Experiential / environmental patterns of successful / rich people

Table of contents

Child pages

"The qualities that made for success in a fighter-pilot seemed to be just those sturdy qualities that made for success in other professions; observation, initiative, determination, courage, including the courage to run away. In course of time it appeared that men who had a private axe to grind beyond the public axe of the King's enemies were especially successful."

- Jim Bailey, The Sky Suspended


"If your standards are low, you're going to stop pretty early on in the process."

- Aimee Mann (rock singer)

I should think of ways to practice each of these characteristics.


What are some of the habits entrepreneurs have that other people don't?
http://www.quora.com/What-are-some-of-t ... eople-dont

What is your story of meeting any person in Forbes list of world billionaires?
http://www.quora.com/What-is-your-story ... llionaires

Dropping out

An interest in fast cars

  • Bill Gates
  • Kyle Bass
  • George Lucas
  • Elon Musk


An interest in mathematics / good with numbers

  • My guess is that there are at least two major benefits people get from an interest in mathematics and numbers:
    1. You become comfortable with visualizing numbers and thinking in terms of abstracted numbers, which is helpful when dealing with businesses, where very often you need to make decisions based on numbers that are presented on a piece of paper rather than being able to see / experience the underlying realities (which are the basis for those numbers) firsthand.
      1. One example of the struggle to deal effectively with numbers is this quote: "A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic."
    2. Learning to solve multi-step math problems (like those often seen when learning geometry) can help a person become more adept at solving problems in general: you learn a general algorithm for solving problems (break the problem into pieces, go through the information you have in a methodical way, etc.).

  • Bill Gates
  • Elon Musk - He emphasizes the importance of reducing things to first principles
  • Jim Simons
  • Michael Dell - In the first chapter of his autobio he mentions being in an advanced math class and competing in math competitions.


  • Steve Wozniak - He has openly questioned the importance of mathematics in some "Ask Woz in the comments below" article. I think he was specifically referring to the memorization of procedures. I would guess that he would agree that the underlying problem-solving methods that math geeks learn are helpful.

A thick skin

  • Felix Dennis (p. xxi)
  • Bill Gates?

Be frugal / stingy

  • Steve Jobs (refusing to share stock, being described as selfish)
  • Elon Musk (sleeping on his office floor)
Elon: So we had just an absurdly tiny burn rate. And we also had a really tiny revenue screen. But we actually had more revenue than we had expenses. So when we went and talked to VP's we could actually say we had positive cash flow. That helps, I think.
[One] lesson [is], spend very little money. That was a case where I had very little money, so there really wasn’t any choice. I only had a few thousand dollars. And then my brother came down and he had several thousand dollars. We just rented an office for $400 or $500 a month — some really tiny little office in Palo Alto. [It] was cheaper than an apartment. And then [we] bought futons that converted into a couch, which was sort of like a meeting area during the day. We would sleep there at night and shower at the YMCA, which was just a few blocks away. That was [an] extremely low burn rate. [It was] way cheaper than a garage. Garages are … expensive. So we were able to … putter along for several months until we got venture funding. I think that’s a good lesson…. When you are first starting out you really need to make your burn-rate ridiculously tiny. Don’t spend more than you are sure you have.
  • Warren Buffett (living in the same house his entire life)


Being "a bit of a shit" / Callousness

  • Felix Dennis (source of the quote above, p. xxi)
    • "Ambition, fearlessness, self-belief, stamina, a degree of callousness, a willingness to learn. These are your advantages over the middle-aged and the old."
    • "Being a bit of a shit helps. A thick skin helps."
  • Bill Gates
  • Steve Jobs
  • Elon Musk

How to Practice:

  • Haggle
    • Dennis talking about rich women haggling over a designer dress, p. xx
      • "Honestly speaking, what kind of people get to become rich? (...) There is a confidence that radiates from firstborn sons and daughters. (...) A similar confidence is to be observed, more often than not, in people who are rich...you can see it in...the irritating disposition of rich women to haggle in an Oxfam shop over a designer dress–unlike any working-class woman, who would be horrified at the thought of doing any such thing, even though she perhaps needs the discount while the rich woman does not."


  • Rockefeller donated money while he was rising
  • Carnegie gave all his money away

Being adopted / an orphan

  • Steve Jobs
  • Larry Ellison
  • Tom Monaghan (Domino's Pizza)
  • Richard Branson was put into boarding schools from a relatively young age.


  • I can see how being an orphan teaches resiliency. I'm not as sure that Steve Jobs would qualify, as he seemed to have a pretty loving adopted family. I don't remember what Ellison's childhood was like.


