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    #106 Josh Kaufman: Maximizing Our Locus of Control

    It is important to critically assess the value of status and consider alternative options that may be more efficient, less risky, and better aligned with our individual goals to avoid unnecessary pressures.

    enMarch 09, 2021

    About this Episode

    Author of one of the best business books of all time, The Personal MBA, Josh Kaufman chats with Shane about rapid skill acquisition, mental models, decision making, overcoming fear and so much more.

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    🔑 Key Takeaways

    • Despite his humble beginnings, Josh Kaufman's passion for business, combined with real-world experience, led him to create "The Personal MBA," a valuable resource for both corporations and entrepreneurs alike.
    • By developing accurate mental models, individuals can make informed decisions, run experiments, and improve the overall functioning of their business.
    • Understanding the key components of a business and regularly reflecting on one's own thoughts and actions is vital for success and personal growth.
    • Keeping a daily log and making notes while working helps track accomplishments, evaluate progress, and make improvements. Expanding sources of information provides a broader perspective and valuable insights.
    • Gathering practical sources and experimenting with different solutions is more effective than relying solely on research, and caution should be exercised in making significant decisions while considering the value and cost of information. Trustworthy recommendations are valuable in filtering information.
    • Reviews should provide specific information about problem-solving, and embracing failure can lead to increased learning, growth, and better results in certain contexts.
    • Skill development requires deliberate practice, fast feedback loops, active listening, embracing failure, and making continuous adjustments to perform at a higher level.
    • By keeping a daily log and reflecting on our actions, we can identify areas for improvement and make conscious plans to get better, leading to significant progress in a shorter period.
    • Overcoming fear and embracing uncertainty is essential for personal growth and success. By accepting and managing risks, we open ourselves up to greater possibilities and opportunities for achieving our goals.
    • Accepting our limitations and seeking inspiration from others can empower us to navigate uncertainty, explore new possibilities, and make meaningful progress towards our goals.
    • Engaging in side projects and personal interests can have a powerful impact on one's career by providing valuable skills, experiences, and opportunities for growth.
    • It is important to critically assess the value of status and consider alternative options that may be more efficient, less risky, and better aligned with our individual goals to avoid unnecessary pressures.
    • Define your own success and prioritize what truly matters to you, rather than being influenced by external factors and comparisons. Focus on personal fulfillment and wellbeing for a higher quality of life.

    📝 Podcast Summary

    From College to Bestseller: Josh Kaufman's Journey in Business Education

    Josh Kaufman, despite growing up in a small town with no exposure to entrepreneurship or business, was able to write one of the best selling business books of all time, "The Personal MBA." His journey started in college when he discovered his fascination for business as a topic of study. He enrolled in a program at the University of Cincinnati that offered extended internships, allowing him to gain real-world experience in a large company, Procter and Gamble. This experience, combined with his previous work in small businesses, inspired him to create "The Personal MBA," a project where he independently researched and learned about essential business concepts. The book aimed to provide knowledge that would be valuable to both large corporations and solo entrepreneurs.

    Mental models: The key to understanding and optimizing business outcomes

    Mental models are essential tools for business success. Mental models are concepts or representations about how something in the real world works, and they allow individuals to simulate and understand various aspects of business. Just like a skilled car mechanic has a mental representation of how a car works, a skilled business person has mental representations of how a business operates. Having accurate and comprehensive mental models enables individuals to make informed decisions, run experiments, and improve the overall functioning of a business. In the context of the Personal MBA book, mental models are applied to the three key aspects of business: business itself, people, and systems. By understanding and applying these mental models, individuals can navigate complex systems and optimize business outcomes.

    The Five Essential Components of a Business and the Importance of Reflection and Troubleshooting.

    A business has five essential components: value creation, marketing, sales, value delivery, and finance. Understanding these components and their specific goals is crucial for new business owners. By breaking down the business into these five parts, entrepreneurs can gain a clearer understanding of what needs to be done and in what order. Additionally, the conversation highlights the importance of constantly reflecting on one's own thoughts and actions. The practice of logging and self-reflection helps in debugging one's own mind, identifying barriers, and making progress. By actively reflecting on experiences and decisions, individuals can uncover information gaps, seek advice, and run experiments to overcome obstacles. This ongoing practice of reflection and troubleshooting is essential for personal and professional growth.

    Track your time and energy to improve productivity and evaluate progress.

