The Personal MBA

Josh Kaufman

Life’s tough. It’s tougher if you’re stupid. —JOHN WAYNE, WESTERN FILM ICON

Education is a way to make your mental models more accurate by internalizing the knowledge and experiences other people have collected throughout their lives. The best education helps you learn to see the world in a new, more productive way.

Andy Walter, the first associate director I reported to at P&G, had given me: “If you put the same amount of time and energy you’d spend completing an MBA into doing good work and improving your skills, you’ll do just as well.”

My work at P&G, however, wasn’t the only thing on my mind. My decision to skip business school in favor of educating myself developed from a side project into a minor obsession. Every day I would spend hour after hour reading and researching, searching for one more tidbit of knowledge that would help me to better understand how the business world worked.

2. Climbing the corporate ladder is an obstacle to doing great work . I wanted to focus on getting things done and making things better, not constantly positioning myself for promotion. Politics and turf wars are an inescapable part of the daily experience of working for a large company.

One of the bloggers I followed avidly was Seth Godin. A best-selling author (of books like Permission Marketing, Purple Cow, and Linchpin)

I think it’s undeniably true that the human brain works in models. The trick is to have your brain work better than the other person’s brain because it understands the most fundamental models—the ones that do the most work. —CHARLES T. MUNGER,

It’s kind of fun to sit here and outthink people who are way smarter than you are because you’ve trained yourself to be more objective and more multidisciplinary. Furthermore, there is a lot of money in it, as I can testify from my own personal experience. 5

He’s given hints in his speeches and essays—even going so far as to publish a list of the psychological principles he finds most useful in Poor Charlie’s Almanack,

In all affairs, it’s a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted. —BERTRAND RUSSELL,

Every successful business (1) creates or provides something of value that (2) other people want or need (3) at a price they’re willing to pay, in a way that (4) satisfies the purchaser’s needs and expectations and (5) provides the business sufficient revenue to make it worthwhile for the owners to continue operation.

You wasted $150,000 on an education you could have got for a buck fifty in late charges at the public library. —MATT DAMON AS WILL HUNTING, GOOD WILL HUNTING

College: two hundred people reading the same book. An obvious mistake. Two hundred people can read two hundred books. —JOHN CAGE,

The reputation of a business school is built on the success of its graduates, so the top schools only admit those students intelligent and ambitious enough to make it through the rigorous selection process—the ones who are already likely to succeed, MBA or no MBA. Business schools don’t create successful people. They simply accept them, then take credit for their success.

There is scant evidence that the MBA credential, particularly from non-elite schools, or the grades earned in business courses—a measure of the mastery of the material—are related to either salary or the attainment of higher level positions in organizations. These data, at a minimum, suggest that the training or education component of business education is only loosely coupled to the world of managing organizations.

By ignoring the things that make a business operate more effectively, MBA-trained executives have unwittingly gutted previously viable companies in the name of quarterly earnings per share.

Speed, flexibility, and ingenuity are the qualities that successful businesses rely on today—qualities that the corporate giants of the past few decades struggle to acquire and retain, and business school classrooms struggle to teach.

If you’re more interested in working for yourself or holding down an enjoyable job while having a life, getting an MBA is a waste of time and money. As Dr. Pfeffer says, “If you are good enough to get in, you obviously have enough talent to do well, regardless.”

I can’t emphasize this enough: the quickest and easiest way to screw up your life is to take on too much debt.

Keep a notebook and pen handy. The purpose of this book is to give you ideas about how to make things better, so be prepared to capture your thoughts as you have them; it’ll make it easier to review the major concepts later. Your notebook will also make it easy to shift from taking notes to creating detailed action plans as they occur to you.

Review this book regularly. Keep it close to where you work so you can refer to it often, particularly before starting a new project.

setting a reminder in your calendar to review this book or your notes every few months to reinforce your understanding and spark new ideas.