Being comfortable taking calculated risks

  • Alexander Hamilton
    • He took the calculated risks of giving a speech in front of lots of people and then writing long anonymous essays. I should get the quotes from Chernow's biography.
  • Felix Dennis (p. xxi)
  • Woz tapping the phone lines in his dorm:
So there I was at Berkeley, living in my little dorm room on the first floor of Norton Hall, my best school year ever. I could mesmerize an audience of kids with tales from this article and what Steve Jobs and I had been trying to do. I started gaining a reputation as the dorm’s “phone phreak,” which was fitting. Because one day I explored our dorm and found an unlocked telephone wire access box for our floor. I saw enough phone wires going up to the higher floors— there were a total of eight floors of dorm rooms, including my own above the common area— and I tapped pairs of wire and connected handsets to them. The idea was to determine for a fact which lines were the ones going to which dorm rooms. So I ended up being able to play around and find any particular phone line I wanted to.
...the twenty pounds of saltines I’d swiped from the cafeteria by stuffing a few packets in my pockets at every meal. [iWOZ]
I did like to use the Blue Box to see how far it could get me. For instance, I would make a call to an operator and pretend I was a New York operator trying to extend the lines for phase measurements, and she would connect me to London. Then I’d talk that operator into connecting me to Tokyo . I would go around the world like this sometimes three times or more. And by this time I got great at sounding official, or doing accents, all to fool operators around the world. I remember one very, very late night in the dorm when I decided to call the pope. Why the pope? I don’t know. Why not? So I started by using the Blue Box to call Italy Inward (country code 121), then I asked for Rome Inward, and then I got to the Vatican and in this heavy accent I announced I was Henry Kissinger calling on behalf of President Nixon. I said, “Ve are at de summit meeting in Moscow, and ve need to talk to de pope.” [iWOZ]
For ages and ages, I always told people how I was the ethical phone phreak who always paid for my own calls and was just exploring the system. And that was true. I used to get huge phone bills, even though I had my Blue Box that would’ve let me make any call for free. But one day Steve Jobs came alone and said, “Hey, let’s sell these.” So by selling them to others we really were getting the technology out to people who were using it to call their girlfriends and the like and save money on phone calls. So looking back, I guess that, yes, I aided and abetted that crime. We had a pretty interesting way of selling them. What we would do is Steve and I would find groups of people in various dorms at Berkeley to sell them to. I was always the ring-leader, which was really unusual for me. I was the one who did all the talking. You know, I thought I’d be so famous doing this, but it’s funny, I didn’t know you had to talk to a reporter to get your phone phreak handle (mine was Berkeley Blue) in articles. Anyway, the way we did it was just by knocking on doors. How do you know you’re not walking up to somebody who’s going to turn you in? Someone who might see it as a crime?

Well, we’d knock on a door (usually a door in a male dorm) and ask for someone nonexistent like, “Is Charlie Johnson there?” And they’d say, “Who’s Charlie Johnson?” And I’d say, “You know , the guy that makes all the free phone calls.” If they sort of seemed cool— and you could tell by their face if they wanted to talk about such a thing as illegal free phone calls— I’d add, “You know, he has the Blue Boxes?” Sometimes they might say, “Oh my god , I’ve heard about those things.” And if they sounded really cool enough, and every once in a while they did, then one of us pulled a Blue Box out of our pockets. They’d say something like, “Wow! Is that what they look like? Is that real?” And that’s how we knew we had the right guy and he wouldn’t turn us in. Then one of us would say, “Tell you what, we’ll come back at 7 p.m. tonight; have everyone you know who knows someone in a foreign country here and we’ll give you a demo.” And we’d come back at 7 p.m. We’d run a wire across their dorm room and we’d hook it up to the tape recorder. That way, everything was tape-recorded— every single sale we ever did was tape-recorded. Just to play it safe. We made a little money selling Blue Boxes. It was enough at the time. Originally I would buy the parts to hand-build one for $ 80. The distributor in Mountain View where I got the chips (no electronics stores sold chips) charged a ton for small quantities. We eventually made a printed circuit board and, making ten or twenty at a time, got the cost down to maybe $ 40. We sold them for $ 150 and split the revenue. So it was a pretty good business proposition except for one thing. Blue Boxes were illegal, and we were always worried about getting caught. [iWOZ]
In twelfth grade he built an electronic metronome— one of those tick-tick-tick devices that keep time in music class— and realized it sounded like a bomb . So he took the labels off some big batteries, taped them together, and put it in a school locker; he rigged it to start ticking faster when the locker opened. Later that day he got called to the principal’s office. He thought it was because he had won, yet again, the school’s top math prize. Instead he was confronted by the police . The principal had been summoned when the device was found, bravely ran onto the football field clutching it to his chest, and pulled the wires off. Woz tried and failed to suppress his laughter. He actually got sent to the juvenile detention center, where he spent the night. It was a memorable experience. He taught the other prisoners how to disconnect the wires leading to the ceiling fans and connect them to the [Isaacson - Steve Jobs]
  • Steve Jobs reaching out to people:
One day Steve Jobs called me and said that Captain Crunch had actually done an interview on the Los Gatos radio station KTAO. I said, “Oh my god, I wonder if there’s any way to get in touch with him.” Steve said he’d already left a message at the station but Captain Crunch hadn’t called back. [iWOZ]
How could some random friend from high school know who Captain Crunch was? I said, “What?”“Oh yeah,” he said, “I know who he is. His real name is John Draper and he works at a radio station, KKUP in Cupertino.” The next weekend, I was sitting with Steve at his house and told him what I’d found out. Steve immediately called the station and asked the guy who answered , “Is John Draper there?” He didn’t even say Captain Crunch. [iWOZ]