    It is important to track your time and energy spent on tasks, rather than relying on memory alone. By keeping a daily log and making notes while working, you can not only have a clear record of your accomplishments, but also evaluate your progress and make improvements. This practice helps in complex projects that require a significant amount of time and effort, as it allows you to give yourself credit for the steps taken towards the end goal. Additionally, expanding your sources of information and experiences beyond a narrow domain can provide a broader perspective and lead to interesting insights and connections. By paying attention to recurring ideas and concepts, you can focus your research and exploration on what is most important and valuable.

    The importance of practical sources and experimentation in decision-making and problem-solving.

    When approaching a decision or problem-solving, it is valuable to gather practical and application-oriented sources. By narrowing down the scope and focusing on techniques and concepts that repeatedly come up, commonalities across approaches can be identified. In various domains, having a specific problem to solve drives the exploration and experimentation process. Through comparing different examples and testing them, it becomes possible to determine which solutions work better and which have drawbacks. While curiosity, interest, and patience are essential, a relatively small amount of experimentation can be more effective than relying solely on books, internet research, or recommendations. For significant decisions, caution is advised, and a balance must be struck between the value and cost of information. Trustworthy recommendations are particularly valuable when filtering information.

    The value of specific reviews and embracing failure for learning and growth.

    Reviews can be useful if they provide specific information about how a particular resource solved a problem or provided a solution. Simply saying that something was enjoyable or interesting may not be enough when trying to solve a specific problem. Additionally, there is value in experimentation and exploration, even if it comes with a certain amount of malinvestment or failure. When trying new things, there is always the risk of wasting time or resources, but this is a necessary part of gathering information and learning in a domain that one cares about. While organizations may not always tolerate failure, personally and in certain contexts, embracing failure can lead to increased learning, growth, and ultimately, better results.

    Understanding the Difference between Knowledge and Skill for Effective Learning

    There is a distinct difference between knowledge and skill. Knowledge involves gathering information and forming concepts, while skill is the ability to perform a task and achieve a desired objective. Many people confuse the two, but understanding this distinction is crucial for effective learning. Skill development is best achieved through deliberate practice, which involves focused attention, self-correction, and experimentation. Effective practice requires a fast feedback loop, where mistakes are recognized promptly and adjustments can be made. Having a coach or instructor can greatly facilitate this process by providing an objective perspective and highlighting areas for improvement. Additionally, learning through active listening and understanding what something is supposed to sound or look like before attempting it can accelerate skill acquisition. Successful skill development involves embracing failure as part of the learning process and continually making fine adjustments to perform at a higher level.

    Developing a reflection loop and taking ownership of our own learning to improve skills.

    Developing a reflection loop and taking ownership of our own learning is crucial in improving our skills. While receiving feedback from others is important, it may not always be readily available in the workplace. By keeping a daily log of our actions and reflecting on our performance, we can identify areas for improvement and make conscious plans to get better. This self-reflection allows us to compare our own understanding of our actions with external feedback, enabling us to experiment and make adjustments accordingly. Additionally, recording ourselves in tasks like speaking can provide valuable feedback on our performance. By actively engaging in this process of reflection and improvement, we can make significant progress in a shorter period.

    Embracing the Unknown for Personal Growth and Success

    Overcoming fear and embracing uncertainty is crucial for personal growth and success. Often, we tend to seek easy answers and avoid facing the unknown because we fear making mistakes or experiencing failure. However, true learning and development come from taking risks, reflecting on experiences, and acknowledging the challenges that come with pursuing ambitious goals. By accepting the uncertainty and risks involved in our endeavors, we gain a clearer understanding of the potential obstacles and opportunities for growth. This allows us to take a more proactive approach, identifying ways to minimize uncertainty, maximize control, and manage risks effectively. Ultimately, by confronting our fears and embracing the unknown, we open ourselves up to greater possibilities and the potential for achieving our desired outcomes.

    Embracing Uncertainty and Expanding Perceptions

    While we can never completely eliminate uncertainty or guarantee success, there are ways to make our projects and endeavors more approachable and less stressful. One way is by acknowledging that no one is born with the ability to fearlessly pursue their dreams. We often expect ourselves to have all the answers, but it's important to accept that we are not omniscient or omnipotent, just like anyone else. Instead of trying to run away from the inherent facts of reality, we should focus on exploring and experimenting, taking informed risks that can lead to breakthroughs. Additionally, the people we surround ourselves with can greatly influence our risk tolerance and expectations. Being around individuals who have had experiences and tried things outside of our own comfort zones can expand our perceptions of what's possible and encourage us to take bolder steps towards our goals.

