Paul Graham

Mean People Fail, November 2014

"If you want to build great things, it helps to be driven by a spirit of benevolence. The startup founders who end up richest are not the ones driven by money. The ones driven by money take the big acquisition offer that nearly every successful startup gets en route. The ones who keep going are driven by something else. They may not say so explicitly, but they're usually trying to improve the world. Which means people with a desire to improve the world have a natural advantage."

Paul Graham

How To Start A Startup, March 2005

"You need three things to create a successful startup: to start with good people, to make something customers actually want, and to spend as little money as possible. Most startups that fail do it because they fail at one of these. A startup that does all three will probably succeed.

And that's kind of exciting, when you think about it, because all three are doable. Hard, but doable. And since a startup that succeeds ordinarily makes its founders rich, that implies getting rich is doable too. Hard, but doable.

If there is one message I'd like to get across about startups, that's it. There is no magically difficult step that requires brilliance to solve."

Paul Graham

Hackers and Painters, May 2003

"You're asking for trouble if you try to decide what to do without understanding how to do it."

Clayton Christensen

"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." 

Clayton Christensen

"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." 

Ray Dalio


"Step 1. Know your goals and run after them.

Step 2. Encounter the problems that stand in the way of achieving your goals.

Step 3. Diagnose the problems to get at their root causes.

Step 4. Design plans to get around the problem standing in the way of your progress.

Step 5. Do it. Execute those designs."

William Deresiewicz

"I find for myself that my first thought is never my best thought. My first thought is always someone else's; it's always what I've already heard about the subject, always the conventional wisdom. It's only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that I arrive at an original idea. By giving my brain a chance to make associations, draw connections, take me by surprise. And often even that idea doesn't turn out to be very good. I need time to think about it, too, to make mistakes and recognize them, to make false starts and correct them, to outlast my impulses, to defeat my desire to declare the job done and move on to the next big thing."

Ira Glass

"Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.

A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work.

Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through."

Steven Pressfield

Nobody Wants to Read Your Shit

"Nobody wants to read your shit. What's the answer? 1. Streamline your message. Focus it and pare it down to its simplest, clearest, easiest-to-understand form. When you understand that nobody wants to read your shit, your mind becomes powerfully concentrated. You begin to understand that writing/reading is, above all, a transaction. The reader donates his time and attention, which are supremely valuable commodities. In return, you the writer must give him something worthy of his gift to you."

Ray Dalio


"While I spend the most time studying how the realities that affect me most work - i.e., those that drive the markets and the people I deal with - I also love to study nature to try to figure out how it works because, to me, nature is both beautiful and practical. Its perfection and brilliance staggers me. When I think about all the flying machines, swimming machines, and billions of other systems that nature created, from the microscopic level to the cosmic level, and how they interact with another to make a workable whole that evolves through time and through multi-dimensions, my breath is taken away. It seems to me that, in relation to nature, man has the intelligence of a mold growing on an apple - man can't even make a mosquito, let alone scratch the surface understanding the universe."

John Salvatier

"Before you’ve noticed important details they are, of course, basically invisible. It’s hard to put your attention on them because you don’t even know what you’re looking for. But after you see them they quickly become so integrated into your intuitive models of the world that they become essentially transparent. Do you remember the insights that were crucial in learning to ride a bike or drive? How about the details and insights you have that led you to be good at the things you’re good at?

This means it’s really easy to get stuck. Stuck in your current way of seeing and thinking about things. Frames are made out of the details that seem important to you. The important details you haven’t noticed are invisible to you, and the details you have noticed seem completely obvious and you see right through them. This all makes makes it difficult to imagine how you could be missing something important.


If you’re trying to do impossible things, this effect should chill you to your bones. It means you could be intellectually stuck right at this very moment, with the evidence right in front of your face and you just can’t see it.