 Being cut off from other normal activities as a child


  • Bill Gates was always the youngest and smallest in his grade
  • Elon Musk was always the youngest and smallest in his grade
  • Warren Buffett skipped grades
  • Richard Branson is dyslexic and had a sports injury that kept him from putting lots of time into sports
  • Tom Cruise is dyslexic.
  • Tom was flat-footed and couldn't participate in sports

Bluffing / lying

  • Felix Dennis talks about doing negotiations with some big company to sell his own thing, and he bluffed them into thinking he wouldn't accept any offer lower than several million pounds
  • Woz talks about lying to a police officer about his blue box (for making free calls): "The cop asked me what it was. I was not about to say, “Oh, this is a Blue Box for making free telephone calls.” So for some reason I said it was an electronic music synthesizer."
The cop asked me what it was. I was not about to say, “Oh, this is a Blue Box for making free telephone calls.” So for some reason I said it was an electronic music synthesizer. The Moog synthesizer actually had just come out, so this was a good phrase to use. I pushed a couple of the Blue Box buttons to demonstrate the tones. This was pretty rare, as even touch-tone phones were still kind of rare in this part of the country then. The cop then asked what the orange button was for. (It was actually the button that sounded the nice pure 2,600 Hz tone to seize a phone line.) Steve told the cop that the orange button was for “calibration.” Ha!

A second cop approached. I guess he had stayed back in the police car at first. He took the Blue Box from the first cop. This device was clearly their point of interest, and surely they knew what it was, having been called by the phone operator. The second cop asked what it was. I said it was an electronic music synthesizer. He also asked what the orange button was for, and Steve again said that it was for calibration. We were two scared young cold and shivering boys by this time. Well, at least Steve was shivering. I had a coat. The second cop was looking at the Blue Box from all angles. He asked how it worked and Steve said that it was computer-controlled . He looked at it some more, from every angle, and asked where the computer plugged in. Steve said that “it connected inside.”
    • It would be tricky to identify that this passage is describing bluffing / lying just by the words he uses.
    • The closest I can think of is where he says:
      • "I was not about to say"
      • "I said it"
      • "Steve told the"
      • "I said it"
      • "Steve said that it"

Cold-contacting very successful people

The step-by-step process


  • Arturo Sandoval - One of the greatest trumpet players alive
    • Sandoval's raw talent has led him to associate with many musicians, but the most important is Dizzy Gillespie. Dizzy, who was a longtime proponent of Afro-Cuban music, has been referred to as a type of "spiritual father" by Sandoval. When the two trumpet players met in Cuba in 1977, Dizzy was playing impromptu gigs in the Caribbean with Stan Getz. Sandoval later said, "I went to the boat to find him. I've never had a complex about meeting famous people. If I respect somebody, I go there and try to meet them."
  • Steve Jobs
    • He cold-called David Packard (of HP) as a kid.
    • He then got pretty comfortable cold-calling people.
    • He walked into Atari with no preparation.


Competitiveness / aggressiveness

How to become more competitive

  • Get emotional / upset / angry when you lose. Don't be indifferent to losing. The goal isn't to throw hissy-fits, but to get to a point where the prospect of losing should make you feel strongly motivated to take action to avoid that outcome.
    • Examples:
      • Peter Thiel would sweep the chess pieces off the board when he lost at chess: "Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser."
  • I think one of the keys is to feel it is OK to act in a competitive way. I'm very competitive when I play soccer, but I don't act aggressively in other situations. I've been trained to be passive.
  • I think another thing that needs to happen is that your brain needs to start to associate an increase in effort with an increased chance of winning. I behave in a competitive way when I play sports because I'm confident that it'll make me more likely to win. If I wasn't convinced of that, if I thought I was just playing a totally-random game like rolling dice, then I wouldn't feel motivated to put in a bigger effort.

  • Peter Thiel
    • He grew up with the untrammelled self-confidence and competitiveness of a brilliant loner. He became a math prodigy and a nationally ranked chess player; his chess kit was decorated with a sticker carrying the motto “Born to Win.” (On the rare occasions when he lost in college, he swept the pieces off the board; he would say, “Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”)
  • Bill Gates

Connecting with people who are further ahead than they are, but are not yet super-successful; connecting with rising stars / potential-rising-stars

  • The key is to look for someone who could help you, and whom you could help, and that person doesn't already have a barrage of people trying to contact him/her.
  • Andrew Carnegie did this with the guy who worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad
  • Jack Dorsey did this by connecting with the guy who sold Blogger
  • Elon dabbled in this by cold-calling the Head of Strategy at Bank of Nova Scotia and getting a meeting with him
  • Aristotle Onassis said that if he lost everything 'he would buy a suit and take a rich man to dinner.'

