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“The Drunkard’s Walk” Quotes

I recently read “The Drunkard’s Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives” by Leonard Mlodinow. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like them, buy and read the book.

“The human mind is built to identify for each event a definite cause and can therefore have a hard time accepting the influence of unrelated or random factors.” (xi)

“Successful people in every field are almost universally members of a certain set – the set of people who don’t give up.” (11)

“We should expect, by chance alone, about 1 in 10 of the CEOs to have five winning or losing years in a row.” (100)

“It is more reliable to judge people by analyzing their abilities than by glancing at the scoreboard.” (100)

“Voting is also a kind of measurement. In that case we are measuring not simply how many people support each candidate on election day but how many care enough to take the trouble to vote.” (1260

“Studies have shown that even flavor-trained professionals can rarely reliably identify more than three or four components in a mixture.” (132)

“In the months after the attacks of September 11, 2001, when travelers, afraid to take airplanes, suddenly switched to cars. Their fear translated into about 1,000 more highway fatalities in that period than in the same period the year before – hidden casualties of the September 11 attack.” (159)

“Because the myriad of foreseeable and chance obstacles that must be overcome to complete a task of any complexity, the connection between ability and accomplishment is far less direct than anything that can possibly be explained by Galton’s ideas (of genetics).” (161)

“Psychologists have found that the ability to persist in the face of obstacles is at least as important a factor in success as talent.” (161)

“Events whose patterns appear to have a definite cause may actually be the product of chance.” (173)

“One of the most beneficial things we can do for ourselves is to look for ways to exercise control over our lives – or at least to look for ways that help us feel that we do.” (185)

“If events are random, we are not in control, and if we are in control of events, they are not random. There is therefore a fundamental clash between our need to feel we are in control and our ability to recognize randomness. That clash is one of the principal reasons we misinterpret random events.” (186)

“Although statistical regularities can be found in social data, the future of particular individuals is impossible to predict, and for our particular achievements, our jobs, our friends, our finances, we all owe more to chance than many people realize.” (195)

“We can focus on the ability to react to events rather than relying on the ability to predict them, on qualities like flexibility, confidence, courage and perseverance. And we can place more importance on our direct impressions of people thanon their well-trumpeted past accomplishments.” (203)

“In complex systems (among which I count our lives) we should expect that minor factors we can usually ignore will by chance sometimes cause major incidents.” (204)

“That is the deterministic view of the marketplace, a view in which it is mainly the intrinsic qualities of the person or the product that governs success. But there is another way to look at it, a nondeterministic view. In this view there are many high-quality but unknown books, singers, actors, and what makes on or another come to stand out is largely a conspiracy of random and minor factors – that is, luck.” (205)

“Realizing that “few people would engage in extended activity if they believe that there were a random connection between what they did and the rewards they received,” Lerner concluded that “for the sake of their own sanity,” people overestimate the degree to which ability can be inferred from success.” (210)

“We tend to see what we expect to see. We in effect define degree of talent by degree of success and then reinforce our feelings of causality by noting the correlation. That’s why although there is sometimes little difference in ability between a wildly successful person and one who is not as successful, there is usually a big difference in how they are viewed.” (212)

“Thomas Edison observed that “many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” (216)

“What I’ve learned, above all, is to keep marching forward because the best news is that since chance does play a role, one important factor in success is under our control: the number of at bats, the number of chances taken, the number of opportunities seized. For even a coin weighted toward failure will sometimes land on success. Or as the IBM pioneer Thomas Watson said, “If you want to succeed, double your failure rate.” (217)

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“Win Bigly” Quotes

I recently read “Win Bigly: Persuasion In A World Where Facts Don’t Matter” by Scott Adams. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, click here to buy the book.

