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February 2021

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Who you are is not the values you list on the wall. It’s not what you say in company-wide meeting. It’s not your marketing campaign. It’s not even what you believe. Who you are is what you do

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In What You Do Is Who You Are, Ben combines lessons both from history and from modern organizational practice with practical and often surprising advice to help executives build cultures that can weather both good and bad times. Ben Horowitz is the co-founder and general partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. He is also the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Hard Thing About Hard Things.

What You Do Is Who You Are explains how to make your culture purposeful by spotlighting four models of leadership and culture-building―the leader of the only successful slave revolt, Haiti’s Toussaint Louverture; the Samurai, who ruled Japan for seven hundred years and shaped modern Japanese culture; Genghis Khan, who built the world’s largest empire; and Shaka Senghor, a man convicted of murder who ran the most formidable prison gang in the yard and ultimately transformed prison culture.

“Culture is about actions. If the actions aren’t working, it’s time to get some new ones. ”

Here are my favourite takeaways from reading,What You Do Is Who You Are;

“Humility is a strange thing. The minute you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it.” – Sir Edward Hulse

Sir Edward Hulse once said, “Humility is a strange thing. The minute you think you’ve got it, you’ve lost it.” Staying humble is hard, especially when things are going right, and staying calm is extremely tough when things are not going right. Microsoft Founder Bill Gates quipped, “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.”. The key is never to let success get into your heart and not letting failure get into your heart. Staying humble can be hard, but it is a great way to live.

Here are some great quotes on humility:

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself. -Galileo 

Most of the time, we try to cajole, persuade, inspire or influence people, so we argue with them to convince them to see things from our perspective. As Benjamin Franklin once said, “A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion.” The key is to understand a basic truth; you cannot win an argument; people change when they are ready to change. The best you can do is to help them make what was unconscious to them become conscious. As Carl Jung once quipped, ‘Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life, and you will call it fate.’ And as Author John C. Maxwell noted:

  • People change when they….Hurt enough they have to
  • Learn enough that they want to and
  • Receive enough that they are able to

“Keep the company of those who seek the truth- run from those who have found it.” – Vaclav Havel

Scope:

Everyone recognizes as myths the idea that Columbus was the first to discover America or the story that George Washington admitted cutting down a cherry tree. But very few people realize how much of what we think we know about American history is also mythical and mistaken. As historians often emphasize, many popular beliefs about history in general—and about U.S. history in particular—are myths, either totally false or, at best, only half true.

Moderator

Professor Mark A. Stoler is Professor Emeritus of History at The University of Vermont, where he specialized for almost 40 years in U.S. diplomatic and military history. He received his B.A. from The City College of New York and his M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

In his thought-provoking book, The Psychology of Money: Timeless lessons on wealth, greed, and happiness, Author and Partner at Collaborative Fund Morgan Housel writes about why understanding the psychology of money is more important than finance itself. The book is based on a report he wrote in 2018: “The Psychology of Money,” where he shared the most important flaws, biases, and causes of bad behavior towards money.

“Every investor should pick a strategy that has the highest odds of successfully meeting their goals. And I think for most investors, dollar-cost averaging into a low-cost index fund will provide the highest odds of long-term success.” – Morgan Housel

In the book, he made the following recommendation on how to make better decisions with money:

A genius who loses control of their emotions can be a financial disaster. The opposite is also true. Ordinary folks with no financial education can be wealthy if they have a handful of behavioral skills that have nothing to do with formal measures of intelligence.

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Author and Partner at Collaborative Fund Morgan Housel shares 19 short stories exploring the strange ways people think about money; the book’s major theme is that we can better understand money through psychology and history than finance. In 2018, Morgan wrote a report outlining 20 of the most important flaws, biases, and causes of bad behavior towards money titled The Psychology of Money; the report went viral; the book is an expanded version of the report.

In investing you must identify the price of success—volatility and loss amid the long backdrop of growth—and be willing to pay it.

The Book’s premise is that doing well with money has a little to do with how smart you are and a lot to do with how you behave. And behavior is hard to teach, even to really smart people. A genius who loses control of their emotions can be a financial disaster. The opposite is also true. Ordinary folks with no financial education can be wealthy if they have a handful of behavioral skills that have nothing to do with formal measures of intelligence.

 “Success is a lousy teacher. It seduces smart people into thinking they can’t lose.” – Bill Gates

Here are my favourite take-aways from reading,The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel:

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain but for the heart to conquer it. Let me not look for allies in life’s battlefield but to my own strength. Let me not crave in anxious fear to be saved but hope for the patience to win my freedom. Grant me that I may not be a coward, feeling your mercy in my success alone; but let me find the grasp of your hand in my failure.” – Rabindranath Tagore, Fruit-Gathering

Grief is the response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or loss of something to which a deep bond or affection was formed. We also grieve in connection to job loss, ill health, infertility, end of a relationship, disappointment, failure etc. We all grief differently depending on our upbringing, culture, religion, societal norms, experiences, and relationship to the dead.

 Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim. – Vicki Harrison

      I have gone through some grief in the past 8 years, from losing my closest cousin (2013), diagnosis of mum’s cancer (2018), losing my mum at 55 to cancer (2019), getting laid off (2020). Grief is tough, deeply personal, and can be overwhelming. During grief, you might feel fear, shame, guilt, regret, varying emotions, the unsaid goodbyes, survivor’s guilt (a mental condition that occurs when a person perceives themselves to have done wrong by surviving a traumatic event when others did not), among other emotions.

