Five important trends related to the distance products are shipped listed at the end of the "Peak Travel**spoiler alert** Useful notes from the book:
Five important trends related to the distance products are shipped listed at the end of the "Peak Travel" chapter: 1&2. Higher wages in China make it possible for it to be cost-effective for the U.S. to start making things itself again (with the help of technology). 3. Emergence of 3-d printing could completely eliminate the need to for around-the-world shipping of many products 4. Crowdsourcing apps such as ridesharing, etc. that could eliminate the need for car ownership without needing to completely rebuild infrastructure 5. Driverless cars - dedicates all of Ch12 to explaining the implications to a world full of driverless cars - virtually no accidents, no need for parking, highly efficient travel without traffic jams, no car ownership (compares the two models of the future, Google's model (computer only) vs. car-makers (supplementing human driving with AI help)).
Ch13 "The Next Door" is all about possible options for the future to address current transportation problems. Filled with several ideas about how to address some of the contradictions that currently exist within our transportation system - such as the desire to have products shipped right to our door, but hating to deal with delivery trucks on the road. Some ideas: -Creating more pedestrian friendly spaces to avoid forcing walkers/bikers in areas where they are openly competing with cars. e.g., The closing off of Times Square in NYC. -Make shorter-term transportation plans because technology and traveling behavior change so quickly (e.g., ride services and driverless cars) -Use tolls to regulate driving behavior - it would cost more to drive during peak hours (congestion pricing) -Use variable pricing for road use - trucks should cost more given the increased damage they do to the roads -Persuade businesses to time shift start and quit times for employees -Convert traffic lights to traffic circles - safer and faster because drivers don't have to stop completely (20% faster) -Mass transit should focus on existing infrastructure instead of building light rail systems from scratch (e.g., make buses a priority travel system - special faster lanes buses would be allowed to take - express transit lanes) -The last mile problem (getting from main roads to door-to-door) is a problem for public transportation, but ride-share services combined with shuttle or bus-share services might solve this problem in the future. -For goods shipping, use carpool lanes for exclusive truck use to reduce congestion -As far as global warming issues go, the inevitable solution is a switch to more renewable energy sources, but also reducing the number of miles traveled by our goods - currently the price of fossil fuels (on the environment especially) is subsidized by the government -Culturally, changing the lack of social norms for walking and biking could be hugely beneficial (statistics about American's walking: in 1980 5.6% commuted to work by foot, in 2012 2.8% - we walk about 2.5 miles a day, which is about half what a healthy person should cover, and is about half of what the average Australian or Swiss citizen does - Amish men (represent American 150 years ago) walk about 9 miles a day. Countries with higher daily steps have lower obesity rates.
Basic chapter summaries:
Ch1 - Morning Alarm - all the parts of his iPhone and how far they traveled Ch2 - The Ghost in the Can - the incredible uses of aluminum, how it is in everything now, and how it gets transported from beginning to end (most useful recycled product) Ch3 - Morning Brew - detailed look at how far his coffee travels to get to him Ch4 - Four airliners a Week - the danger of driving cars and how unfazed most people are by the level of risk (compared to if 4 airliners a week crashed) Ch5 - Friday the 13th - following how many fatal crashes happen in a single day and the psychology behind why drivers make mistakes Ch6 - Pizza, Ports and Valentines - introduction to the port system and how much coordination must take place to allow a place like Dominoes to deliver a pizza on time Ch7 - The Ladies of Logistics - the development of the busiest ports - LA and Long Beach and how they handled the logistics of shipping and the development of the infrastructure needed for it Ch8 - Angels Gate - detailed description of cargo traffic controllers who regulate order in which ships come into port and how backed up they get when problems occur Ch9 - The Ballet in Motion - details of how container ships work, pilots that bring them into harbor, etc. Ch10 - The Last Mile - description of UPS service and how it gets packages the last mile of shipping to customer's door - includes assessment of obstacles building up for future shipping needs Ch11 - Peak Travel - traffic engineer's assessment of future of transportation and how dire infrastructure problems are in U.S. if things continue in current direct Ch12 - Robots in Paradise - the curent status of driverless cars and what the future could look like Ch13 - The Next Door - ideas for solving transportation now and in the future
**spoiler alert** -Basic thesis of book is that it is much more difficult to go from 0 to 1 than from 1 to 2. Starting with a truly new idea is much m**spoiler alert** -Basic thesis of book is that it is much more difficult to go from 0 to 1 than from 1 to 2. Starting with a truly new idea is much more impactful than an incremental improvement of an old idea.
