Make Something

My first Marc Rebillet concert was at a dive bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. My friend Corey invited me to the show.

“You gotta check out this guy Marc Rebillet, he’s incredible”, Corey urged. “All of his songs are 100% improvised on the spot. I’ve never heard anything like it. He’s huge on reddit”. 

Eager to see “huge on reddit” in person, I hopped on the G train and met Corey at the concert. To be honest, the word “concert” is an embellishment. Marc’s setup was situated in the back of the bar between a pool table and the two-dollar photo booth.  Of the 25 attendees, at least half were there against their will due to a scheduling overlap with their weekly game of pool. From a performer’s perspective, the venue was an absolute nightmare. It makes me think of comedians recalling their early days performing at the local bowling alley or bingo night. Here’s some video evidence.

None of this phased Marc. He rocked a 90 minute set of fully improvised, never-before-heard songs. At one point, a random street vendor came into the bar yelling “Empanadas! Empanadas!” to alert the crowd of the food available for sale. Instead of disrupting the performance, it led to the most memorable song of the night — a medley of 808 drums over the inexplicably catchy loop of “empanadas”. 

It’s been a couple years since that show and Marc has soared beyond subreddit stardom. He’s earned over 600k Youtube followers, has a 25 city European tour under his belt, and was poised for a summer full of festivals (before they were cancelled one by one). 

Funky basslines, bizarre lyrics, and a non-stop energy — all reasons why Marc’s following has blossomed. But there’s another factor that stands out the most: his visceral creativity. To witness one of Marc’s shows (or live streams) is a lesson in originality that’s just not on display anywhere else. We’re very accustomed to seeing finished products. The corporate tweet vetted by an entire marketing department. The perfectly angled selfie of that model you follow on Instagram. Or even your favorite musician’s latest single. But witnessing pure creation while it’s happening? That’s a whole different ball game. 

So it came as a slight shock when the guy with endless ideas encountered a common struggle. It’s a challenge I battle daily. What do you do when you hit a creative dead end? What happens when the ideas stop flowing? In true Marc fashion, the answer is delivered in a song.  

“When you can’t come up with another idea…f*ck it, dude. Just make something. Just get up, get in front of your sh*t. Pump it out, baby! No one gives a f*ck about your creative integrity. None of it matters. All that matters is that you’re here, working. Making sh*t.”

-Marc Rebillet, from “Another Idea”

Thanks to Corey (and reddit) for introducing me to Marc. And thanks to Marc for creating the anthem I play on repeat whenever I can’t come up with another idea. It works.

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From the Backyard to ESPN: Lessons Learned from Hosting the World’s Largest Spikeball Tournament

You could say I enjoy obscure sports. At the family bar-b-que, you’ll find me outside taking a friendly game of croquet way too seriously.  In college, I spent my weekends zig-zagging the country to play Ultimate Frisbee with my club team. Instead of donning a cap and gown with my fellow graduating seniors, I was at the College Nationals tournament. My parents were surprisingly pretty cool about it.

With this resume, it’s no surprise when, in 2011, I became hooked on a new, non-mainstream fascination: Spikeball. What’s more surprising is how some casual pickup Spikeball games evolved into SummerSpike, one of the world’s largest Spikeball tournaments, with 200+ teams from around the world, and an hour-long ESPN2 feature.  

Here’s what I learned along the way. 

But first, a brief history of how SummerSpike came to be. 

Nowadays, when someone learns that I co-host SummerSpike, their reaction is usually, “Oh, that’s super cool, I love Spikeball! I saw it on Shark Tank and my buddies are always playing at the beach.”

But this excitement and familiarity has been a more recent development. Throughout 2011 and 2012, my friends Jack, Melissa, Neville, and I would play Spikeball on every patch of grass, sand, and turf we could find in New York City. Back then, the public reaction to Spikeball was something like, “Hey, sorry to bother you guys…but what’s that game you guys are playing?”

