2. A library of over 450 books
A series of printed books
A fertile source of new ideas
3. You can make sense of a
complex world by carrying out
quick plausibility tests,
understanding how numbers
are reported and separating
experts from pseudo-experts.
4. • We live in a world of information overload. Facts and figures on absolutely
everything are at our fingertips, but are too often biased, distorted or outright lies.
In a world where anyone can become an expert at the click of a button, being able
to see through the tricks played with statistics is more necessary than ever before.
• We need to ask ourselves: (a) Can we really know that? and (b) How do they
know that? Doing this effectively allows us to evaluate numbers, words, and the
• Statistics are not facts. They are interpretations, because people gather statistics.
Sometimes the numbers are simply wrong Always ask yourself whether a claim is
broadly plausible. Look at how the numbers were collected, interpreted and
• There are three ways of calculating an average, and they often yield different
numbers. People with statistical acumen usually avoid the word average in favour
of the more precise:
1. Mean: add up all the observations or reports and divide by the number of
observations or reports.
2. Median: the middle number in a set of numbers (half of the observations are
above it, and half below)
3. Mode: the value that occurs most often.
• Many graphs mislead and distort with a variety of tricks, including not labelling the
axes, truncating the vertical axis, and messing around with scale. They can be
made to tell almost any story.
• How numbers are collected is essential to whether they tell an accurate story.
6. • Email reduces productivity, makes us miserable and has a mind of its
own, so let’s get rid of it.
• In 2019 the average worker was sending and receiving 126 business
emails a day – about one every four minutes.
• The Hyperactive Hive Mind is a workflow centred around ongoing
conversation fuelled by unstructured messages delivered through digital
communication tools like email and instant messenger services.
• Constant interruptions have a switching cost and leave attention
residue, making it harder to concentrate on the next thing. The best
workflows minimize mid-task context switches and minimize the sense
of communication overload.
• The Attention Capital Principle states that the productivity of the
knowledge sector can be significantly increased if we identify workflows
that better optimize the human brain’s ability to sustainably add value to
• The Process Principle states that introducing smart production
processes to knowledge work can dramatically increase performance
and make the work less draining.
• The Protocol Principle states that designing rules that optimize when
and how coordination occurs in the workplace is a pain in the short term
but can result in significantly more productive operation in the long term.
• The Specialization Principle states that in the knowledge sector, working
on fewer things, but doing each thing with more quality and
accountability, can be the foundation for significantly more productivity.
• This book is all about prospecting for and winning new business. Good business
developers know how to create chemistry with the people they meet. They catalyse a
positive reaction from strangers when they connect.
• Diligent farmers are the best model for business developers to adopt. They nurture other
peoples’ interests and then reap the benefit when the appropriate time comes.
• By contrast, sales dogs and spreadsheet bureaucrats generate a lot of online and
meeting activity but don’t do as well. Interestingly, 80% of sales require five follow-up
calls after the meeting but 44% of sales representatives give up after one follow-up.
• Stop trying to control your networking universe. It works best when you let it be its
natural state: random. Show up and keep showing up because you never know who you
will meet and what might happen.
• It’s all about developing chemistry – how you make them feel.
• Beware of charmers at networking events who want a contact or a sale but are only
interested in themselves. They are called ANTHONYs:
All about me
Not interested in you
That reminds me of something I did that is a lot more interesting than what you did
Happy to talk over you
Over your shoulder is someone far more useful to me (scanning the room)
Never follow up or say thank you if you help them
You are now, apparently, one of 500 of their closest friends
• Being helpful is the aim. Help the prospect identify their real needs, expand them, and
create new ones. Approaches to a prospect should be completely customised every time
– do not cut and paste from previous efforts.
9. It is
Although arguments appear
to be tearing us apart, conflict
can bring us together if
approached in the right way.
10. The author’s rules for productive argument are:
1. First, connect: Before getting to the content of the disagreement, establish a
relationship of trust.
2. Let go of the rope: To disagree well, you have to give up on trying to control what
the other person thinks or feels.
3. Give face: Disagreements become toxic when they become status battles. The
skilful disagreer makes every effort to make their adversary feel good about
4. Check your weirdness: Behind many disagreements is a clash of cultures that
seems strange to each other. Don’t assume that you are the normal one.