Chapter 1: The difference between horizontal progress/globalization and vertical progress/technological innovation (doing new things). The latter is needed to solve problems challenging our future.
Chapter 2: The reason the 90's tech bubble happened and which companies survived it and why.
Chapter 3: Innovation and unique technology that the market demands give you profitable monopoly power. Usually economists talk about some extent of monopoly power (e.g. patents) encourages innovation, but Thiel was looking at it from another perspective: that of an entrepreneur choosing which type of business to start. His answer is to choose one that makes differentiated products (that the market demands) and gives you monopoly power.
Chapter 4: Again, competition vs. monopoly. Traditional businesses provide similar products and compete by cutting prices/costs, advertising etc.; innovative businesses make products that no one else makes. He argues that going into a business that isn't a monopoly (a competitive market) is a recipe for disaster (and bad capitalism).
Chapter 5: What are the features of a business that can create and sustain monopoly power, growth and cash flow? 1. Unique technology (at least 10 times better than the existing alternative--otherwise it won't be noticed--or entirely new products). 2. Network externality - business ideas that will only work at scale (even though you have to start small). 3. Economies of scale - unlimited growth not constrained by physical overhead, personnel, etc. 4. Brand. How to create one? Start by monopolizing a small market (that needs to actually exist, unlike the market of British food in Palo Alto) through winning the most important group of users in this market, then expand in size or variety (i.e. into related markets). Don't focus on DISRUPTION; make the pie bigger instead of playing a zero sum game.
Chapter 6: Have a purpose, a vision and long-run planning, instead of a lean startup and minimum viable product to be driven by whatever comes up on the way. This is supposed to represent the idea of "definite optimism" - have specific plans and think big, rather than having vague plans that won't take you anywhere in particular.
Chapter 7: Power law. As a venture capitalist, don't simply pursue diversification; choose a few businesses to invest in and choose them carefully so all of them have great (expected) potential.
Chapter 8: All great business have "secrets". A world without secrets is boring, stagnated and has no room to improve upon. Our world is full of injustice and inefficiency, so it cannot be one without secrets. What prevent us from exploring these secrets are gradualism, risk aversion, inertia and belief in equilibrium ("flatness" or perfect efficiency of markets). Only those who see secrets can grasp hidden opportunities, lead to Scientific Revolutions and found businesses like Airbnb, Uber, Lyft etc. How to find secrets? Look where no one else does; choose the path less traveled. That's why it's (kinda) important to have contrarian views based on your own independent thinking.
Chapter 9: According to power law, there are a few things that are crucial to the entire business, e.g. its foundations. Make sure you choose founding partners who are really passionate about the business and you enjoy working together. (Stuff on the size of the board, stock as incentives etc.) You are not only trying to create new things at the founding stage of a startup; if you are successful, you should have created a business that stays creative.
Chapter 10: The company doesn't attract employees (or create a "culture") by providing benefits like free food, free laundry etc. It should attract employees by what it does and who the team are. A company should be its own culture. It should be like a cult (rather than a consulting firm with no loyalty or identity), but one that is not extreme. (In Chapter 8, the HP example shows that once a company is managed in the conservative "MBA" way to optimize for bureaucratic functioning, innovation dies.)
Chapter 11: Marketing is important. Marketing influences everyone, especially those who think they are not influenced. The best marketer doesn't look like one. Different ways of marketing, from viral marketing to complex sales. Make sure you have a viable marketing strategy for your product. It's great if your customers can market for you, e.g. through network externality (like PayPal).
