Last week, I took a little trip to new York City in order to attend a conference called “Synergy Global”. There was an impressive speaker lineup and a lot of them were people whose works I’ve read over the years. The following is an article meant to share the insights that I got from the speakers who’ve influenced me the most:
#1 Richard Branson
#2 Simon Sinek
#3 Daniel Goleman
#4 Jordan Belfort
#5 Malcolm Gladwell
#6 Nassim Taleb
#7 Steve Forbes
Insights from Richard Branson:
Quick bio: Sir Richard Charles Nicholas Branson is an English business magnate, investor and philanthropist. He founded the Virgin Group, which controls more than 400 companies. Branson expressed his desire to become an entrepreneur at a young age.
Note #1 Richard generally decides what business to get into out of frustration. Jump in and try to sort it out.
I find this mindset to be very simple yet powerful. No need to get all fancy when it comes to finding business ideas. Just ask yourself, what can be done better? What is currently a frustrating process? Ask yourself these questions in a myriad of industries and see if there’s something that you know you can do better…
Note #2 Richard always works from home and gives his employees massive degrees of flexibility.
I heard him say that if a female employee wants one month of paid maternity leave, she can get it. If an employee wants to work from home, he can do it. If an employee only wants to work 3 specific days a week, he can do it. And Richard himself pretty much only works from home.
I wonder how he gets away with giving his employees so much flexibility. I’m sure he has ways of balancing this with demanding that his employees perform at a high level. But my guess is that by giving his employees leeway to live their lives and feel like they have a sense of control over themselves, they feel obligated to return the favor and put in good work. He wants the atmosphere to be laid back and gives people room to have fun lives as well.
Note #3 Take inspired action. Think bigger.
Richard Branson doesn’t even have a high-school diploma. Take “inspired” action. The root of the word inspired means to take action “In-Spirit”. If you think big and take bold and inspired action, you may very well achieve your dreams or at least get that much closer to doing so. There is magic, beauty, and power to being bold.
Note #4 If your endorphins are running, you’ll end up loving work. Otherwise you won’t like work.
Richard Branson mentioned that he plays tennis rigorously in the mornings and in the evenings. He says by having endorphins flowing through his veins in abundance throughout the day, he feels good and works better. If you’re just sitting there in front of a computer screen all day long and your hormones are not activated, there’s a good chance you’ll associate work with dullness and mental/physical stiffness and therefore be bored and unproductive.
Insights from Simon Sinek
Quick bio: Simon O. Sinek is a British/American author, motivational speaker and marketing consultant. He is the author of four books including the 2009 best seller Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action.
There’s no such thing as winning in business if you’re playing finite rules
You must be the infinite player. There’s only ahead and behind, that’s it. The opportunity is to play the infinite game. Will and resources continue to play.
Note #1 The things you need to build an infinite organization:
1) You Must Have A ‘Just Cause’: Know your WHY (Vision & Purpose):
Most organizations are playing by finite rules. They just have one aim and that is to make a profit. This doesn’t really have any real positive long-term implications. Having a just cause puts you on the road to creating massive long-term value.
2) Courageous Leadership
People who are willing to do the right thing, not the expedient thing. This reminds me of what Peter Drucker said about the difference b/w being effective and efficient. Being efficient is doing things right and being effective means doing the right thing.
I believe that what Sinek is getting at is that you don’t want leaders in your organizations that are immoral and scheming for short-term results. You want people who have a vested interest in doing the right thing. Doing the right thing isn’t always the fast or easy route. Doing the right thing takes courage.
3) A Vulnerable Team
You have to spend the time and energy to build a culture in which the people in the organization feel safe to be themselves. A place where they can communicate fearlessly. This creates an amazing environment that helps the company in every way.
“How do I get my people to work at their natural best”, is a good question to ask.
Good leadership is asking how someone is doing and actually caring about how they’re doing. – George Flinn Marine General.
Empathetic leadership. Practice empathy. Condition it. Learn about your team. Actually care. We are tribal/social creatures.
4) You Need To Have A Worthy Adversary
Too many companies operate with hubris. Great companies have respect for their competition and they use them as examples to make themselves better. Respect and admire your enemies.