5. Get curious: The rush to judgement stops us listening and learning. Instead of
trying to win the argument, try and be interested – and interesting.
6. Make wrong strong: Mistakes can be positive if you apologize rapidly and
authentically. They enable you to show humility, which can strengthen the
relationship and ease the conversation.
7. Disrupt the script: Hostile arguments get locked into simple and predictable
patterns. To make the disagreement more productive, introduce novelty and
variation. Be surprising.
8. Share constraints: Disagreement benefits from a set of agreed norms and
boundaries that support self-expression. Rules create freedom.
9. Only get mad on purpose: No amount of theorising can fully prepare for the
emotional experience of a disagreement. Sometimes your worst adversary is
10. Golden rule: Be real: All rules are subordinate to the golden rule: make an
honest human connection. greatesthitsblog.com
11. Conscious leaders can operate
in a way that is beneficial to
purpose, pragmatism and
12. • This is all about elevating humanity through business. The author is the CEO of Whole
Foods Market, and here he proposes a road map for values-based leadership:
Vision & Virtue Conscious leaders:
1. Put purpose first – not just profit, but the value that can be contributed to the world.
2. Lead with love – an opportunity to serve and uplift people and communities. This is
servant leadership. Types of love can include generosity gratitude, appreciation, care,
competition and forgiveness.
3. Always act with integrity – holding themselves to the highest standards. Types of
integrity include telling the truth, acting with honour and integrity, being authentic,
having the courage to do the right thing, and being trustworthy.
Mindset & Strategy
1. Find win-win-win solutions – both parties win, and the community. This could be in
many contexts, including family, city, state, nation, humans and animals generally, or
the state of the biosphere.
2. Innovate and create value – build cultures that nurture and liberate the creative spirit.
Create the right incentives, encourage healthy competition, start a conspiracy (make
innovators think they are in on a secret), embrace the edges, and celebrate innovation
as it happens.
3. Think long term – about the impact of their actions and choices. Pre-mortems guess
what will go wrong before it does. Ask: what really matters? What risks are worth
People & Culture
1. Constantly evolve the team – are sensitive to the culture around them.
2. Regularly revitalise – renewing their own physical, mental, emotional and spiritual
3. Continually learn and grow – personally and professionally. greatesthitsblog.com
13. There’s a myth that creativity is
something that you have to be
born with but this isn’t the case
– anyone can be creative.
14. • You might think that creativity is some mysterious, rare gift – one that only a few
possess. That’s not true. It’s a skill that anyone can acquire.
• Creativity is simply new ways of thinking about things. It is not the sole preserve
of the arts. It can be seen in every area of life.
• Your unconscious works on stuff all the time, without you being conscious of it,
and even when you think it isn’t. If you put the work in on a problem before
going to bed, an idea will usually present itself the following morning.
• Our intelligent unconscious is astoundingly powerful. It allows us to perform
most of our tasks in life without requiring us to concentrate on them. Put simply,
you can’t ask your unconscious a question and expect a direct answer – a neat,
tidy little verbal message - because the language of the unconscious is not
• In Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind, author Guy Claxton talks about two different ways
1. Hare Brain: figuring matters out, weighing up the pros and cons,
constructing arguments and solving problems. Quick and purposeful.
2. Tortoise Mind: proceeds more slowly, less purposeful and clear-cut, more
playful, leisurely or dreamy. Meditative and pondering.
• Crucially the Tortoise Mind, for all its apparent aimlessness, is just as ‘intelligent’
as the much faster Hare Brain.
15. Not everything has to be so
hard – you can make it easier
to do what matters most.
16. • You can make it easier to focus by creating an effortless state, concentrating on
effortless action and getting the highest return on the least effort.
• In an exhausting approach, you think that anything worth doing takes
tremendous effort, you try too hard, overcomplicate, overengineer, overthink and
overdo, and so what you get is burnout and none of the results you want.
• In an effortless approach, you realise that the most essential things can be the
easiest ones, you find the easier path, and get the right results without burning
• To achieve this, start with:
– Invert: what if this could be easy?
– Enjoy: what if this could be fun?