Chapter 12: Humans and computers should be complements (e.g. PayPal fraud detection, Palantir helping intelligence experts) rather than substitutes. (Great idea, and makes sense in some way--there are things that one is good at while the other is not--but in practice they are also substitutes in many ways which have unfortunate implications for employment.)
Chapter 13: The failure of most clean technology firms was a business rather than political one. How Tesla succeeded while many others failed on 7 dimensions: engineering (breakthrough technology), timing, monopoly (start with big share of small market), personnel, marketing (have a way to deliver your product), sustainability (will your market position be defensible in 10/20 years?), secrets (have you identified unique opportunity that others don't see?). He also covers the fallacy of social entrepreneurship.
Chapter 14: Many (tech) entrepreneurs are "weird". Innovative tech companies are usually authoritarian with charismatic leaders like Steve Jobs. Society should be more tolerant of seemingly weird or extreme entrepreneurs, because we need extraordinary people to lead companies in order to avoid the slow progress of gradualism. However, GLADLY, Thiel also advises such leaders to remain cautious, not to over estimate their power or become "prime movers" of Ayn Rand who do not realize that their success relies on other people....more
Setting Goals 1. Decide exactly what you want 2. Write it down 3. Set a deadline on your goal (and subd**spoiler alert** These are my notes and summary:
Setting Goals 1. Decide exactly what you want 2. Write it down 3. Set a deadline on your goal (and subdeadlines) 4. Make a list of everything that you can think of that you are going to have to do to achieve your goal. 5. Organize the list into a plan. 6. Take action on your plan immediately. 7. Resolve to do something every single day that moves you towards your major goal.
Goal activity: Take a clean sheet of paper and make a list of ten goals you want accomplish in the next year. Write them as if they are already a reality. Review your goals and select the one goal that would have the greatest positive impact on your life. Then follow the complete exercise for implementing a goal on that particular one.
The title of the book refers to those tasks which seem especially undesirable or those that hold you back. The author argues that we should always tackle those tasks first
Some general tips: 1. Think on paper. 2. One of the very worst uses of time is to do something very well that need not be done at all. 3. Follow the 80/20 rule in terms of tasks. 20% of your tasks provide 80% of your productivity 4. Resist the temptation to clear up small things first. 5. There will never be enough time to do everything you have to do – start choosing which things are your most important responsibilities. 6. What one skill, if I developed and did it well, would have the greatest positive impact on my career? 7. Create an environment that predisposes you to work on the task at hand. 8. Refuse to be a slave to technology (e.g., e-mail). 8. Build up a sense of momentum in your work; this will help you tackle the biggest frog on even the worst day.
Three questions for maximum productivity: 1. What are my highest value activities? 2. What can I and only I do that if done well will make a real difference? 3. What is the most valuable use of my time right now?
Practice detecting important tasks: make a list of all tasks that need to be completed, choose the 1 thing that would contribute the greatest value if you could only do one thing all day. Then choose the 2nd, then choose the 3rd. You must keep cutting your list of duties (delegating, etc.) until you are spending nearly all of your time on these 3 things. Do this same exercise for most important family goals, health goals, etc....more
**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: ***The author goes through several examples of how water is treated in different parts of the wor**spoiler alert** My summary and notes from the book: ***The author goes through several examples of how water is treated in different parts of the world, different cities, and in difference situations. Overall, he argues that our water supply is in such danger in so many places because people take water for granted. They don’t even think about it despite it being one of our most basic needs. This leads us to waste it, mismanage it, and fail to put resources into maintaining our water supply for the future. Only once crisis hits to we finally start to pay attention to how we use water and where it comes from.