Ease into big bets

Examples of me doing this

  • I rented a car for a week before I took the plunge and bought one.
  • When moving my desk to be next to Andy, I first moved the minimum amount of stuff (just my monitor and laptop), and then as I grew confident that it was a good idea, I gradually moved more of my stuff over.


  • Alexander Hamilton
    • He wrote controversial letters / pamphlets that were widely read when he was still young, but he signed them anonymously, so that if there was some backlash he could have denied having written them.
      • This was apparently a common tactic at the time, but it's still worth noting.
  • Benjamin Franklin
    • Like Hamilton, he wrote anonymous letters to newspapers, which allowed him to deny having written them.

Experience successfully developing and selling a product

  • Airbnb's founders developed and successfully sold a breakfast cereal:
    • To help fund the site, the founders created special edition breakfast cereals, with presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain as the inspiration for "Obama O’s" and "Cap’n McCains".[16] In two months, 800 boxes of cereal were sold at $40 each, which generated more than $30,000 for the company’s incubation[17] and attracted Y Combinator’s Paul Graham.[18]

Fast decisions / a sense of urgency / getting things done quickly / efficiently

Related pages

  • Elon Musk
  • Jack Ma
  • Parker Conrad
    • Get the references to how, at Zenefits, employees were told to aim to learn the bare minimum they needed to learn to pass the state test, and they would get rewarded for getting as little over that score as possible.

  • Oculus Connect 3 Closing Keynote: John Carmack
    • "At that point I had had a version [of Minecraft] that was running, and I was like, Ok, go! Go! Launch now! Launch this, what we've got, right now! It's great! It's good! But the Minecraft team coming onto it, they were like, OK, let's hold back, we need to get our footing here." 
    • "I'm frankly jealous of companies like Altspace and V-Time that are out there, in the mix, building communities, learning what the users want to do. Of course, in the end, we have the power of Facebook, and I think we're gonna be just fine in social eventually, but I don't like 'eventually', I want us to not lose a tempo; let's get things done sooner rather than later."

Get management experience

  • Wendy Kopp got experience running a magazine ($1M budget, 50 staff), which she says gave her the knowledge / confidence to create TFA.
    • The idea for Teach for America started as a result, oddly enough, of Kopp's desire to be a writer for a magazine called Business Today, run by the nonprofit Foundation for Business Education.

      "My education at Princeton revolved around extracurricular things," she says. "Business Today needed writers and I was definitely into writing - I was into journalism.

      "So I wrote some stuff for them and then I just got sucked into that organization. Toward the end I was managing the organization, which had over $1 million budgeted and 50 staff members. And I was creating a lot of new programs, running conferences, publishing a magazine."

      In deciding where she might aim her leadership, she realized in her thesis that education would be the perfect place.

      "Teach for America is really built on the experience that I gained at the foundation," she says.

      Straight out of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and versed in fund-raising, Kopp spent the next year getting donations - from the likes of Philip Morris and Ross Perot - to start her teacher program.

      Then she hired a staff and solicited applications from college seniors for two-year stints in blighted urban and rural classrooms. Teach for America chose 489 graduates from schools that included the University of Pennsylvania, the University of California at Berkeley and Yale. There were 2,500 applicants.

  • Parker Conrad of Zenefits ran the Harvard Crimson
  • Felix Dennis was a manager at one magazine before starting his own

Have some early success that builds confidence and competence

  • Spielberg had his early films that his dad helped him with
  • Zuckerberg had early success with:
    • the music-recommendation app that he got offers of $1M for while he was still in high school
    • his facemash website
    • 2014.04.16 - Playboy - Interview with Tony Hsieh
    • PLAYBOY: Were you always so driven?

      HSIEH: I always fantasized about making money because I knew it would give me the freedom to do whatever I wanted to do. I was always doing little businesses. I started a worm-farming business when I was nine, which went okay until all the worms escaped. I tried other things, but what took off was a button-making business I advertised in the back of a magazine. I was the Asian kid making around $200 a month in middle school from that.


      PLAYBOY: What life lessons came from running a student pizza grill at Harvard, aside from the fact that your best customer, Alfred Lin, later became your chief operating officer at Zappos?

      HSIEH: Just like anything else, to get proficient at something, whether it’s playing piano, playing a sport or being an entrepreneur, you need to put in 10,000 hours of practice. Running the pizza business helped me get closer to that 10,000 hours faster.

  • Peter Thiel was 7th in the US among under-13 chess players.

Having a difficult / challenging childhood / difficult early experiences that build character

  • Alexander Hamilton
    • He got experience at the merchant's shop at a young age.
  • Elon Musk
  • Jerry Rice (football player)
    • 2010.08.08 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Intense work ethic took Jerry Rice to Pro Football Hall of Fame
      • Rice credits his speed to his chasing down a beautiful black stallion named Pete. Rice had to run after the horse in order to ride it each day and did what it took to get that reward.

        His hands and focus were honed working for his father, a brick mason, on scorching hot days. Rice would stand on the scaffolding and catch bricks from his brothers to hand to his dad — with any dropped brick being deducted from his paycheck.

        "Even though I was not playing football, I was preparing myself for it," he said.

