Personal Growth, Learning & Writing

No powerpoint presentations from now on at STeam [Amazon's Senior Team]

"A little more to help with the reason “why.”

Well structured, narrative text is what we’re after rather than just text. If someone builds a list of bullet points in word, that would be just as bad as powerpoint.

The reason writing a 4 page memo is harder than “writing” a 20 page powerpoint is because the narrative structure of a good memo forces better thought and better understanding of what’s more important than what, and how things are related.

Powerpoint-style presentations somehow give permission to gloss over ideas, flatten out any sense of relative importance, and ignore the interconnectedness of ideas."

Growth Without Goals

We should ask, what things do you think are important to do every day?

Scott Adams said it best: "To put it bluntly, goals are for losers. That’s literally true most of the time. For example, if your goal is to lose ten pounds, you will spend every moment until you reach the goal—if you reach it at all—feeling as if you were short of your goal. In other words, goal-oriented people exist in a state of nearly continuous failure that they hope will be temporary. That feeling wears on you. In time, it becomes heavy and uncomfortable. It might even drive you out of the game… If you achieve your goal, you celebrate and feel terrific, but only until you realize you just lost the thing that gave you purpose and direction. Your options are to feel empty and useless, perhaps enjoying the spoils of your success until they bore you, or set new goals and reenter the cycle of permanent presuccess failure."

Questions Taylor Pearson scrolls through at the end of the year

1. What can I be the best in the world at in 5 years?

2. What would you do tomorrow if you knew you couldn’t fail?

3. What opportunities are in my inbox or calendar right now?

4. 3 years from now where will I have to be in order to be satisfied with my progress?

5. Am I working the smartest people I know in a space I am excited about?

6. What advice do you think your 80-year-old self would give you? What would my Dad tell me to do?

7. Is there anything I want to do but feel unqualified to do?

10 years of professional blogging – what I’ve learned

  • Titles are 80% of the work, but you write it as the very last thing. It has to be a compelling opinion or important learning
  • There’s always room for high-quality thoughts/opinions. Venn diagram of people w/ knowledge and those we can communicate is tiny
  • Writing is the most scalable professional networking activity – stay home, don’t go to events/conferences, and just put ideas down
  • Think of your writing on the same timescale as your career. Write on a multi-decade timeframe. This means, don’t just pub on Quora/Medium
  • Focus on writing freq over anything else. Schedule it. Don’t worry about building an immediate audience. Focus on the intrinsic.
  • To develop the habit, put a calendar reminder each Sunday for 2 hours. Forced myself to stare at a blank text box and put something down
  • Most of my writing comes from talking/reading deciding I strongly agree or disagree. These opinions become titles. Titles become essays.
  • People are often obsessed with needing to write original ideas. Forget it. You’re a journalist with a day job in the tech industry
  • An email subscriber is worth 100x twitter or LinkedIn followers or whatever other stuff is out there. An email = a real channel
  • I started writing while working at a VC. They asked, “Why give away ideas? That’s your edge.” Ironic that VCs blog/tweet all day now ;)
  • Publishing ideas, learnings, opinions, for years & years is a great way to give. And you’ll figure out how to capture value later

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Online

Writing online is the fastest way to accelerate your career.

It’s the best way to learn faster, build your resume, and find peers and collaborators who can create job and business opportunities for you.

Content builds on itself. It multiplies and compounds.

Day and night, your content searches the world for people and opportunities. Projects, mentors, speaking gigs, job offers, pitches, investment opportunities, interview requests, podcast appearances, and invitations to special events. It all starts with sharing ideas online.

  1. The Age of Leverage
  2. Make Your Serendipity Vehicle
  3. Create Your Online Home - "Start Here"
  4. Set Up Your Distribution System
    • Focus on one platform, and as you build an audience, redirect those visitors to your website so you can grow your email list.
    • The case for email
      • Reliable
      • Free
      • Direct
      • Intimate
      • Owned
      • Easy
      • Two-way
    • Unlike social media, major corporations don't dominate email. Email reduces your dependency on volatile social media platforms, which makes it the best place to direct your efforts. When it comes to reader stickiness, nothing beats email. Nothing. Email is a direct distribution channel, which makes it sticky and valuable.
    • Benefits of email
      • Permission
      • Sales
      • Promotion
      • Feedback
  5. Learn to Write Clearly and Persuasively
  6. The Five Pillars of Writing
    1. Write Evergreen Content
    2. Publish Quality Ideas
    3. Be Specific
    4. Listen to Feedback
    5. Re-Package Your Existing Work
      • Steve Cheney said it best: “You’ve already spent 10,000 hours working on the craft you know about. And you’ve already probably spent 100 concentrated hours consuming, reading, and listening to podcasts that you can recall in your short-term memory about the topic to even consider writing. The truth is the 10 hours it takes to write something is already dwarfed by this sunk cost. If you don’t write, you are effectively stopping at the easier ask. It’s important you emphasize to yourself that you don’t need to relive the experiences it took for you to become a subject expert in order to share them.”
  7. Connect with Anyone
  8. Build Your Personal Monopoly

Action Before Systems

I love systems. But action has to come first.