The Five Parts of Every Business are the basis of every good business idea and business plan. If you can clearly define each of these five processes for any business, you’ll have a complete understanding of how it works. If you’re thinking about starting a new business, defining what these processes might look like is the best place to start. If you can’t describe or diagram your business idea in terms of these core processes, you don’t understand it well enough to make it work.

Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing—it was here first. —MARK TWAIN,

Market matters most; neither a stellar team nor fantastic product will redeem a bad market. Markets that don’t exist don’t care how smart you are. —MARC ANDREESSEN,

The best approach is to focus on making things people want to buy. Creating something no one wants is a waste. Market research is the business equivalent of “look before you leap.” Books like The New Business Road Test by John Mullins can help you identify promising markets from the outset, increasing the probability that your new venture will be a success.

In practice, I prefer Clayton Alderfer’s version of Maslow’s hierarchy, which he called “ERG theory”: people seek existence, relatedness, and growth, in that order. When people have what they need to survive, they move on to making friends and finding mates. When they’re satisfied with their relationships, they focus on doing things they enjoy and improving their skills in things that interest them. First existence, then relatedness, then growth.

1. The Drive to Acquire.

2. The Drive to Bond.

3. The Drive to Learn.

4. The Drive to Defend.

5. The Drive to Feel.

The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water. —JOHN W. GARDNER,

Status Seeking is a fact of human life: it’s not necessarily bad or something to be avoided. On the contrary: Status Seeking can motivate people to accomplish amazing things. In the words of Alain de Botton, a philosopher and social critic, “If one felt successful, there’d be so little incentive to be successful.”

The Ten Ways to Evaluate a Market provide a back-of-the-napkin method you can use to identify the attractiveness of any potential market. Rate each of the ten factors below on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is extremely unattractive and 10 is extremely attractive. When in doubt, be conservative in your estimate:

When you’re done with your assessment, add up the score. If the score is 50 or below, move on to another idea—there are better places to invest your energy and resources. If the score is 75 or above, you have a very promising idea—full speed ahead. Anything between 50 and 75 has the potential to pay the bills, but won’t be a home run without a huge investment of energy and resources, so plan accordingly.

As a paying customer, you get to observe what works and what doesn’t before you commit to a particular strategy. Learn everything you can from your competition, and then create something even more valuable. SHARE THIS CONCEPT:

Pay very close attention to the things you find yourself coming back to over and over again. Building or finishing anything is mostly a matter of starting over and over again; don’t ignore what pulls you.

I’m a huge advocate of pursuing side projects as long as you don’t count on them to reliably produce income.

Products don’t have to be physical—even though things like software, e-books, and MP3s don’t have a distinct physical form, they are entities that can be sold.

In order to create a successful Service, your business must: 1. Have employees capable of a skill or ability other people require but can’t, won’t, or don’t want to use themselves. 2. Ensure that the Service is provided with consistently high quality. 3. Attract and retain paying customers.

Shared Resources allow many people to take advantage of experiences that would otherwise be too expensive.

In order to create a successful Subscription, you must: 1. Provide significant value to each subscriber on a regular basis. 2. Build a subscriber base and continually attract new subscribers to compensate for attrition. 3. Bill customers on a recurring basis. 4. Retain each subscriber as long as possible. Cable

Money talks—but credit has an echo. —BOB THAVES,


Hassles come in many forms. The project or task in question may:

Involve too much confusion, uncertainty, or complexity. Require costly or intimidating prior experience.

If you’re looking for a new business idea, start looking for hassles. Where there’s hassle, there’s opportunity. The more hassle you eliminate for your customers, the more you’ll collect in revenue.

Bundling and Unbundling can help you create value for different types of customers without requiring the creation of something new. By combining offers and forms in various configurations, you can offer your customers exactly what they want.

Ideas are cheap—what counts is the ability to translate an idea into reality, which is much more difficult than recognizing a good idea.