  • Larry Ellison?
  • Warren Buffet (the Depression?)
    • IDK if you could really say Warren had a difficult childhood

Having a method of saving and organizing ideas

  • George Carlin had an organized method of writing down his ideas
  • Eminem had a method of storing ideas on scraps of paper and saving them in a box
  • One of the Airbnb cofounders has a moleskin he uses to keep track of ideas:

Having a thought-out plan when that is necessary

2015.11.19 - The Verge - The Hobbit movies were awful, and now we know why

  • Very interesting:
    • Like a lot of people, I loved Peter Jackson's original Lord of the Rings trilogy (although we can all admit Return of the King didn't quite know when to leave the party). So I was pretty surprised when Jackson took over from Guillermo del Toro to make the Hobbit trilogy, and the first film turned out to be such a boring mess. Even more so when The Desolation of Smaug rolled around, and the problems somehow seemed to get even worse. In what can only be described as the most honest promotional video of all time, we find out why: the movies were made completely on the fly, without a script or nearly any advanced planning.

      The above clip is from a behind-the-scenes video on the Battle of the Five Armies Blu-ray, and it features Peter Jackson, Andy Serkis, and other production personnel confessing that due to the director changeover — del Toro left the project after nearly two years of pre-production — Jackson hit the ground running but was never able to hit the reset button to get time to establish his own vision. In comparison, he spent years prepping the original Lord of the Rings trilogy, and on the Hobbit things got so bad that when they started shooting the titular Battle of Five Armies itself they were essentially just shooting B-roll: footage of people in costumes waving around swords, without any cohesive plan for how the sequence would actually play out. (A choice Jackson quote: "I didn't know what the hell I was doing.")

  • I suppose the big difference between a movie and a start-up is that with a movie, all of the capital you raise is put into the product before it is ever shown to audiences.
  • You could modify the way movies are made to make them more like start-ups, and in fact it seems there are some moves in that direction: people are creating trailers for films that don't actually exist, and then using the response to those trailers to raise the money necessary to actually create the movie.
  • You could also create a cheaper version of the movie at first, and then create a more-expensive version when the cheaper version does well. That's how the videogame industry works.


Investing money in the stock market at an early age

  • Warren Buffett
  • Elon Musk
    • "I also did a little bit of stock market stuff when I was about 15 or 16. I actually did pretty well just making bets on some stocks in South Africa. But I just made a few bets that did pretty well. I tripled my initial tiny stake and then that stopped because I just didn’t like it."

Listen to users / try a bunch of things

  • Elon Musk: PayPal was born out of an easy-to-do feature of his original vision (which was managing all of your money)
  • Twitter: Ev Williams held a hackathon, Twitter was born out Jack Dorsey's entry for the contest
  • Roman Atwood got way more views on his prank videos, and so he decided to just focus on making prank videos.
  • http://www.columbusalive.com/content/stories/2013/11/28/qa-prankster-roman-atwood.html
    • I started out posting comedy sketches, but they didn’t really get that much attention. I started to post pranks on my channel and I’d get more views on one of those than I would on all my sketches combined. After a while, it got to a point where my subscribers only wanted to watch pranks. I couldn’t even post a sketch video without them saying, “I didn’t sign up for that! You suck! Post a prank!” So, I decided to turn it into a full-blown prank channel.


Not having a wife / kid / mortgage / other responsibilities

  • 2013 - From Australia to the World: The Atlassian Experience - Complete Interview
    • At 55:25 he talks about how the odds are stacked against you if you have a wife, a kid, a mortgage.
    • "Q: Why don't you give some advice to the entrepreneurs int he audience here, who are at the start of their entrepreneurial journey? Some of them may be over 30.

      Look, over 30, I don't think it's impossible, I just think it's much harder, right? If we had to start again today, you know, with the little bloke, and I've got another one on the way, and the wife and the mortgage and all that sort of thing...it's just, the odds are stacked against you much more, you know what I mean? It's the same thing with fundraising, and I think your advice about Red Hot coming here is the same: people turn up here and assume there's much more money, and they're absolutely accurate in their assumption that there's much more money here, they're inaccurate in the fact that the competition is less, you know? If there's, you know, five rounds a year in Australia that are of a decent size, and a hundred companies vying for them, and there's five thousand rounds here, there's hundreds of thousands of companies vying for those rounds, so I'm not sure your odds of success are any better over here. I just think, if you're over thirty, and you've got the dependencies of life, it's just harder, you've got more stacked against you; it doesn't mean you can't succeed, it's just more difficult."

Parents who are already good at the field

  • Tiger Woods
  • Steve Wozniak
  • Ted Turner
  • Stephen Curry
    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Curry
      • Curry was born in Akron, Ohio, but grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina, where his father Dell played for the Charlotte Hornets. Curry's father often took him and his younger brother Seth to his games, where they would sometimes shoot around with his team during warm-ups.


Persistence / Backbone / Commitment / Tenaciousness / Determination / Conviction / Self-confidence

Related pages

  • I'm lumping all of these things together, even though they don't all seem to me to be exactly the same thing, because they seem to be very closely related to each other.