“We all think we are the enlightened ones. And we assume the people who disagree with us just need better facts, and perhaps better brains, in order to agree with us. That filter on life makes most of us happy – because we see ourselves as the smart ones.” (3)

“The method goes like this:
Make a claim that is directionally accurate but has a big exaggeration or factual error in it.
Wait for people to notice the exaggeration or error and spend endless hours talking about how wrong it is.
When you dedicate focus and energy to an idea, you remember it. And the things that have the most mental impact on you will irrationally seem as though tye are high in priority, even if they are not. That’s persuasion.” (20)

“The things that you think about the most will irrationally rise in importance in your mind.” (22)

“Consider a small 2012 study by researcher Daniel Oppenheimer that found students had better recall when a font was harder to read.” (25)

“A good general rule is that people are more influenced by visual persuasion, emotion, repetition, and simplicity than they are by details and facts.” (25)

“Humans think they are rational, and they think they understand their reality. But they are wrong on both counts.” (35)

“The main theme of this book is that humans are not rational. We bounce from one illusion to another, all the while thinking we are seeing something we call reality. The truth ist hat facts and reason don’t have much influence on our decisions, except for trivial things, such as putting gas in your car when you are running low. On all the important stuff, we are emotional creatures who make decisions first and rationalize them after the fact.” (37)

“On mushrooms… your perceptions are independent from the underlying reality. This awareness never leaves you. Once you understand your experience of life as an interpretation of reality, you can’t go back to your old way of thinking.” (43)

“The most common trigger for cognitive dissonance is when a person’s self-image doesn’t fit their observations. For example, if you believe you are a smart and well-informed person, and then
You do something that’s clearly dumb, it sends you into a state of cognitive dissonance. And once you are in that uncomfortable state of mind, your brain automatically generates an illusion to solve the discomfort. In this situation, your brain would tell you the new information was inaccurate. The alternative is to believe that you are dumb, and that violates your self-image. You don’t like to change your self-image unless it is in the direction of improvement.” (49)

“It is easy to fit completely different explanations to the observed facts. Don’t trust any interpretation of reality that isn’t able to predict.” (54)

“People are more influenced by the direction of things than the current state of things.” (68)

“The reality one learns while practicing hypnosis is that we make our decisions first – for irrational reasons – and we rationalize them later as having something to do with facts and reason.” (71)

“If you want the audience to embrace your content, leave out any detail that is both unimportant and would give people a reason to think, That’s not me. Design into your content enough blank spaces so people can fill them in with whatever makes them happiest.” (78)

“Our brains interpret high energy as competence and leadership (even when it isn’t).” (92)

“Our visual sense is the most persuasive of our fives senses, so using a real person whom we recognize, and can imagine, is a great technique.” (95)

“Below I rank for you the broad forms of persuasion by their relative power…
Big fear
Identity
Smaller fear
Aspirations
Habit
Analogies
Rason
Hypocrisy
Word-thinking” (99)

“When you attack a person’s belief, the person under attack is more likely to harden his belief than to abandon it, even if your argument is airtight.” (106)

“Fear can be deeply persuasive. But not all fear-related persuasion is equal. To maximize your fear persuasion, follow these guidelines.
A big fear is more persuasive than a small one.
A personal fear is more persuasive than a generic national problem.
A fear that you think about most often is stronger than one you rarely think about.
A fear with a visual component is scarier than one without.
A fear you have experienced firsthand (such as a crime) is scarier than a statistic.” (114)

“It is easier to persuade people when they expect to be persuaded. If your persuasion skills are viewed as credible, people will persuade themselves that you can persuade them, and that makes everything easier.Credibility, of any sort, is persuasive.” (116)

“If you want to persuade use visual language and visual imagery. The difference in effectiveness is enormous.” (137)

“Participate in activities at which you excel compared with others. People’s impression of you as talented and capable compared with the average participant will spill over to the rest of your personal brand.” (147)

“In business, always present your ideas in the context of alternatives that are clearly worse. Don’t just sell your proposed solution; slime all the other options with badness.” (147)

“Always remember that people make decisions in the context of alternatives. If you aren’t framing the alternatives as bad, you are not persuading at all.” (147)

“When you associate any two ideas or images, people’s emotional reaction to them will start to merge over time.” (153)

“Humans put more importance on the first part of a sentence than the second part.” (159)

“Simplicity makes your ideas easy to understand, easy to remember, and easy to spread. You can be persuasive only when you are also memorable.” (201)

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“The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing” Quotes

I recently read “The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing: Violate Them at Your Own Risk!” by Al Ries and Jack Trout. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, buy the book here.

