How Will You Measure Your Life - Clayton Christensen was a consultant and a professor at Harvard Business School. He is the author of many books including The Innovator’s Dilemma, The Innovator’s Solution, Competing Against Luck, and others including How Will You Measure Your Life which is related to what this month’s Best Read of the Month is based on.
Clayton gave a speech about personal life to Harvard students of the graduating class of 2010 at their request. The students were worried because when they entered Harvard in 2006 the economy was doing very well but just as they were graduating and getting ready to enter the job market, a lot changed.
The economy in 2010 was starting to just pull out of the worst economic period since the Great Depression and although it was starting to recover, it wasn’t obvious at the time. So in order to help those students navigate that tough time they looked to Clayton for guidance and he didn’t disappoint.
Clayton gives a lot of practical advice that can be learned from their business studies but applied to their personal lives. He talks about culture, work, marriage, children, faith, work and more.
Here are some quotes I enjoyed reading:
“On the last day of class, I ask my students to turn those theoretical lenses on themselves, to find cogent answers to three questions: First, how can I be sure that I’ll be happy in my career? Second, how can I be sure that my relationships with my spouse and my family become an enduring source of happiness? Third, how can I be sure I’ll stay out of jail? Though the last question sounds lighthearted, it’s not. Two of the 32 people in my Rhodes scholar class spent time in jail. Jeff Skilling of Enron fame was a classmate of mine at HBS. These were good guys — but something in their lives sent them off in the wrong direction.”
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“Over the years I’ve watched the fates of my HBS classmates from 1979 unfold; I’ve seen more and more of them come to reunions unhappy, divorced, and alienated from their children. I can guarantee you that not a single one of them graduated with the deliberate strategy of getting divorced and raising children who would become estranged from them. And yet a shocking number of them implemented that strategy. The reason? They didn’t keep the purpose of their lives front and center as they decided how to spend their time, talents, and energy.”
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“Had I instead spent that hour each day learning the latest techniques for mastering the problems of autocorrelation in regression analysis, I would have badly misspent my life. I apply the tools of econometrics a few times a year, but I apply my knowledge of the purpose of my life every day. It’s the single most useful thing I’ve ever learned. I promise my students that if they take the time to figure out their life purpose, they’ll look back on it as the most important thing they discovered at HBS. If they don’t figure it out, they will just sail off without a rudder and get buffeted in the very rough seas of life. Clarity about their purpose will trump knowledge of activity-based costing, balanced scorecards, core competence, disruptive innovation, the four Ps, and the five forces.”
The Coolest Things I Learned in 2019 - The beginning of the New Year is when a lot of writers write about some of the coolest or best or biggest ideas that they learned during the previous year. I read a lot of these articles because they are a great way for one to learn a lot of new ideas. There is a lot one can learn during a year but there are usually only a couple of ideas that really have an impact on the way we think.
One author who I’ve included on my Best Reads of the Month list before wrote a great one of these articles for 2019. His article is called The Coolest Things I Learned in 2019 and is written by David Perell.
I included some interesting ideas that I learned from David’s post below by starting off with one by Kobe Bryant.
What Kobe Bryant Reads:
“I made a point of reading the referee’s handbook. One of the rules I gleaned from it was that each referee has a designated slot where he is supposed to be on the floor. If the ball, for instance, is in place W, referees X, Y, and Z each have an area on the court assigned to them.
When they do that, it creates dead zones, areas on the floor where they can’t see certain things. I learned where those zones were, and I took advantage of them. I would get away with holds, travels, and all sorts of minor violations simply because I took the time to understand the officials’ limitations.”
Between 2011 and 2013, China used 50% more cement than the United States in the 20th century.
Of the world’s 100 highest bridges, 81 are in China, including some unfinished ones.
In 2016 alone, China added 26,100 bridges on roads, including 363 “extra large” ones with an average length of about a mile, government figures show.
China opens around 50 high bridges each year. The entire rest of the world opens ten.
China also has the world’s longest bridge, the 102-mile Danyang-Kunshan Grand Bridge, a high-speed rail viaduct running parallel to the Yangtze River, and is nearing completion of the world’s longest sea bridge, a 14-mile cable-stay bridge skimming across the Pearl River Delta, part of a 22-mile bridge and tunnel crossing that connects Hong Kong and Macau with mainland China.