Always happy to spread the love, we’d take a minute to explain.

“This is Spikeball. It’s kind of like beach volleyball but instead of hitting the ball over a net, you hit it onto this trampoline thing. It’s 2 vs. 2, with three hits per team, and no assigned sides or boundaries. Once the ball is served you can move anywhere around the net, 360 degrees. Wanna jump in for a point?”

The brave would join us for a point or two. Everyone else would continue watching with growing intrigue and excitement. Their follow up comment was nearly as predictable as the initial curiosity. 

“I gotta get a set for myself. My friend/cousin/daughter would love it. Where can I buy one?”

I’m not sure of the exact moment, but after having this same conversation around 200 times, we had an idea. What if there was a Spikeball event that was circled on your calendar six months in advance? The sport wasn’t yet a household name but what if we could create a tournament that attracted people from around the country while simultaneously creating new fans of the game? The four of us met each other playing Ultimate Frisbee together at the University of Delaware. That sport is centered around weekend-long tournaments with a unique mixture of oddball athletes, competitive games, and equally competitive partying. 

In our minds, the model event was held every July in southern New Jersey. It’s a 500 team Ultimate Frisbee tournament on the majestic sands of Wildwood, NJ. It’s tough to put a finger on what makes Wildwood so damn fun. Is it the 5,000 instant friends taking over the beach? The friendly yet intense competition? The quick ocean swim to wash the sand off after every game? Finding new ways to skip the line at the beer garden? The lingering threat of an emergency tetanus shot after stepping on a rusty nail? Really, it’s all of those things magically mixed together to create the perfect event. So we asked ourselves: how can we create that same magic with Spikeball?

To explore that vision, in 2012 we organized a weekly Central Park summer league. Before kicking things off, we sent a cold email to Chris Ruder, CEO of Spikeball, introducing ourselves and our plans for the league. Chris graciously sent us two free sets for prizes. He was amped that we were organizing a community around Spikeball. We were amped to get some free Spikeball sets. 

The league sparked new friendships and games that lingered into the long summer evenings. It also confirmed our hypothesis that a big Spikeball event had the potential to be epic. As summer faded into fall, we threw our first official tournament: the Turkey Bowl. With only 9 teams, it was smaller than most Thanksgiving dinners yet was an essential step towards our goal. It helped us learn the basics of how to run a tournament. Between the three of us, we’d attended hundreds of sports tournaments. But playing in an event is very different than coordinating a successful one. We learned lots of little things, like how much space is needed between each set, average game duration, and how to set up a bracket.

After that tournament, we sent a slightly less cold email to Chris, sharing our SummerSpike vision: We were going to throw the world’s largest, and most fun, Spikeball tournament. Thinking back on that email exchange, I imagine that Chris classified our idea as aggressive and a tad unrealistic. Yet his reply was 100% supportive.

“How can I help?”

Inspired by the Lean Startup, we created a landing page to officially announce SummerSpike’s upcoming arrival in the summer of 2013. The page was a simple form to capture the name and email of anyone interested in playing in the world’s largest Spikeball tournament. Chris graciously socialized the page within his Spikeball network and within a month we had hundreds of submissions.  It was really happening. 

Before making the jump from our 9 team Turkey Bowl to our goal of a 100 team SummerSpike, we organized another tournament in the early spring of 2013. We wanted to run a bigger event to learn more about the logistics and operations of running a large scale tournament. It was mid-March, so it’s name, naturally, was March Madness. I’m not sure I would qualify the 9 team turnout as reaching madness levels, but we continued to learn how to run a smooth tournament and hone our SummerSpike vision. 

Here’s what we learned while building towards that vision: 

✔️ Start small and iterate. While it was initially disappointing we didn’t hit our 100 team goal until year 3, I’m happy it worked out that way. Our growth was strong and steady which allowed us to build upon the prior year’s success. In fact, I think the long term success of SummerSpike would have been compromised if we hit that 100 team goal right from the jump. When you grow too fast too soon, all processes and assumptions are stressed to the max and quality can be compromised. 

