Smarter Faster Better

Ideas are great, but unless they are interpreted in a way that is easy to understand, they can often fall flat. That never happens with Charles Duhigg’s writing. The book is broken into several different chapters where he dives into what true productivity means in various facets of your life; motivation, goal setting, decision making, etc. Then each of these sections are written around a narrative example which typically book ends the chapter.

I was immediately captured by the book when Duhigg takes a paragraph to describe the life of fellow author Atul Gawande. Gawande is a staff writer on a national magazine, a surgeon, an associate professor at Harvard, an advisor to the World Health Organization, among various other accomplishments, not least of which are three national best selling books. An understanding how someone can seem to be so far beyond the rest of us is what Duhigg wanted to uncover with this book. I highly recommend it.

Favorite Idea

My absolute favorite idea came at the very end of the book. We live in a world full of data and every time you turn around there is a start-up intending on finding new ways to slice up that data and serve it to you in a way that will help you understand it. In a chapter centered around South Avondale Elementary School, Duhigg shows how important you experience with the data is to your understanding of that data. Having a computer put a chart in front of you is actually much less useful that requiring you to take the raw data and manually build reports for yourself. Rolling up your sleeves and wading through the information is apparently extremely important in allowing you mind of absorb the information and form an intuitive understanding of what it means.

Favorite Quotes

Make a chore into a meaningful decision, and self-motivation will emerge.

Narrate your life as it is occurring.

If you do know how to get there, it is not a stretch target.

Other Notes

Google’s Project Oxygen 8 Traits of a Good Manager

  1. Is a good coach
  2. Empowers employees
  3. Expresses concern and interest in an employees success and wellbeing
  4. Is results oriented
  5. Listens and shares information
  6. Helps w/ career development
  7. Sets a clear vision and strategy
  8. Has key technical skills

Google’s Project Aristotle 5 Key Norms

  1. Believe their work is important
  2. Feel work is personally meaningful
  3. Have clear goals and defined roles
  4. Depend on one another
  5. Have psychological safety

Stretch goals are great, but they have to be realistic.

3 Steps to increase your productivity

  1. Be sensitive to your experiences
  2. Recognize that stress or panic might help lead to a breakthrough
  3. Don’t let a breakthrough blind you to alternatives

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