Anything vs Everything

How do we choose what to focus on, and have the conviction to say “no” to everything else?

We are all encouraged to believe we can do anything. It’s a powerful and important message. But, many of us mistakenly interpret that to mean we can do everything.

We want to have our cake, get lots of likes when we share a photo of our cake, eat it all, and then still have visible ribs afterwards.

Unfortunately, it’s just not true. We can’t do everything. That’s impossible. There are multiple constraints we all have to live within - time, money, space or opportunity.

These things force us to choose. But how?

It’s not enough to say “we need to focus” or “we need to prioritise”. Those are just intentions. Unfortunately, being focussed or having well defined priorities isn’t something that just happens by accident. It requires constant work.

What are the tools and techniques that help us get there - or at least closer to there?

🔪 How to Decide

Have you ever bought clothes while traveling, and been unable to fit everything in your suitcase when it was time to go home? That suitcase is what my days are like now.

— Jeffrey Zeldman

To start with, it’s useful for each of us to understand if we are “Default No” or “Default Yes”.

These are actually really different schools, and I’ve learned a common source of conflict when we’re trying to find consensus about what to focus on and how.

Default No

One of the mantras I have written semi-permanently on my office whiteboard is a shamelessly borrowed idea:

Focus means saying 'no'

— Steve Jobs

It’s easy to think that focus means saying yes to the small number of things that need our attention. But, actually it’s about saying no to the hundreds of other things that would be distractions.

When we have too many good options and need to narrow them down, or when we’re feeling overwhelmed and want to make time to actually complete things, we need a “Default No” mindset.

It requires us to have a high filter on anything new - the only things we should agree to start should be things we are genuinely excited to do, or things that are really important.1

It forces us to be specific about the things that we want: i.e. what evidence do we need to see before we would be tempted to say “Yes”?

It means being willing to miss out on something that might have been good, while we search for something that could be great.

Consider the Latin origin of the word decide: de = off, caedere = cut (same root as incide/incision, to cut into).

Deciding means cutting off other options.

Default Yes

But we can also think about decisions very differently, simply by asking: “Why not?”

Or, perhaps more specifically: “What do we have to lose?”

Rather than looking for evidence that might convince us to say yes we simply look for red flags that might warn us to say no. And when we don’t see them, we keep moving.

This is the mindset we need when we’re not constrained by time and want to maximise our opportunities.

It allows us to deal with the uncertainty that might otherwise paralyse others who are more tentative. It frees us to make a start even when plans are incomplete or we’re not yet 100% confident about the assumptions we’re making.

Default Defer

While this might seem like a binary decision there is actually a third option, that is unfortunately very common: “Let’s wait and see”.

It’s so tempting to defer difficult choices because when we do that it feels like we are keeping our options open. In some cases it may actually be the right call, but it’s important to acknowledge it’s neither a decision nor a commitment.

If we find ourselves stuck like this, it can be useful to ask specifically what we are waiting for.

It could be evidence (if we’re “Default No”) or it could be a red flag (if we’re “Default Yes”) but it has to be something. Once we’ve defined it then we can think about the steps we need to take to get from where we are now to the decision.

If it helps, it’s useful also to realise the risks on both sides of “Default Defer”. If we spend too long searching for evidence or red flags then we’re leaving ourself less time and resources to actually do the thing after we decide to go ahead, or else falling into the trap of a slow “No” if we decide to not go ahead. Neither of those outcomes are desirable.

From what I’ve seen, the difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people understand when it’s time to say “Yes” and when it’s time to say “No” and hardly ever fall into the trap of saying “Let’s just wait and see”. 2

It’s also very helpful to have somebody in our lives who is the opposite - if we’re “Default No” then we need somebody who is more optimistic and stops to ask us “why not?” and if we’re “Default Yes” then we need somebody who is brave enough to say “stop!” when required.

Being Amish

It also helps to understand the shared values we have which can inform each decision, so these don’t need to be renegotiated each time.

Back in the late 1900s Howard Rheingold wrote an essay for Wired Magazine called Look Who’s Talking, about an Amish community in Pennsylvania in the US. I’ve thought about it often since I first read it, and referenced it many times since.

He described their unique approach to using technology in their day-to-day lives and specifically their general criteria for what technology is accepted in their community.

The question they ask is:

Does it bring us together or draw us apart?