“The basic issue in marketing is creating a category you can be first in. It’s the law of leadership: It’s better to be first than it is to be better. It’s much easier to get into the mind first than to try to convince someone you have a better product than the one that did get there first.” (3)

“Regardless of reality, people perceive the first product in the mind as superior: Marketing is a battle of perceptions, not products.” (8)

“If you can’t be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.” (10)

“If you didn’t get into the prospect’s mind first, don’t give up hope. Find a new category you can be first in.” (11)

“When you launch a new product, the first question to ask yourself is not “How is this new product better than the competition?” but “First what?” In other words, what category is this new product first in?” (13)

“Forget the brand. Think categories. Prospects are on the defensive when it comes to brands. Everyone talks about why their brand is better. But prospects have an open mind when it comes to categories. Everyone is interested in what’s new. Few people are interested in what’s better.” (13)

“When you’re the first in a new category, promote the category. In essence, you have no competition. DEC told its prospects why they ought to buy a minicomputer; not a DEC minicomputer.” (13)

“It’s better to be first in the mind than to be first in the marketplace.” (14)

“Once a mind is made up, it rarely, if ever, changes. The single most wasteful thing you can do in marketing is try to change a mind.” (16)

“If you want to make a big impression on another person, you cannot worm your way into their mind and then slowly build up a favorable opinion over a period of time. The mind doesn’t work that way. You have to blast your way into the mind. The reason you blast instead of worm is that people don’t like to change their minds. Once they perceive you one way, that’s it. They kind of file you away in their minds as a certain kind of person. You cannot become a different person in their minds.” (17)

“There is no objective reality. There are no facts. There are no best products. All that exists in the world of marketing are perceptions in the minds of the customer or prospect. The perception is the reality. Everything else is an illusion.” (19)

“When you say, “I’m right and the next person is wrong,” all you’re really saying is that you’re a better perceiver than someone else.” (19)

“A company can become incredibly successful if it can find a way to own a word in the mind of the prospect. Not a complicated word. Not an invent one. The simple words are best, words taken right out of the dictionary.” (27)

“The most effective words are simple and benefit oriented. No matter how complicated the product, no matter how complicated the needs of the market, it’s always better to focus on one word or benefit rather than two or three or four.” (28)

“The essence of marketing is narrowing the focus. You become stronger when you reduce the scope of your operations. You can’t stand for something if you chase after everything.” (31)

“You often reinforce your competitor’s position by making its concept more important.” (35)

“You tend to have twice the market share of the brand below you and half the market share of the brand above you.” (41)

“It’s sometimes better to be No. 3 on a big ladder than No. 1 on a small ladder.” (43)

“Before starting any marketing program, ask yourself the following questions: Where are we on the ladder in the prospect’s mind? On the top rung? On the second rung? Or maybe we’re not on the ladder at all. Then make sure your program deals realistically with your position on the ladder.” (43)

“Marketing is often a battle for legitimacy. The first brand that captures the concept is often able to portray its competitors as illegitimate pretenders.” (54)

“Over time, a category will divide and become two or more categories.” (56)

“Any sort of couponing, discounts, or sales tends to educate consumers to buy only when they can get a deal.” (64)

“When you try to be all things to all people, you inevitably wind up in trouble. “I’d rather be strong somewhere,” said one manager, “than weak everywhere.”” (71)

“The full line is a luxury for a loser. If you want to be successful, you have to reduce your product line, not expand it.” (77)

“The target is not the market. That is, the apparent target of your marketing is not the same as the people who will actually buy your product. Even though Pepsi-Cola’s target was the teenager, the market was everybody. The 50-year-old guy who wants to think he’s 29 will drink the Pepsi.” (82)

“One of the most effective ways to get into a prospect’s mind is to first admit a negative and then twist it into a positive.” (89)

“Marketing is often a search for the obvious. Since you can’t change a mind once it’s made up, your marketing efforts have to be devoted to using ideas and concepts already installed in the brain.” (90)