This problem is not easy to fix, but it’s not impossible either. I’ve mostly fixed it for myself. The direction for improvement is clear: seek detail you would not normally notice about the world. When you go for a walk, notice the unexpected detail in a flower or what the seams in the road imply about how the road was built. When you talk to someone who is smart but just seems so wrong, figure out what details seem important to them and why. In your work, notice how that meeting actually wouldn’t have accomplished much if Sarah hadn’t pointed out that one thing. As you learn, notice which details actually change how you think.

If you wish to not get stuck, seek to perceive what you have not yet perceived."

John Gardner

"Meaning is not something you stumble across, like the answer to a riddle or the prize in a treasure hunt. Meaning is something you build into your life. You build it out of your own past, out of your affections and loyalties, out of the experience of humankind as it is passed on to you, out of your own talent and understanding, out of the things you believe in, out of the things and people you love, out of the values for which you are willing to sacrifice something. The ingredients are there. You are the only one who can put them together into that unique pattern that will be your life. Let it be a life that has dignity and meaning for you. If it does, then the particular balance of success or failure is of less account."

John Gardner

"You have to build meaning into your life, and you build it through your commitments, whether to your religion, to an ethical order as you conceive it, to your life's work, to loved ones, to your fellow humans."

John Gardner

"One of the enemies of sound, lifelong motivation is a rather childish conception we have of the kind of concrete, describable goal toward which all of our efforts drive us. We want to believe that there is a point at which we can feel we have arrived. We want a scoring system that tells us when we've piled up enough points to count ourselves successful. 

So you scramble and sweat and climb to reach what you thought was the goal. When you get to the top you stand up and look around and chances are you feel a little empty. Maybe more than a little empty. You may wonder whether you climbed the wrong mountain.

But the metaphor is all wrong. Life isn't a mountain that has a summit. Nor is it, as some suppose, a riddle that has an answer. Nor a game that has a final score. 

Life is an endless unfolding and, if we wish it to be, an endless process of self-discovery, an endless and unpredictable dialogue between our own potentialities and the life situations in which we find ourselves. By potentialities I mean not just success as the world measures success, but the full range of one's capacities for learning, sensing, wondering, understanding, loving and aspiring. "

John Wooden

"There is a wonderful, almost mystical, law of nature that says three of the things we want most - happiness, freedom, and peace of mind - are always attained when we give them to others. Give it away to get it back."

Michael Mauboussin

"Great investors don't get sucked into the vortex of influence. This requires the trait of not caring what others think of you, which is not natural for humans. Indeed, many successful investors have a skill that is very valuable in investing but not so valuable in life: a blatant disregard for the views of others. Success entails considering various points of view but ultimately shaping a thesis that is thoughtful and away from the consensus. The crowd is often right, but when it is wrong you need the psychological fortitude to go against the grain. This is much easier said than done, especially if it entails career risk (which is often the case)."

Michael Mauboussin

"The Ten Attributes of Great Fundamental Investors:

1. Be numerate (and understand accounting)

2. Understand value (the present value of free cash flow)

3. Properly assess strategy (or how a business makes money)

4. Compare effectively (expectations versus fundamentals)

5. Think probabilistically (there are few sure things)

6. Update your views effectively (beliefs are hypotheses to be tested, not treasures to be protected)

7. Beware of behavioral biases (minimizing constraints to good thinking)

8. Know the difference between information and influence

9. Position sizing (maximizing the payoff from edge)

10. Read (and keep an open mind)"

Michael Mauboussin

"My first breakthrough occurred when a classmate in my training program [at Drexel Burnham Lambert] handed me a copy of Creating Shareholder Value by Alfred Rappaport. Reading that book was a professional epiphany. Rappaport made three points that immediately comprised the centerpiece of my thinking. The first is that the ability of accounting numbers to represent economic value is severely limited. next, he emphasized that competitive strategy analysis and valuation should be joined at the hip. The litmus test of a successful strategy is that it creates value, and you can't properly value a company without a thoughtful assessment of its competitive position.

The final point is that stock prices reflect a set of expectations for future financial performance. A company's stock doesn't generate excess returns solely by the company creating value. The company's results have to exceed the expectations embedded in the stock market."

