This book was recoomended by Ali Abdaal in one of his videos on YouTube and OMG I love this guy! He turned his blog posts into a book and gives an excellent advice on getting things done.

How strongly I recommend it: 5/5

Check out all my book summaries, for more. Go to Derek’s website for details and reviews.

My Notes 🎯

You don’t have to be local

You make connections based on who you are now, not where you’ve been.

Actions, not words, reveal our real values. Saying it doesn’t make it true. Our actions always reveal our real values.

If they really wanted to do it, they would have done it. Yes, I wanted it a little bit, but I wanted something else more There are two smart reactions to this:

  1. Stop lying to yourself, and admit your real priorities.
  2. Start doing what you say you want to do, and see if it’s really true.

Keep earning your title or it expires. Holding on to an old title gives you satisfaction without action. But success comes from doing, not declaring.

Why are you doing?

It’s crucial to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Most people don’t know. They just go with the flow. For example, if you want to make a lot of money, you need to admit that. If you want to be famous, you need to pursue that. If you want freedom and no responsibilities, or want to learn as much as possible, or whatever else, you need to realize it and embrace it. Whatever you decide, you need to optimize for that goal, and be willing to let go of the others. You can’t diffuse your energy, trying to do a little bit of everything, or you’ll always be in conflict with yourself. That’s why you need to know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Know it in advance. Use it as your compass and optimize your life around it. Let the other goals be secondary so that when those decision moments come, you can choose the value that you already know matters most to you.

Imitate, we are imperfect mirrors

You know that song you love that you wish you’d written? Copy it. You know that existing business that you wish you had thought of? Copy it. Why? Because we’re imperfect mirrors. Like a funhouse mirror that distorts what it reflects, your imitation will turn out much different from the original. Maybe even better.

Loving what I used to hate

Be careful when you say you like or dislike something, because you could change your mind soon.

Old opinions shouldn’t define who we are in the future.

Character predicts your future

Character isn’t fate or destiny. Character isn’t DNA, decided before birth. Character is the result of your little choices and little actions. How you do anything is how you do everything. It all matters.

Fish don’t know they’re in water

Fish don’t know they’re in water. If you tried to explain it, they’d say, “Water? What’s water?” They’re so surrounded by it that it’s impossible to see. They can’t see it until they jump outside of it. This is how I feel about culture. We’re so surrounded by it that it’s impossible to see. Many things we think are true are really just our local culture. We can’t see it until we get outside of it.

Small actions change your self-identity

Saying yes when someone asked for volunteers • Approaching a celebrity • Reading one book or taking one course

The world treats you as you treat yourself. Your actions show the world who you are.

If you’re not feeling hell yeah then say No

It’s bad to say yes when you’re overwhelmed, over-committed, or need to focus. Refuse almost everything. Do almost nothing. But the things you do, do them all the way.

Saying No to everything else

“Hell yeah or no” is a filter you can use to decide what’s worth doing. But this is simpler and more serious. This is a decision to stop deciding. It’s one decision, in advance, that the answer to all future distractions is “no” until you finish what you started. It’s saying yes to one thing, and no to absolutely everything else.

Tilting my mirror (Motivation is delicate)

When you notice your motivation fading, you have to seek out the subtle cause. A simple tweak can make all the difference between achieving something or not. So I made one simple tweak: I tilted my rear-view mirror up towards the ceiling so I couldn’t see anything behind me. When you notice that something is affecting your drive, find a way to adjust your environment, even if that’s a little inconvenient for others.

Quit something you love The English word “quit” comes from old French, meaning “to free” or “to release”.

How will this game end? When the game starts, it’s easy to think short-term and say, “Ooh! Good deal!” Then when it’s too late, you slowly realize, “Uh-oh. What have I done?” A lot of people get into bad life situations this way. A homeowner buys a house at the top end of their budget. A romantic falls for someone who’s already in a relationship. Later they complain about how they’re so in debt, or their sweetheart is cheating. Before you start something, think of the ways it could end. Sometimes the smart choice is to say no to the whole game.

Solitary socialite

It’s unusual to be physically alone, but extremely social. A solitary socialite.

Getting out of a bad state of mind

No. I’ve got mental pain, but that’s just me imagining things or remembering things. None of it is real. When I’m feeling cloudy, my decisions and actions will be cloudy too.

There’s no speed limit

Kimo’s high expectations set a new pace for me. He taught me that “the standard pace is for chumps” — that the system is designed so anyone can keep up. If you’re more driven than most people, you can do way more than anyone expects. And this principle applies to all of life, not just school.