✔️ The team is everything. SummerSpike would not have happened without Neville, Melissa, and Jack and I all working together, side-by-side. Well, to be honest, they probably could have done it without me. But then you wouldn’t be reading these words. 

Having a strong team that you’re excited to work with makes every challenge feel fun, and everything fun even better. Our success to date can be attributed to two key factors. First, I always know when things go pear-shaped (and something always does) there’s no one else I’d rather go to battle with. Second, our team is balanced, with each of us possessing unique skills. When we needed to (semi-legally) crack open a fire hydrant to quench the thirst of 500 people? Neville, the ex-firefighter, jumped to the task. When we needed to find a way to organize the playing schedule for 211 teams, Melissa channeled her inner John Nash and Beautiful Minded the hell out of it. When we needed to coordinate logistics for a few tons of equipment and merchandise, Jack played air traffic controller. 

I asked Jack what makes our team special and he summed it up perfectly. “I think about this a lot. It’s my ideal of what working on a team should be. No one is looking to one-up each other. There are no politics and nothing is gained by individual performance. We’re friends that really clearly know what we’re trying to do and always have each other’s backs.”

✔️ Constantly search for ways to improve, even when everything goes great. Our unofficial post-event debrief takes place at the tournament party, beers in hand, 45 minutes after the last point is scored. Truthfully, I can’t remember a year when we weren’t extremely proud. Despite that cozy, comfortable feeling of achievement, we always hold an official “lessons learned” meeting a few days after the event.  No matter how many high fives are shared during the unofficial debrief, we always end up with a full page of improvements for the next year. 

Some of the lessons are obvious, like “bring a microphone so people can hear our announcements”. Others are smallI, like “a hand truck would make lugging equipment much easier”. And there’s the year when we decided to finalize our bar budget before cracking open the first beer at the after party — a generally useful life lesson. The relentless hunt for improvement is a crucial reason we’ve been able to create an event that keeps getting better. 

✔️ Each year will bring new challenges — embrace them. When you consciously build on prior successes, you’ll usually eliminate the old problems. The reality is that new challenges will always emerge. We’re exceptional at accepting that fact and looking to the horizon to identify the next emerging challenge. Here’s how our challenges evolved over time:

  • The first couple years were all about marketing and education. We started a tournament for a non-mainstream sport. How do we get people to show up? Three page marketing plans, Facebook messages, email blasts, sliding into Twitter DMs. Whatever it took to get those first crazy 45 teams to show up.
  • Once we hit the 100 team mark, we knew logistics would become increasingly important. Transportation, field setup, and food delivery were all equally essential. Something we underestimated was the difficulty of shipping, storing and transporting 2 tons of Spikeball sets, flags, and merch. Let’s just say Jack became quite friendly with the UPS, U-Haul, and storage facilities of New York City.
  • After we hit 200 teams in 2017, our longstanding goal of throwing the biggest tournament possible became less important. We knew we could go big and we didn’t feel attached to that challenge. The sport had naturally grown more popular and reaching 200 teams no longer required our all out effort. 

The sooner we could spot these challenges, the sooner we could embrace — and overcome them 

✔️ Seek enthusiastic partners. 2018 was a big year for us. ESPN was going to film SummerSpike and air it during their ESPN2 4th of July holiday programming. I think ESPN the Ocho was booked solid that day. I mean, nothing says America like some Spikeball followed by Joey Chestnut eating a record-breaking 74 hot dogs. 

We were ecstatic with SummerSpike’s evolution, recognition, and the potential exposure for the sport. But we were also facing some new challenges. Namely, how to fit a film truck, announcers, film crew, and rigging gear on a Coney Island beach with no electricity, running water, or parking. After investigating our options, we narrowed the venue choices down to the beach where we’d always hosted the tournament, and MCU Park, the local minor league stadium of the New York Mets. The rental price was the same for each option but there was one huge difference: MCU Park was excited to work with us. Every question we asked was met with an emphatic “yes!”. Compare that to the city bureaucracy, where every question was met with a referral to another city planning department. We decided to partner with MCU park and we haven’t looked back since. 