***Chapter topics: In “Dolphins in the Desert”, Fishman covers the evolution of water policy in Las Vegas. Despite being in the middle of the desert and full of water extravagance, it has developed some of the most sophisticated water reusing systems in the world. - In “Water Under Water”, Fishman explains the complexity of making water supplies disaster proof as he profiles Galveston, TX, after Hurricane Ike. - In “The Money in the Pipes” he profiles several large companies that are at the forefront of water conservation and reuse because they use it in such a large scale. – In “The Yuck Factor” he profiles how important changing attitudes toward water can be when trying to implement new water reuse methods. One city in Australia nearly ran out of water because its citizens couldn’t accept the idea of reusing treated sewer water. – In “Who Stopped the Rain” he talks about Australia, which has been going through a great drought in the last decade or so. This has precipitated several water crises from farming to urban supply. The primary problem is overuse of its rivers and planning based on high-water years instead of the contemporary average. – In “Where Water is Worshipped, but Gets no Respect” he talks about India and how atrocious their water situation is for nearly everyone, rich and poor. Very few cities have 24/7 water supplies, even for well-off people, and the majority of the country suffers from huge productivity and education losses because so much time is spent hand-carrying water for daily needs. He also goes into the major health problems that result from contaminated water and ink-black rivers. E.g., There is so much dangerous bacteria and pollution that one eye-dropper of water from the Yamuna or Ganges River put into six bathtubs full of water would be enough to make it unsafe to sit in. – In “It’s Water. Of Course It’s Free” he summarizes the problem with most attitudes toward water. Unless we start to recognize it as a real resource that requires respect and serious attention, we will continue to stumble into major shortages and conflicts over water. Water is not a global problem in the sense that you can influence water problems across the world, but it is the combination of a million different local problems regarding water that makes it a global concern.
***The 300,000 gallons of water used during a space shuttle launch is not for cooling, but for sound dampening. Otherwise the sound shock waves would tear the shuttle apart.
***The biggest use of water in the home is toilet flushing. We flush on average around 5 times a day which is about 18.5 gallons
***The fundamental problem with water is that it cannot be used up, but it is not equally available in all locations. How and where it is available in usable form varies dramatically and can be very unpredictable. So what this means is that all water problems are local in the sense that saving water in your home isn't going to directly help water-started villages in India. This is very different from many other environmental issues, like carbon footprints or gasoline use.
***Patricia Mulroy (the Las Vegas water czar) suggested to Obama a huge public works program to create a series of canals to capture and divert Mississippi floodwaters so it would both reduce natural disasters and send excess water to places that need it.
***At IBM Burlington, they create what is known as "ultra-pure water" which is hundreds of times cleaner than distilled or purified water. They use complex filtration systems to remove every molecule from water so that the pure water can pull microscopic particles from microchips. The smaller the chip, the more pure the water must be. It is very expensive to create, and in fact, would be dangerous to drink in large quantities. Water is such a good solvent, its molecules are filled with all kinds of minerals, etc. If you remove the minerals, etc. it will try to pull molecules out of anything it comes in contact with, including the nutrients in our body.
***Celebrity Cruise ships have a huge ice expense to create enough ice to cool all of the food/beverages on a typical cruise. One way they have reduced the cost is to no longer use ice, but to cool rocks that retain temperature well enough to cool the food.
***The author details an economic model for water designed by Mike Young to better allocate water resources. In the shape of a water glass, each layer of water is designated for a particular purpose. The first layer is “maintenance water” that is just enough necessary to maintain the environmental system. This is already a problem in many rivers where dams have to be built to keep ocean water from heading back up dry river beds. The second layer of water is “critical human needs” such as drinking, bathing, and basic water services. These two layers are guaranteed, but the next two layers are determined by economics. The first is the high security layer, which demands a high premium cost, and the second is low security, which costs less. Then it becomes a risk calculation process about how much you want to invest in water and whether you want to take the risk that your water layer might run out. If water runs low, the low security customers lose it first, then high security. ...more
This is a great book, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you want a healthy dose of cynicism added to your literary diet. Every single one of the examThis is a great book, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you want a healthy dose of cynicism added to your literary diet. Every single one of the examples Johnston discusses makes you realize that the "haves" in our society often do not get ahead by being better capitalists, but rather by being masters of manipulating our (taxpayer) money. I think the most positive message this book has to offer is that opponents of free trade and capitalism as a system are often completely groundless in their attacks; it's not pure capitalism that leads to inequality and ridiculously large gaps between the rich and poor, it's the perversion of capitalism by those with extreme wealth. The author's liberal use of Adam Smith's own words and writings bring this point home several times. Most of the abuses we face today (e.g., corporate subsidies) all existed in Smith's day, albeit on a much smaller scale. Although the stories Johnston shares are infuriating in the extreme, the unfairness and corruption he uncovers serves as a meaningful call to action for every taxpayer (and voter) in our country. Definitely worth handing out to all of your conservative and liberal friends. ...more