Russ Roberts

"In the current health care system of the United States, we are typically spending other people's money rather than our own. For people who don't have a lot of money, that's wonderful and in some cases a life-saver. That's the main benefit of the current system. But there is a cost - because people are spending other people's money, they buy too much, spend money on stuff that normally wouldn't be worth it, and the system approves technology or delays technology for reasons that are not ideal. If we went to a truly market-based system, poor people would have a tougher time. But everything would be a lot cheaper. And poor people would still get good medical care paid for by other people, but in this case it would be foundations and charities. In the current world, nearly everyone has that system. There is something comforting about that equality but we pay a very high price for it."

Jerry Neumann

"There's an old saying: 'predictions are hard, especially about the future.' While hard, there are two ways to make reliable predictions about the future: deduction and induction. When either of these is available, prediction is (theoretically) possible.

Deduction relies on playing out an inevitable chain of cause and effect. It is possible when the starting state of the environment and all the mechanisms that will cause that state to evolve are perfectly known. This is a strong condition. (And perhaps too strong. In most cases, knowing not all but just the important starting conditions and transition mechanisms will get you a good approximation of the future, or at least a good estimate of the probability of success or failure. This may be enough.)

Induction, the second way to predict the future, assumes the future resembles the past. The ancients may not have known why the sun rose every morning but were pretty sure it would, because it had every day previously. Similarly, some business ideas are statistically predictable because they have been tried multiple times. If you go to a new restaurant you may not be certain if that restaurant will succeed or fail, but you know that fewer than half of restaurants survive their first year. New restaurants are similar enough to one another in their most important business aspects that their risk of failure can be induced." 

Scott Galloway

"There is an art to happiness. From 0 to 25, it's the stuff of Star Wars, discovery, spilling into adulthood, football games and magic.

Then shit gets real from 25 to 45.

Work is hard, economic stress, realize you're not going to be senator, or have a fragrance named after you and someone you love gets sick and dies.

In your 40's and 50's though, a wonderful thing happens.

You begin to take stock of your blessings, you realize that life is finite, start finding appreciation in relationships, in nature, in your achievements, and you get happier.

The lesson here is keep on keeping on because happiness waits for you."


The Art of Living

"Understand that nature as a whole is ordered according to reason, but that not everything in nature is reasonable."

Charlie Munger

Poor Charlie's Almanack

"Another thing that often causes folly and ruin is the 'self-serving bias', often subconscious, to which we’re all subject.  You think that 'the true little me' is entitled to do what it wants to do.  For instance, why shouldn’t the true little me get what it wants by overspending its income?  Well, there once was a man who became the most famous composer in the world.  But he was utterly miserable most of the time.  And one of the reasons was that he always overspent his income.  That was Mozart.  If Mozart couldn’t get by with this kind of asinine conduct, I don’t think you should try it."

Shane Parrish

"Our ability to feel emotions is a large and valuable component of our biological decision-making process. As Mlodinow explains, 'Evolution endowed us with emotions like pleasure and fear in order that we may evaluate the positive or negative implications of circumstances and events.' Without emotion, we have no motivation to make decisions."

Charlie Munger

Poor Charlie's Almanack

"But there’s no way that you can live an adequate life without [making] many mistakes.  In fact, one trick in life is to get so you can handle mistakes.  Failure to handle psychological denial is a common way for people to go broke.  You’ve made an enormous commitment to something.  You’ve poured effort and money in.  And the more you put in, the more that the whole consistency principle makes you think, “Now it has to work.  If I put in just a little more, then it’ll work.”  Part of what you must learn is how to handle mistakes and new facts that change the odds.  Life, in part, is like a poker game, wherein you have to learn to quit sometimes when holding a much-loved hand.  And deprival super-reaction syndrome also comes in: You’re going to lose the whole thing if you don’t put in a little more.  People go broke that way – because they can’t stop, rethink, and say, “I can afford to write this one off and live to fight again.  I don’t have to pursue this thing as an obsession – in a way that will break me.”