  • Felix Dennis
    • How to Get Rich
      • "If you think that it can't be done and dwell on that thought too long, then you are likely to remain poor. It's as simple as that."

  • Be "utterly determined to--whatever the cost" - Felix Dennis (p. xx)
  • "An unshakable belief that it can be done and that you are the one to do it" - Felix Dennis (p. xxi)
  • Bill Gates (saying he'd be a millionaire by 30)

  • Warren Buffett (saying he'd be a millionaire by...?)

  • Ethan Klein
    • 2017.06.14 - YouTube - Glad We Tried
      • He says he decided to take a year and try to get his YouTube business off the ground.
      • He said he actually cared about what he was doing when he was making the videos.
      • IIRC he said it was a lot of work.

  • 2011.10.07 - The Atlantic - Creativity Is Hustle: Make Something Every Day
    • Q: Are there days where you just don't feel like it?

      (...) As far as any days where I don't feel like it, I would say this actually happens more often than not. Most of the time it seems like a giant hassle to do as it at this point (luckily) it doesn't really even feel like something I have a choice in. So yeah, a lot of the time it's not at all convenient or fun but once you get enough days behind you like this, then the momentum of it will help force you to continue. A this point after not missing 1600 days in a row, it's gonna take a lot more than "not feeling like it" for me to miss a day.
    • Q: You share your everydays on your site and via Twitter. Is publishing them an important aspect of the process?

      Sharing them is definitely a big part of this process. It helps keep you honest in terms of not just spending three minutes and saying, "yeah that counts for today." If yer putting yer stuff out there, it makes it a lot more objective in terms of whether or not that day "counts."

    • Q: Do you have any advice for someone who wants to try it?

      Yes, START TODAY!!!!!11 Once you get some days behind you, you'll have some momentum and it will get easier and easier to not miss a day. I would also definitely recommend choosing an activity that you can do from start to finish everyday. Having an objective goal really makes it a lot harder to fudge it and start slacking off. A project like this is about the process and incrementally getting better at something so pace yerself and be prepared for a whole lot of sucking!!!!1 :)

Amazon's 14 Leadership Principles

Leaders are obligated to respectfully challenge decisions when they disagree, even when doing so is uncomfortable or exhausting. Leaders have conviction and are tenacious. They do not compromise for the sake of social cohesion. Once a decision is determined, they commit wholly.

  • Bill Gates

    Allen first met Gates in secondary school in Seattle when he was 14 and the Microsoft chief was a gangly, freckled, awkward 12-year-old, but in reality looked as though he was just eight. Despite this, "he was really smart", Allen remembers.

    "He was really competitive . . . And he was really, really persistent."

    Source: http://www.independent.ie/business/technology/when-bill-gates-12-met-paul-allen-14-and-they-set-about-conquering-the-world-26730890.html

  • Tom Francis
    • http://www.pentadact.com/2013-10-15-gunpoint-development-breakdown/
      • I was working a full time job while I made Gunpoint, so I only worked on it at weekends. I didn’t work on it on weekday evenings – I thought that would burn me out – and I also stopped doing any overtime or freelance work for my day job.

        I didn’t work on it if I really didn’t feel like it, and I stopped if I got frustrated. I didn’t cancel any social plans I really wanted to go to, and I never cancelled any family plans for it. In the first year I estimated I worked on it about one weekend a month, and I once forgot about it for two months.
        As it came together in the second year, I got more excited about it and worked on it more consistently. I learned to stop judging myself by whether I finished what I expected to in a weekend, and only ask myself two questions:

        Did I work efficiently?
        If not, what can I change for next time?

        If I only finished 10% of what I expected to, that’s fine. Time estimates are wild guesses. But if I spent the weekend on something I later realised wasn’t important, I had to change my process. I couldn’t afford that kind of waste.

        In the third year, I started working on it more intensively from my own desire to get it finished. At one point late that year, it looked like I had almost a year’s worth of work still to do. I couldn’t face that, so I cut all but one of the game’s planned scripted scenes, a few planned features I thought were essential at the time, and booked a three-month sabbatical from my day job to get it finished. I released it two months later.


  • 2003 - Touching the Void
    • Summary: A mountaineer climbs a remote South American mountain with only one partner. On the descent, he breaks his leg, is hoisted down most of the mountain his partner, but close to the bottom he is hoisted over a cliff that has him dangling in the air. He is unable to climb up the rope or communicate with his partner. After 90+ minutes his partner begins to slip down the mountain and cuts the rope to save himself. The mountaineer falls ~80-150 feet into a crevasse and miraculously survives. He then needs to drag himself out of the crevasse and miles across the glacier, and then hobble his way across rocks for several more miles, where he reaches his camp right before his partner was about to leave.
    • This is one of the best examples of persistence I've ever seen.

