Thoughts on: ‘The Accidental President’ by A. J. Baime

I was going to get a biography of Winston Churchill and ended up with this book (some people don’t read the backside of a book before they buy it, I apparently don’t even read the front cover 😂).

I have this idea that I want would like to read a biography from each american presidents but I think I like the idea of having done it is more appealing than the process itself. 🙃

📝 Truman was Vice President when Franklin Roosevelt died. He was put in office in what might be the most eventful year of recent political history; 1945.

📝 Franklin Roosevelt famous quote “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

📝 Truman about the presidential workload: “It takes about 17 hours a day and then you get as much sleep as you can. Start over again and do the next 17 hours as best you can. No man can do it as it should be done.”

📝 He gave the order to use the first atomic bomb over Hiroshima.

📝 He started reading at age 5 and read a lot. He studied the heroes of history and was a fan of Plutarch. (Who I’m yet to read…)

⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

I noticed how clueless I am about how events during this period relate to each other in space and time:

– The defeat of Germany vs. the time of The Bomb.

– How things lead up to the Cold War.

– The raise of Mao.

– When Roosevelt was replaced with Truman. (I didn’t even know who was president at the time to be honest).

Of course I learned all of this in school. But this book highlighted how much of the knowledge has been warped or plainly forgotten. I’ll definitely spend more time with historical biographies in 2019!

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The book is good but, as with most political biographies, I find them getting tedious at times. Like the Marvel movies, I enjoy the raise of the hero/president better than the confrontation with the bad guy.

Which is you favorite biography of a world leader?

3/5

Photo credit: @socialworxpr (Instagram)

Thoughts on: ‘Stoicism and the Art of Happiness’ by Donald Robertson

I have adopted many powerful principles the last couple of years that increased my baseline happiness levels. One of the big ones, second only to learning to stop giving a shit about what people might think of me and what I do (still W.I.P 😉) ,is the Stoic idea of being indifferent to thing that are not under ‘our direct control’.

The weather, death, traffic, other people, outcome of soccer games, train delays, sickness, international politics etc..

So much anger, anxiety and frustration has been avoided since I fully committed to this principle. What a great source of fulfillment and tranquility!

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This book does a great job summarizing Stoic philosophy! Here’s some notes:

  • Mindfulness of what is up to us and what’s not is one of the main remedies for emotional suffering.

  • Set you intentions each morning and evaluate how you did each evening. Where did you act virtuously and where did you miss the mark? Review your actions and evaluate you conduct.

  •  ‘Men are disturbed not by things, but by the views which they take of them’ – Epictetus

  • Novice Stoics should begin by training themselves each day:

1️⃣ To endure what they irrationally fear, or find aversive, with courage and perseverance.

2️⃣ To renounce, or abstain from, what they irrationally crave, through discretion and self-discipline.

  • Outcome independence: The goal of a Sage (the Stoics ideal) would not be to benefit others, which is beyond his control, but rather simply do his best to benefit them. Like an archer firing a arrow, his work is done when he has done his best, weather or not he hit his target.

This is a great book (even excellent if you ignore its repetitive textbook nature) that provides a great overview of Stoicism. It’s also full of exercises on how to apply the philosophy to everyday life.

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I still think Irvine’s ‘A Guide to the Good Life’ is the best starting point if you are curious about Stoicism (link in BIO). Which you should be! It’s an fascinating and very practical philosophy!

What principles have you picked up during the last couple of years that had major impact on your life?

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4/5

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Thoughts on: “Think Like a Freak” by Levitt & Dubner

📝 Experiments: “It fun! Once you embrace the world of experimentation the world becomes a sandbox in which to try new ideas, ask new questions and to challenge the current orthodoxies.” 👌🏻

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📝 “Don’t listen to what people say, watch what they do.”

There is a gap between the incentives people say they care about, and those that ACTUALLY changes their behavior. (Money and being like everyone else are powerful incentives, but we don’t like to admit it).

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⚖️ VERDICT:

The book is filled with entertaining examples of how one can benefit from thinking unconventionality and out of the box, but as a whole it’s very shallow. If you want to improve your ‘ruling faculty’ you should read these instead:

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🔥‘Influence’ by Cialdini

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🔥 ‘Thinking Fast and Slow’ by D. Kahneman

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY & 💭 THOUGHTS:

The book talks about knowing when to quit something and when to stick with it. Due to the Sunk cost fallacy we are prone to continue to spend money and time on endeavors we are already heavily invested in. Consider the the opportunity cost (what you have to give up in order to choose something else.) of what you do every now and then!

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A while ago I quit studying Chinese. I was very serious about it and I spent some good money on teachers, books and language apps. But the biggest investment was in time. It was really hard to quit after hundreds of hours of practicing Hanzi characters and tunes (Chinese is not only hard to write, its impossible to pronounce too 😈). The sunk cost fallacy was strong. But it would be insane to continue, since I would probably have to study for the rest of my life to reach the level of a Chinese 5-year-old, and by that time everyone will probably have a Babel fish in their ears translating in real-time anyway.