So, for example, buttons on clothes are frowned upon, because they are a sign of individuality, but telephones are allowed, as long as they are located outside of the house, where they don’t interrupt conversation between family members.

The article describes the drawn out process these communities use to come to consensus around these questions. Interestingly they allow for experimentation and for people to change their minds. Something new comes to be commonly used not because it’s been approved in advance but because somebody tries it. Then they see what effect it has and debate whether that is something they think is net positive or not.

We can agree or disagree with the Amish view of the world (and there are some quite problematic aspects, for sure), but I don’t think we can fault them for having a values-based way of making decisions about this sort of thing.

We all like to pretend that we are in control of the technology we use and that the impact it has on our lives is positive.

But, think about this …

Or are we mostly responding to all of those things whenever they demand our attention?

Here’s one simple test: when you are talking in-person with somebody else and your phone rings or buzzes, do you pick it up immediately and look at it? If so, what does that say about your relative priorities in that moment? Are you choosing to be present with the people who already have your attention or assuming that whatever is triggering the notification - which could be anything - is more interesting or important?

Or another one: switch any website you’re trying to read to use “Reader Mode” in your browser. If the site is better - less cluttered with adverts, easier for you to navigate and allows you consume the content without multiple distractions - then realise that you’re probably the product that site is trying to sell, rather than a customer they are trying to serve.3

The reality, for many of us, is we are not mindful about how we use technology and as a result we end up being controlled and manipulated.

We’re engaged in a very asymetric battle for focus. The technology and media companies employ large teams of highly qualified people and spend millions on research and development to try and capture and hold our attention. But on the other side of that, we’re all just individuals, mostly without any tools or techniques to help us claim it back. It’s a fight we’re almost guaranteed to lose.

I’m reminded of this everytime I go into a supermarket and consider all of the time and money that has been spent on designing the layout of the shop, on making the product packaging as attractive as possible, placing each item in the optimal place to increase the chances that I’ll pick it up, and on tracking my movements through the store and across visits using data from credit cards and loyalty schemes etc so that all of these decisions can be analysed and optimised. Meanwhile I’m just me - wanting to buy some milk and bread, but inevitably getting a chocolate bar too, because … it’s right there.

There are actually quite a few historic examples of people who have thought about this much more deeply than we seem to in the modern era.

For example the Luddites. They became famous for damaging machines at new textile factories in the early 1800s, angry that these developments were destroying their craft and resulting in unemployment and poor working conditions. Now we just use their name as a word to demean anybody who is opposed to anything new.

It’s easy to look down on the Amish and Luddites and think they are just fighting the tide of progress. But, we’re all fighting the tide of progress - some of us just put up more resistance than others.

I used to mock my dad for his slow but conscientious two finger typing. But now I watch myself fumble around in virtual 3D-spaces that my kids can navigate so easily and realise that history has repeated, it’s just the tools that have changed.

The difficult reality is there will be more and more of these decisions for us to make, individually and collectively, as new technology waves break:

Smart Devices, Social Media, Robots, Drones, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Virtual and/or Augmented Reality, Remote and Distributed Work, “Smart” Assistants, Plant-based Meat + Milk, Machine Vision, Autonomous Vehicles (Cars, Trucks + Boats), Genetic Modification + Bio-hacking, etc etc.

In other words, all of the things I’d be reading about in Wired if I still read magazines.

How confident are we that we will make mindful decisions about which of these things being us together and which draw us apart?

Bees on honeycomb. Photo by Boba Jaglicic (@bobajaglicic) on Unsplash:

🐝 Being Busy vs. Being Remarkable

Don’t say you’re busy, say you’re getting lots done.
If the latter isn’t true, the former is irrelevant.

Space, Money & Time

Here is a little thought experiment…

Imagine somebody who fills their house to overflowing with stuff, shuffling clutter from one room to another as each space is needed during the day, leaving no spare room to fit in anything else?

How do we judge them?

Then, imagine somebody who manages their finances right on the edge, spending every last cent of their credit card limit, transferring money from one bank account to another just in time to cover repayments, never quite sure if their next purchase will tip them into the red?

Neither of those sounds ideal, right?

Now, imagine somebody who manages their time like this – i.e. fills their days with work, constantly juggles their to-do list as urgent tasks come and go, and leaves no spare time to do any one thing well?

That’s also not ideal. But it might sound familiar!

One thing nearly all of us have in common is: we’re busy.

The really curious thing about this is how we romanticise it.