I'd heard about Mind Maps from several other sources before I finally read Buzan's book for myself, and I'm definitely glad I did. I was most impresseI'd heard about Mind Maps from several other sources before I finally read Buzan's book for myself, and I'm definitely glad I did. I was most impressed by how well many of the ideas behind this technique map onto psychological concepts of spreading activation of knowledge and mental representations of ideas. Although I'm still grasping all of the potential behind the many possible uses for them, I really do agree that developing Mind Maps helps to organize and direct your thinking in ways that traditional linear notes and outlines do not. I can tell that a lot of practice would be needed in order to get really good at using them, but I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to become a more creative and generative thinker. ...more
This could almost be considered an update to Cialidini's original "Influence" book, but it is written in a much more user-friendly format for the busiThis could almost be considered an update to Cialidini's original "Influence" book, but it is written in a much more user-friendly format for the business minded. It included much of Cialdini's recent work on the impact of social proof on behavior change as well as updated applications on many concepts he's covered before (e.g., scarcity, reciprocity, etc.). I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn tons of persuasion techniques without getting too bogged down with how they actually work. A very quick read, I would tell people who aren't even in the business of changing minds to take a glance at it. Just being aware of these techniques can help protect you against manipulation at the hands of any number of profit-mongering corporations or individuals just waiting to take your money and/or trust. ...more
Great book for those of us addicted to Google everything (e.g., maps, reader, gmail, earth, docs, health, picasa, sites, sketch, etc.) Just like I hadGreat book for those of us addicted to Google everything (e.g., maps, reader, gmail, earth, docs, health, picasa, sites, sketch, etc.) Just like I had to read a book about Sam Walton after Wal-mart became a central part of our existence, this book jumped out at me as a must-read. I think the most important point made throughout the book is that Google is successful because it thinks BIG. As in, Q: "How long will it take Google to catalog all of the information on Earth?" A: "300 years." Any company that has even attempted to seriously answer that question thinks big. As far as the book goes, it does a good job of summarizing the short history of the company and is broken up based on various initiatives that Google has taken since branching out from the search industry. I would have liked to learn a little more about Google labs, but overall a good introduction to the world of Google. Now, if only I could get a job working for them ......more
I've been reading way too many books related to applications of social psychology lately, so this review might be somewhat biased, but I was somewhatI've been reading way too many books related to applications of social psychology lately, so this review might be somewhat biased, but I was somewhat disappointed with the depth of analysis the authors provided. Specifically, much of the research they covered appeared highly similar to many other recent books on effective use of psychological principles to produce social change. Many of the judgmental biases they point out have been highlighted in several books published in the last three years. The primary distinction of this book really seems to be its political bent with specific recommendations for public policy on a number of issues. "Libertarian paternalism" is an interesting idea, and much more palatable with the empirical base the authors put forth compared to many of the unintended paternalistic consequences of current government policies. I would recommend this book to people interested in psychology, politics, and public policy, but who haven't read a broad swath of recent books on judgmental biases written by economists, psychologists, and journalists. Incidentally, one bias they forgot to cover was the tendency of "humans" to believe that they alone are actually an "econ" in a world of irrational people. ...more
As a social psychologist, I have been trained to scoff at all "behavioral economists" because they often claim to have recently discovered that indiviAs a social psychologist, I have been trained to scoff at all "behavioral economists" because they often claim to have recently discovered that individuals do not always behave "rationally". Furthermore, they seem to brilliantly deduce that the only way to accurately predict how humans actually behave is to test behavior/decision making empirically. Of course, social psychologists have been doing this for over half a century without much public fanfare or guest spots on "MSNBC" or "CNN" every time people want to know how consumers make decisions.