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So I quit! The opportunity cost was too high. I had too many other interest to pursue. I don’t regret it one bit!

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What are you happy you quit? 🤔 Let’s make quitting sexy again! 😉

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Photo credit: @ha77on (Instagram)

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2/5

Thoughts on: “Building a Story Brand” by Donald Miller

Wow, this sucks! The book is just a long commercial for the authors other services and the concepts covered could have been a 15-page pamphlet.

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Wow, this is brilliant! It’s to the point, clear and actionable.

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Both these assessment are correct, depending how you look at it. But my intention when picking up this book was to learn something practical. And I did.

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You brands message should be simple, clear and, most importantly, packaged as a story where the customer is the hero.

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Many brands and marketers get some fundamental stuff wrong and puts the brand as the hero in their marketing instead of the customer.

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📝 Story in a nutshell:

“A CHARACTER (customer) who wants something encounters a PROBLEM before the can get it. At the peak of their despair, a GUIDE (you) steps into their lives, gives the a PLAN (your product), and CALLS THEM TO ACTION. That action help them avoid FAILURE and ends in a SUCCESS.”

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📝 WRONG: An example of doing it wrong was Tidal, Jay-z music service. The marketing made whining artists the heroes of the story instead of focusing on the customers needs.

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📝 RIGHT: And example of doing it right is Apple with the Mac. The customer is the hero facing a problem; Complicated computers that stands in the way of the customers creative expression! Apple has a plan for our hero, the Macintosh computer.

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📝 Story is the greatest weapon we have to combat noise, because it organizes information in such a way that people are compelled to listen.

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When you finish this book, given you’ve done the exercises, you will have a new brand script for your services or products that capitalize on the strength of storytelling (or on human weakness to stories, hehe!😈). The book left me inspired and equipped for taking stuff to the next level!

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

Since I don’t really have a product to sell I’m going to use the story brand method to improve my website (hehe, will be quite easy judging from the state it is in). I will do this next week. Another takeaway is how uncomfortable selling things makes me feel. I have a really hard time with it.

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4/5

Review (4/5) – Get the Book!

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Thoughts on: “The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

At the age of 6 the narrator abandoned his favorite hobby; drawing. Grownups kept mistaking his depiction of Boa Constrictors who swallowed entire elephants, for drawings of hats… 🐍 🐘

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“Grownups never understand anything by themselves and it is exhausting for children to have to provide explanations over and over again”.

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The narrator puts drawing to the side and instead becomes a pilot. After a dramatic crash landing in the Sahara desert he runs into a young boy that he refers to as The little prince. The boy shares his life story with the narrator. He tells tales about his interplanetary travels where he visited all kinds of weird and narrow minded people. All of the grownups, all of them very serious, all of them deeply irrational.

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📝 “Anything essential is invisible to the eye”

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📝“It’s the time you spend on your rose that make your rose so important”

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📝 “You are responsible forever for what you tamed.”

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

This book is a great reminder of the foolishness of being so serious all the damn time. Grownups often have an inability to perceive what is really important. Children on the other hand can often see things more clearly.

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Reading this book reminds me of a great quote from Nietzsche: “A mans maturity consists in having found again the seriousness one had as a child at play”.

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I’m going to buy this book in Swedish and read it as a bedtime story together with my son.👌🏻 🤴 it’s short, sweet and quite wonderful!

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What is your favorite children’s book?

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Photo credit: @deepsnow_fromjp

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4/5

Review (4/5) – Get the Book!

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Too Busy? Here Are The Tricks I Use to Get More Reading Done!

I don’t get many DM:s but when I do it’s often about questions regarding reading habits.

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I’m not a fast reader. To be honest my reading speed was below average last time I checked – but I have a few tips to share on how to get more reading into a busy schedule!

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Here are four key ingredients to improve your reading habits:

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🔹 Always bring a book 🔹

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I always bring books wherever I go. You never now when you get stuck waiting in line, the subway gets delayed or when your friend is arriving late. Opportunities for reading appear more often than you think – if you are prepared for them!

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🔹 Audiobooks are your Friends! 🔹

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The Audiobook is the most powerful tool to increase your “reading” capacity. Gym time, walks and doing shores – all those times when your hands are occupied can be turned into an opportunities for reading and learning.

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🔹 Have multiple books going! 🔹

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I usually have 3 to 5 books going at ones. Why? That way I always have something that suits my mood and the situation I’m in. Just have a few minutes to read? Pick up a collection of amphorisnms. 30 minutes? Read a chapter on neuroscience. 2 hours? A historical biography might do the trick!

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🔹 Consistency 🔹

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Read everyday. Find a time slot you dedicate to reading, whether it’s on your commute, the gym or the first thing you do in the morning. It doesn’t matter when, or how long. Ones you get into the habit you will be astonished by the amount of

books you’ll finish in a year or two. It really adds up!