“The law of candor must be used carefully and with great skill. First, your “negative” must be widely perceived as a negative. It has to trigger an instant agreement with your prospect’s mind. If the negative doesn’t register quickly, your prospect will be confused and will wonder, “What’s this all about?” Next, you have to shift quickly to the positive. The purpose of candor isn’t to apologize. The purpose of candor is to set up a benefit that will convince your prospect.” (91)

“History teaches that the only thing that works in marketing is the single, bold stroke.” (93)

“Failure to forecast competitive reaction is a major reason for marketing failures.” (99)

“When people become successful, they tend to become less objective. They often substitute their own judgement for what the market wants.” (105)

“When IBM was successful, the company said very little. Now it throws a lot of press conferences. When things are going well, a company doesn’t need the hype. When you need the hype, it usually means you’re in trouble.” (115)

“But, for the most part, hype is hype. Real revolutions don’t arrive at high noon with marching bands and coverage on the 6:00 P.M> news. Real revolutions arrive unannounced in the middle of the night and kind of sneak up on you.” (119)

“Here’s the paradox. If you were faced with a rapidly rising business, with all the characteristics of a fad, the best thing you could do would be to dampen the fad. By dampening the fad, you stretch the fad out and it becomes more like a trend.” (122)

“The most successful entertainers are the ones who control their appearances. They don’t overextend themselves. They’re not all over the place. They don’t wear out their welcome.” (122)

“One way to maintain a long-term demand for your product is to never totally satisfy the demand.” (123)

“You’ll get no further with a mediocre idea and million dollars than with a great idea alone.” (125)

“An idea without money is worthless. Be prepared to give away a lot for the funding.” (126)

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“The Undoing Project” Quotes

I recently read “The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds” by Michael Lewis. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, buy the book here.

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.” -Voltaire

“Daryl Morey suggested a new definition of the nerd: a person who knows his own mind well enough to mistrust it.” (31)

“Danny said, “I’ve always felt ideas were a dime a dozen. If you had one that didn’t work out, you should not fight too hard to save it, just go find another.”” (73)

“Later when he was a university professor, Danny would tell students, “When someone says something, don’t ask yourself if it is true. Ask what it might be true of.” That was his intellectual instinct, his natural first step to the mental hoop: to take whatever someone had just said to him and try not to tear it down but to make sense of it.” (82)

“At some point it didn’t matter: He compelled himself to be brave until bravery became a habit.” (94)

“Amos liked to say that stinginess was contagious and so was generosity, and since behaving generously made you happier than behaving stingily, you should avoid stingy people and spend your time only with generous ones.” (109)

“A banana and an apple seem more similar than they otherwise would because we’ve agreed to call them both fruit. Things are grouped together for a reason, but, once they are grouped, their grouping causes them to seem more like each other than they otherwise would. That is, the mere act of classification reinforces stereotypes. If you want to weaken some stereotype, eliminate the classification.” (115)

“The only way to understand a mechanism such as the eye, Danny thought, was studying the mistakes that it made. Error wasn’t merely instructive; it was the key that might unlock the deep nature of the mechanism. “How do you understand memory?” he asked. “You don’t study memory. You study forgetting.”” (129)

“Danny explained, “Reforms always create winners and losers, and the losers will always fight harder than the winners.” How did you get the losers to accept change? The prevailing strategy on the Israeli farms – which wasn’t working very well – was to bully or argue with the people who needed to change. The psychologist Kurt Lewin had suggested persuasively that, rather than selling people on some change, you were better off identifying the reasons for their resistance, and addressing those. Imagine a plank held in place by a spring on either side of it, Danny told the students. How do you move it? Well, you can increase the force on one side of the plank. Or you can reduce the force on the other side. “In one case the overall tension is reduced,” he said, “and in the other it is increased.” And that was a sort of proof that there was an advantage in reducing the tensions. “It’s a key idea,” said Danny. “Making it easy to change.”” (138-39)

“Someone once said that education was knowing what to do when you don’t know.” (140)