“Stealth mode” diminishes your early learning opportunities, putting you at a huge early disadvantage. It’s almost always better to focus on getting feedback from real customers as quickly as you possibly can.

For best results, clearly define what you’re trying to accomplish with each iteration. Are you trying to make the offering more attractive or appealing? Are you trying to add a new feature people will value? Are you trying to make the offering cost less without detracting from its value?

1. Get Feedback from real potential customers instead of friends and family. Your inner circle typically wants you to succeed and wants to maintain a good relationship with you, so it’s likely that they’ll unintentionally sugarcoat their Feedback.

2. Ask open-ended questions. When collecting Feedback, you should be listening more than you talk.

4. Take what you hear with a grain of salt. Even the most discouraging Feedback contains crucial pieces of information that can help you make your offering better. The worst response you can get when asking for Feedback isn’t emphatic dislike: it’s total apathy. If no one seems to care about what you’ve created, you don’t have a viable business idea.

If no one is willing to preorder, you know you have more work to do before you have a viable offer—by asking why they’re not willing to purchase right now, you’ll discover their major Barriers to Purchase (discussed later): what’s holding them

In the book Trade-Off: Why Some Things Catch On, and Others Don’t, Kevin Maney

The tricky thing about trying to figure out what people want is that people want everything.

The best way to discover what people actually value is to ask them to make explicit Trade-offs during the research process. The problem with the hypothetical focus group was that it didn’t ask the participants to make any real Decisions—the participants could have everything, so they wanted everything.

It won’t take the participant long to provide a response to each of these simple questions, but the results are quite revealing. By asking the participant to make an actual choice, you’re collecting more accurate information about how the participant would respond when faced with a similar choice in the real world.

Critical Assumptions are facts or characteristics that must be true in the real world for your business or offering to be successful.

If you’re not embarrassed by the first version of your product, you’ve launched too late. —REID HOFFMAN,

Pick three key attributes or features, get those things very, very right, and then forget about everything else… By focusing on only a few core features in the first version, you are forced to find the true essence and value of the product. —PAUL BUCHHEIT,

The cardinal marketing sin is being boring. —DAN KENNEDY,

It’s often far more comfortable to focus on the features: you know what your offer does. Even so, it’s far more effective to focus on the benefits: what your offer will provide to customers. The End Result is what matters most. By focusing on the End Result, you’re homing in on what will cause your prospect to conclude, “This is for me.”

Don’t mistake that for brainwashing: the quickest way to waste a multimillion-dollar advertising budget is to try to force people to want something they don’t already want. The human mind simply doesn’t work that way—we only purchase what we already desire on some level.

The most effective way to get people to want something is to encourage them to Visualize what their life would be like once they’ve accepted your offer.

How likely am I to read these messages, let alone respond to them? Not likely at all—on the contrary, I’ll go out of my way to avoid paying Attention to them, and it’ll be a cold day in hell before I purchase what they’re pushing. Unfortunately, many businesspeople assume that the spam approach is the best way to get Attention. Unsolicited phone calls, press releases, mass-market advertising, and “resident”-addressed

The best way to get Permission is to ask for it. Whenever you provide value to people, ask them if it’s okay to continue to give them more value in the future. Over time, your list of prospective customers will grow, and the larger it grows, the higher the likelihood you’ll start landing more sales.

A Hook is a single phrase or sentence that describes an offer’s primary benefit. Sometimes the Hook is a title, and sometimes it’s a short tagline. Regardless, it conveys the reason someone would want what you’re selling.

When creating a Hook, focus on the primary benefit or value your offer provides. Emphasize what’s uniquely valuable about your offer and why the prospect should care. Brainstorm a list of words and phrases related to your primary benefit, then experiment with different ways to connect them in a short phrase.

A Call-To-Action directs your prospects to take a single, simple, obvious action. Visit a Web site. Enter an e-mail address. Call a phone number. Mail a self-addressed stamped envelope. Click a button. Purchase a product. Tell a friend.

