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Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow
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“Genius has less to do with the size of your mind than how open it is.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“New ideas emerge when you question the assumptions upon which a problem is based”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“Intuition is the result of nonconscious pattern recognition,”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“PRETEND YOU ARE DRIVING a car in the middle of a thunderstorm and you happen upon three people on the side of the road. One of them is a frail old woman, who looks on the verge of collapse. Another is a friend who once saved your life. The other is the romantic interest of your dreams, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet him or her. You have only one other seat in the car. Who do you pick up? There’s a good reason to choose any of the three. The old woman needs help. The friend deserves your payback. And clearly, a happy future with the man or woman of your dreams will have an enormous long-term impact on your life. So, who should you pick? The old woman, of course. Then, give the car keys to your friend, and stay behind with the romantic interest to wait for the bus!”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“Oscar Wilde once said, “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“There are a lot of great inventors and improvers in the world. But those who hack world-class success tend to be the ones who can focus relentlessly on a tiny number of things. In other words, to soar, we need to simplify.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“You cannot dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“the advice of “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “failure makes you wiser” isn’t actually true.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“Great stories build relationships and make people care. Those two things are necessary to change anything.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“Companies that pivot—that is, switch business models or products—while on the upswing tend to perform much better than those that stay on a single course. The 2011 Startup Genome Report of new technology companies states that, “Startups that pivot once or twice raise 2.5x more money, have 3.6x better user growth, and are 52% less likely to scale prematurely.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“20% Time” is not Google indigenous. It was borrowed from a company formerly known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, aka 3M, which allowed its employees to spend 15 percent of their work hours experimenting with new ideas, no questions asked. 3M’s “15% Time” brought us, among other things, Post-it Notes.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“build up potential energy, so that unexpected opportunities can be amplified. On”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“By teaching tools and problem solving instead of memorization and by hiring only teachers with master’s degrees, Finland created a higher educational platform that gave its kids an advantage. That’s how its school system shot to number one.*”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“The late literary giant Saul Bellow would call someone with the ability to spot important details among noise a “first-class noticer.” This is a key difference between those who learn more quickly than others.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“The research showed that experts—people who were masters at a trade—vastly preferred negative feedback to positive. It spurred the most improvement. That was because criticism is generally more actionable than compliments.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“Good fortune and talent are both ingredients of success, but like any recipe, they can be substituted with clever alternatives. The one irreplaceable ingredient I've found, however, is work.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“The secret of the Finland phenomenon, Wagner discovered, was a platform it built by elevating the education level of its teachers. Finland’s public school system was experiencing the same thing that made Harvard University’s curriculum and network the envy of the academic world: it hired only teachers with incredible qualifications and it had them mentor students closely. Thus, students who went to school at Harvard—or in Finland—started out a rung above their peers.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“Here’s a fact: Creativity comes easier within constraints.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“By itself, one small win may seem unimportant,” writes Dr. Karl Weick in a seminal paper for American Psychologist in 1984. “A series of wins at small but significant tasks, however, reveals a pattern that may attract allies, deter opponents, and lower resistance to subsequent proposals.” “Once a small win has been accomplished,” Weick continues, “forces are set in motion that favor another small win.” From”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“To be good citizens, responsible workers and providers, and ethical businesspeople, we need a minimum level of knowledge about the way the world works, who’s in it, and how things fit together.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“Kids there have much more sense that they’re going to have to construct their own future,” Wagner says. They’re taught to be entrepreneurs of their own lives. Instead of standing passively on an education assembly line and being handed reams of facts and figures, they are thrown into rooms of bricks and asked to build castles.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“Counterintuitively, however, “Informal mentoring,” Underhill found, “produced a larger and more significant effect on career outcomes than formal mentoring.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“Traditional paths are not just slow; they’re no longer viable if we want to compete and innovate.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“Mentorship is the secret of many of the highest-profile achievers throughout history.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“You can accelerate your training if you know how to train properly, but you still don’t need to be that special. I don’t think I’m that special of a programmer or a businessperson or a race car driver. I just know how to train.