Paul Graham

"To discover new things, you have to work on ideas that are good but non-obvious; if an idea is obviously good, other people are probably already working on it. One common way for a good idea to be non-obvious is for it to be hidden in the shadow of some mistaken assumption that people are very attached to. But anything you discover from working on such an idea will tend to contradict the mistaken assumption that was concealing it. And you will thus get a lot of heat from people attached to the mistaken assumption. Galileo and Darwin are famous examples of this phenomenon, but it's probably always an ingredient in the resistance to new ideas."

Jared Diamond

"We can extract from human history a couple of principles. First, the principle that really isolated groups are at a disadvantage, because most groups get most of their ideas and innovations from the outside. Second, I also derive the principle of intermediate fragmentation: you don't want excessive unity and you don't want excessive fragmentation; instead, you want your human society or business to be broken up into a number of groups which compete with each other but which also maintain relatively free communication with each other. And those I see as the overall principles of how to organize a business and get rich."

Mohnish Pabrai

"Investing is straightforward. It's simple, but it's not easy. It's simple because we're just trying to figure out the future trajectory of a given business. But it's not easy, because figuring out the future trajectory of any given business is really, really hard to do, even for the most simple businesses."

Morgan Housel

"What's happened over the last 20 years -- and especially the last 10 -- has no historical precedent. The telephone eliminated the information gap between you and a distant relative, but the internet has closed the gap between you and literally every stranger in the world."

Howard Marks

Mastering the Market Cycle

"Richard Feynman, the noted physicist, wrote, 'Imagine how much harder physics would be if electrons had feelings!' That is, if electrons had feelings, they couldn’t be counted on to always do what science expects of them, so the rules of physics would work only some of the time. The point is that people do have feelings, and as such they aren’t bound by inviolable laws. They’ll always bring emotions and foibles to their economic and investing decisions."

Howard Marks

Mastering the Market Cycle

"After 28 years at this, and 22 years before this in money management, I can sum up whatever wisdom I have accumulated this way: The trick is not to be the hottest stock-picker, the winningest forecaster, or the developer of the neatest model; such victories are transient. The trick is to survive! Performing that trick requires a strong stomach for being wrong because we are all going to be wrong more often then we expect. The future is not ours to know. But it helps to know that being wrong is inevitable and normal, not some terrible tragedy, not some awful failing in reasoning, not even bad luck in most instances."

Nassim Nicholas Taleb

"The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary."

Gustave Bon

"The crowd puts [individuals] in the possession of a sort of collective mind which makes them feel, think, and act in a manner quite different from [how] each would feel, think, and act were [they] in a state of isolation."

Scott Galloway

"Sequoia Capital was the lead investor in my second firm, and the partner on our board told me a key tenet was they would not invest in a firm the partner could not drive to... Another tenet of venture, expressed by every investor I've raised money from (General Catalyst, Maveron, Sequoia, Weston Presidio, JPM, Goldman, and others) is they will not lead subsequent rounds. Good investors resist the temptation to smoke their own supply and require a 3rd party, arms-distance validation of the firm's value here and now."

John Kenneth Galbraith

"We have two classes of forecasters: those who don’t know – and those who don’t know they don’t know."

Howard Marks

Mastering the Market Cycle

"But this effort to explain life through the recognition of patterns – and thus to come up with winning formulas – is complicated, in large part, because we live in a world that is beset by randomness and in which people don’t behave the same from one instance to the next, even when they intend to."

Michio Kaku talking about what String Theory is

"The Future of Humanity" Google Talk on April 10, 2019

"We think that is the theory of everything, that everything we see around us is nothing but vibrations of tiny strings. Each subatomic particle is a note on a vibrating string.

What is physics? Physics is the harmonies we can write on vibrating strings. What is chemistry? Chemistry is the melodies we can play on vibrating strings. What is the universe? The universe is a symphony of strings.

And then what is the mind of God? The mind of God is cosmic music resonating through 11 dimensional hyperspace. That is the mind of God."

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