Somebody will ask:

How have you been?

And we reply, beaming with pride:

Oh, you know, busy busy!

We constantly boast about having no spare time, in a way we never would if we had no space or no money. But, why?

It always feels like there is never enough time.

Maybe we’ve just normalised it. Is this now what we expect each other to say? Like the exhausted and knowing nods exchanged between two parents of newborns, safe in the knowledge that neither is getting enough sleep, perhaps we take comfort from connecting with others in the same tough situation.

Maybe it’s just less work for us to focus on inputs, than to look for evidence of outputs? It’s easy to count the number of hours we spend at work, the number of meetings in our calendar or the number of emails in our inbox. We often assume that if we are busy then lots of things must be getting completed. It is, in other words, easy to confuse activity for progress.

Or maybe we’re just reluctant to be honest. As an experiment I’ve tried to consciously swap out the words I use when I am asked how I am - rather than flattering myself with negatives (busy, stretched, slammed, etc) I looked for positive alternatives (focussed, engaged, full - as in “days full of interesting and awesome things”). But it just makes me sound like a try-hard, and I’m only really kidding myself I suspect. It has at least forced me to reflect on how excited I am to say that I’m “busy”.

In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that by now we’d all be working 15 hour weeks.4 He was actually correct, but not in the way he expected. Most of us struggle to do three hours of productive work per day. How else would we find the time for social media and reality television otherwise?

The more interesting question is why we fill so many hours with non-productive work.

I wonder if the goal of always being busy is actually part of the problem. The cake is a lie.

Focus means doing less.

We can be busy or remarkable, but probably not both.

Which do we choose?

First things first?

We don’t have to think too hard about our priorities. We can just pay attention to what we do first each day.

Our real priorities are revealed not stated.

A stated preference is what we say we want to do.
A revealed preference is what we actually do.

Often what we do betrays what we say.

Our stated priorities are hopeful, but our revealed priorities are honest.

For example…5

I want to play tennis.
I want to learn te reo.
I want to get more sleep.
I want to be a good manager.
I want to spend more time with my kids.
But I’m also very busy.

When we’re designing and building a product or service that we hope others will use and pay for and tell their friends about, it’s helpful to listen for stated preferences, but it’s much more important to watch for revealed preferences. It’s dangerous to base our optimism entirely on kind words. We need to always cut through and find some action that demonstrates that people mean what they say.

And we should apply that same filter to how we choose to fill our days. We can say we’re busy or full, but if we’re not getting lots done those are just meaningless words.

Being busy is the default and by far the most common choice. It easy to assume that in order to be remarkable we first need to be busy. But, being busy all the time makes it less likely there is any time and space to do remarkable work, which nearly always requires larger blocks of dedicated focus.

Beware the barrenness of a busy life.

— Socrates

Wasting Away

I realise this isn’t a new or unique observation.

For example, Tim Kreider wrote an excellent Opinion piece called The ‘Busy’ Trap published in the New York Times way back in 2012.

Maybe you’re too busy to read the whole thing now? So, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll quote from it extensively:

[Those who boast about being busy are] almost always people whose lamented busyness is purely self-imposed. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety, because they’re addicted to busyness and dread what they might have to face in its absence.

What [my busy friend] had mistakenly assumed was her personality — driven, cranky, anxious and sad — turned out to be a deformative effect of her environment. It’s not as if any of us wants to live like this, any more than any one person wants to be part of a traffic jam or stadium trampling or the hierarchy of cruelty in high school — it’s something we collectively force one another to do.

Busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness; obviously your life cannot possibly be silly or trivial or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked, in demand every hour of the day. […] I can’t help but wonder whether all this histrionic exhaustion isn’t a way of covering up the fact that most of what we do doesn’t matter.


I observe three levels to this:

Most of us measure ourselves based on inputs – i.e. how much time we spent working, or how full our calendar is.

Other, smarter, people measure themselves based on outputs – i.e. how much progress we made, and what we created or learned in the process. In other words, what was the return on the time invested?

Those who understand this, and act on it, get much further without working so long and hard, just by cutting out the unnecessary stuff. It’s incredible, but simply getting things completed and out in the world actually turns out to be a huge competitive advantage, because it’s so uncommon.

However, when we step back we notice that there is a third level (and isn’t there always another level!) where we stop measuring ourselves altogether and rather than being deformed by our busyness optimise for enjoyment.