This desire to forge partnerships based on mutual excitement was no doubt cemented from our ongoing relationship with Spikeball Inc. From that first cold email with CEO Chris, they’ve been a key ingredient in SummerSpike’s success. Those two free summer league sets have evolved into an annual visit from the fully kitted Spikevan to supply sets and swag. Fun fact: Chris is also one of the few SummerSpikers to attend all seven years. 

✔️ A guiding principle will help make every decision easier. Call it a mantra, mission statement, or goal — the semantics don’t matter. At the end of the day, you need a guiding principle to fall back upon when making tough decisions. 

While planning SummerSpike, our guiding principle has always been the same: How can we create the most fun possible? Whenever we’re at a crossroads, we can cut through the noise and narrow our focus by recalling that mission. I know this sounds like the kind kumbaya idea recommended by The Bobs, but we put it to use in nearly every planning meeting. When decisions linger, someone will bring up our true goal. “If we want SummerSpikers to have the most fun possible, that makes this decision pretty straightforward”. Why are we throwing this tournament? So people have the most fun possible. Great, decision made. 

✔️ Find an X Factor. We’ve all been to an event that was kind of fun but still feels like a bit of a rip off. Shout out to every Knicks and Yankees game I’ve ever attended. We wanted to flip that feeling on it’s head. Instead, our goal is for every SummerSpiker to feel that they got their money’s worth — and then some. We want them to ask themselves why we didn’t charge more

A straightforward way to do this is to take less of a profit and pour that money back into the event. And we certainly do that. But we also learned that once you cover the basics, spending more money doesn’t always equate to more fun. Our approach is to find an “X Factor” — that special something that puts the event over the top. Every year we ask ourselves “what’s our X Factor?” A piñata stuffed with dollar bills? A mini keg trophy for the winner of the after party? A rapper crushing a SummerSpike themed rap over the stadium loudspeakers?  All X Factors, and all help create a valuable and memorable experience. 

A couple years ago, I was on vacation in Madrid, Spain a few weeks after our fifth successful SummerSpike tournament. I was hanging out in my hostel when I felt a tap on my shoulder. 

“Hey!”, I heard from behind, “you’re Dan from SummerSpike, right?” 

I spun around and saw Nate, a SummerSpiker who attended four of the past five events. It turned out that he was in town for a wedding and we spent a few minutes catching up since seeing each other at SummerSpike. We were blown away by the crazy coincidence of running into each in a random hostel in a random country across the Atlantic. 

“I’m assuming I’ll see you at the next SummerSpike?”, he asked me while heading out the door, “I’m already looking forward to next year!” 

That serendipitous moment is when I learned the most important lesson of all: creating something that brings anticipation, excitement, and joy to others makes all the challenges worthwhile. The other stuff you’ll figure out along the way. 

2012 Summer League

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The 16 Non-Fiction Books That Changed My Life

Photo by Eugenio Mazzone

It’s not everyday I can write a Buzzfeed-esque headline that speaks the truth. I know, this headline looks like it could have been spit out of a clickbait generator tool. But in reality, each of these books have dramatically shifted my attitude, career, and general philosophy. These are the 16 non-fiction books — alphabetically ordered — that changed my life. I hope you find them as transformative as I did. 

📚 A Mind for Numbers by Barbara Oakley

I discovered A Mind for Numbers as a student of Dr. Oakley’s incredibly popular Learning How to Learn course. Both the book and course teach students, of all ages, scientifically backed learning techniques. The book is geared toward students struggling with math but is jam packed with advice for anyone eager to learn new things. It simplifies complex studies of the brain, motivation, and memory into an approachable format with actionable techniques. I wish this book existed when I was in high school. 