With this clear bias of mine in mind, this isn't a bad book. Ariely at least gives full credit to Tversky and Kahneman's influence on his work (both psychologists), and he describes his experiments in clear, easy-to-understand language for the non-scientist reader. The big "however" with this book is Ariely's tendency to extrapolate beyond the results of his studies with recommendations concerning public policy and personal solutions for individuals. Not that his advice is necessarily wrong, but it should always be made clear where the data stop and the personal advice begins. I would recommend this book to my non-social psychologist friends.
My notes and quotes:
Ariely is a behavioral economist from Israel. Much of his work is closely related to Tversky and Kanneman’s work, although he has taken it in many new directions, but it is usually related to consumer behavior in some way.
*** He describes how money is often the most expensive way to motivate people. Instead, he suggests using social norms to do so. But he also warns the rules are different when you enter social norms into a relationship as opposed to market norms. The same rules that you use in relationships apply rather than the financial assessment of how much certain behaviors are worth. So if a business tries to develop social norms to increase productivity, they can’t all of a sudden introduce market norms without expecting a decrease in loyalty, etc.
*** He spends some time talking about the influence of arousal on decision making, or specifically how we believe we will make a particular decision when in cold, rational states than we end up making when we are highly aroused. His specific studies have examined sexual decision making and how people are more than twice as likely to rate their likelihood of engaging in various sexual behaviors as high when they are aroused vs. when they are not. This is highly relevant to things like abstinence training programs and even safe sex programs. The best prevention is to prevent the high level of arousal or the opportunity in the first place, but if arousal does occur to make sure people are trained to have what they need available “just in case”. The same principles apply for the faulty predictions of how we would behave under any emotional or motivational state, such as hunger. Another example is pregnant women not wanting to use pain medication during birth. They make the decision beforehand, but often change their mind once the pain begins because they cannot predict how they will feel during that state. One technique he offers to test this is to have a woman hold her hand into a bucket of ice for two minutes while practicing her breathing. If she is able to handle it without trouble she might be able to handle childbirth more reasonably.
*** His next section concerns procrastination and various methods of dealing with it. He divided his class into three sections, one where they got to pick their own deadlines, but once they were chosen they were firm; one where the deadlines were firmly established by the instructor; and one where there were no deadlines, they just had to submit their papers by the end of the quarter. The forced deadlines condition did best, the ones who chose their own deadlines did second, and the no deadlines condition performed the worst on the paper. He suggests the development of more external controls that we can select to prevent us from having to face temptation (to procrastinate, to spend, etc.) in the first place. By setting up our own deadlines/goals that are set in stone, we can head off our self regulation tendencies and just follow the designated structure.
*** His next section relates to when and why people cheat. He found that for many tasks where people are unsupervised, they fail to cheat as much as they possibly can, even when no one will find out, but they almost always cheat a little. This is because in small circumstances like that people don’t really consider what they are doing as wrong. In other words, small infractions don’t typically bring to mind codes of conduct we have available for moral decisions. Instead they just sweep the transgression under the rug without thinking about it. But if people were reminded of a moral code (like the 10 commandments) they wouldn’t cheat at all. The key is to make morality accessible so that the decision will be framed in moral terms. He also suggests oaths and guilds might make ethics in business more likely because people would frame their decisions more on the code of conduct of their organization/profession instead of not really thinking about it.
*** He continues on with his cheating work, but extends it to the difference between cash and non-cash currencies. When people are playing a game for cash they are much more likely to tell the truth about how much they earned (because the cash is a concrete reminder of how important the decision is) compared to when they play the game for tokens or credit of some kind. The problem is that people think there decisions are always made based on the same moral code regardless of the form of money they use. But in reality, the more concrete and meaningful a currency is, the more likely we are to frame our decisions in terms of market norms, and moral judgment. Some of the examples for non-monetary transactions are wardrobing or returning clothes after wearing them once; expense reports; taxes; insurance overestimations; or stealing anything that isn’t directly related to cash in general.