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Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
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Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  5,926 ratings  ·  413 reviews
Entrepreneur and journalist Shane Snow (Wired, Fast Company, The New Yorker, and cofounder of Contently) analyzes the lives of people and companies that do incredible things in implausibly short time.

How do some startups go from zero to billions in mere months? How did Alexander the Great, YouTube tycoon Michelle Phan, and Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon climb to the top in
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published September 9th 2014 by Harper Business (first published September 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  5,926 ratings  ·  413 reviews

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Always Pouting
I really need to stop reading these self help/productivity books because 90% of the time their ideas can be cut down to fit on an index card. The book was simple and easy to read and so if you need something that you can read without much effort and time commitment this is okay. I just am bored of hearing anecdotes and the same advice again and again. Get a mentor? Wow never been told that one before.

Aaron Wolfson
This is a meticulously researched book that flows with beautiful storytelling. Snow develops nine principles of working smarter, and illustrates each one with a chapter that weaves together several mini-histories and mini-biographies, which seem to always dovetail perfectly by the end.

Smartcuts brings together a lot of the ideas I've been reading about in other books, plus some I haven't, and it builds a strong framework that I am excited to explicitly follow.

What fascinated Snow was how certain
Feb 19, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
This is an easy book. It's easy to read and it was likely easy to write. There's nothing challenging about it, and while it would be difficult to fundamentally disagree with anything it it (beyond some questionable metaphors and the constant use of the omg-drastic-subject-change-cliffhanger-before-I-answer-the-question-I-just-asked writing tactic), there were only a small handful of half-thoughts in the entire book that actually made me think about something new, or think about something old in ...more
Sep 04, 2014 rated it really liked it
Failure and how it's OK to fail repeatedly as long as you learn from it is a mantra these days. Graduation speeches are full of "Fail fast and fail often!" exhortations. While the encouragement to experiment and push yourself beyond what's safe and known still holds true, one of the things I learned from Smartcuts is not all failure is equal. By using the rather scary research study about doctors learning a new way to do coronary artery bypass grafting (result of failure = death for patient), Sh ...more
Sue Smith
Jan 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I’ve been somewhat remiss on writing a review on this book, but it hasn’t been far from my mind since I finished it a week or so ago.

First, let me start with how great this book was. It was clever and concise without the endless drivel that these books can sometimes produce. Actually, a lot of books about this sort of lateral thinking come off sounding more like a blog/podcast session that has been stretchhhhhhed to fill the pages. (See Think Like a Freak and after you read it, tell me this wasn
Joel Ohman
Jun 07, 2015 rated it liked it
This was an easy to read book with a number of very interesting stories. The principles and applications espoused were hard to find anything to disagree with - certainly nothing revolutionary here. This would likely be a 4-star book, but it read very much like a series of clickbait articles, all making use of the Gladwellesque "This is the reason why we think fascinating account X happened, BUT actually it's not that at all..." that grew old pretty fast. Still, despite these minor quibbles, this ...more
Rachel Bayles
Jan 19, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: professional
This is a fun book. Easy read. You can tell the writer is a tech journalist, since the writing has the tone of an extended Wired article. But since it is like a Wired article, it's a little short on substance. An uplifting beach read that will make you smile and feel inspired. ...more
(2.5) pure anecdote and oversimplification, with some injection-of-self into the narratives.

Didn't much care for it.
Dec 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
The stories were nice, but I couldn't get anything actionable or new insights out of them. ...more
Richard Mulholland
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book managed the amazing feed of being a business book that's as practical to apply as it is enjoyable to read. It also managed to give several key thoughts, not one idea rehashed the whole book. ...more
The pace of life is accelerating. Everything happens quicker these days. It took Rockefeller forty-six years to become a billionaire. Andrew Mason did it in two. Clearly you can't do that by traditional means — you have to find some shortcuts along the way. But the amorality of a shortcut troubles Snow, so he has coined[1] a "smartcut" instead, for “shortcuts with integrity.” Think Benjamin Franklin, not Frank Abagnale. (Or indeed Andrew Mason.)

What can you learn from people like Jimmy Fallon, D
Mar 26, 2016 rated it liked it
The book has some good ideas but the writing style and content are lacking. The chapter starts with an anecdote and stops abruptly with a teaser. There is a slow build-up to the actionable advice but not actually revealing it. Then the author returns to the anecdote that was at the beginning of the chapter. At this point, you've forgotten what was the anecdote about. While some of the advice seems to make sense and the author provided examples to support it (like if your career ladder is blocked ...more
Nov 30, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobook, business
Smartcuts are really a categorization of some of the ways to “move ahead”, be that in project or career or life. The categories that the author comes up with, for example simplification, building a platform, and using a different ladder to climb, were pretty much the same kinds of suggestions you get in other books on getting ahead. However, in this volume, many of the examples were fresh and new. I appreciated the concept breakdown – this is the kind of book that begs for a little index card to ...more
J.F. Penn
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting stories about ladder hacking and people who don't just pay their dues, work hard and expect to get to the top quickly. ...more
Dmitry Khvatov
Nov 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good read.
Phil Cebuhar
Jan 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shane Snow presents a framework on lateral thinking for breaking convention in our complex lives. Smartcuts is defined by nine principles such as Hacking the Ladder to Rapid Feedback to Momentum to Simplicty to 10x Thinking in order to achieve work, and progress faster.