If you’re encouraging someone to enter their e-mail address to sign up for a newsletter, say that verbatim multiple times, and make it immediately clear WHERE the e-mail address field is, WHY they should fill it out, WHAT to

The best Calls-To-Action ask directly either for the sale or for Permission to follow up. Making direct sales is optimal, since it makes it easy to figure out whether or not your marketing activities are cost-effective. Asking for Permission is the next best thing, since it allows you to follow up with your prospects over time, dramatically decreasing your marketing costs and increasing the probability of an eventual sale. Ensure that every message you create has a clear Call-To-Action, and you’ll dramatically increase the effectiveness of your marketing activities.

Testimonials, case studies, and other stories are extremely effective in encouraging your prospects to accept your “call to adventure.” By telling stories about the customers who have come before, you grab your prospect’s Attention and

That’s not a bad thing: this consistent level of mild Controversy has allowed the Personal MBA to grow year after year without paid advertising. By making their thoughts known, the Personal MBA’s detractors are spreading the word to people who may not have been aware that there are alternatives to traditional business school programs.

It’s okay to support a position that not everyone else supports. It’s okay to disagree with someone, or to call someone out, or to position yourself against something, because Controversy provokes a discussion. 3 SALES People don’t

You can only transact with things that are Economically Valuable. If you don’t have anything your prospective customers want, they won’t buy from you. This may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how many prospective businesspeople enter the market without something the market wants. That’s why developing and testing a Minimum Viable Offer is so important:

Auctions are an example of the Pricing Uncertainty Principle at work—prices change constantly, rising in proportion to how many people are interested and how much they’re each willing to spend. By setting a low starting price and allowing potential buyers to bid against one another, auctions are typically an efficient way to establish a true market price for something that is difficult to reproduce and where no comparable items are already in the market.

DCF/NPV is only used for pricing things that can produce an ongoing cash flow, which makes it a very common way to price businesses when they’re sold or acquired—the more profit the business generates each month, the more valuable the business is to the purchaser.

Value Comparison is typically the optimal way to price your offer, since the value of an offer to a specific group can be quite high, resulting in a much better price. Use the other methods as a baseline, but focus on discovering how much your offer is worth to the party you hope to sell it to, then set your price appropriately.

In the classic sales book SPIN Selling, Neil Rackham

If you discover why, how, and how much your offer will benefit the customer, you’ll be able to explain that value in terms they’ll understand and appreciate. Understanding the value you can provide your customers is the golden path to a profitable sale.

Education-Based Selling requires an up-front investment in your prospects, but it’s worth it. By investing energy in making your prospects smarter, you simultaneously build Trust in your expertise and make them better customers.

The other party always has a Next Best Alternative as well—that’s what you’re negotiating against. If you’re selling a product that costs $100, you are selling against the next best thing that they could do with that $100: saving, investing, or purchasing something else. If you’re trying to hire an employee, you’re competing against the next best offer they have from another company. The more options the other party has, the weaker your negotiating position.

In every negotiation, the power lies with the party that is able and willing to walk away from a bad deal. In almost every case, the more acceptable alternatives you have, the better your position.

If you’re the exclusive source for what your prospects want, you win.

In every negotiation, there are Three Universal Currencies: resources, time, and flexibility. Any one of these currencies can be traded for more or less of the others.

The first thing to decide before you walk into any negotiation is what to do if the other fellow says no.

If your prospect feels like they need to justify why they’re good enough to work with you, you’re in a very strong position to make a sale on favorable terms.

Your prospects know you’re not perfect, so don’t pretend to be. People actually get suspicious when something appears to be “too good to be true.” If an offer appears abnormally good, your prospects will start asking themselves, “What’s the catch?”

2. It won’t work.

3. It won’t work for ME.

If you want to maximize your sales, it almost always makes sense to offer a very strong Risk-Reversing guarantee and to extend the risk-free period as much as possible. If you don’t already have a Risk-Reversal policy, implement one and you’ll see your sales increase.