– Release: let go and enjoy the relief
– Rest: consider the art of doing nothing
– Notice: see things clearly for what they are
• Effortless action involves:
– Define: what ‘done’ looks like
– Start: work out the first obvious action
– Simplify: start with zero and take it from there
– Progress: have the courage to be rubbish
– Pace: slow is smooth, smooth is fast
• For effortless results:
– Learn: leverage the best of what others know
– Lift: harness the strength of other people’s views and efforts
– Automate: do it once and never again
– Trust: the engine of high-leverage teams
– Prevent: solve the problem before it happens
– Now: what happens next matters most greatesthitsblog.com
17. Figuring out how to get all the
benefits of cheap, reliable
power without greenhouse gas
emissions (through investment
and innovation) is the single
most important thing we must
do to avoid a climate disaster.
18. • There are two numbers you need to know about climate change. The first is 51
billion. The other is zero. 51 billion is how many tons of greenhouse gases the
world typically adds to the atmosphere every year. Zero is what we need to aim
for (to stop the warming and avoid the worst effects of climate change).
• There is no scenario in which we keep adding carbon to the atmosphere and the
world stops getting hotter. And the hotter it gets, the harder it will be for humans
to survive, much less thrive. 1/5 of carbon dioxide emitted today will still be there
in 10,000 years.
• It is estimated that Covid reduced emissions to 48 or 49 billion tons of carbon – a
reduction of around 5%. But consider what it took to achieve this 5%. A million
people have died, and tens of millions have been put out of work. Not a situation
that people would want to continue or repeat.
• The author acknowledges he is an ‘imperfect messenger’ and that he can easily
be seen as just ‘another rich guy with an opinion’. He came to focus on climate
change in an indirect way – through the problem of energy poverty, which was
highlighted work at the Gates Foundation. Their motto is ‘Everyone deserves the
chance to live a healthy and productive life’.
• Here lies a major tension. Is it fair to tell someone from a poor area of India that
their children can’t have lights to study by (because they can’t afford green
energy), or that thousands could die in heat waves because installing air
conditioners is bad for the environment?
• Gates asserts: it would be immoral and impractical to try to stop people who are
lower down on the economic ladder from climbing up.
• We need to accomplish something gigantic we have never done before, much
faster than we have ever done anything similar. Figuring out how to get all the
benefits of cheap, reliable electricity without greenhouse gas emissions is the
single most important thing we must do to avoid a climate disaster. greatesthitsblog.com
19. With the right approach it is
possible to evaluate
confidently the claims that
20. • The book contains ten rules for thinking differently about numbers, plus one golden
rule. They are:
• Search your feelings: how does this make me feel, and why? Check your emotional
• Ponder your personal experience: take the worm’s eye view (personal) as well as
the bird’s eye view (statistical).
• Avoid premature enumeration: don’t take numbers at face value – establish what is
really being counted.
• Step back and enjoy the view: ask yourself: is that a big number? Put the claim into
context and look for comparisons.
• Get the back story: look behind the statistics to find out where they came from.
• Ask who is missing: not all data is comprehensive. Would our view be different if we
• Demand transparency when the computer says no: what algorithm was used and
how accurate and helpful is it? Without intelligent openness big datasets cannot be
• Don’t take statistical bedrock for granted: most official statistics can be trusted, but
many others can’t.
• Remember that misinformation can be beautiful too: beware misleading graphs and
charts – they can be designed to prove pretty much anything, so check that you
understand what the axes actually mean. The smarter they are, the more
suspicious you should be.
• Keep an open mind: how might I be mistaken, and have the facts changes since?
• +. The golden rule. Be curious: look deeper and ask questions. greatesthitsblog.com
22. • This book is a direct attack on the chaos, anxiety and stress that hamper billions of
workers every day. The answer to better productivity isn’t more hours – it’s less waste
and fewer things that induce distraction and persistent stress. It’s time to stop
celebrating ‘crazy’ and start celebrating ‘calm’.
• Things that don’t work include 80-hour weeks, packed schedules, endless meetings,
an overflowing inbox, unrealistic deadlines, Sunday afternoon emails, being stuck at
the office, having no time to think, and throwing all-nighters.
• You can still operate a perfectly successful business in 8-hour days, 40-hour weeks,
with plenty of time to yourself, comfortably paced days, no weekend work, no rushing,
realistic deadlines, no knee-jerk reactions, a great night’s sleep, ample autonomy, and
the ability to work from anywhere.
• There are two primary reasons why ‘crazy’ has become ‘the new normal’:
• 1. The workday is being sliced into tiny, fleeting work moments by an onslaught of
physical and visual distractions.