Obviously the ability to do this depends on our circumstances. For most, earning a living means spending a large amount of time on work, one way or another. While everybody has obligations, I don’t really have that excuse. I found myself a few years ago in the unusual position where money was no longer the biggest constraint. But, still that mindset turns out to be a hard habit to break. So I continue to allow my days to fill with “busy” and this third level remains mostly aspirational to me.

The people who are best at this even seem to be comfortable (apparently) wasting time!

The precious few moments I’ve “wasted” over the years have often been the most memorable ones. If only I wasn’t so busy, I’d definitely waste more time.

How about you?

Have you been keeping busy?

The Beatles playing at Palais des Sport Paris, 1965 Source: Beatles Bible

☔️ Distractions

If you really want to be great at something, you have to truly care about it. If you want to be great in a particular area, you have to obsess over it. A lot of people say they want to be great, but they’re not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve greatness. They have other concerns, whether important or not, and they spread themselves out. That’s totally fine. After all, greatness is not for everybody.

— Kobe Bryant

Here’s another mantra worth repeating:

Predicting rain doesn’t count. Building an ark counts.

It’s not enough to know what to do, think about doing it, or put it on a list. It turns out that all of those are very common. They are prerequisites, but insufficient by themselves.

The only thing that separates you from the pack is actually completing things, despite distractions.

But what does this cost?

I Wanna Hold Your Other Hand

In 1964 The Beatles played a long series of concerts at the Olympia Theatre in Paris. Eighteen days straight. Two or sometimes even three shows per night.

At the same time they were preparing for the filming of their first movie and were under pressure from their record label to come up with a new single to follow I Want to Hold Your Hand, which had just reached #1 in the US.

John Lennon arranged for a piano to be brought to their hotel room, so they could use the small amount of free time they had to work on some new songs. Somehow amongst all of that distraction Paul McCartney composed their next hit Can’t Buy Me Love.

It’s remarkable that as a group they were able to create something so iconic under that sort of pressure and with those sort of constraints.

It’s easy for each of us to feel overwhelmed by the existing commitments we have and it’s hard to focus on the things we know are important. And yet, most of us constantly soak, and often drown, in distraction.

Stories like this make me wonder: what other things did The Beatles not do during that time in order to focus on the things we all remember?

All of the things we stereotypically associate with being a rock star, I suspect.

Focus is difficult.

It’s easy to think of new things we could do, and to fall into the trap of thinking that is focus. But actually they key is consciously choosing what not to do. And that’s hard.

Try this:

  1. List all of your priorities
  2. Identify the five that are most important
    (If you’d like to use this method for yourself, stop here and complete these first two steps before going onto the final step)
  3. Highlight all of the other items on the list

The top five are the priorities to focus on - we’ll come back to those.

But all of the others are the things we actually need to manage first. They come to mind when we’re asked what our priorities are, so they are clearly important to some extent and it would be easy to justify spending some time on them. But they are also distractions - any time we spend on them will be at the expense of our real priorities. If we try to do everything we end up with a long list of barely-started or half-done things, rather than a shorter list of things we’ve completed and can be proud of.

In other words, this is our do not do list!

This exercise can be used to prioritise time but can also be used in situations where we are restricted by cash, or energy or opportunities.

The hard thing is identifying the things that would be distractions. Then the really hard thing is actually not doing those things.

Here are two techniques that might help…

Talk to the hand

The first I learned the hard way when I was managing the product team at Trade Me and I now recommend it to anybody struggling with overwhelm. The good news is you already have all of the “tools” you need to use it yourself - you just have to remember it.

In those days I would regularly be bombarded with new ideas for features we could add to the website. And they were often great ideas. But we could only do so much, and eventually trying to keep everything in my head became exhausting. So instead I would just keep in mind the top five current priorities. Then whenever a new project was suggested the question wasn’t “is this a good idea?” but rather “which of our existing priorities gets bumped by this new suggestion?”

I would sometimes literally hold out the palm of my hand and spread my fingers when asking this question of anybody suggesting a new priority - partly to emphasise the constraint of five things, but also because it helped me to remember what the five things actually were.

More often than not the answer at the end of that discussion was that the current priorities were correct. In that case we were able to continue without adding new distrctions. And in the rare situations where we did choose to swap our priorities, because the new idea was just too good to delay, we did that consciously and the costs were explicit.