Zappos could easily advertise “free expedited shipping,” but they don’t—the surprise is far more valuable.

Do whatever you can do to provide something that unexpectedly delights your customers. Zappos’s free upgraded shipping is more valuable as a surprise—if it were part of the deal, it would lose its emotional punch.

Most people resist creating business systems because it feels like extra work. We’re all busy, and it’s easy to feel like you don’t have time to create and improve systems because there’s already too much work to do.

When examining a business, pay close attention to Profit Margin. The higher the margin, the stronger the business.

Dollars aren’t an end in themselves: money is a tool, and the usefulness of that tool depends on what you intend to do with it.

You can track financial sufficiency using a number called “target monthly revenue” (TMR). Since employees, contractors, and vendors are typically paid on a monthly basis, it’s relatively simple to calculate how much money you’ll need to pay out each month.

Once you reach the point of Sufficiency, you’re successful—no matter how much (or how little) money you make.

Remember the lesson of Qualification: not every customer is a good customer. Some customers will sap your time, energy, and resources without providing the results that you’re looking for.

Always focus the majority of your efforts on serving your ideal customers. Your ideal customers buy early, buy often, spend the most, spread the word, and are willing to pay a premium for the value you provide.

Lifetime Value is the total value of a customer’s business over the lifetime of their relationship with your company. The more a customer purchases from you and the longer they stay with you, the more valuable that customer is to your business.

If you’re interested in learning to meditate, I recommend Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana and Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Conservation of Energy explains why some people stay in dead-end jobs for decades, even though they know the position isn’t great. If the work is okay, the bills get paid, and the job never becomes stressful or frustrating enough to violate expectations, people generally won’t go out of their way to get a promotion, find another job, or start a new business. People only start to expend effort if their Reference Levels are violated in some way, so if their expectations aren’t violated, they simply don’t act.

Good books, magazines, blogs, documentaries, and even competitors are valuable if they violate your expectations about what’s possible. When you discover that other people are actually doing something you previously considered unrealistic or impossible, it changes your Reference Levels in a very useful way. All you need to know is that something you want is possible, and you’ll find a way to get it.

In the case of procrastination, Conflict can be ended by scheduling firm times for work and rest, ensuring enough of each. In The Now Habit, Neil Fiore recommends creating an “unschedule” that prioritizes rest over work. When your brain is sure that you’ll be receiving all of the relaxation and enjoyment you need, and that you only have a certain amount of time to get things done, it’s easier to focus on doing productive work.

Recall is optimized for speed, not accuracy—the brain stores information contextually, which helps you recall related patterns quickly when you need them.

Mental Simulation only works if you supply a “point B,” even if the action or goal is completely arbitrary—you can simulate the path to even the most unrealistic and absurd destination you can imagine.

Reinterpret your past, and you’ll enhance your ability to make great things happen in the present.

In general, “moving away” takes priority over “moving toward.” The reason comes back to Caveman Syndrome—running away from a lion automatically takes priority over cooking lunch.

Motivation is an emotion—NOT a logical, rational activity. Just because your forebrain thinks you should be motivated to do something does not mean you’ll automatically become motivated to do that thing.

If you don’t want to slip, don’t go where it’s slippery. —ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS MAXIM

No matter how intelligent a person is, there’s an upper bound on the amount of information a single mind can process, store, and respond to. Above that limit, information may be stored in abstract terms, but it’s processed differently from information related to that individual’s personal experience or concerns.

Here’s a curious fact about human beings: we have a really hard time realizing that something isn’t there.

Absence Blindness is a cognitive bias that prevents us from identifying what we can’t observe. Our perceptual faculties evolved to detect objects that are present in the Environment. It’s far more difficult for people to notice or identify what’s missing.

Make a note to remind yourself to handsomely reward the low-drama manager who quietly and effectively gets things done. It may not seem like their job is particularly difficult, but you’ll miss them when they’re gone.