    Embrace side projects, take risks, and tap into personal interests for career growth and unexpected value.

    Engaging in side projects and taking risks can lead to valuable outcomes. By being part of a community of like-minded individuals who are also experimenting and collecting data, one can learn and grow. Combining skills and experiences from different areas can have a powerful impact, as seen in Apple's incorporation of calligraphy into their computer design. Side projects and personal interests can unexpectedly provide significant value in one's career. Although there is uncertainty and risk involved, investing time and energy into these projects can result in exponential upside. Gathering data and feedback from experiments increases confidence in pursuing further opportunities. Furthermore, incorporating positive social signals into a business can enhance its appeal to potential customers.

    The Influence of Social Status on Decision-Making and Success Perceptions

    Social status plays a significant role in our decision-making and perceptions of success. People are often drawn to high-status symbols, such as luxury brands, to communicate intangible qualities about themselves. However, this pursuit of status can lead to misguided investments and missed opportunities. For example, the high cost of attending prestigious business schools may not always justify the potential benefits. Furthermore, status can influence our behavior within organizations, making us more compliant and focused on climbing the corporate ladder. It is important to critically evaluate the value of status and consider whether lower-status options might be more efficient, less risky, and ultimately more aligned with our goals. Ultimately, someone else will always have more status or success, and recognizing this can help us avoid unnecessary pressures.

    Rethinking Success and Status in the Age of Social Media

    Our perception of success and status is often skewed by external factors and comparisons. In reality, many of us live better lives than even the highest status individuals did just a century ago. However, with the rise of social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, we are constantly bombarded with images and updates that make us feel inadequate in certain aspects of our lives. It's important to define success on our own terms and prioritize what truly matters to us. For Josh Kaufman, success means working on projects he values, with people he likes, in a way that allows him to take care of himself and his family. By setting our own scorecards and resisting the allure of status, we can make decisions that lead to a higher quality of life and greater personal satisfaction.

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    Newsletter - I share timeless insights and ideas you can use at work and home. Join over 600k others every Sunday and subscribe to Brain Food. Try it: https://fs.blog/newsletter/

    My Book! Clear Thinking: Turning Ordinary Moments into Extraordinary Results is out now - https://fs.blog/clear/ 

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    Dubbed the “The Millennial Parenting Whisperer” by TIME Magazine, Dr. Kennedy is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Good Inside: A Guide to Becoming the Parent You Want to Be. She also hosts “Good Inside with Dr Becky,” the top kids and family show on Apple Podcasts.

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    Tom Gayner: Invest Like The Best

    Tom Gayner: Invest Like The Best

    Tom Gayner, CEO of Markel Group, reveals the lessons he’s learned from Charlie Munger and Berkshire Hathaway, how he invests, and the specific way he thinks about opportunity cost.

    Gayner shares the difference between good debt and bad debt, where he disagrees with Munger, and why he focuses on the basics.

    This intimate conversation offers a level of insight and honesty that Tom hasn’t offered anywhere else.

    Gayner is currently the CEO of Markel Group and the Director of The Coca‑Cola Company. He also serves as chairman of the Davis Series Mutual Funds board and on the boards of Graham Holdings and Markel.

    Listen and Learn.

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    Blake Eastman: Learn to Read Anyone

    Blake Eastman: Learn to Read Anyone
    Blake Eastman has dedicated his entire life to psychology and nonverbal behavior.
     
    In 2009 he founded The Nonverbal Group, a  behavioral research and education company in New York City which conducts large scale studies on human behavior and uses a wide range of technologies to systematically deconstruct and improve human communication.
     
    Eastman dives deep into a number of subjects revolving around how we communicate with one another, including the ability to read nonverbal cues, his thoughts on big talkers vs. silent types, how we can communicate with our partners without complaining, the value of watching ourselves communicate on video, understanding the power structures and social dynamics at work, and so much more.
     
    Eastman has also served as an adjunct psychology professor at the City University of New York for six years where he taught General Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and Group Dynamics. He is also a former professional poker player and the founder of School of Cards, the first brick-and-mortar poker school in New York City.
     
    Listen and Learn

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