“This is what happens when people become attached to a theory. They fit the evidence to the theory rather than the theory to the evidence. They cease to see what’s right under their nose.” (149)

“Amos liked to say, “When you are a pessimist and the bad thing happens, you live it twice. Once when you worry about it, and the second time when it happens.” (155)

“People’s “intuitive expectations are governed by a consistent misperception of the world,” Danny and Amos had written in their final paragraph.” (164)

“Amos had a gift for avoiding what he called “overcomplicated” people.” (179)

“Work, for Amos, had always been play: If it wasn’t fun, he simply didn’t see the point in doing it.” (181)

“He refused to start a paper until he had decided what it would be called. He believed the title forced you to come to grips with what your paper was about.” (182)

“The world’s not just a stage. It’s a casino, and our lives are games of chance. And when people calculate the odds in any life situation, they are often making judgments about similarity – or representativeness. You have some notion of a parent population: “storm clouds” or “gastric ulcers” or “genocidal dictators” or “NBA players.” You compare the specific case to the parent population.” (183)

“The stories people told themselves, when the odds were either unknown or unknowable, were naturally too simple.” (195)

“Man is a deterministic device thrown into a probabilistic Universe.” (197)

“Man’s inability to see the power of regression to the mean leaves him blind to the nature of the world around him.” (203)

“He who sees the past as surprise-free is bound to have a future full of surprises.” (208)

“The problem was not what they (the doctors) knew, or didn’t know. It was their need for certainty or, at least, the appearance of certainty.” (220)

“The secret to doing good research is always to be a little underemployed. You waste years by not being able to waste hours.” (230)

“It is sometimes easier to make the world a better place than to prove you have made the world a better place.” (230)

“That number represented the best estimate of the odds. Apparently the foreign minister didn’t want to rely on the best estimates. He preferred his own internal probability calculator: his gut. “That was the moment I gave up on decision analysis,” said Danny. “No one ever made a decision because of a number. They need a story.” (250)

“Happy people did not dwell on some imagined unhappiness the way unhappy people imagined what they might have done differently so that they might be happy. People did not seek to avoid other emotions with the same energy they sought to avoid regret.” (261)

“Danny wrote, “the general point is that the same state of affairs (objectively) can be experienced with very different degrees of misery,” depending on how easy it is to imagine that things might have turned out differently.” (263)

“People did not choose between things. They chose between descriptions of things.” (278)

“After all, what is a marriage if not an agreement to distort one’s perception of another, in relation to everyone else?” (334)

“”The brain appears to be programmed, loosely speaking, to provide as much certainty as it can,” Amos once said, in a talk to a group of Wall Street executives. “It is apparently designed to make the best possible case for a given interpretation rather than to represent all the uncertainty about a given situation.”” (336)

“There was a kind of stoic distance that was astonishing. Amos said, ‘Life is a book. The fact that it was a short book doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good book. It was a very good book.’”

“Danny made a rule about his fantasy life: He never fantasized about something that might happen. He established this private rule for his imagination once he realized that, after he had fantasized about something that might actually happen, he lost his drive to make it happen.” (352)

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“Tribe” Quotes

I recently read “Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging” by Sebastian Junger. Below are the quotes I found most interesting. If you like the quotes, click here to buy the book.

“Surely this was new in the human experience, I thought. How do you become an adult in a society that doesn’t ask for sacrifice? How do you become a man in a world that doesn’t require courage?” (xiv)

“Humans don’t mind hardship, in fact they thrive on it; what they mind is not feeling necessary. Modern society has perfected the art of making people not feel necessary.” (xvii)

“As societies become more affluent they tend to require more, rather than less, (work) time and commitment by the individual, and it’s possible that many people feel that affluence and safety simply aren’t a good trade for freedom.” (16)

“The relatively relaxed pace of !Kung life – even during times of adversity – challenged long-standing ideas that modern society created a surplus of leisure time. It created exactly the opposite: a desperate cycle of work, financial obligation, and more work. The !Kung had far fewer belongings than Westerners, but their lives were under much greater personal control.” (17)

