Ray Dalio is founder of Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world. In his book Principles: Work and Life, Dalio shares the guiding principles powering his success and Bridgewater’s.
Principles is a master class in rational thinking. The main theme is that finding truth is the best way to make decisions, and that ego, emotion, and blind spots prevent you from discovering the truth. Dalio shares his major strategies to circumvent these weaknesses, including radical open-mindedness, thoughtful disagreement, radical transparency, and believability-weighted decision making.
In this Principles: Work and Life summary, you’ll learn:
How the rational you and the emotional you fight to control your life
How to get past your ego in pursuit of your goals
The 5-step process for getting what you want out of life
Why you need other people to improve your probability of being right
Do you have any bad habits you want to break? Or do you want to start a new habit, like healthier eating, exercise, or reading more?
You’re not alone. People try and fail to change their habits all the time. But they often fail because they believe it’s simply about willpower – stopping the habit brute force – without understanding the nature of the habit and how to most effectively change it.
The Power of Habit gives you an incredibly useful framework for understanding your habits and for changing them. I’ve found it personally useful for adopting new behaviors I’ve struggled with for years. This summary will walk you through the main points and the most important examples so you can finally kick your bad habits.
Close your eyes and picture an illegal drug user. What kind of person are you envisioning?
Imagine you’re at dinner with friends and someone tells you: “we really need to do something about the problem of white crime.” What’s your reaction?
You probably know about the war on drugs. What’s your reaction to the idea that black people are disproportionately targeted for drug crime?
What if you were told that rates of illegal drug use are equal between white and black populations?
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness unpacks these popular conceptions about drug crime. In this New York Times bestseller, Michelle Alexander argues that the war on drugs has created a new racial caste system, disproportionately punishing black people.
A powerfully interlocking system of laws and policies targets black people for drug crime, punishes them more severely than white criminals, and makes life as an ex-felon extremely difficult. The result is effectively racial subjugation and disenfranchisement.
In this New Jim Crow summary, you’ll learn:
how the war on drugs followed a pattern of implementation consistent with slavery and Jim Crow
how financial incentives and legal protection allow selective targeting of black males for drug crimes
why it’s so difficult for drug convicts to reintegrate into society
why remarkable black achievers like President Obama are deceptive indicators of black progress, and may actually perpetuate the New Jim Crow
Advice on pregnancy is often passed down as conventional wisdom without clear evidence (“Don’t take one sip of alcohol! Don’t clean the cat litter!”).
When the Harvard-trained economist Emily Oster got pregnant, she got tired of the low rigor surrounding most pregnancy advice. She dove into the medical literature and published her findings in Expecting Better: Why the Conventional Pregnancy Wisdom Is Wrong–and What You Really Need to Know.
Even if you don’t plan to get pregnant anytime soon, this is still a useful summary to skim through to learn some new angles on pregnancy, like:
When during your period is the best time to get pregnant, and when it’s impossible to get pregnant
Why you can have one drink of alcohol a day and not harm the fetus
Curious about how Uber and Airbnb grew from seedlings to internet juggernauts worth tens of billions of dollars?
The Upstarts covers the history of Uber and Airbnb, from their founding in 2008 to present day of 2016. Learn how each company started as just a side project, gathered inexorable momentum, and infiltrated cities around the world. Learn how neither Uber nor Airbnb was the first idea of its kind, but through strategy and will, they came to dominate their industries. Also learn how Uber and Airbnb attracted the ire of government, incumbents, the collaterally damaged, and its own customers.
Are you feeling unmotivated in your job and life? Are you finding your current goals unsatisfying to work toward?
Drive, by Daniel Pink, believes that your work structure is to blame. Historically, employers have motivated employees through financial rewards and kept workers on a tight leash. These principles worked well when people were primarily working in assembly lines, but today’s creative work demands more: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
In this Drive summary, you’ll learn:
Why financial rewards can lower your motivation and tempt cheating
How every human, including you, is motivated by autonomy, mastery, and purpose
Why some companies give unlimited vacation days and pay you to work on personal projects
Why paying people to donate blood actually reduces donation rate
How to convince your boss to adopt changes and give you more freedom
Do you want to start a startup, but you’re afraid of failing? Or are you running a project today that’s just not making progress, no matter how hard you try?
The Lean Startup by Eric Ries is considered a bible in the tech entrepreneurship community. Out of dozens of business books I’ve read over years, this has had the single largest impact on the way I build my business. Its concepts will help you avoid startup failure.
What is The Lean Startup, in a nutshell? It’s a methodology for creating businesses that focuses you on finding out what customers want as quickly as possible. It uses concepts of scientific experimentation to prove that you’re making progress. It encourages you to launch as early and cheaply as possible so you don’t waste time and money.
Here’s what you’ll learn in this Lean Startup summary:
How to figure out what your customers really want, so you don’t build a product no one wants
Why you’re almost certainly launching your product too late, and wasting money in the process
How focusing on the wrong metrics will deceive you about how your startup is failing
How to decide whether you should keep trying or pivot your startup in a new direction
The common fears that are holding you back and putting you in denial about your startup’s status
Shoe Dog is the story of how Nike was founded, written by Nike’s founder, Phil Knight. Nike is now a global brand – go pretty much anywhere in the world, and you’ll see someone wearing Nikes.
But Shoe Dog starts you over 50 years ago in 1962, when Phil Knight is 24 years old, has just earned an MBA from Stanford, and doesn’t know what to do with his life. You travel the next 18 years with Phil Knight, through continuous adversity, self-doubt, and never-ending financial uncertainty.
Shoe Dog is a refreshingly candid entrepreneurial account. Phil is clear about his shortcomings and about how tough it was to keep Nike running year after year. Shoe Dog is also well-written, with poetic phrasings and philosophical musings, unlike the straightforward clip of most business biographies.
Read the Shoe Dog summary here for the main history of Nike and Phil Knight, but read the real book for a visceral account of how one of the world’s biggest companies got started.