You can't systematize until you're pretty damn sure assumptions are right. - Action first. Systems second.

The 7 Ps of a Highly Effective Evening Routine

  1. Process
  2. Plan
  3. Prepare
  4. Personal Growth
  5. Physical Environment
  6. Powering Down
    1. Power-down all electronics
    2. Soft lighting
    3. Tea, oil, bath, incense
    4. Read fiction
  7. "Pee" (Drink)

The "Good Enough" Life Choices

  1. Life is choices - Not too many choices (e.g. comfort of religion)
  2. Life is time - Living for the future, in the present, and with the past
  3. Life is memory - Maximise change and optimise for memories
  4. Life is communication - Build stories
  5. Life is growth mindset
  6. Life is free meaning - There is no fundamental meaning to life, so you might as well define yours

The Secret to Self Control

  1. mindfully notice the craving monster
  2. fully accept the craving monster
  3. practice loving kindness towards yourself

How (And Why) To Find An Online Mastermind Group


  • Accountability
  • Discover Easy Wins In Your Business
  • Make Better Decisions
  • Emulation
  • Advising Is a Great Way to Learn

How To Start (or Find) Online Mastermind Groups

  1. Pick a theme
  2. Make a list of people that would be a good fit
  3. Set a schedule (weekly, bimonthly, or monthly)
  4. Give it time (3-6 months) and be willing to be honest and vulnerable
  5. Start Strong
    • Enforce an attendance policy – Life comes up, but if someone can’t be on 80% of calls, they probably don’t care enough.
    • Be constructively critical - If someone is talking about something they are working on and a doubt or thought creeps into your head, you have to say it.
    • Be honest – When I’m presenting a problem or opportunity to my mastermind, I try to expose all the potential flaws and insecurities I feel around it.

Running Online Mastermind Groups

  1. Pre-Call (Everybody)
    • Prepare biggest problem and biggest opportunity - synthetic - written down
  2. Opportunities/Problems Round Table (First 25-40% of the call time - starting with previous hotseat, ending with current hotseat)
    • Progress since the last call
    • What’s your biggest problem right now?
    • What’s your biggest opportunity right now?
  3. The Hotseat (Final 60-75% of Call time)
  4. Wrap-up
    • Confirm everyone’s attendance for the next call
    • Update who is next in the hotseat
    • Confirm who is sending minutes (previous hotseat)

Common Mistakes

  • Not taking it seriously
  • Adding people that aren’t a perfect fit
  • Not being open, honest and vulnerable
  • Not being critical
  • Not giving it time

The Entrepreneur’s Weekly Review


  1. Review Life Goals
  2. Review Life Achievements
  3. Review Annual Objectives
  4. Review Principles
  5. Review Perfect Day
  6. Review past week Calendar
  7. Review past week Achievements


  1. Set Focus - Did I Move towards the Resistance? Did I do something that scared me?
  2. Correct Focus - What was the biggest mistake I made? Why didn’t I achieve what I set out to achieve?
  3. Maximise Leverage - What one thing did I do that was right and in what way could I have improved my performance?
  4. Prioritise - What am I doing right now that doesn’t make me feel “Fuck Yes”? What’s the least valuable thing I did last week? What can I outsource?
  5. Log Problems/Decisions/Retrospectives


  1. If I could do anything without chance of failure, and without constraints of time and money, what would I do?
  2. What’s the One Thing I Could Do Such That By Doing It Everything Else Will Be Easier or Unnecessary? Where is the Resistance?
  3. How can I 10x every area of my life 12 weeks from now?
    • Business/Wealth
    • Health
    • Relationships (Personal & Business)
    • Spiritual


Define Annual/Quarterly/Monthly/Weekly Key Results - 1-3 Key Results for the week. That’s a MAX of 3. 1 seems to be the optimal number

Should You Focus on Strengths or Weaknesses?

"It's important to realize that your greatest strengths are actually the combination of several strength."

"If you focus too much on your strengths you can easily become one-dimensional and you are subject to in incredible amount of competition."

Dumber People

"I want to have as few excuses in my life as possible. This way of thinking doesn't guarantee that I will succeed at everything I do, but it can certainly make me try and succeed a lot more than I would otherwise."

"Asking myself if anyone dumber has done whatever I want to do is a pretty easy way to shine the light of day on any flimsy excuses that might prevent me from executing my task."

The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress

"Surprisingly our results show that interrupted work is performed faster. We offer an interpretation. When people are constantly interrupted, they develop a mode of working faster (and writing less) to compensate for the time they know they will lose by being interrupted. Yet working faster with interruptions has its cost: people in the interrupted conditions experienced a higher workload, more stress, higher frustration, more time pressure, and effort. So interrupted work may be done faster, but at a price."