• 2. An unhealthy obsession with growth at any cost sets towering, unrealistic
expectations that stress people out.
• The authors are advocates of calm, which means protecting people’s time and
attention, working 40 hours a week, reasonable expectations, ample time off, and
meetings as a last resort.
• The business world is obsessed with fighting and winning. It’s a zero-sum world in
which they conquer market share rather than earn it, capture customers rather than
serve them. They target customers, pick their battles and make a killing.
24. • A net positive company improves the lives of everyone it touches, takes ownership
of all the social and environmental impacts its business model creates, and partners
with competitors, civil society and governments to drive transformative change that
no single group or enterprise could deliver alone.
• Our current economic system has two fundamental weaknesses: it’s based on
unlimited growth on a finite planet, and it benefits a small number of people, not
everyone. The ultimate question is: Is the world better off because your business is
in it? Fundamental principles include:
• You break the world, you own it (just like an item in a shop)
• You need to care, and be courageous
• Unlock the company’s soul (discover organizational and employee purpose and
passion – go back to their roots to understand original purpose)
• Blow up boundaries (by thinking big and setting aggressive net positive goals – if a
goal is not making you uncomfortable, it’s not aggressive enough. Achievable and
Realistic elements of SMART objectives are therefore not good enough because
they lack ambition.)
• Be an open book (by building trust and transparency)
• Create partnerships with synergies and multiplier effects: 1+1=11 (Companies
should not be one-upping their competitors on shared challenges – they should be
precompetitive so that the whole category wins)
• Embrace the elephants (manage issues that no one wants to talk about, such as
paying taxes, corruption, overpaying executives, human rights, lobbying etc.)
• Put the values into action – deep in the organization and brands
• Be even more responsible for broader impacts (do more good), challenge
consumption and growth, rethink measures of success such as GDP, improve
social contracts, defend the pillars of society and pursue a higher moral ground)
25. Noise causes flaws in human
judgement and if ignored it can
come at a great cost to
individuals and organizations.
26. • Noise produces errors in many fields including medicine, law, public health,
economic forecasting, forensic science, child protection. Classic examples include
judges giving wildly different punishments for identical crimes.
• Using the analogy of shots hitting a target, closely grouped shots could be spot on,
or consistently biased if off-centre, albeit still in a tight cluster. Widely spaced shots
are subject to noise.
• Respected professionals in many fields maintain an illusion of agreement when in
fact a noise audit can reveal a large variance in estimates (43% in insurance for
example). Meanwhile, the bosses believe that this is only likely to be about 10%.
• A singular decision is a recurrent decision that is made only once. Your mind is
essentially a measuring instrument.
• Level noise is variability in the average level of judgement.
• Pattern noise is variability in responses to particular cases. Part of this is occasion
noise (being influenced by the context).
• This can be offset by assuming that your first estimate is wrong and providing an
alternative estimate. Seeking an outside view from someone will also help. Both
approaches can increase decision hygiene.
• Rules simplify life and reduce noise. Meanwhile, standards allow people to adjust to
the particulars of a situation. Helpful questions include:
- Was an easier question substituted for the real one?
- Was any important factor or piece of evidence ignored?
- Was an outside view sought?
- Did dissenters express their views?
- Is bias at play?
- Does anyone stand to gain from this decision?
- Were alternatives fully considered? greatesthitsblog.com
27. Diverse thinking is far more
powerful than when everyone
agrees with each other.
28. • Collective blindness occurs when everyone thinks the same - a phenomenon often
referred to as an echo chamber.
• Rebels think differently to clones, and constructive dissent leads to more intelligent
innovation. A series of intelligent people can become unintelligent if they all think alike.
• A team of intelligent rebels fair well so long as they overlap a little, discuss things
robustly, and pool perspectives that are germane and synergistic. They do not agree for
the sake of it or parrot each other’s views. They challenge, augment, diverge and cross-
pollinate. Diverse groups of problem solvers consistently outperform groups of the best
and the brightest.
• With perspective blindness, we are oblivious to our own blind spots. We perceive and
interpret the world through frames of reference, but we can’t see those frames.
• Homophily describes those who tend to associate and bond with others like themselves.