Top Three

The second is a variation of the same concept, but applied to personal priorities: 8

  1. At the end of the day write down the three most important things you need to complete the next day
  2. Then tomorrow, do those things first

(The actual number of things doesn’t really matter - I choose three rather than five in this case because that’s as many things as I can ever get done in one day. YMMV.)

It’s an elegant and simple idea, and pretty much the polar opposite of every other productivity system and to-do application I’ve ever used. Rather than combining more and more complex ways of capturing, storing, sorting and retrieving lists of tasks it’s all about narrowing focus and completing important things.

But don’t confuse simple with easy. Having tried to use this technique for many years it’s depressing how often I get to the end of the day or even the end of the week and realise that I didn’t complete even one of the three things I had prioritised. The immediate feedback loop from this failure might actually be the secret that makes this technique effective over the longer term because it highlights the distractions that got in the way of the important things. And the beauty of it is that each day we all get three new slots to fill - so unlike more complicated productivity systems it doesn’t accumulate distracting cruft.

The Opposite of Focus

We don’t have to be awesome at everything to succeed, we often just need to identify the right niche to focus on.

Shortly after he took over as CEO at Apple, Tim Cook said that the number one lesson that he learned from working with Steve Jobs was: focus.

A number of people shared that insight online at the time. But this much more cynical response was by far my favourite:

As opposed to all of the people who think being unfocused is the key?

That’s right, of course. We all know focus is important. So, then why is it so uncommon?

Focus is hard to describe.

We often don’t recognise when we’re not focussed until afterwards.

Jessica Hagy, Focus Source: Indexed by Jessica Hagy

Perhaps if we name the things that cause us to repeatedly lose focus then we could be more conscious and try to avoid those traps.9

For technical people a common reason for losing focus is boredom - we feel we need to be challenged by the technology we’re working on, so we keep adding unnecessary stuff to keep it interesting. We need to be constantly reminded that what actually matters is not what the software does but what the user does.

For sales and marketing teams it’s more often simple flailing - i.e. lots of activity but not much progress towards any clearly articulated goal. We can’t just keep thrashing and splashing and hoping for the best, we need to work out what moves us and our team closer to the destination.

Whether we’re a designer, developer or sales person, the more our satisfaction is derived from actually shipping something, and making that one thing as great as we can, the more our success will be correlated with the success of the venture we’re working on. The best leaders realise that’s true not only for individuals but for the whole team. We need to narrow our collective focus to those things that move us forward.

All The Things You Didn’t Do

It’s true, I think, that being super focussed makes you a bit annoying. Annoyingly successful … but still annoying.

Frustratingly for those who think that success comes from an ecosystem, there does seem to be a recurring pattern amongst those who achieve remarkable things: The most successful founders I know are the ones who focussed almost exclusively on their own venture and who meanwhile remained politely uninterested in others’ ventures.

It’s very difficult to assess opportunity cost.

Just like capital, both time and energy are precious and rare commodities. Spread too thinly across multiple things they barely make a dent.

I’ve had the privilege to invest in and work on several early-stage ventures that have gone on to be great companies. I’m proud of the contribution I’ve made to all of them, both in terms of capital but also support and advice. I try not to think too much about the other opportunities that I’ve missed or passed on by deciding to focus on those.

When working on a startup there is a long long list of possible external distractions: networking events, panel discussions, meetups, pitch fests, fail cons, dragons’ dens, mentoring events, demo days, and coffee meetings. While all of these potentially open interesting doors, they always involve a trade-off in terms of time that would otherwise be spent working on the business.

I realise that many of these things are just entertainment. I have no problem with that, unless we pretend that it’s actually work, and as long as we’re mindful of the business model of the events we choose to attend.

I also don’t underestimate that there are always opportunities to learn, and that bouncing off others who are in a similar position and struggling with similar problems can often help. However we need to be mindful about that too. A good question to ask is: what do we disagree with. If we already believe everything that is being said at these events then we’re probably not learning much and are likely just preaching to the choir.

Perhaps even more important than those things are the internal distractions within the business itself.

As soon as we have customers we have customer feedback, which inevitably tries to drag us in a number of often contradictory directions. As soon as we have a market, an adjacent market will reveal itself, if only we make one small change to the product (all product changes are small, right? just a SQL query!) or go-to-market strategy.