    • I need to transcribe all of these sections of the movie:

    • 56:30 - You've got to make decisions; you've got to keep making decisions, even if they're wrong decisions.
      1:07:24 - It occurred to me that I should set definite targets.
      1:15:30 - I got rid of all my gear. (Lowering burn rate)
      1:17:00 - It had taken ages to go 25 yards...I can be insanely stubborn.
      1:21:00 - It was driving me mad to be able to hear water and be so thirsty.
      1:23:41 - He thought it'd be nice to just lie there, and it wouldn't hurt...it seemed irrational to keep crawling if you didn't think it was going to do any good...I didn't crawl because I thought I would survive; I wanted to be with somebody.
      1:26:20 - He finally got some water and it was like fuel, he could immediately feel himself getting stronger.

  • 2006 - Dying for Everest
    • This documentary may not be very relevant to mental persistence. The major lesson I got from this was: having a partner can help you physically persist through difficulties. The documentary explains that a man named David Sharp tried to summit Everest by himself rather than with a group of people, ran into trouble, and by the time others reached him, he was so weak that they couldn't save him.
  • 2007 - The Beckoning Silence
    • Summary: The story of Toni Kurz's death on the north face of the Eiger. He and three climbing partners wanted to be the first to scale the north face of the Eiger (so no one else had done it before, and they didn't have a full picture of the problems they'd face). They reach a certain very challenging section of the mountain where one of them does a fancy maneuver to get a rope across that the rest of them can use, but then they retrieved the rope rather than leaving it in place, and didn't realize that the fancy maneuver would not work going the other way (they also weren't planning to descend on the north face anyway). As they continue to climb, they reach a section of the mountain where small rocks / pebbles were falling as the sun heated up the snow and loosened rocks from higher up the mountain, and one of them is struck in the head. They try to keep climbing but they're slowed by the injured teammate, and it becomes clear that 1) they can't continue as a pair of two, and 2) at their rate of progress, they risk getting caught in a storm before they reach the top, so they decide to try to descend. They get to the challenging section of rock and try to perform the same maneuver, but it doesn't work. At that point, a strong storm moves in on them. They try to descend an alternative way, but they get caught in an avalanche that kills three of them. The only survivor, Toni, tries a bunch of things to survive but eventually it becomes so difficult that he is exhausted and gives up.
    • This was a great documentary.
    • The main part that I found relevant to persistence was Toni's effort to save himself.

One of the most important elements, that we had to learn during our fundraising process was the concept of “Ratio thinking”. Jim Rohn, the famous motivational speaker, probably explained it best:
“If you do something often enough, you’ll get a ratio of results. Anyone can create this ratio.”
It sounded simple enough as a concept to us, but man, this was one of the toughest things to learn. Here is how Joel described it in a recent article on ratio thinking:
“The law of averages really comes into play with raising investment. Overall, we probably attempted to get in contact with somewhere around 200 investors. Of those, we perhaps had meetings with about 50. In the end, we closed a $450k seed round from 18 investors. Perhaps the most important part of our success in closing that round was that Leo and I would sit down in coffee shops together and encourage each other to keep pushing forward, to send that next email asking for an intro or a meeting. In many ways, the law of averages is the perfect argument that persistence is a crucial trait of a founder.
I believe that this is in fact one of the most valuable things to know up front. It requires a huge volume of work and meetings.


Poker / Bridge

  • Bill Gates was a big poker player, and now plays bridge with Buffett
  • Warren Buffett is a big bridge player
  • Jim Simons was a big poker player
  • Elon Musk used a poker analogy in his '99 appearance on CNN. He said he had basically taken his winnings from zip2 and went to a higher-stakes game (X.com).
  • Tony Hsieh got pretty big into poker

Read a lot

  • Alexander Hamilton
    • Get the quotes from Chernow's biography
  • Andrew Carnegie
  • Bill Gates
    • He says he now reads an hour a day before bed.
  • Felix Dennis
  • Jack Dorsey and the Box guy both seem to read at least somewhat (they've rec'd books in speeches)
  • Mark Cuban
  • Sam Wyly
  • Steve Wozniak
    • I got every computer manual I could at University bookstores and read them even if I'd never get a chance to touch that computer or run that programming language.
  • Warren Buffett
    • 2017 - HBO - Becoming Warren Buffett
      • I liked to read more than most kids. I really like to read a lot. My aunt Edie gave me a copy of the World Almanac, and that was heaven to me...

Stamina / Working longer hours than others (80-100 hrs/wk, or 11-14 hrs/day, every day)

  • Antonio Brown (football player)
    • 2015.12.24 - USA Today - Relentless Antonio Brown fueling Steelers offense
      • Their lone off day of the week nearing an end, Darrius Heyward-Bey and Antonio Brown were plotting how to wrap up Tuesday night when Brown mentioned something about hitting the gym.

        Heyward-Bey checked the time and shook his head.

        "It was almost 10 o'clock," Heyward-Bey said with a laugh. "I said, 'You go ahead. I'm going to go home and sleep.'"

        So away Brown disappeared for another solitary workout. Nearly five months into another season packed with GIF-generating touchdown celebrations and looks-like-a-typo numbers, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver is still pushing, driven by a relentlessness that is nearing mythical status inside his own locker room.