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“Indeed, equal amounts of research support both assertions: that mentorship works and that it doesn’t. Mentoring programs break down in the workplace so often that scholarly research contradicts itself about the value of mentoring at all, and prompts Harvard Business Review articles with titles such as “Why Mentoring Doesn’t Work.” The mentorship slip is illustrated well by family businesses: 70 percent of them fail when passed to the second generation. A business-owner parent is in a perfect spot to mentor his or her child to run a company. And yet, sometime between mentorship and the business handoff, something critical doesn’t stick. One of the most tantalizing ideas about training with a master is that the master can help her protégé skip several steps up the ladder. Sometimes this ends up producing Aristotle. But sometimes it produces Icarus, to whom his father and master craftsman Daedalus of Greek mythology gave wings; Icarus then flew too high too fast and died. Jimmy Fallon’s mentor, one of the best-connected managers Jimmy could have for his SNL dream, served him up on a platter to SNL auditions in a fraction of the expected time it should take a new comedian to get there. But Jimmy didn’t cut it—yet. There was still one more ingredient, the one that makes the difference between rapid-rising protégés who soar and those who melt their wings and crash. III.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“Crucially, experts tended to be able to turn off the part of their egos that took legitimate feedback personally when it came to their craft, and they were confident enough to parse helpful feedback from incorrect feedback. Meanwhile novices psyched themselves out. They needed encouragement and feared failure. The”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“There’s a big difference, in other words, between having a mentor guide our practice and having a mentor guide our journey. OUR TYPICAL PARADIGM FOR mentorship is that of a young, enterprising worker sitting across from an elderly executive at an oak desk, engaging in Q& A about how to succeed at specific challenges. On the other hand, a smartcut-savvy mentee approaches things a bit differently. She develops personal relationships with her mentors, asks their advice on other aspects of life, not just the formal challenge at hand. And she cares about her mentors’ lives too. Business owner Charlie Kim, founder of Next Jump and one of my own mentors, calls this vulnerability. It’s the key, he says, to developing a deep and organic relationship that leads to journey-focused mentorship and not just a focus on practice. Both the teacher and the student must be able to open up about their fears, and that builds trust, which in turn accelerates learning. That trust opens us up to actually heeding the difficult advice we might otherwise ignore. “It drives you to do more,” Kim says. The best mentors help students to realize that the things that really matter are not the big and obvious. The more vulnerability is shown in the relationship, the more critical details become available for a student to pick up on, and assimilate. And, crucially, a mentor with whom we have that kind of relationship will be more likely to tell us “no” when we need it—and we’ll be more likely to listen.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“In the end, Castro’s revolutionary message reached a massive audience through a superconnector—a radio—but the rebels won the people’s hearts because they showed that they sincerely cared. The movement harnessed the power of the superconnector by giving service as a publisher and educator. J. J. Abrams built his career by collaborating with talented, fast-rising, and well-connected people and by making them look great. And Mint grew business via its own broadcast on the Web, tapping superconnected people and then helping the members of those people’s networks through meaningful content. No matter the medium or method, giving is the timeless smartcut for harnessing superconnectors and creating serendipity. What happens post-serendipity—as we’ll learn in the final part of this book—is where things start to get really interesting.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success
“If you had an Internet connection and lived in North America at the time, you may have seen it. Vasquez is the man behind the “Double Rainbow” video, which at last check had 38 million views. In the clip, Vasquez pans his camera back and forth to show twin rainbows he’d discovered outside his house, first whispering in awe, then escalating in volume and emotion as he’s swept away in the moment. He hoots with delight, monologues about the rainbows’ beauty, sobs, and eventually waxes existential. “What does it mean?” Vasquez crows into the camera toward the end of the clip, voice filled with tears of sheer joy, marveling at rainbows like no man ever has or probably ever will again. It’s hard to watch without cracking up. That same month, the viral blog BuzzFeed boosted a different YouTuber’s visibility. Michelle Phan, a 23-year-old Vietnamese American makeup artist, posted a home video tutorial about how to apply makeup to re-create music star Lady Gaga’s look from the recently popular music video “Bad Romance.” BuzzFeed gushed, its followers shared, and Lady Gaga’s massive fanbase caught wind of the young Asian girl who taught you how to transform into Gaga. Once again, the Internet took the video and ran with it. Phan’s clip eventually clocked in at roughly the same number of views as “Double Rainbow.” These two YouTube sensations shared a spotlight in the same summer. Tens of millions of people watched them, because of a couple of superconnectors. So where are Vasquez and Phan now? Bear Vasquez has posted more than 1,300 videos now, inspired by the runaway success of “Double Rainbow.” But most of them have been completely ignored. After Kimmel and the subsequent media flurry, Vasquez spent the next few years trying to recapture the magic—and inadvertent comedy—of that moment. But his monologues about wild turkeys or clips of himself swimming in lakes just don’t seem to find their way to the chuckling masses like “Double Rainbow” did. He sells “Double Rainbow” T-shirts. And wears them. Today, Michelle Phan is widely considered the cosmetic queen of the Internet, and is the second-most-watched female YouTuber in the world. Her videos have a collective 800 million views. She amassed 5 million YouTube subscribers, and became the official video makeup artist for Lancôme, one of the largest cosmetics brands in the world. Phan has since founded the beauty-sample delivery company Ipsy.com, which has more than 150,000 paying subscribers, and created her own line of Sephora cosmetics. She continues to run her video business—now a full-blown production company—which has brought in millions of dollars from advertising. She’s shot to the top of a hypercompetitive industry at an improbably young age. And she’s still climbing. Bear Vasquez is still cheerful. But he’s not been able to capitalize on his one-time success. Michelle Phan could be the next Estée Lauder. This chapter is about what she did differently.”
Shane Snow, Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success

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