True infinite players are competing against themselves more than anybody else. They focus on becoming the best version of themselves. Interestingly, their competitors eventually drop out.
Your competition is not the thing to beat, they are simply standing in the way of what you’re trying to advance.
Sinek gave an example of how he attended two different conferences. One conference was a Microsoft conference and the other one was Apple. He said that in Microsoft, all of the top executives were focused on beating Apple. Then he said in Apple, the top executives were giving speeches on their vision of the future and what they can do better. One company was more focused on beating the competition and the other was focused on beating themselves.
5) You Need To Have An Open Playbook
Don’t do the expedient thing over the right thing. Be adaptable. Don’t be stuck in one tactic or one way of being. Be open to adapting quickly and don’t be too attached to one playbook. Don’t have a finite playbook.
How do we live our lives to play the infinite game?
Note #2 Work to build organizations that will have an impact on the world and that will survive us…Focus on LEGACY.
Wake up every single day asking how do I make an impact? If 20 year olds focused more on their legacy, they would find much greater health, happiness, financial freedom, and joy!
Insights from Daniel Goleman
Quick bio: Daniel Goleman is an author, and science journalist. For twelve years, he wrote for The New York Times, reporting on the brain and behavioral sciences.
Note #1 EI (emotional intelligence) has to do with how you handle yourself and how you handle your relationships. EI is about twice as important as technical abilities.
Your success as a leader in an organization has less to do with your technical abilities and IQ as much as it has to do with your emotional intelligence.
The higher that you go in the organization, the less you need to do the technical stuff but rather your responsibility lies in managing the people.
Inspire, motivate, persuade, listen, and communicate.
Note #2 The amygdala hijacks the other parts of the brain. It responds to complex symbolic realities too. So you must be mindful of this so that you stay focused and in control. Train.
A lot of people’s brains get reactive to things too easily because they haven’t trained themselves to be proactive with how they interpret information. Instead they let their amygdalas highjack the other parts of their brain which causes them to get tunnel vision and a host of other unproductive decision making system failures.
Note #3 Emotional intelligence is the smooth integration of the emotional centers and the executive centers when it comes to decision making. The definition of maturity is lengthening the time between impulse and action. Mindfulness helps you do it.
Mindfulness is the equivalent of going to the brain gym. Focus and concentration gets stronger every time you do mindfulness. Training to be mindful increases cognitive control AKA the gap between reaction and impulse.
Cognitive control – turns out to be the best predictor of childhood to 30s financial success. Better predictor than IQ.
Note #4 The art of leadership is getting the best work out of people.
Your job as a leader is to bring it out of them which requires an ability to reach in to their realities through empathy and emotional/social intelligence and lead them to the highest peaks of greatness.
Note #5 Cognitive control helps you stay in a flow state way more often. You’re also able to become more adaptable. Flow is the internal state for high-performance.
I love being in flow. Mindfulness increases cognitive control which helps you stay in flow more often. It feels like every act is meditative. And the best thing about it is that you become more productive by doing so.
Note #6 If you want to communicate powerfully with someone, tune out all other distractions and simply focus on the other person. The more hours you spend on tech device, the less skilled you’ll be with people.
This is worth noting in today’s digital age. Be careful to not fall into the mental trap of ‘ever increasing screen time’. Take time everyday to be social and work on enhancing your social intelligence. We all know that guy who spend every waking moment on a computer and therefore has a very awkward vibe.
Note #7 There is a negative bias in virtual communication. Neutral is negative and positive is neutral.
This has a great amount of implications in how we communicate with others. When you communicate virtually through text/email, the essential elements of communication (body language, tonality, etc,) are all lost. Studies show that people interpret neutral messages as negative and positive ones as neutral. Be more mindful of this when you communicate virtually.
Note #8 Cognitive Empathy – you can recreate people’s models of the world in your own mind and get the best out of them. Empathic concern – parental caretaking circuit – you actually care about the people you’re leading. This makes people feel like you have their backs.
Use these two different types of empathy and emotional intelligence circuits to be a better leader.
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Insights from Jordan Belfort
Quick Bio: Jordan Ross Belfort is an American author, motivational speaker, and former stockbroker. In 1999, he pleaded guilty to fraud and related crimes in connection with stock-market manipulation and running a boiler room as part of a penny-stock scam.