“Mistakes are inevitable. To work past them, start early on your assignments and, unless you are really enjoying what you are doing, keep your working sessions short. Remember, when you take breaks, your diffuse mode is still working away in the background. It’s the best deal around—you continue to learn while you are taking it easy.” 

📚 Awareness: Conversations with the Masters by Anthony de Mello

Every page of Awareness is spilling over with wisdom. I’m not talking about cute little anecdotes that make you smile and feel warm and fuzzy inside. No, these are paradigm shifting insights that make you stop, close your eyes, and evaluate how you’re living life. De Mello, a Jesuit priest born in India, has created a spiritual masterpiece that weaves together insights from his life and nearly every religion. 

“To say no to people—that’s wonderful; that’s part of waking up. Part of waking up is that you live your life as you see fit. And understand: That is not selfish. The selfish thing is to demand that someone else live their life as YOU see fit. That’s selfish. It is not selfish to live your life as you see fit. The selfishness lies in demanding that someone else live their life to suit your tastes, or your pride, or your profit, or your pleasure. That is truly selfish.”

📚 Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins

I can’t stop recommending Can’t Hurt Me since finishing the book a few months ago. On the surface, it looks like any old self-help book urging you to get off your ass and attack life. I’ve read a lot of those books and I usually revert back to my old ways within a few days. This book is different — I just can’t get it out of my head. I think the differentiator is that David Goggins has lived every word. Navy SEAL, Army Ranger, world-record holder, ultra marathon athlete and professional surmounter of impossible odds. Goggins’ message is all about conquering your mind and his story is so truthfully brutal that it can’t be ignored. I also recommend his Instagram account for a weekly dose of motivation.

“What am I capable of? I couldn’t answer that question, but as I looked around the finish line that day and considered what I’d accomplished, it became clear that we are all leaving a lot of money on the table without realizing it. We habitually settle for less than our best; at work, in school, in our relationships, and on the playing field or race course. We settle as individuals, and we teach our children to settle for less than their best, and all of that ripples out, merges, and multiplies within our communities and society as a whole.”

📚 Essentialism by Greg McKeown

Constantly focusing on trying to do more in less time is a loser’s bargain. Instead, McKeown urges us to flip the rules in our favor: only do what’s important. I picked up this book while I was juggling several personal and professional projects and struggling to keep all the balls in the air. After finishing Essentialism, I took the time to figure out which balls are important and that it’s OK to let the other ones fall to the ground. 

“Only in the 1900s did we pluralize the term and start talking about priorities. Illogically, we reasoned that by changing the word we could bend reality. Somehow we would now be able to have multiple “first” things. People and companies routinely try to do just that.”

📚 Leonardo DaVinci by Walter Isaacson

Lenoardo DaVinci is one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. We’re quick to classify DaVinci as a just an artist but this book reveals him to be a true student of life. I couldn’t help but compare DaVinci’s methods for satiating his thirst for knowledge against modern times. He sought to understand by personally observing and experimenting. Compare that to today, where I can rattle off a quick Google search to answer any fleeting question. Is my reliance on instant results stifling my capacity for experimentation? 

“So, too, was his ease at being a bit of a misfit: illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted, and at times heretical. Florence flourished in the fifteenth century because it was comfortable with such people. Above all, Leonardo’s relentless curiosity and experimentation should remind us of the importance of instilling, in both ourselves and our children, not just received knowledge but a willingness to question it—to be imaginative and, like talented misfits and rebels in any era, to think different.” (Walter Isaacson , Leonardo Da Vinci)

📚 Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

I’ve always been drawn to philosophy books and Meditations is a classic. Marcus Aurelius was the Roman Emperor from 161-180 AD and is considered a father of Stoic Philosophy. In this book, Aurelius shares his advice for putting life into perspective and how to find tranquility in almost any situation. 