This leads to a form of perpetual sameness in thinking and action - a form of
• In total, geniuses are less like to experience innovation than networkers, because they
don’t share ideas as much.
• When it comes to evolution, we tend to think that big brains lead to great ideas, but
really it is the other way round – clever innovation has made our brains bigger. Our
species is constructed on diversity – recombinations and discoveries that sweep
through our networks, building the collective brain.
• When it comes to work environments, the lean condition is minimalist, but it doesn’t lead
to good productivity. An enriched condition with plants and prints on the wall increases
performance by 15%. Even better, in the personalised condition whereby people can
design their own set up, they work 30% better than those in the lean condition.
• In the clone fallacy, we think in linear ways about complex, multi-dimensional
challenges, and it doesn’t work well.
29. Being a good boss and
coping with people at work
is all about understanding
their psychological type.
30. • This book is subtitled (surrounded by) lazy employees (or, how to deal with idiots at
work). Once again the author draws on the four-colour behavioural model made famous
in Surrounded By Idiots and Surrounded By Psychopaths. The differences between
types can be summarized by an anecdote when each type walks into an elevator:
• Blue person: calculates the weight of everyone in the lift in relation to the maximum
• Red person: goes straight in and presses the button repeatedly
• Green person: Uses the ‘open the door’ button so everyone can get in
• Yellow person: sees the journey as a great opportunity to chat
• The book includes a range of tactics to understand and outsmart vexatious bosses and
flaky employees such as a controlling micro-manager or a ‘nice’ boss that is actually a
• Good bosses need to distinguish clearly between two roles:
1. Leader: achieves results through others
2. Specialist: achieves results themselves
• You can immediately see that any boss who does it all themselves will be ineffective.
Boss is what you are. Leader is what you do. The boss is the person you must follow –
the leader is the person you want to follow.
• Task-oriented people are more interested in concrete tasks than in relationships, and
vice versa. Effective leadership is partly task-oriented and partly commitment-oriented.
You need people with high will and high skill (competence and commitment).
• Behaviours are one thing - personality is something else.
• A good boss says: “I need your help.”
• A powerful question to staff who are always asking for permission is: “If you hadn’t been
able to ask me, what would you have done?”
• A good boss finds the right balance between instruction and support, including
education, challenging, delegating, and being present.
31. Life will always throw you
curveballs but it’s how you
respond that counts.
32. • At some point we all face the unexpected, but if you understand your own
psychology and deploy the right strategy, you can turn any setback into
• Most difficulties are less to do with other people and more to do with the way you
react. This is linked to your colour type based on the DISC model: Dominance =
red, Inspiration = yellow, Stability = green, Compliance = blue (see summaries of
his other books). You need to see the warning signs and stop making excuses.
• We all have a tendency to focus on the negative because of our innate survival
instinct, and we can escalate a minor problem into a serious crisis in just a few
• Self-awareness will lead you down the right path. You need to dare to notice what
doesn’t work, make changes, and adapt with a new attitude.
• Knowledge is not power – it is potential power. What you are capable of is
irrelevant, and so is what you know. The only thing that matters is what you
actually do. You have three basic responsibilities:
1. Everything you do: your decisions, your actions and how you do them
2. Everything you don’t do: what you refrain from, willpower and resisting
3. Your reaction to everything that happens: your attitude to events that you
can’t influence, and using restraint when you would rather react (possibly
• Being grumpy and constantly complaining is referred to by lecturer Jorgen Oom
as sawing sawdust – there’s nothing left to saw. Ironically, what we complain
about is usually something that we have the power to change, and yet we don’t
do anything. greatesthitsblog.com
34. • We assume that smarter people are less prone to error, but greater education and
expertise can often amplify our mistakes while rendering us blind to our biases. This is
the intelligence trap.
• Intelligent and educated people are less likely to learn from their mistakes or take advice
from others. When they do err, they build elaborate arguments to justify their reasoning,
becoming more and more dogmatic in their views. They also have a bigger bias blind
spot, so they are less able to recognise holes in their logic. There are three broad
1. Lack of creative or practical intelligence for dealing with life in general.
2. Using biased intuitive judgments to make decisions.
3. Using their intelligence to dismiss any contradictory evidence (‘earned dogmatism’).
• Dysrationalia is the inability to think and behave rationally despite having adequate
intelligence. Arthur Conan Doyle developed the Sherlock Holmes character whilst
genuinely believing in fairies.
