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: ‘On the Shortness of life’ by Seneca

A brief essay on the the duration of life. And about why most people think it’s too short, when it’s actually long enough to if the time is used properly.

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Seneca is a stoic philosopher (4. BC – 65 AD. I won’t go into into much detail about what a stoicism is, since there will be a lot other opportunities to dwell into that in upcoming post (judging from what I’m reading right now). With a risk of oversimplifying, I like how Nassim Taleb put it: “A stoic is a Buddhist with attitude, one that says “fuck you” to faith”

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“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste much of it. Life is long enough, and it has been given in sufficient measure to allow us to achieve the greatest things, if the whole of it is well invested…” “…we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”

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So, how do people waste their life? By gossiping, overindulgence in food and sex, living life for others (work a job you hate), complaining, etc.

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Also worrying about the future or letting the past disturb ones tranquility. Then, when we find out that these things are unimportant, we only have a few years left to live and wonder where all the time has gone.

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“He who has grey hair has not lived for long, he has existed for long.”

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Being written 2000 years ago, it’s amazing how almost all these thoughts are applicable to contemporary society. ———————————–

My takeaway from this book is to be more protective of my time and be wise in how I spend it. A sad thing would be to spend your life doing things you dislike with a promise of leisure and freedom in the future. Wasting each day as it comes for a future that one are is certain to live to see.

5/5

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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“Sapiens”, “Homo Deus” and “Now 21 Lessons for the 21 Century”. REVIEW.

While his other books, Sapiens and Homo Deus, focused on the past and the far future – this book focuses on the present and mankind’s immediate challenges.

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Topics are ranging from how to deal with disruptive technologies, the resurrection of nationalism and the relevancy of religions. Harari wants to shine a light on the fact that we are lacking new idea systems that are capable to help us navigate these new and trying times. Liberalism and the other old ideologies just won’t make the cut anymore.

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📝 The opportunity cost of fighting terrorism is that the money could have be used to fight other threats; like global warming.

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📝 Disruptive technologies will likely create a new “worthless class” of billions. Marxism might make a come back when jobs are being threatened, one might think? But Marxism presumes that the workers labour is of value. That probably won’t be the case with advancements in automation.

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📝 Protect humans not jobs. Finding meaningful pursuit for humans is the most important problem to solve in a future without jobs.

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📝 You don’t need religious text to be moral. Apes learned to take care of the poor and weak well before the Bible told them so.

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📝 “If you want reliable information, pay good money for it.” 👌🏻

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A whole bookshelf worth of topics is crammed into one small volume, which becomes a problems when each chapter deserves its own book.

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Harari don’t have a solution for all the issues. He offers the same advise that wise people and sages always have: sit down on a cushion and observe your sensations. Know thyself, and get to know suffering deeply enough so that you can act in a way that reduces it both your life and in the life of others.

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4/5

 

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Thoughts on: “The Human Magnet Syndrome” by Ross Rosenberg

“The soul mate of you dreams is going to become the cellmate of your nightmares.” Rosenbergs father said this to him as a joke 30 years before he wrote this book. There is a lot of psychological insight in this joke. Especially since Rosenberg grew up to be a codependent.

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In a magnet-like fashion, Codependents are attracted towards self-absorbed emotional manipulators. We have all witnessed this phenomenon. Maybe we scratched ourselves in the head and wondered: “Why do these people don’t see that this relationship is dysfunctional?”

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This magnet-like force that pulls the codependent and the narcissist to each other is what Rosenberg aims to explain in this book.

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📝 Codependent and emotional manipulators are naturally attracted to each other because if their perfectly compatible dysfunctional inverse personalities.

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📝 Consciously we desire relationships based on similarities. But this is secondary to our unconscious preferences. “…We unconsciously gravitate towards relationships that are familiar and reminiscent of those experienced during our childhood.”

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📝 People of similar polarities seems uninteresting to each other. When dating what “on paper” would be the perfect partner the feel like “chemistry” is missing.

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📝 These types of relationships are resistant to break-up because neither the codependent or the manipulator can stand being alone. Loneliness triggers shame and a feeling of inadequacy.

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📝 Most families, especially dysfunctional ones, tend to resist change, since it is experienced as stressful and uncomfortable. A child, in an attempt to gain independence, might be seen as a threat. “Hence, all families, especially dysfunctional ones, not only resist change, but pass down their shared emotional function to the next generation.”