“To the gods I am indebted for having good grandfathers, good parents, a good sister, good teachers, good associates, good kinsmen and friends, nearly everything good.” 

📚 Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Tavris & Elliot Aronson

Mistakes Were Made is all about cognitive dissonance — how our brains despise conflict and will go to extreme measures to create a consistent storyline in our heads. This phenomenon happens to everyone, everyday, and we’re none the wiser. The book exposes the tricks we play on ourselves and is a treasure map to uncover the blind spots in our minds.  

“Memories create our stories, but our stories also create our memories. Once we have a narrative, we shape our memories to fit into it.”

📚 Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss & Tahl Raz

Voss was the former lead FBI hostage negotiator and his book focuses on the softer negotiation skills. Your BATNA and ZOPA are less important when you’re on the phone with a bank robber holding six hostages at gunpoint. His book explains how to extract more information from the other side and how to encourage them to negotiate with themselves. It’s a great blend of practicality, with exact scripts to use, and entertainment, with war stories from negotiations with international terrorists. 

“It’s almost laughably simple: for the FBI, a “mirror” is when you repeat the last three words (or the critical one to three words) of what someone has just said. Of the entirety of the FBI’s hostage negotiation skill set, mirroring is the closest one gets to a Jedi mind trick. Simple, and yet uncannily effective.” 

📚 On Grief and Grieving by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross & David Kessler

I would expect most people to open On Grief and Grieving when they’re experiencing extreme loss. That’s what I did. I picked it up shortly after my mom died after a twenty month battle with pancreatic cancer.  But I wish I didn’t wait for such a traumatic experience to learn the principles from this book. Yes, it helped me get through an extremely challenging time. But it also empowered me to face the smaller, yet still important, losses that we experience more frequently. It also taught me ways to better support others while they are grieving.

“As tough as it is, depression can be dealt with in a paradoxical way. See it as a visitor, perhaps an unwelcome one, but one who is visiting whether you like it or not. Make a place for your guest. Invite your depression to pull up a chair with you in front of the fire, and sit with it, without looking for a way to escape. Allow the sadness and emptiness to cleanse you and help you explore your loss in its entirety. When you allow yourself to experience depression, it will leave as soon as it has served its purpose in your loss. As you grow stronger, it may return from time to time, but that is how grief works.” 

📚 Suggestible You by Erik Vance

Suggestible You opened my eyes to the seemingly impossible powers of the mind. Vance digs deep into the placebo effect, false memories, and the pharmaceutical cabinet between our ears. The placebo effect is usually discussed in a negative fashion but Vance clarifies how it works and how it can be harnessed. He also keeps the storyline interesting by playing the role of human guinea pig —  voluntarily hiring a Mexican witch doctor to curse him and trying his luck at hypnosis.

“In fact, placebos and expectation are so effective against depression that it is difficult to find a drug that’s more powerful. From 1987 to 1999 the pharmaceutical industry exploded with depression meds like Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox, and Celexa—each of which has become a blockbuster drug and presumably helped millions of suffering people. But if you look at drug studies during this time, about 75 to 80 percent of their efficacy can be attributed to placebo effects. And if you look carefully, there was no real difference between high doses and low doses, which is odd and suggests the meds weren’t as effective as we thought. (Usually, for a truly effective drug, you would expect a difference. Imagine a high dose of morphine versus a small one.”

📚 The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss

This book was a masterclass in changing my outlook towards the accumulation of money. The prevailing wisdom in America is pretty straightforward: sacrifice time to gather money now in the hopes we have time in the future to enjoy that money. Ferriss urges us to challenge that notion and, instead, treat money as a tool that lets us achieve specific goals — right now. The book frames this outlook with modern tools and work styles that fly in the face of the traditional 9-to-5. 

“$1,000,000 in the bank isn’t the fantasy. The fantasy is the lifestyle of complete freedom it supposedly allows.”