All the best, happiest, and most creatively productive times in my life have something in common: being disconnected. No internet. No TV. No phone. No people. Long uninterrupted solitude. Silence is a great canvas for your thoughts. That vacuum helps turn all of your inputs into output. That lack of interruption helps you flow.

Unlikely places and untangled goals

It’s so important to separate the real goal from the old mental associations. We have old dreams. We have images we want to re-create. They’re hard to untangle from the result we really want. They become excuses, and reasons to procrastinate.

When you’re extremely unmotivated

Conventional wisdom tells us to do the important and difficult thing first. But doing this boring work moves me from a state of doing nothing to doing something. It makes me feel like doing something important again.

Think Like a bronze medalist, not silver

Comparing up versus comparing down: Your happiness depends on where you’re focusing. If you catch yourself burning with envy or resentment, think like the bronze medalist, not the silver. Change your focus. Instead of comparing up to the nexthigher situation, compare down to the next-lower one.

Ambition versus gratitude. Comparing up versus comparing down. For funnier thoughts on this, search the web for Louis C.K.’s “everything is amazing and nobody is happy” and Jerry Seinfeld’s “silver medal” routines.

There are always more than two options

When people say they have only two options, it means they got stuck. Once people get two options, they start comparing the pros and cons of those two, and forget to think of more.

Great insight comes only from opening your mind to many options. Brainstorm them all, from the hybrids to the ridiculous. It takes under an hour, but has always helped my friends feel less stressed, think clearly, and get excited about decisions that used to feel like dilemmas.

Beware of advice

Asking advice should be like echolocation. Bounce ideas off of all of your surroundings, and listen to all the echoes to get the whole picture

Switch strategies

Life is like any journey. You need to change directions a few times to get where you want to go. Early in your career, the best strategy is to say yes to everything. The more things you try, and the more people you meet, the better. Each one might lead to your lucky break. Then when something is extra-rewarding, it’s time to switch strategies. Focus all of your energy on this one thing. Don’t be leisurely. Strike while it’s hot. Be a freak. Give it everything you’ve got.

Don’t be a donkey

Are you trying to pursue many different directions at once? Are you frustrated that the world wants you to pick one thing because you want to do them all? The problem is thinking short-term — assuming that if you don’t do all the things now, they won’t happen. The solution is to think long-term. Do just one thing for a few years, then another for a few years, then another.

Don’t be a donkey. You can do everything you want to do. You just need foresight and patience.

Most people overestimate what they can do in one year, and underestimate what they can do in ten years.

I assume I am below Average

Now I just assume I’m below average. It serves me well. I listen more. I ask a lot of questions. I’ve stopped thinking others are stupid. I assume most people are smarter than me. To assume you’re below average is to admit you’re still learning. You focus on what you need to improve, not your past accomplishments. Many people are so worried about looking good that they never do anything great. Many people are so worried about doing something great that they never do anything at all. You destroy that paralysis when you think of yourself as just a student, and your current actions as just practice.

Everything is my fault

I created the environment that made them feel they had to lie. I mistook their neutral behavior as betrayal. I made it more appealing for them to disappear than to communicate. It felt so good to think it was all my fault! This is way better than forgiving. When you forgive, you’re still assuming that they’re wrong and you’re the victim. But to decide it’s your fault feels amazing! Now you weren’t wronged. People were just playing their part in the situation you helped create. What power! Now you’re the person who made things happen, made a mistake, and can learn from it. Now you’re in control and there’s nothing to complain about. This philosophy feels so good that I’ve playfully decided to apply this rule to the rest of my life. As soon as I catch myself blaming anyone for anything, I decide it’s my fault. • The guy who ran away with my investment? My fault. I should have verified his claims. • The love of my life who suddenly dumped me? My fault. I let our relationship plateau.

Think of every bad thing that happened to you, and imagine that you happened to it.

I love being wrong

I actually love being wrong, even though it cracks my confidence, because that’s the only time I learn. I actually love being lost, even though it fuels fears, because that’s when I go somewhere unexpected.

What are the odds of that?

I like to think that everything is a coincidence. Life feels more amazing to me if it has no meaning. No secret agenda. Beautifully random. What are the odds of winning the big lottery? Fifty million to one? Ah, but that’s if you’re being egocentric and thinking only of yourself! Someone always wins it. So what if you look past yourself and ask, “What are the odds that this rare thing will happen to someone?” Almost 100 percent. That’s a nice reminder when the odds seem impossible. Amazingly rare things happen to people every day.