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A good book if you want to get an introduction to the common personality disorders. A fantastic book if you find yourself in an unending loop of dysfunctional relationships.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

I’ve been thinking about one question a lot lately: What makes me sad about the world we live in? I think I have found it. It is how unfair it is that children have to inherit the problems of their parents. 😔

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3/5

 

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Thoughts on: “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” by Rebecca Skloot

HeLa cells was the first immortal cell line ever discovered. This mean that they can survive and multiply forever in labs given they are provided with cell culture. Without this amazing discovery modern medicine would look very different.

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HeLa stands for Henrietta Lacks. The name of the poor tobacco farmer from which the cells come from. This book tells the story of the cells and the Lacks family, (which I quite a ride!) but also the history of patient consent.

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📝 What made the HeLa cancer cells so special was that they allowed researchers to do all kinds of experiments on them that would never be allowed to do on live humans.

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📝 HeLa led to the polio vaccine in a time when people died in droves from it. Only one of many HeLa contributions!

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📝 The Tuskegee Study: In the 30s scientists studied how one died from syphilis. Black men where observed dying from syphilis without intervention. (Yes, a cure existed.) “Doctors where doing experiments on black people. Watching them die.” That was the word on the streets when the study came to public knowledge. No wonder black Americans where distrustful of scientists!

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📝 All cancers originate from one cell going wrong. Scary thought. Memento Mori I guess!

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📝 People in prisons volunteered to inject Henrietta’s cancer cells into their arms to see how healthy people rejected to them. These patients fought off the cancer. (I would not volunteer for that 😬)

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📝 Modern gene patenting inhabits research. (No shit, Sherlock! 🕵️‍♂️ 😒)

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📝 The Lacks family have seen nothing of millions of dollars being made from HeLa-cells. They are still piss poor.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

What made things worse was the Lacks family’s lack of education. When hearing about Henrietta’s cells being cloned in London, her daughter thought actual copies of Henrietta was walking on Trafalgar Square, when i reality it was only her cancer cells that was cloned. The stress made her sick. So much unnecessary suffering could have been avoided by education.

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What are you reading this week?

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Review (3/5) – Get the Book!

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The Bible of Fake News. Thoughts on “Trust me, I’m Lying”.


This book left me humbled. I thought I was on top of my media game and was able to separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak. I was wrong.

I knew the situation was bad, I even quit following “the news” 3 years ago because I thought it misrepresented reality to a larger degree than it represented it (and for the sake of my own my wellbeing), but Ryan Holidays confessions from his career as a media manipulator paints a darker picture than I could ever imagine.

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📝 The constraints of blogging create artificial content (shamings, planted stories, sensational speculations etc..), which is made real and impacts the outcome of real world events.

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📝 Trading up the chain: How to turn nothing into something! Send stories to small traffic hungry blogs with non-existing editorial standards and have them being picked up by bigger and bigger outlets until your fabricated story is national news.

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📝 “The world is boring, but the news is exciting. It’s a paradox of modern life.”

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📝 Top stories all polarize people. Threaten peoples belonging, belief or behavior and you will have a hit that will spreads!

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📝 The economics of the web has made it impossible to portray the complex situation of Detroit accurately. Photographs of abandoned houses was shared like crazy while photos of the same houses with it’s despairing residents included was “too sad to share”, creating less incentive for media. Simple narratives > complex realities.

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📝 On User Engagement: Provoke a person enough for them to be motivated to leave a comment. In the process of registering to be eligible to comment, a user has to go through up to 10 pageviews. That’s a lot of ads (and ad revenue!).

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

Sensational and fearmongering headlines has always made me sad. Understanding the structure and constraints of click-based media is essential. These structure explains almost everything they do. It’s the nature of the system.

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4/5

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Thoughts on: “The Wisdom of Insecurity” by Alan Watts

I’m focusing on notes this time around!

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Watts does a really great job at explaining ideas that seem to be at the core of most religious and spiritual teachings.

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📝 The Law of Reversed Effort. ”When you try to stay on the surface of water, you sink; but when you try to sink you float. When you hold your breath, you lose it— which immediately calls to mind an ancient and much neglected saying, “Whosoever would save his soul shall lose it.”