• Confirmation bias, or myside bias, refers to the many kinds of tactics we use to support
our viewpoint and diminish alternatives.
• In linear sequential unmasking, forensic analysts make their judgements ‘blind’, without
any knowledge of previous diagnoses, thus avoiding bias.
• The intelligence trap has 4 potential forms:
1. We may lack the necessary tacit knowledge and counter-factual thinking that are essential
for executing a plan and pre-empting consequences.
2. We may suffer from dysrationalia, motivated reasoning and the bias blind spot – building
‘logic tight compartments’ around our beliefs.
3. We may place too much confidence in our judgement due to earned dogmatism, fail to
note our limitations and over-reach our abilities.
4. We use our expertise to employ entrenched automatic behaviours that render us oblivious
to obvious warning signs that disaster is looming. greatesthitsblog.com
35. You can develop critical
thinking habits to
recognise and combat the
information that deceives
individuals and harms
36. • Bullshit is the foundation of contaminated thinking and bad decisions that leads to
health consequences, financial losses, legal consequences, broken relationships,
and wasted time and resources.
• No matter how smart we believe ourselves to be, we’re all susceptible to bullshit, and
we all engage in it. While we may brush it off as harmless marketing and sales speak
or as humorous, embellished claims, it’s actually very dangerous and insidious.
• The author offers a Bullshit Flies Index to classify 3 different types:
1 fly: Harmless. Innocuous, mildly offensive, unlikely to cause harm. eg. Making
up the weather
2 flies: Bad. Harmful potential by failing to conform to standards of moral conduct,
unpleasant, unwelcome. eg. Making up numbers
3 flies: Dangerous. Able and likely to cause harm, injury, or problems with adverse
consequences. eg. Lethal advice
• Bullibility is a combination of bull and gullible. This is the degree to which an
individual is blind to bullshit – accepting it as fact and failing to infer that the
bullshitter has no regard for the truth. Versions of this include personal (who we are),
contextual (the situations we face), cognitive (how we think), emotional (how we
feel), and motivational (preference for bullshit over truth and facts).
• Reasons for the prevalence of bullshit include an obligation to provide an opinion,
social expectations to know everything, the desire for attention, fame or wealth, the
need to belong, and the ease of passing it on.
• Tactics of the bullshit artist include completely disregarding all evidence that
disproves the claim, focusing attention on unreliable anecdotal evidence that
supports the claim, pseudo-profundity, exaggerating levels of credibility,
unsubstantiated character building and assassination, and appeal to interpersonal
37. 70% of global emissions come
from the same hundred
companies, but they have
taken no responsibility
themselves - instead, they
have waged a 39-year
campaign to blame individuals
for climate change. The result
has been disastrous for the
planet, and it’s time to fight
38. • The overwhelmingly largest carbon footprint is the fossil fuel industry.
• The author draws the battle lines between the people and the polluters – these fossil
fuel companies, right-wing plutocrats, and petro-states – and outlines a plan for forcing
governments and corporations to wake up and make real change.
• There are immensely powerful vested interests aligned in defence of the fossil fuel
• Fossil fuel interests and those doing their bidding have a single goal – ‘inaction’
(thereby thwarting the systemic action that could eat into their profits).
• In the set-up, Mann highlights a recently unearthed internal document from an Exxon
Mobil senior scientist that warned of climate change issues caused by their activities as
early as the 1970s.
• Ignoring these responsibilities and instead emphasising individual responsibility over
collective action or government regulation continues a pattern set by many other guilty
industries. The tobacco industry had their own research showing a direct link between
cigarettes and lung cancer as early as the 1950s, and the gun lobby invented the
slogan “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” as early as the 1920s.
• In 2009, following the unprecedented disaster of Hurricane Katrina and Al Gore’s wildly
successful documentary An Inconvenient Truth, it seemed the world was waking up and
ready to act on climate. The forces of denial, however, would intercede and
manufacture a fake ‘scandal’ in the weeks leading up to the United Nations Climate
Change Conference in Copenhagen – subsequently known as ‘Climategate’.
Thousands of emails between climate scientists were stolen from a university computer
server in the UK. Bits and pieces of emails were disingenuously rearranged and taken
out of context – leading to claims of proof that climate change was an elaborate hoax.