What’s your best lifehack for getting more reading done? 🤔

Thoughts on: “Demian” by Hermann Hesse

The story revolves around young Sinclair and the difficult task of finding ones self. Growing up in a protected and pious middle class home he eventually has to face the real world. Sinclair gets a new mysterious classmates, Demian, who guides him to detach and revolt from the superficial world of form and awaken to his true self.

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📝 Abraxas: A deity combining the godlike and the devilish.

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📝 “All I really wanted was to try and live the life that was spontaneously welling up within me. Why was that so very difficult?”

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📝 “When we hate a person, what we hate in his image is something inside ourselves. Whatever isn’t inside us can’t excite us.”

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⭐️ Takeaway:

About the previous quote: If that’s the case – and by observing this phenomenon for a while I believe there is some truth to it – then even when someone irritates us, we can use that as an opportunity to learn more I out ourselves. I kinda like that quote for that reason.

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📊 My Amateur Jungian Analysis: Sinclair is the “Ego”, Kromer his “Shadow” and Demian the “Self”. Lady Eve is the “Anima” (the unconscious feminine side of a man). One of Jungs anima levels is even named “Eve”. By opening up to Lady Eve, Sinclair becomes complete. He and Damien become one.

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⚖️ Verdict:

This a mysterious and short (100 pages!) coming of age story for philosophically minded reader. Pauses for contemplation are needed between each chapters. The best 3$ spent this year!

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For those who read already: What do you think Demian did to get Kromer of Sinclair’s back?

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What short book blew your mind recently?

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4/5

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Demian, Synchronicity & Carl Jung

I picked up Hermann Hesse’s “Demian” and believed it could act as a pallet cleanser after my binge-reading of books revolving around jungian psychology.

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Haha, bad call! Already in the introduction I read that before writing the book in 1920 “Hesse began to explore the writings of Freud and Jung on dreams and archetypes”. Something that apparently influenced his writing to a large extent! 😂

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Was this synchronicity (or a meaningful coincidence) at play, to use a concept introduced by Carl Jung? 🤔

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I failed in my mission to move away from Jung, but the book started off so strong that I couldn’t put it aside. Now it is finished and a review is on it’s way! 👌🏻

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“When we hate a person, what we hate in his image is something inside ourselves. Whatever isn’t inside us can’t excite us.”

Hermann Hesse – Demian

What’s brewing? New book Arrivals!

I’m very excited about the books I received today! Have you read any of them? 😀🤔

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In the stack:

📖 “Trust me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator”

📖 “Demian” by Hermann Hesse

📖 “Improv Wisdom: Don’t Prepare, Just show up”

📖 “The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us”

📖 “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell

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On the headphones:

🎧 “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela

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Thanks to everyone for showering me with book recommendations in the comments! I write them all down. You are the reason I’ve discovered so many fascinating books that I might otherwise have been unaware of. Thanks! 🙏

Thoughts on: “Endure” by Alex Hutchinson

We have all seen a world record being broken. The athlete crosses the finish line and a new bar has been set. But you have also seen that the athlete is alive and moving. Which means he/she had more to give!

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What sets the limit of human endurance? Is it mental or physical? What is the absolute limit given we found the perfect athlete and perfect condition? These are some of the questions this book tries to answer.

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Some notes:

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📝 Expectations matter! How many tries you know you have to do something impact how you pace yourself. Even if you’re told to do your max for each rep.

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📝 Gabrselassie (marathon champ) sweats up to 3.6 Liters/hour.

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📝 The extraction of mindfulness from it’s Buddhist context began in the 1970’s with Jon Kanbat-Zinn.

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📝 Central governor, Anticipatory regulation, Pacing instinct – it goes by many names – basically, the theory that the brain stops us from running ourselves to death.

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📝 Pain in training leads to a higher threshold for pain. High intensity training heightens your pain tolerance while medium intensity doesn’t.

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📝 Experiment shows that seeing a smiling face, even subliminally, induces a sense of ease.

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⭐️ Takeaway: Nr.1 advice (except training) is to presue motivational self talk training. Cuz it really works! Training is the cake and believing is the icing.

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🔸Verdict:🔸

My second favorite book with a title that starts with “endure”. 😉 Well, that wasn’t a helpful measuring stick. Haha. To be fair, it’s a good book, but I wouldn’t recommend it to people that don’t have a special interest in human performance and endurance. You need a bit of passion to stay focused with all the data being presented. Spoiler: all the conclusions are: “it’s unclear”, “we have to wait for the final data” or “its complicated.” But I rather have that, than oversimplification.

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What’s my favorite book that starts with “endure”? “Endurance” by Lansing! About captain Shackleton’s amazing polar expedition. High stakes endurance! 👌🏻

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3/5

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