        "He's the hardest-working dude in football," Heyward-Bey said.

        "(He) was kind of bound and determined to not just be the small guy who wasn't your typical wide receiver," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. "I think that always pushed him, small school, multiple colleges, maybe people not always believing in him, just fueled his fire."
        He prefers not to talk about his rise from draft afterthought to perennial Pro Bowler, repeatedly stressing he is "singularly focused" on beating whatever team the Steelers happen to face that week and flashing a smile that indicates prying any further is pointless. It's as if he's protecting some sort of secret formula, even from the guys he lines up alongside.

        "He's all about his business," Heyward-Bey said. "It's like he turns on a switch. It's time to play ball."

        An ethos that isn't relegated to Sundays. Brown long ago started wearing his game pants during organized team activities. During training camp, he started running additional sprints with the defense even after the offense's five-minutes of oxygen-sapping dashes were done. Soon, running back Le'Veon Bell and the rest of the skill players were joining in. Brown treats every snap of every practice like it's overtime in the Super Bowl whether the ball is coming to him or not, an example that has trickled down through a group that includes Heyward-Bey, rising star Martavis Bryant and protege Markus Wheaton.

  • Bill Gates
  • Elon Musk
  • Felix Dennis (p. xxi)
  • Jerry Rice (football player)
    • 2010.08.08 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Intense work ethic took Jerry Rice to Pro Football Hall of Fame
      • Young arrived one day at the team's practice facility to clean out his locker and saw Rice out on the field running sprints and catching passes from the groundskeeper nearly seven months before the start of the next season.

        "When people talk about Jerry's work ethic and say, 'Oh it's really extreme,' they do it a disservice," Young said. "There's an iron will to it. It's over his dead body. Jerry to the core was driven. You belittle that drive by saying he had just a great work ethic. Most people have an off switch and they choose when to go all out. Jerry didn't have an off switch."

        "There was no way I was going to be denied," Rice said. "I kept working hard and my dream came true. I tell kids do not let any obstacles stand in your way. If you want to achieve something, go for it. I'm living proof with my background and where I came from. I didn't give up and I wanted to be the best football player I could possibly be in the NFL and I was able to accomplish that."
        Rice struggled with some drops early in his career, leading some to question why he was a first-round pick. But Lott saw something right away in Rice, who beat the future Hall of Famer with a sly double move on one of the first days of practice.

        Then Lott saw Rice's reaction to the drops and knew he would become a star.

        "You didn't see many rookies with the ability to perform precision routes like that. It just seemed natural to Jerry," Lott said. "After he had a rough game with a couple of drops, I saw him sitting at his locker crying. For a lot of people when they lose, it's not personal. For him it was always personal. It showed how much he wanted to be great."

        "I knew the system. Now I could just go out there and just play. That was the start for me. But I never gave in the situation of, 'OK, I have arrived now.' I always wanted to come back the next year and have a better season. That was the extra incentive to stay focused and continue to work hard."
        "He was so meticulous about making sure he never compromised the integrity of being a great receiver," Lott said.


Take things apart / understand how things work

  • Steve Wozniak
  • Henry Ford
  • Larry Page

Skipping grades

  • Warren Buffett
    • He skipped grades, graduating high school at 16 and getting out of college after only three years.

Thinking differently from most people

2010.10 - Wired - Interview with Aubrey de Grey

Wired.com: I’m glad you brought up the differences between scientists and technologists. At age 30, you switched fields from artificial intelligence to biology. It’s been said people who switch fields at relatively late stages in their careers tend to do particularly inventive work. Why is that, and what from your previous scholarship did you bring to gerontology?

de Grey: First of all, research is a very transferable skill. If you’ve learned how to work on really hard problems, you can apply that to a different domain very easily. But the biggest handicap in research is an ability to think outside the box. The handicap is being encumbered by all the conventional wisdom in a given field.

I came in having made — albeit unpublished but nevertheless very significant — inroads in software verification. So I had a suitably high opinion of my own abilities to research. Second, I was aware of this general trend in science of new people coming in, so I felt confident I had a good chance of making a contribution. Third, from the beginning my goal was not to become an experimentalist with a lab, but a generalist surveying the literature and coming up with syntheses from disparate areas.

Through my wife, who taught me biology, I was very much aware that “theoreticians” or generalists are almost non-existent in biology. Unlike physics, where you’ve got whole departments of theoreticians trying to bring ideas together from disparate areas, and pacing up and down and talking to themselves and not doing experiments … in biology, that’s virtually unknown.

And to the extent it is known, it’s given very little respect, because it’s awfully easy to do incredibly bad theoretical biology just by going out and identifying some interesting problem and reading maybe 10 percent of the relevant literature and coming out with some gloriously economical hypothesis and rushing into print without actually bothering to read the other 90 percent. This happens a hell of a lot.

But the thing is, a small coterie of theoreticians in biology who do take care have a rather high hit rate. If you look at winners of the Nobel Prize in biology, you’ll find a fair smattering of people who don’t know how to work a pipette.