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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
“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
“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
“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
“Here’s a fact: Creativity comes easier within constraints.”
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
“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
“WE LIVE IN AN age of nontraditional ladder climbing. Not just in politics, but in business and personal development and education and entertainment and innovation. Traditional paths are not just slow; they’re no longer viable if we want to compete and innovate. That’s great news, because throwing out the dues paradigm leads us toward meritocracy. But to be successful, we need to start thinking more like hackers, acting more like entrepreneurs. We have to work smarter, not just harder. We’ll see throughout the following chapters how Sinatra-style credibility and ladder switching—always parlaying for something more—are the foundation for how the most interesting people and companies in the world succeed. It’s not just how presidents get to the top. It’s how CEOs and comedians and racecar drivers hone their skills and make it in the big leagues. It’s how new businesses grow fast, and old businesses grow faster. It’s how entrepreneurs create life-changing products in record time and inventors parlay dreams for bigger dreams. Hacking the ladder is the mind-set they use to get places. The rest of this book is about becoming good enough to deserve it.”
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
“Both C.K. and Bieber are extremely gifted performers. Both climbed to the top of their industry, and in fact, both ultimately used the Internet to get big. But somehow Bieber “made it” in one-fifteenth of the time. How did he climb so much faster than the guy Rolling Stone calls the funniest man in America—and what does this have to do with Jimmy Fallon? The answer begins with a story from Homer’s Odyssey. When the Greek adventurer Odysseus embarked for war with Troy, he entrusted his son, Telemachus, to the care of a wise old friend named Mentor. Mentor raised and coached Telemachus in his father’s absence. But it was really the goddess Athena disguised as Mentor who counseled the young man through various important situations. Through Athena’s training and wisdom, Telemachus soon became a great hero. “Mentor” helped Telemachus shorten his ladder of success. The simple answer to the Bieber question is that the young singer shot to the top of pop with the help of two music industry mentors. And not just any run-of-the-mill coach, but R& B giant Usher Raymond and rising-star manager Scooter Braun. They reached from the top of the ladder where they were and pulled Bieber up, where his talent could be recognized by a wide audience. They helped him polish his performing skills, and in four years Bieber had sold 15 million records and been named by Forbes as the third most powerful celebrity in the world. Without Raymond’s and Braun’s mentorship, Biebs would probably still be playing acoustic guitar back home in Canada. He’d be hustling on his own just like Louis C.K., begging for attention amid a throng of hopeful entertainers. Mentorship is the secret of many of the highest-profile achievers throughout history. Socrates mentored young Plato, who in turn mentored Aristotle. Aristotle mentored a boy named Alexander, who went on to conquer the known world as Alexander the Great. From The Karate Kid to Star Wars to The Matrix, adventure stories often adhere to a template in which a protagonist forsakes humble beginnings and embarks on a great quest. Before the quest heats up, however, he or she receives training from a master: Obi Wan Kenobi. Mr. Miyagi. Mickey Goldmill. Haymitch. Morpheus. Quickly, the hero is ready to face overwhelming challenges. Much more quickly than if he’d gone to light-saber school. The mentor story is so common because it seems to work—especially when the mentor is not just a teacher, but someone who’s traveled the road herself. “A master can help you accelerate things,” explains Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and career coach behind the bestseller The Success Principles. He says that, like C.K., we can spend thousands of hours practicing until we master a skill, or we can convince a world-class practitioner to guide our practice and cut the time to mastery significantly.”
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

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