“God himself, sir, does not propose  to judge man until the end of his days.”

In his great book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, Author Dale Carnegie shared a great story about a father and son, which teaches the virtue of patience with other humans and the futility of criticism. The piece originally appeared as an editorial in the People’s Home Journal and was reprinted in the book as condensed in the Reader’s Digest:

Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.

If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.

Remarks by Naval Adm. William H. McRaven, B.J. ’77, ninth commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, Texas Exes Life Member, and Distinguished Alumnus. Admiral McRaven offered advice for changing the world from his 36 years of experience as a Navy SEAL: Ask for help when you need it, respect everyone, persevere through failures and, perhaps surprisingly, make your bed every day.

Writing is a form of manipulation, and in order to do it effectively, you need to control what happens in the reader’s head.  One way of doing this is to use specific details as opposed to generalities

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Joanna Penn’s How To Write Non-Fiction is a great book on the art of writing non-fiction. She shared great insights on starting out as a writer, dealing with doubt and fear, the business of writing, writing tools, marketing, and other strategies on turning knowledge into creative work through book writing. The book goes in-depth to writing a great non-fiction book and building a personal brand in the process.

“Writing isn’t about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it’s about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life, as well.” – Stephen King, On Writing

Here are my favourite take aways from reading, How To Write Non-Fiction by Joanna Penn:

 When it is darkest, we can see the stars. — Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are three inevitable things we are all going to deal with: Death, Taxes, and Challenges. No one lives a problem-free life, and we are all going to DIE. Life would happen to us all; it is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when. You are either going into a storm, going through a new storm, or coming out of a storm. We lose a loved one; we get laid off from a job; we deal with infertility; we get diagnosed with a terminal illness; we get disappointed; we get divorced; we get heartbroken. It is tough going through the challenges and vicissitudes of life, and in these trying times, we expect our family and friends to be there for us, but most times, they are not equipped to help us navigate the challenges of grief.

Here are some great quotes of grieving:

Bestselling author, professor, and New York Times columnist Roxane Gay has connected to readers around the world with her unyielding truth-telling and highly personal feminism. In her MasterClass, she teaches you how to own your identity, hone your voice, write about trauma with care and courage, and navigate the publishing industry.

“There is no getting over it, but only getting under it. Loss and grief change our landscape. The terrain is forever different and there is no normal to return to. There is only the inner task of making a new and accurate map”

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Grief is tough, draining, and lonely as most people think they understand what you are going through; I have been there a couple of times, from losing my closest cousin, losing my mum, to getting laid off. We handle grief differently, but most grievers have something in common: you get judged, people make assumptions, they say hurtful things unintentionally, some relationships dissolve while others get stronger. Our culture does not prepare a lot of us to handle grief and care for people in grief.

“Grief is already a lonely experience. It rearranges your address book: people you thought would stay beside you through anything have either disappeared or they’ve behaved so badly, you cut them out yourself. Even those who truly love you, who want more than anything to stay beside you, fall short of joining you here. It can feel like you lost the entire world right along with the person who died. Many grieving people feel like they’re on another planet, or wish they could go to one. Somewhere there are others like them. People who understand.”

The book provides a path to rethink our relationship with grief. It encourages readers to see their grief as a natural response to death and loss, rather than an aberrant condition needing transformation. By shifting the focus from grief as a problem to be solved to an experience to be tended, we give the reader what we most want for ourselves: understanding, compassion, validation, and away through the pain.

In It’s OK That You’re Not OK, Megan Devine offers a profound new approach to both the experience of grief and the way we try to help others who have endured tragedy. Having experienced grief from both sides―as both a therapist and as a woman who witnessed the accidental drowning of her beloved partner―Megan writes with deep insight about the unspoken truths of loss, love, and healing. She debunks the culturally prescribed goal of returning to a normal, “happy” life, replacing it with a far healthier middle path, one that invites us to build a life alongside grief rather than seeking to overcome it.

“Grief is not a problem to be solved; it’s an experience to be carried. The work here is to find—and receive—support and comfort that helps you live with your reality. Companionship, not correction, is the way forward.”

Acknowledgement

Acknowledgment is one of the few things that actually helps. What you’re living can’t be fixed. It can’t be made better. There are no solutions. That means that our course of action inside grief is simple: helping you gauge what’s “normal” and finding ways to support your devastated heart.

Here are my favourite takeaways from reading, It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine:

“Success is getting what you want; Happiness is wanting what you get.”

Happiness is an emotional response to an outcome; if you win, you become happy. If you don’t, you become unhappy. It is an if-then, cause-and-effect proposition that is not sustainable because every time you attain a certain level of happiness, you raise the bar, and it is an endless loop. We also schedule and delay our happiness; we say when this happens, I will become happy. If this then that, Someday I’ll when so and so happens, I would be happy when I get married we change it to when we have kids, then when the kids leave home to when there are grandkids, there is always a reason to postpone. It is a constant moving target.

“Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well-lived.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Author Gary Keller, in his book “The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results,” shares a great anecdote on happiness through the story of the begging bowl: