

(see above)

Best of Season 4 2020

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