📚 The Hard Things About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

Most business books speak hypothetically about how things should be. Horowitz throws the rose colored glasses out the window and focuses on how to deal with the inevitable difficulties inherent to every business. What to do when your business is tanking. How to manage difficult employees. The best way to communicate bad news. It’s all real and it’s all in this book. 

[advice given to Ben on how to communicate a dire business situation]
“No matter what we say, we’re going to get killed. As soon as we reset guidance, we’ll have no credibility with investors, so we might as well take all the pain now, because nobody will believe any positivity in the forecast anyway. If you are going to eat shit, don’t nibble.”

📚 The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John Bogle

This is an excellent introduction to anyone who’s interested in taking control of their personal finances. Bogle founded investing behemoth Vanguard and essentially invented the index fund. His simple principles are the foundation for my personal investing strategy. He explains why index funds are your best friend and how, lucky for you, a successful portfolio is pretty damn boring. 

“Adding a fourth law to Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion, the inimitable Warren Buffett puts the moral of the story this way: For investors as a whole, returns decrease as motion increases.”

📚 The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson

I love this book because it flies in the face the “overnight success” mantra we’ve all been conditioned to chase. Olson’s premise is simple. You don’t need incredible skill or a brilliant idea — you just need to do the little things, every day, for a long time. Those little things are easy to do, but they’re also just as easy not to do. This approach was the driving factor in my dramatic increase in writing output this past year. Instead of trying to write a certain number of articles, I used the Slight Edge principle and attempted to write twenty minutes each day. The results didn’t matter, just that I spent twenty focused minutes on writing. That effort turned into twenty articles in a single year — the same amount I wrote in the prior seven years combined.

“The secret of time is simply this: time is the force that magnifies those little, almost imperceptible, seemingly insignificant things you do every day into something titanic and unstoppable. consistently repeated daily actions + time = inconquerable results.” 

📚 Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Paying $9.99 for a few hundred sheets of paper can feel expensive. And then you pay $9.99 for a few hundred sheets written by Kahneman, the winner of the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics, and your opinion changes. Kahneman discovered the two systems that drive how we think: System 1 — quick, intuitive, and emotional; and System 2 — methodical, paced, and logical. How do these forces impact our decision making? How can System 1 impact our judgement? When should we trust System 2 vs System 1?  Tap into decades of groundbreaking research for under ten bucks and find out. 

“…it is an anchoring effect. It occurs when people consider a particular value for an unknown quantity before estimating that quantity. What happens is one of the most reliable and robust results of experimental psychology: the estimates stay close to the number that people considered—hence the image of an anchor. If you are asked whether Gandhi was more than 114 years old when he died you will end up with a much higher estimate of his age at death than you would if the anchoring question referred to death at 35. If you consider how much you should pay for a house, you will be influenced by the asking price. The same house will appear more valuable if its listing price is high than if it is low, even if you are determined to resist the influence of this number; and so on—the list of anchoring effects is endless.” 

📚 Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker

Matthew Walker, neuroscience professor and sleep expert, awakened me (bad pun intended) to the life altering power of sleep. In my post about The Forgotten Foundation of Human Performance, I summarized three book themes: Sleep improves almost every facet of human performance, not enough sleep will significantly hinder our capabilities, and virtually all of us need 7-9 hours of sleep per night. The science is powerful and the book is persuasive.

“I doubt you are surprised by this fact, but you may be surprised by the consequences. Routinely sleeping less than six or seven hours a night demolishes your immune system, more than doubling your risk of cancer. Insufficient sleep is a key lifestyle factor determining whether or not you will develop Alzheimer’s disease. Inadequate sleep—even moderate reductions for just one week—disrupts blood sugar levels so profoundly that you would be classified as pre-diabetic. Short sleeping increases the likelihood of your coronary arteries becoming blocked and brittle, setting you on a path toward cardiovascular disease, stroke, and congestive heart failure.”

What books have changed your life? 

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