Note #1 Sales is a transference of emotion and the emotion that you’re transferring is certainty. Objections are smoke screens for uncertainty.
All sales is motivation is something Tony Robbins said. You need to motivate people to be certain that your product is gonna meet their needs. How certain are you about your product? If you’re certain that you can provide massive value, you’ve got an edge.
Note #2 You’re gonna be wrong more than you’re right as an entrepreneur. We learn more from failure than we do from success. Learn to fail elegantly. With every mistake you make, you get stronger. As long as you learn from them and don’t dwell on them.
This is important to keep in mind because as an entrepreneur things can get a bit frustrating when nothing is moving the way you planned. But by definition an entrepreneur is someone who is resourceful and embraces uncertainty and tension. Embrace it. Amor Fati.
Note #3 People don’t buy things from people they don’t trust or connect with.
Within 4 seconds people make an impression about you. Make sure to trust and connect with someone. You can have the best product in the world but if you’re a piece of shit and you don’t establish meaningful rapport with your prospects then you’ll definitely be way less effective. Keep in mind the human element when it comes to persuasion.
Note #4 The Secret is real. You do attract what you want but you gotta move towards it.
Good analogy is a magnet needs to get relatively close to what it attracts.
This is a powerful insight as many people who follow the Secret and the concept of the “Law of Attraction”, think that ALL they need to do is visualize and they’ll get results. You must take MASSIVE ACTION coupled with visualization and law of attraction, that’s when you start to see the results. You must actively move towards that which you’re trying to attract.
Insights from Malcolm Gladwell
Quick Bio: Malcolm Timothy Gladwell CM is an English-born Canadian journalist, author, and speaker. He has been a staff writer for The New Yorker since 1996.
Note #1 Strong link decisions VS weak link decisions. Every system has its differences. Strong link thinking – how can we make this amazing thing more amazing? Weak link thinking – how can we make this crappy thing better?
This is a decision making system that helps you improve organizations and systems.
Different organizations benefit from different strategies.
For example: In basketball, it’s strong link because 3 players usually do most of the killing. Soccer is a weak link game because almost all of the players touch the ball before it gets in.
Take that distinction and ask a series of questions about it. There’s no right answer to which one is better.
Note #2 The shift is very hard. People come from strong link environments and it’s hard for people to realize this and change.
A lot of people come from strong link environments and therefore project this mindset into organizations that would benefit from a more weak-link approach.
Note #3 Boutique or small organizations are more “strong-link” and bigger organizations are more “small-link.”
If you’re in a small team, it would probably help more to have a a few very strong players/leaders. If you’re in a big organization, the influence of a bunch of strong-link players is good but won’t have as much benefit as improving the weak link players will.
Insights from Nassim Taleb
Quick Bio:Nassim Nicholas Taleb is a Lebanese-American essayist, scholar, statistician, former trader, and risk analyst, whose work focuses on problems of randomness, probability, and uncertainty.
Note #1 You don’t talk about the events, you become robust to them.
This means that you can’t always predict events that will negatively impact your organization upon initial contact. You can’t sit around and talk about them all day but rather, the better approach is to become strong enough to handle whatever happens.
Note #2 The idea of the black swan is to be immune to events if they happen. Not be thinking about them all the time.
This has to do with note #1 but it’s worth repeating. Nassim went on to say that almost everyone misunderstood his book “The Black Swan”. The note summarizes his point.
Note #3 Fragility doesn’t like uncertainty. It can only have negative outcomes from random events. The opposite of fragile is antifragile. “Please mishandle”. The way you fight uncertainty is becoming antifragile.
This is very powerful and has implications in every area of life. Take on a “please mishandle” mindset in every area of life and grow from each and every challenge/obstacle.
Note #4 If you don’t like errors you’ll break like a coffee cup. Organic systems benefit from errors.
Don’t be a fragile coffee cup.
Note #5 We project the idea of stability and comfort on organic systems because that’s how we’re used to saying that for mechanical systems.
Variability in heart beat predicts survival.
Your bones need to be stressed more than your muscles for your health.
Stability is no bueno. The central mistake = lowering risk -> lowering variability
You NEED stressors
Note #6 The best predictors for the success of a country is its stressors.