• These inactivists have since been forced into retreat from ‘hard’ climate denial and
moved to ‘softer’ denial: downplaying, deflecting, dividing, delaying, and despair-
39. If you don’t admit you don’t
know what’s happening, you
can never find out, and if you
don’t find out, you can never
40. Feeling (feel good)
Fluency (be recognisable)
• The most important step in changing anything is admitting that you don’t know. That’s
the power of ignorance. Great problems solvers are not afraid to say: “I don’t know.”
From that start point, they can investigate with an open mind, and often come up with
some ingenious approaches. The author looks at 8 areas:
1. What you don’t know you don’t know.
2. We can’t know what hasn’t happened.
3. Ignorance is a secret weapon.
4. Simple is smart. Complicated is stupid.
5. The power of an open mind.
6. Ignorance we can fix. Stupid we can’t.
7. Real ignorance beats fast knowledge.
8. Thinking we know is a trap.
• People who feel secure have no need to take chances, but people who feel insecure
have to take chances.
• People will judge what they need based on what their competition has.
• Semiotics is language without words. In the 1960s, Margaret Calvert designed the UK’s
road signage system. She tested them by driving them at some airmen at 100mph – the
context in which they would be seen. She made the complicated simple: motorways
would be white on blue, A roads, white on green (with yellow numbers), and B roads
black on white. Triangles for warnings; circles for commands; squares for information.
• In publishing, there is something called publication bias or the Woozle Effect (named
after the Winnie-the-Pooh story in which they believe they are following a Woozle, when
they are following their own footsteps). Once a journalist cites something, another takes
it as fact, and it snowballs from there, but it might not be true.
41. Success is not achieved
by the genius of any one
leader, but through
commitment to a set of
principles and practices.
42. Feeling (feel good)
Fluency (be recognisable)
• This book contains insights, stories and secrets from inside Amazon.
• Since the early days, the company has stood by 4 core principles: obsess over
customers, it’s all about the long term, we will continue to learn from both our
successes and failures, and operational excellence. These led to a series of 14
1. Customer obsession: start with the customer and work backwards.
2. Ownership: leaders act on behalf of the whole company.
3. Invent and simplify: look for new ideas from everywhere.
4. Are right, a lot: leaders have strong judgment and good instincts.
5. Learn and be curious: you never stop learning.
6. Hire and develop the best: raise the performance bar with every hire.
7. Insist on the highest standards: relentlessly.
8. Think big: thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy.
9. Bias for action: speed matters in business.
10. Frugality: accomplish more with less.
11. Earn trust: listen attentively and speak candidly.
12. Dive deep: operate at all levels and stay connected.
13. Have backbone; disagree and commit - discuss, then commit wholly.
14. Deliver results: be accountable.
43. You can fight the biases
that distort decision-
making by learning to
recognize them and
using a range of
44. Feeling (feel good)
Fluency (be recognisable)
• This book asks the reader: When was the last time you listened to someone, or
someone really listened to you? As a society we have forgotten how to listen.
• Modern life is noisy and frenetic, and technology provides constant distraction (some
people are now officially addicted to distraction.) So we tune things out or listen
selectively – even to those we love most. We have become scared of other people’s
points of view, and of silence. People are uncomfortable with gaps in conversation.
It’s called dead air.
• At work, we are taught to lead the conversation. On social media we shape our
personal narratives. At parties we talk over one another. So do politicians. No one is
• Listening is about curiosity and patience – asking the right questions in the right way.
It has the potential to transform our relationships, improve our self-knowledge, and
increase our creativity and happiness.
• We listen best when we are in sync with the other person.
• We use assumptions as earplugs, thinking that we know what the other person is
going to say. The closeness-communication bias means that we overestimate our
ability to know what those closest to us are trying to say.
• We think faster than we speak, so there is a speech-thought differential.
• None of us is ‘woke’ or fully awake to the realities of people who are unlike us. One
can only speak for one’s self.
• Listening to opposing views makes us more entrenched, not more open-minded.
Many people now show the traits of hyperpartisanship. Good listeners have negative
capability – the ability to handle uncertainty without becoming irritable. Look for
evidence that you might be wrong.
45. • Be inquisitive
• Make the time
• Understand the lines of argument
• Have a point of view
• Inform your work
• Enjoy the debate
• Ask Kevin to speak or train