After choosing a suit, you’ll be directed to shirts, shoes, and accessories. Compared to a $400 suit, what’s another $100 on shoes? $80 for a belt? $60 for a few shirts? $50 for a few ties? $40 for a set of cuff links? Compared to the suit, the accessories seem inexpensive, so why not?

Monoidealism is the state of focusing your energy and attention on only one thing, without conflicts. Monoidealism is often called a “flow” state, a term coined by psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. This is the state of human attention at its most productive: clear, focused Attention and effort directed at one (and only one) subject for an extended period of time.

First, eliminate potential distractions and interruptions. Depending on the level of cognitive activity required to complete your work, it’ll take ten to thirty minutes before your mind becomes absorbed in what you’re doing.

Third, kick-start the Attention process by doing a “dash.” Since it can take ten to thirty minutes to get into the zone, setting aside ten to thirty minutes for a quick burst of focused work can make it much easier to get into the zone quickly.

Fuzzy Goals like: “I want to climb a mountain” aren’t very helpful, because they don’t give your brain any material to work with. Which mountain? Where? When? Why? Without answers to these questions, you probably won’t do anything at all.

Goals are most useful if they’re Framed in a Positive, Immediate, Concrete, Specific (PICS) format:

It’s perfectly okay to change your Goals. Sometimes we think we want something, only to find out later that we don’t want it so much anymore. Don’t feel bad about that—it’s called learning. If you find yourself working toward a Goal you no longer feel good about, work on something else.

Simply saying to yourself, “I am deciding to do X right now,” makes it much easier to proceed. Once a Decision is finally made, your brain’s Mental Simulation planning circuits will kick into gear, and you’ll start moving again.

The Five-Fold Why is a technique to help you discover what you actually want. Instead of taking your desires at face value, examining the root cause of what you want can help you define your core desires more accurately.

goal factorimg approximation

The Five-Fold How is a way to connect your core desires to physical actions. Let’s use the previous example: the core desire is to feel free. How would you go about doing that?

Once you find a “how” that looks like a good idea, ask “how” again.

One of the quirks about how your mind works is that it handles information from outside your head better than the thoughts that are rattling around inside your head.

Capturing your ideas on paper makes them easier to share with others, in addition to archiving your thoughts for later reference and review. As the saying goes, “The palest ink is clearer than the fondest memory.”

Speaking—to yourself or to another person—is another effective method of Externalization. Vocal Externalization explains why most of us have had the experience of solving our own problems while talking with a friend or colleague. By the time you’re done talking, you’re likely to have more insight into your problem—even if your listener didn’t say a word.

Simply by asking yourself questions, you’re exploring options you previously didn’t consider and Priming your brain to notice related information.

The more incompetent a person is, the less they realize they’re incompetent. The more a person actually knows, the better their ability to self-assess their capabilities, and the more likely they are to doubt their capabilities until they have enough experience to know they’ve mastered the subject.

Performance Load is a concept that explains what happens when you have too many things to do. Above a certain point, the more tasks a person has to do, the more their performance on all of those tasks decreases.

If you want to be productive, you must set limits . Juggling hundreds of active tasks across scores of projects is not sustainable: you’re risking failure, subpar work, and burnout. Remember Parkinson’s Law: if you don’t set a limit on your available time, your work will expand to fill it all. If you don’t draw the line somewhere, work will consume all of your energy, and you’ll inevitably burn out.

Even though it wasn’t pleasant, I’m glad I found my breaking point. Here’s why: now I know how much I’m capable of doing, and how much is too much. I know more about how my mind and body react to stress, and I’m better able to identify the warning signs of taking on too much before things get out of hand. As

a result, I’ve learned to keep myself running at about 90 percent capacity, which is enough to get a lot done without burning out.