232 SAND Dollars

The excitement was in finding them, not keeping them.

Obvious to you. Amazing to others

Everybody’s ideas seem obvious to them.

We’re clearly bad judges of our own creations. We should just put them out there and let the world decide.

Happy, Smart, and Useful

Smart and useful isn’t bad. It’s rational, like a machine. But happiness is the oil. Without it, the friction kills the engine.

Happy and smart isn’t bad. The self-focus feels great at first. But you can’t actually pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

How to do what you love and make good money

If you have too much stability, you get bored. If you don’t have enough stability, you panic. So keep the balance.

Each half of your life becomes a remedy for the other. You get paid stability for part of your day, but then need creative time for expression. So you push yourself creatively, expose your vulnerable art to the public, feel the frustration of rejection and apathy, and then long for some stability again. Each half is a remedy for the other. You’re just doing this for yourself — art for its own sake. And you’re releasing it because that’s one of the most rewarding parts — important for self-identity — and gives you good feedback on how to improve.

How to do what you love and make good money

This isn’t about me. How I feel in this moment doesn’t matter — it will pass. Nobody’s judging me because nobody’s thinking of me. They’re just looking for ways to improve their own lives. The public me is not the real me anyway, so if they judge my public persona, that’s fine.

So when should you make decisions? When you have the most information, when you’re at your smartest: as late as possible.

Let pedestrians define the walkways

Resist the urge to figure it all out in advance. Realize that now, in the beginning, is when you know the least.

Parenting : Who is it really for?

By entering his world, I’m letting go of my own, like meditation.

OK Milt, I’ll start writing again

It’s so hard to fight the resistance to do the more difficult but more important thing. Finishing that book. Writing that song. Launching that project.


Alvin Toffler said, “The illiterates of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.


Life can be improved by adding, or by subtracting. The world pushes us to add, because that benefits them. But the secret is to focus on subtracting.

The adding mindset is deeply ingrained. It’s easy to think I need something else. It’s hard to look instead at what to remove.

The most successful people I know have a narrow focus, protect themselves against time-wasters, say no to almost everything, and have let go of old limiting beliefs.

Smart people don’t think others are stupid

There are no smart people or stupid people, just people being smart or being stupid. Being smart means thinking things through. It means trying to find the real answer, not the easiest answer. Being stupid means avoiding thinking by jumping to conclusions. Jumping to a conclusion is like quitting a game. You lose by default

So when someone says, “They’re so stupid!” it means they’ve stopped thinking. They say it because it’s satisfying to jump to that conclusion.

The mirror: It’s about you, not them.

All that matters is what you do with the ideas, no matter the source. Apply them to your own life in your own way.

Moving for good

If you keep experiencing the same things, your mind keeps its same patterns. Same inputs, same responses. Your brain, which was once curious and growing, gets fixed into deep habits. Your values and opinions harden and resist change. If you don’t flex, you lose your flexibility.

Eventually you’ll realize that your beliefs were not correct — they were just the local culture of where you grew up. You’re a product of your environment.

Then, if you want to keep your brain actively learning and growing forever, keep moving across the world and immersing yourself like this for the rest of your life.

Learning the lesson, not the example.

Don’t focus on the example itself. Use it as a metaphor, and apply the lesson to my situation.

Nobody else knows your exact situation. So learn to see past the example, focus on the lesson, and apply it to your own life. Think in metaphors.

Goals shape the present, not the future.

The purpose of goals is not to improve the future. The future doesn’t exist. It’s only in our imagination. All that exists is the present moment and what you do in it.

Judge a goal by how well it changes your actions in the present moment.

But unless it changes your actions, right now, it’s not a great goal. Find another variation that excites you.

Seeking Inspiration?

The word “inspiration” usually means “something that mentally stimulates you.”

nothing is truly inspiring unless you apply it to your work.

For every bit of inspiration you take in, use it and amplify it by applying it to your work. Then you’ll finally feel the inspiration you’ve been looking for. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out.

Possible Futures

I used to feel sad about this. Like I should stop having new ideas for the future, and just stick with one. I used to feel bad for not acting on them.

It’s dangerous to think in terms of “passion” and “purpose” because they sound like such huge overwhelming things.

You grow by doing what excites you and what scares you.

On a big level, it can be that huge terrifying idea that won’t go away. Starting a business. Visiting a country. Quitting your job. Whatever scares you, go do it.