I enjoyed Shane’s thoughts, and in conclusion his challenge to the reader to impact the world, help others along, and make a change.
Nov 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
It is an easy and nice book to read. There are many interesting stories of innovators inside. I enjoy all those famous people journeys. So it is not difficult to understand all the theory he wrote.
Ahn Mur
Mar 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A particular review said that if you like both Tim Ferriss and Malcolm Gladwell, you'd appreciate this. And I do. So I did. Despite some negative reviews, I really enjoyed this and found it to be a valuable read.
Some notes I made:
-Informal mentorships are hugely effective while formal ones are not.
-the new cycle to embrace: small fail, small win, big win, repeat.
-the question then becomes: How do you prepare for a big win? What (very) small failures and small win can you pursue to prep for a
Sep 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
Fantastic debut book by Shane Snow in the vein of Malcolm Gladwell, studying various "success stories" and the strategies that allowed people of diverse backgrounds to attain that success. The conversational style in which Snow writes also keeps this book grounded and informative; you'll constantly find yourself impressed with each example he provides, too.

Snow breaks down a variety of principles, that, on their own, don't seem like much more than jargon (lateral thinking, failure, rapid feedbac
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
concrete advice wrapped in interesting stories

Unlike many books about accelerating success, this book gives very concrete and actionable advice. For example, the book recommends making side-way career moves instead of gradually climbing; it recommends seeking role-models and mentors, etc. What's more important, the book explains the subtleties (depth of mentor-mentor relationship, being prepared for "big breakthrough") as being crucial to success.

This book is very well written and is easy read.
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is a really important book!

If you've ever wanted to get from point A to point B quickly, but worried that doing so would mean giving up your integrity--or not having the requisite skills you'll need at your end point--then this book is for you.

Shane Snow's colorful narrative and compelling analysis demonstrates, point by point, how to bypass unnecessary steps in getting to your goals, and even how pattern recognition can sometimes eliminate years of paying your dues. His wide-ranging examp
Jul 01, 2015 rated it liked it
I picked up this book for my husband. I took a peek into it, and then read the whole book. To be honest, I am not interested in business books. It was the anecdotes that hooked me, and drew me in to finish the book. I love a good story, and there were many to keep me entertained despite the business aspect of the book. Also, I felt a small connection to the author since we both happened to be in Rexburg, ID in the same year. I know, because he mentioned being there when the world record for the ...more
Viktor Kyosev
Mar 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: entrepreneurship
An easy read that helps entrepreneurs to advance their career via lateral thinking. From innovators to politicians, artists and all the way to the Finish educational system, the book is full of concrete examples of how to utilise the so-called smartcuts i.e. lateral thinking.
Perhaps the biggest wake up call for me was that hard work is irrelevant if you do not learn how to apply smartcuts. I used to be a strong supporter of "hard work pays off", the book changed my mind on the topic. Having sai
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
(I read an advance e-copy)

Very enjoyable and digestible anecdotes that tie into a strong overall thesis. The lateral thinking he touts is clear in every example, and not only is each story educational but also inspirational in its own right.

In particular as someone who grew up in the 80s and follows the tech industry, this book gripped my attention from start to finish. I gained further insight into stories I already knew (Elon Musk and SpaceX, Brian Lam, etc.), and then there were others who I'
Feb 02, 2015 rated it liked it
I started reading it and then ended up just skimming parts of it. It just didn't hook me in and I didn't feel it was worth my time reading. There were way too many examples and not enough meat on the subject in my opinion. I absolutely disagree with his idea that children just need a calculator to solve math problems. If they don't know the basics and are not taught them they will not be able to reasonably solve the given math problem. Not everyone who takes the "smartcuts" is actually qualified ...more
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: business, creativity
This book teaches you how to advance your career and your passion with lateral thinking.

Shane Snow uses examples of present and past innovators, politicians, artists, and athletes to demonstrate how they got ahead in their careers with lateral thinking or smartcuts.

Smartcuts involves 3 ideas: shorten steps (eliminate the repetitive and unnecessary), leverage (do more with less effort), and soar (ride momentum and think big). Snow uses these ideas to organize his 9-chapter book into 3 sections wi
Kirk Hanley
Dec 17, 2014 rated it liked it
There were some interesting anecdotes in this book about people who have found "smartcuts", or shortcuts toward success. And while the stories were entertaining and interesting, in the end, I didn't really know what to do with the information in my own life. (I believe that is in the scope of what this book promises.) And even though there were nine methods for "smartcutting" I just didn't find them that practical or straightforward to apply. If you want an entertaining read, then I'd recommend ...more
Feb 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I very much enjoyed how Snow frames his advice and supports it with interesting examples. I would like for him to have included a summary of takeaways at the end of each section. Or perhaps a worksheet of exercises to help us think about applying the concepts. Or both (maybe as another chapter). Perhaps I'll review each section and create such tools for myself, and hopefully reinforce the learning. ...more
Nov 22, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tedious. Unless you write for Slate or Huff Po, skip this crap. If you want to improve your chances of success, I'd recommend reading Robert Ringer or Dan Kennedy instead. Fidel Castro has better approval ratings than Barack Obama. Now you don't have to read this unwarranted destruction of trees. ...more
David Carus
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Great Read Filled With Lots of Cool Examples of People Winning

I learned a lot reading this book. I picked up some awesome stories of people finding a way to win in an unusual way. Thinking in a different way and problem solving from a different viewpoint can really help you get to that next level. A fun book with some awesome examples. Definitely worth the time.
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