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Here are my notes from Purple Cow:

  1. When my family and I were driving through France a few years ago, we were enchanted by the hundreds of storybook cows grazing on picturesque pastures right next to the highway. For dozens of kilometers, we all gazed out the window, marveling about how beautiful everything was. Then, within twenty minutes, we started ignoring the cows. The new cows were just like the old cows, and what once was amazing was now common. Worse than common. It was boring.
    Cows, after you’ve seen them for a while, are boring. They may be perfect…

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Here are my notes from The Goal:

  1. Productivity is the act of bringing a company closer to its goal. Every action that brings a company closer to its goal is productive. Every action that does not bring a company closer to its goal is not productive.
  2. Productivity is meaningless unless you know what your goal is.

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Here are my notes from Stumbling on Happiness:

  1. Adults love to ask children idiotic questions so that we can chuckle when they give us idiotic answers. One particularly idiotic question we like to ask children is this: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Small children look appropriately puzzled, worried perhaps that our question implies they are at some risk of growing down. If they answer at all, they generally come up with things like “the candy guy” or “a tree climber.” We chuckle because the odds that the child will ever become the candy guy or…


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Here are my notes from A Short History of Nearly Everything:

  1. In his final years, Cope developed one other interesting obsession. It became his earnest wish to be declared the type specimen for Homo sapiens — that is, to have his bones be the official set for the human race. Normally, the type specimen of a species is the first set of bones found, but since no first set of Homo sapiens bones exists, there was a vacancy, which Cope desired to fill. It was an odd and vain wish, but no-one could think of any grounds to oppose it…


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Here are my notes from Mindset:

  1. Patricia Miranda was a chubby, unathletic high school kid who wanted to wrestle. After a bad beating on the mat, she was told, “You’re a joke.” First she cried, then she felt: “That really set my resolve . . . I had to keep going and had to know if effort and focus and belief and training could somehow legitimize me as a wrestler.” Where did she get this resolve?
    Miranda was raised in a life devoid of challenge. But when her mother died of an aneurysm at age forty, ten-year-old Miranda came up with…


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Here are my notes from Mastery:

  1. The common explanations for a Mozart or a Leonardo da Vinci revolve around natural talent and brilliance. How else to account for their uncanny achievements except in terms of something they were born with? But thousands upon thousands of children display exceptional skill and talent in some field, yet relatively few of them ever amount to anything, whereas those who are less brilliant in their youth can often attain much more. Natural talent or a high IQ cannot explain future achievement.
    As a classic example, compare the lives of Sir Francis Galton and his older…


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Here are my notes from The Checklist Manifesto:

  1. In the United States, we have nearly five million commercial buildings, almost one hundred million low-rise homes, and eight million or so high-rise residences. We add somewhere around seventy thousand new commercial buildings and one million new homes each year. But “building failure” — defined as a partial or full collapse of a functioning structure — is exceedingly rare, especially for skyscrapers. According to a 2003 Ohio State University study, the United States experiences an average of just twenty serious “building failures” per year. That’s an annual avoidable failure rate of less…

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Here are my notes from The Hard Thing About Hard Things:

  1. There are no shortcuts to knowledge, especially knowledge gained from personal experience.
  2. Leadership is the ability to get someone to follow you even if only out of curiosity.
  3. When you fired the person, how did you know with certainty that the employee both understood the expectations of the job and was still missing them?
  4. Every really good, really experienced CEO I know shares one important characteristic: They tend to opt for the hard answer to organizational issues. If faced with giving everyone the same bonus to make things easy…


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Here are my notes from On the Shortness of Life:

  1. Everyone hustles his life along, and is troubled by a longing for the future and weariness of the present. But the man who spends all his time on his own needs, who organizes every day as though it were his last, neither longs for nor fears the next day. For what new pleasures can any hour now bring him? He has tried everything, and enjoyed everything to repletion. For the rest, Fortune can dispose as she likes: his life is now secure. Nothing can be taken from this life, and…


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Here are my notes from Influence:

  1. A well-known principle of human behavior says that when we ask someone to do us a favor we will be more successful if we provide a reason. People simply like to have reasons for what they do.
  2. By no means is my friend original in this last use of the “expensive = good” rule to snare those seeking a bargain. Culturist and author Leo Rosten gives the example of the Drubeck brothers, Sid and Harry, who owned a men’s tailor shop in Rosten’s neighborhood while he was growing up in the 1930s. Whenever the…

Swapnil Agarwal

Software Developer at Day | Aspiring Writer at Night

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