But, it’s really valuable to realise that we don’t have to design a product or service for everybody, as long as there is a big enough group of anybodies who will find it compelling, we have a good way to reach those people directly and make them aware that we’ve solved a specific problem that they have, and we can sell it to them at a price they are willing to pay.

Those things, by themselves, are hard enough without the additional pressure of trying to please everybody.

It takes conviction to have confidence about the bird already in the hand, or at least within sight. It’s hard to fight the fear of missing out. But it’s important. Otherwise we are “beating ourselves up for being unable to count to infinity”. 10

Focus is exhausting.

It always takes longer than we think. Trade Me was seven years from start to sale. Vend was 12 years.11 Timely was 9½ years. Xero took just under six years to go from IPO to a $1 billion valuation (those early years are mostly forgotten, and seldom mentioned in the official histories). The scarcest resource at most startups isn’t cash, it’s time.12 We’re all lucky that most founders don’t appreciate this reality in advance, otherwise they might not bother to start at all.

This vs That

I was once put on the spot and asked to talk about my failures. I blurted out a summary of all of things that I’ve done that were not successful and the various ways that I’ve fallen short of what I wanted to achieve over the years. It’s a long list!

But it would have been much more useful to try and make the distinction between the failures which have left me with valuable lessons to apply in the future vs the failures which just hurt. In either case, it’s a good question and the answers are more interesting than entertaining stories of unrepeatable successes.

Warren Buffett, possibly the most successful investor of all time, when asked a similar question remarkably said his biggest mistakes are mistakes of omission. In other words, his bigger regret is not the things he invested in that turned out badly, but the things he didn’t invest in that could have been amazing. He used the Google IPO in 2004 as a specific example: he was smart enough and had enough information to understand the significant potential of that company, he said, but was focussed elsewhere, so missed out. His retrospective in the 2014 letter to shareholders gives several other billion dollar examples of companies he chose not to invest in because his focus was elsewhere. It’s easy to give him credit for those choices with the benefit of hindsight (he’s done okay despite all of those “failures”), but maybe there is still an important lesson in the conscious decisions he made at the time.

Focus is expensive.

Choosing to be focussed means happily paying the related opportunity cost.

🧿 Eyes Wide Open

It’s wonderful to believe that anything is possible. Please don’t ever let anybody tell you otherwise.

But don’t fall into the trap of thinking that we can do everything. At least not if we aspire to do anything well.

We have to choose what we’re going to focus on, and then have the conviction to say no to other lower priority things. And every time we do that there is an opportunity cost.

So best make them conscious choices.

  1. See: “Hell Yeah!” or “No” by Derek Sivers. ↩︎

  2. This is an amended version of a Warran Buffett quote, where he puts himself clearly in the “Default No” camp:

    The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.

  3. See: You’re Not the Customer; You’re the Product ↩︎

  4. Source: Economic Possibilities For Our Grandchildren, 1930. ↩︎

  5. The examples in this list is inspired by Randi Zukerberg’s theory, which suggests we can choose at most three of these five things: friendships, work, family time, staying fit, & getting enough sleep.

    See: Long Enough ↩︎

  6. Of course, what matters is how much sleep we actually get, not how much we think we get or how much we’d like to get.

    Consider this study of athletes in Australia:

    The researchers surveyed the sleep habits of 175 athletes from 12 different Australian national teams, and monitored their actual sleep with a wrist band for a couple of weeks. The main conclusion is that a startling number of these athletes, who are presumably performing herculean feats in their training, are falling way short of their sleep goals.

    On average these athletes said they subjectively needed 8.3 hours of sleep per night to feel rested. But when monitored it turned out they actually only got 6.7 hours of sleep per night.

    Source: Elite Athletes Don’t Sleep As Much As You Think ↩︎

  7. It would be interesting to follow up with executives who left jobs to “spend more time with their family”, six months later, to see if they actually did.

    And, have you noticed: nobody ever asks the family if they want to spend more time with a former CEO or politician who gives that as their excuse for leaving their position. ↩︎

  8. I originally read about this technique in a short lived blog post by Marc Andreessen. However this Lifehacker article about it includes all of the important quotes. ↩︎

  9. As Charlie Munger says:

    All I want to know is where I’m going to die so I’ll never go there.

  10. Source: The Joy of Missing Out ↩︎

  11. Actually exactly 12 years and one day to be precise! ↩︎

  12. Source: The Scarcest Resource at Startups is Management Bandwidth ↩︎

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