“First agriculture, and then industry, changed two fundamental things about the human experience. The accumulation of personal property allowed people to make more and more individualistic choices about their lives, and those choices unavoidably diminished group efforts toward a common good. And as society modernized, people found themselves able to live independently from any communal group. A person living in a modern city or suburb can, for the first time in history, go through an entire day – or an entire life – mostly encountering complete strangers. They can be surrounded by others and yet feel deeply, dangerously alone.” (18)

“As affluence and urbanization rise in a society, rates of depression and suicide tend to go up rather than down.” (19)

“People in wealthy countries suffer depression at as much as eight times the rate they do in poor countries.” (20)

“The mechanism seems simple: poor people are forced to share their time and resources more than wealthy people are, and as a result they live in closer communities.” (21)

“Self-determination theory holds that human beings need three basic things in order to be content: they need to feel competent at what they do; they need to feel authentic in their lives; and they need to feel connected to others.” (22)

“Communities that have been devastated by natural or man-made disasters almost never lapse into chaos and disorder; if anything, they become more just, more egalitarian, and more deliberately fair to individuals.” (44)

“Charles Fritz’s theory was that modern society has gravely disrupted the social bonds that have always characterized the human experience, and that disasters thrust people back into a more ancient, organic way of relating. Disasters, he proposed, create a “community of sufferers” that allows individuals to experience an immensely reassuring connection to others. As people come together to face an existential threat, Fritz found, class differences are temporarily erased, income disparities become irrelevant, race is overlooked, and individuals are assessed simply by what they are willing to do for the group. It is a kind of fleeting social utopia that, Fritz felt, is enormously gratifying to the average person and downright therapeutic to people suffering from mental illness.” (53-54)

“Women tend to act heroically within their own moral universe, regardless of whether anyone else knows about it – donating more kidneys to non-relatives than men do, for example. Men, on the other hand, are far more likely to risk their lives at a moment’s notice, and that reaction is particularly strong when others are watching, or when they are part of a group.” (58)

“What would you risk dying for – and for whom – is perhaps the most profound question a person can ask themselves.” (59)

“The Iroquois Nation presumably understood the transformative power of war when they developed parallel systems of government that protected civilians from warriors and vice versa. Peacetime leaders, called sachems, were often chosen by women and had complete authority over the civil affairs of the tribe until war broke out. At that point war leaders took over, and their sole concern was the physical survival of the tribe.” (78)

“Whatever the technological advances of modern society – and they’re nearly miraculous – the individualized lifestyles that those technologies spawn seem to be deeply brutalizing to the human spirit.” (93)

“According to Shalev, the closer the public is to the actual combat, the better the war will be understood and the less difficulty soldiers will have when they come home.” (96)

“Because modern society has almost completely eliminated trauma and violence from everyday life, anyone who does suffer those things is deemed to be extraordinarily unfortunate. This gives people access to sympathy and resources but also creates an identity of victimhood that can delay recovery.” (98)

“The definition of community – of tribe – would be the group of people that you would both help feed and help defend. A society that doesn’t offer its members the chance to act selflessly in these ways isn’t a society in any tribal sense of the word; it’s just a political entity that, lacking enemies, will probably fall apart on its own.” (110)

“Soldiers experience this tribal way of thinking at war, but when they come home they realize that the tribe they were actually fighting for wasn’t their country, it was their unit. It makes absolutely no sense to make sacrifices for a group that, itself, isn’t willing to make sacrifices for you. That is the position American soldiers have been in for the past decade and a half.” (110)

“The last time the United States experienced that kind of unity was – briefly – after the terrorist attacks of September 11. There was no rampage shootings for the next two years. The effect was particularly pronounced in New York City, where rates of violent crime, suicide, and psychiatric disturbances dropped immediately. In many countries, antisocial behavior is known to decline during wartime.” (116)

“We live in a society that is basically at war with itself. People speak with incredible contempt about – depending on their views – the rich, the poor, the educated, the foreign born, the president, or the entire US government. It’s a level of contempt that is usually reserved for enemies in wartime, except that now it’s applied to our fellow citizens.” (125)

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