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📝 There is a contradiction between the desire of being secure and fact of change. We want to be separate from the life of flux and change to feel secure and that, paradoxically, create the sense of loneliness and fear. “The desire for security and the fear of insecurity are the same thing”.

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📝 “You want to escape the pain, but the more you struggle to escape, the more you inflame the agony”.

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📝 “Look!”

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📝 Money is as a token for wealth. “In somewhat the same way, thoughts, ideas and words are “coins” for real things”. They represent them but are not those things. Words are fixed while what they represent change.

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📝 “When each moment becomes an expectation life is deprived of fulfillment, and death is dreaded for it seems that here expectations must come to an end”.

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📝 “So long as there is the motive to become something, so long as the mind believes in the possibility of escape from what is at this moment, there can be no freedom”.

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🤯 Is the brain really good for us? Or is it taking on a destructive evolutionary specialization by our focus on trying to predict the future?

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⚖️ This book is a given in the library of the spiritually minded reader, alongside modern classics like the works of Eckhart Tolles, and timeless classic like Bhagavad Gita and Tao Te Ching.

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5/5

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Thoughts on: “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela

This book was really really hard for me to get into. I had a hard time to relating to the his story, and the politics and courtroom drama was a snooze for me. The only thing keeping me going with this book was that I felt is was important for me to familiarize with Nelson Mandela’s achievements in the lifelong struggle against apartheid. He was an extraordinarily man to say the least.

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📝 “Habit makes everything look bland; it is sleep-inducing. Jumping to a different perspective is a way of waking oneself up again.” This quote reminds me of Montaigne, who loved this perspective switching trick all the time in his writing.

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📝 “A freedom fighter learns the hard way that it is the oppressor that defines the nature of the struggle.” After using all the tools of non-violent resistance – only to be beaten down hard – the AMC had to turn to violence and fight fire with fire.

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📝 After a successful term as president, he declined not to run again, this was to set an example of power being turned over to the next generation.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

Resilience, Forgiveness and Perseverance. These are the traits I associate with Mandela. “We should forget the past and concentrating on building a better future for all”. His focus on the future and forgiveness – rather than revenge – hastened the abolition of apartheid, I think.

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I’m not regretting pushing myself through this tome of a book, quite the opposite, I feel like another missing puzzle piece in my history education is found and put in place.

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What booked bored you, but you felt reading it was important enough to keep going? 🤔

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3/5

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Photo credit: @ildarabbit (Instagram)

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Thoughts on: “Improv Wisdom” by Patricia Ryan Madson

I picked up this book because it was recommended in #StevenPressfield s book Turning Pro. The idea is to use techniques from Improvisational theatre to enhance spontaneity and spiritual satisfaction in everyday life.

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I’m quite stuck in my ways of doing thing and thought it might help me loosen up a bit.

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The ideas where not mindblowingly original but still holds true:

🔸Make mistakes!

🔹Act Now!

🔸Gratitude!

🔹Enjoy the journey!

🔸Show up!

🔹Start from where you are!

🔸Be average!

🔹Pay attention!

🔸Face the facts!

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📝 “Improv is like tai chi for the soul” wrote a former student”…”it provides a workout that helps to shake loose rigid patterns of thinking and doing”.

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📝 Charles Darwin: ”In the long history of humankind (and animalkind,too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most efficiently have prevailed.”

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📝 Be Average! There is a paradox that when we are trying hard the result is often disappointing. Take the pressure off! When we try too hard our performance get jinxed.

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📝 “Make the decision to be a person who notices and remembers names, and then start learning them”.

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📝 “Beyond all other freedoms our greatest liberty is to choose our attitude”.

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⭐️ TAKEAWAY:

There is an opportunity cost for books that only reinforce concepts that you already are familiar with (I.e you could spend that time on something more challenging). To remedy this I did something I usually not do. I did the accompanying challenges that came with the book – and that what provided me with lasting value. They where quite simple but could be quite eyeopening. I learned that it’s hard to really pay attention, I was reminded that saying “yes” usually takes you more interesting places than saying “no” and how devoting yourself to others can be quite rewarding.

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3/5

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Do you ever do the “try this”, “challenges” sections of Howto-books? 🤔

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