5 Reasons Why Habits Don’t Work (And Why You Need Rituals Instead)

  • Habits Are Not Specific Enough
  • Habits Don’t Get You Started
  • Habits Don’t Address Why You Need This
  • Habits Aren’t Sticky
  • There’s no Step-by-Step System

The 7 Rituals of Highly Successful People

  • Waking Up Early
  • The Morning Ritual
  • Meditation
  • Regular Exercise
  • Structural Productivity
  • Taking Breaks
  • Evening Ritual

The One Habit That Stops Procrastination In Its Tracks: Clearing To Neutral

"Eliminate every friction point you have in your life."

5 Ways to Turn an Unproductive Day Around

  • Change your State
  • Change your Environment
  • Be a Slacker (Take it Easy)
  • Just Start Something
  • Get Some Help (Talk to Someone)

The Ultimate Guide to The Pomodoro Technique

"Let’s get a big myth out of the way: there’s no such thing as an 8-hour workday.

You might actually be at work for 8 hours but when you subtract lunch, water cooler talk, meetings and checking email…you really only have 1 to 4 hours of available time to get focused work done. Everyone’s job is different so there’s no hard and fast rule for how many Pomodoros you should aim for.

Personally, if I can do 4 Pomodoros in a day (that’s essentially two hours of focused time) I would consider that a highly productive day. In two hours of uninterrupted time, I can create massive value and solve a lot of complex problems. Do I achieve that every day? Absolutely not. Realistically, on a good week, I might achieve that 3-4 times. That would be considered a very productive week."

Energy Management for Optimal Productivity

1. Physical

If you’re brand new to productivity, address the physical layer.

  • sleep
  • exercise
  • nutrition

2. Emotional

If you feel fine but your feelings bounce around a lot during the day, address your emotional energy.

  • enjoyment
  • challenge
  • adventure
  • opportunism

3. Mental

If you’re procrastinating a lot, address your mental energy.

  • think positively
  • have positive self-talk and dialogues in your head
  • do visualization exercises
  • effectively manage your time

4. Spiritual

If you find it hard to enjoy the work you do, find your purpose.

  • purpose
  • values

Career Advice

If you want something extraordinary, you have two paths:

  • Become the best at one specific thing
  • Become very good (top 25%) at two or more things

Strategies for Long Projects

  • Relentless, irrational optimism is the only attitude that works
  • Documenting each day shows progress that would otherwise be hidden
  • Compounding matters a lot
  • Finding the time means being extremely defensive of your time

Kaleidoscope Thinking: How to Think Faster and More Clearly

"If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form.

You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience — both vicarious and direct — on this latticework of models." - Charlie Munger

"In order to disagree with somebody you must first understand their argument better than they do." - Charlie Munger

Kaleidoscope Thinking is the Last Remaining Advantage

Historically, power was largely about controlling access to information.

In the last two decades, the internet has democratized access to information: your Google search results show me the same thing as a CEO of a billion dollar corporation or world leader.

Mindsets: Optimism vs. Complacency vs. Pessimism

Those are the three types of risk mindsets in the world:

  • Optimist - Those who know stuff breaks and attempt to survive the breaks long enough to experience the eventual growth that occurs when people learn and improve from the breaks.
  • Complacentist - Those who think stuff doesn’t break and are broken when it does.
  • Pessimist - Those whose experience being broken leads them to believe there’s no such thing as eventual growth.

You become what you do at the margins

  • Default to Building Assets
  • Default to Generating Optionality
  • Default to Shipping
  • Default to Focus: Do More of Less
  • Default to Being Generous
  • Default to Taking Risks and Being More Gain Prone
  • Default to Choosing People over Opportunities

Announcing your plans makes you less motivated to accomplish them

Announcing your plans to others satisfies your self-identity just enough that you’re less motivated to do the hard work needed.


Success on one sub-goal (like eating healthy meals) reduced efforts on other important sub-goals (like going to the gym) for the same reason.

How to motivate yourself to change your behavior

  • Social Incentives
  • Immediate Rewards
  • Progress Monitoring

"The fear of losing induces inaction, while the thrill of a gain induces action"

How To Rewire Your Brain For Happiness

  • Cognitive Therapy 101: Thoughts determine feelings. Change your thoughts and your feelings will follow.
  • Listen: Don’t let your reactions “just happen.” They could have gone another way. Why didn’t they? What did your brain say that made you pick A instead of B? What “rule” was its decision based on?
  • Round Up The Usual Suspects: Get Dr. House on the case. Which thinking error are you falling prey to? Correct diagnosis leads to a cure after the third ad break.
  • Rewire: You gotta catch the puppy in the act. Yes, your brain is an adorable, insufferably incontinent creature — but we can fix that latter part.