It’s impossible to know how much you’re capable of until you decide to push your limits. As long as you stay safe by limiting your Experimentation to things that won’t kill you or do permanent damage, you can learn a ton about how you work by stretching yourself to the limit. The knowledge you gain will help you make better choices in the future about which projects to take on and how much is too much.

So how do you rest and recover? It’s simple: spend time doing something completely different from your normal activities and responsibilities. The less overlap between your hobby and your work, the better.

Testing is the act of trying something new—a way of applying the scientific method and the Iteration Cycle to your own life. The most happy and productive people I know all have something in common: they’re always trying new things to see what works.

You can’t make positive discoveries that make your life better if you never try anything new.

Here are a few questions to help you discover things worth Testing: How much sleep do you need to feel rested and alert? Which foods make you feel energetic after eating? Which foods make you feel ill or lethargic? When do you do your most productive work? Are there any patterns in your productivity? When do you get your best ideas? What are you doing when they occur to you? What is your biggest source of stress or concern? When do you start worrying, and why?

It’s easy to like the idea of being an author. It’s harder to like the solitude, self-doubt, and long hours of “butt in chair, hands on keyboard” that consistent writing requires.

Here’s what to ask: “I really respect what you’re doing, but I imagine it has high points and low points. Could you share them with me? Knowing what you know now, is it worth the effort?”

have a real, human conversation with someone who’s actually done what you’re interested in doing.

Using the techniques discussed in I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi, it’s remarkably easy to automatically divert a certain amount of your monthly income into an account earmarked for Personal R&D.

That money can then be used—guilt free—for purchasing books, taking courses, acquiring equipment, or attending conferences:

Investments in improving your personal skills and capabilities can simultaneously enrich your life and open doors to additional income sources. New skills create new opportunities, and new opportunities often translate into more income. Your ability to save is limited; your ability to earn is not.

Everyone has Limiting Beliefs in certain areas. Anytime you use the words “I can’t,” “I have to,” or “I’m not good at,” you’ve discovered a potential Limiting Belief. Most of the time, taking a moment to consciously question the belief is all you need to do to break it. “Is that really true?” and “How do I know that’s true?” are very powerful and versatile Self-Elicitation questions.

Limiting Beliefs may also appear when you consider doing things that make you uncomfortable, like applying for a new job or selling an offer to a new prospect. Images of rejection and disapproval start flashing through your mind, and your first impulse is to conclude “this won’t work” before conducting a single test or gathering real feedback.

Here’s a useful rule of thumb for these types of situations: make the other party tell you no. This is a Habit worth installing: you may believe you’re going to be turned down when you make a request or propose an idea, but make the other party say it instead of assuming it’s a given. You’ll be surprised at how often you get what you want, even when you believe the odds are slim.

Encouraging an employee to “go the extra mile” out of a sense of loyalty or craftsmanship is influence.

Everyone has a fundamental need to feel Important. It doesn’t matter if you’re dealing with a customer, an employee, an acquaintance, or a friend. The more Important you make them feel, the more they’ll value their relationship with you.

The more interest you take in other people, the more Important they will feel.

Individuals tend to rise to the level of other people’s expectations of them. In general, people tend to perform up to the level that others expect them to perform. If you don’t expect much from the people you work with, it’s likely you won’t inspire them to perform to the limits of their capabilities. Let them know you expect great things from them, and more often than not, you’ll find that they perform well.

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie recommends “Giving others a great reputation to live up to.”

Here’s the golden rule of hiring: the best predictor of future behavior is past performance. If you want to hire people who will perform well for you in the months and years to come, you need to look for people who have performed well in the past.

The theory of Normal Accidents is a more formal way of expressing a universal proverb: shit happens.

Some Measurements are more important than others: Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are Measurements of the critical parts of a System.

Cessation is the choice to intentionally stop doing something that’s counterproductive. Due to Absence Blindness, we’re predisposed to attempt to improve a system by doing something—it “feels wrong” to do nothing.

That doesn’t mean that doing nothing is a bad strategy: it’s often more effective.