Eliminate the comfort of the phone bill. Overcompensation is the result of stressors.
Singapore is the wealthiest county. Why? They have no resources. Therefore, they must overcompensate.
The species that have the best chance of surviving are the ones that are the most adaptable because they have to overcompensate due to contact with stressors.
Note #7: Lecturing birds to fly – optionality. You don’t need the Soviet/Harvard method but rather the New York aggressive method tinkering until you make an improvement. And u do this with simplicity and low downside.
I’d rather be antifragile than smart. I’d rather to be set up in a way to tinker randomly and not use my brain. – Nassim Taleb
The more complex our world, the more the soviet/Harvard method doesn’t work.
You have to be Roman and not greek. The Roman’s didn’t believe in theories.
Old technologies are likely to stick around and new technologies are likely to get replaced.
Note #8 A professor can only teach you how to become a professor.
Seneca discovered antifragility. Someone who is not a doer can’t understand antifragility.
Note #9 Prosperity and lack of crisis makes people weaker.
The small is a lot less fragile than the large. Design systems that are organized collections and maximum decentralization. Bottom up.
The Catholic Church is the oldest organization. Nothing should be done by the Vatican. Maximum decentralization.
The best political system is the one that is maximally decentralized that has a good uniform law and the military needs to be centralized.
Now I understand living on the edge in terms of David Deida. Living on the edge is embracing uncertainty and discomfort every second of the day so that your growth and development as a strong masculine man is continuous and never stagnant.
The way of men is the way of performance. The way of optimal and peak performance means constantly challenging yourself to stay on the edge in every single area of life. Then take rest depending on how you need to balance it in order to optimize and enjoy life. Stay on the edge in business as well and intellectually.
Insights from Steve Forbes
Quick Bio: Malcolm Stevenson “Steve” Forbes Jr. is an American publishing executive, who was twice a candidate for the nomination of the Republican Party for President of the United States. Forbes is the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes, a business magazine.
Note #1 Business was originated to produce happiness not produce piles of money only. Every business should remind itself of its mission constantly so that you can always adapt and not get too attached to any tactic. Having a strategy means having a sense of purpose.
Keep your eyes on the vision and don’t get too attached to the “how”.
Note #2 Learn how to delegate authority – learn to focus your mind on where you’re truly needed. Even if someone doesn’t do it as well as you. Don’t fear strong people in your company. Henry Ford couldn’t run a grocery store so he partnered with someone who could.
Don’t let your ego get in the way of hiring smarter and stronger people than you in your own company. Although, it may hurt your ego, allowing them to put great work in for you will only benefit you in the long run.
Note #3 Trust – give people a sense of purpose and give them the feeling that you know what you’re doing even if u don’t.
The mood of the leader affects the organization so make sure you keep that mood strong.
Note #4 Innovation could also mean just changing common things
You don’t have to get stuck in the mindset that all innovation is coming out with new and fancy inventions. Sometimes innovation is taking a common/everyday process and making it better. Forbes spoke about the innovation Starbucks created around coffee.
Note #6 In teams, you want 8-12 people working on a project MAX. Jeff Bezos has the 2 pizza rule – if it takes more than 2 pizzas to feed the team, you’ve got too much people in a team. Diversify your background for teams; left brain, right brain, young and old.
Note #7 Know your limits and expand until it’s no longer necessary than just consolidate. This was Julius Caesar’s mistake.
Don’t get stuck in the mental trap of many entrepreneurs who want constant growth and expansion. Sometimes, you need to stop and consolidate where you already are.
Note #8 Xenophon: Greek from Athens: Spartans get fucked. Xenophon steps up. Get yourself out of impossible situations. Communication and persuasion and rising to the occasion even when you have no preparation. Know nothing about it but rise to the occasion.
Even if you feel like you’re not fully prepared sometimes you need to just jump in instead of waiting. Once again, sometimes taking action without preparation will get you the result you want.
Note #9 Business advice: don’t ask yourself the question: how do I get rich? No, find out what you have a knack for. Then scale it up from there.
This is GOLD. It once again has to do with a more strategic view of business. You’ll do way better in the long-term if you consolidate on your strengths and go where your natural drives take you. You’ll do better where you’re more curious.
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