Tag: Best Of Farnam Street

The Best of Farnam Street 2019

We read for the same reasons we have conversations — to enrich our lives.

Reading helps us to think, feel, and reflect — not only upon ourselves and others but upon our ideas, and our relationship with the world. Reading deepens our understanding and helps us live consciously.

Of the 31 articles we published on FS this year, here are the top ten as measured by a combination of page views, responses, and feeling.

How Not to Be Stupid — Stupidity is overlooking or dismissing conspicuously crucial information. Here are seven situational factors that compromise your cognitive ability and result in increased odds of stupidity.

The Danger of Comparing Yourself to Others — When you stop comparing yourself to others and turn your focus inward, you start being better at what really matters: being you.

Yes, It’s All Your Fault: Active vs. Passive Mindsets — The hard truth is that most things in your life – good and bad – are your fault. The sooner you realize that, the better things will be. Here’s how to cultivate an active mindset and take control of your life.

Getting Ahead By Being Inefficient — Inefficient does not mean ineffective, and it is certainly not the same as lazy. You get things done – just not in the most effective way possible. You’re a bit sloppy, and use more energy. But don’t feel bad about it. There is real value in not being the best.

How to Do Great Things — If luck is the cause of a person’s success, why are so many so lucky time and time again? Learn how to create your own luck by being intelligently prepared.

The Anatomy of a Great Decision — Making better decisions is one of the best skills we can develop. Good decisions save time, money, and stress. Here, we break down what makes a good decision and what we can do to improve our decision-making processes.

The Importance of Working With “A” Players — Building a team is more complicated than collecting talent. I once tried to solve a problem by putting a bunch of PhDs in a room. While comments like that sounded good and got me a lot of projects above my level, they were rarely effective at delivering actual results.

Compounding Knowledge — The filing cabinet of knowledge stored in Warren Buffett’s brain has helped make him the most successful investor of our time. But it takes much more than simply reading a lot. In this article, learn how to create your own “snowball effect” to compound what you know into opportunity.

An Investment Approach That Works — There are as many investment strategies as there are investment opportunities. Some are good; many are terrible. Here’s the one that I lean on the most when I’m looking for low risk and above average returns.

Resonance: How to Open Doors For Other People — Opening doors for other people is a critical concept to understand in life. Read this article to learn more about how to show people that you care.

More interesting things, you might have missed

Thank you

As we touched on in the annual letter, it’s been a wonderful year at FS. We are looking forward to a wider variety of content on the blog in 2020 with a mix of deep dives and pieces exploring new subjects.

Thank you for an amazing 2019 and we look forward to learning new things with you in 2020.

Still curious? You can find the top five podcast episodes in 2019 here. Our Best of Farnam Street archive can be found here.

The Best of Farnam Street 2018

We read for the same reasons we have conversations — to enrich our lives.

Reading helps us to think, feel, and reflect — not only upon ourselves and others but upon our ideas, and our relationship with the world. Reading deepens our understanding and helps us live consciously.

Of the 46 articles we published on FS this year, here are the top ten as measured by a combination of page views, responses, and feeling.

  1. Smarter, Not Harder: How to Succeed at Work — We each have 96 energy blocks each day to spend however we’d like. Using this energy blocking system will ensure you’re spending each block wisely.
  2. Your First Thought Is Rarely Your Best Thought: Lessons on Thinking — Most people have no time to think. They schedule themselves like lawyers. They work in five- to eight-minute increments, scheduled back to back. They think only in first thoughts never in second thoughts.
  3. The Pygmalion Effect: Proving Them Right — The Pygmalion Effect is a powerful secret weapon. Without even realizing it, we can nudge others towards success. In this article, discover how expectations can influence performance for better or worse.
  4. First Principles: The Building Blocks of True Knowledge — First Principles thinking breaks down true understanding into building blocks we can reassemble. It turns out most of us don’t know as much as we think we do.
  5. Understanding Speed and Velocity: Saying “NO” to the Non-Essential — It’s tempting to think that in order to be a valuable team player, you should say “yes” to every request and task that is asked of you. People who say yes to everything have a lot of speed. They’re always doing stuff but never getting anything done. Why? Because they don’t think in terms of velocity. Understanding the difference between speed and velocity will change how you work.
  6. The Surprising Power of The Long Game — In everything we do, we play the long or the short game. The short game is easy, pleasurable, and offers visible and immediate benefits. But it almost never leads to success. Here’s how to play the long game.
  7. Double Loop Learning: Download New Skills and Information into Your Brain — We’re taught single loop learning from the time we are in grade school, but there’s a better way. Double loop learning is the quickest and most efficient way to learn anything that you want to “stick.”
  8. Complexity Bias: Why We Prefer Complicated to Simple — Complexity bias is a logical fallacy that leads us to give undue credence to complex concepts. Faced with two competing hypotheses, we are likely to choose the most complex one.
  9. Deductive vs Inductive Reasoning: Make Smarter Arguments, Better Decisions, and Stronger Conclusions — You can’t prove the truth, but using deductive and inductive reasoning, you can get close. Learn the difference between the two types of reasoning and how to use them when evaluating facts and arguments.
  10. The Decision Matrix: How to Prioritize What Matters — The decision matrix is a powerful tool to help you prioritize which decisions deserve your attention as a leader, and which should be delegated. Here’s how you can start using it today.

More interesting things, you might have missed

Thank you

As we touched on in the annual letter, it’s been a wonderful year at FS. While the frequency of our articles decreased in 2018, the words published actually increased. As longtime readers know, we are not bound to frequency or length constraints, our only mission is quality. Next year will see a more eclectic mix of content as we get back to our roots.

Thank you for an amazing 2018 and I’m looking forward to learning new things with you in 2019.

Still curious? You can find the top five podcast episodes in 2018 here.

The Best of Farnam Street 2017

Here’s a look at the most popular articles we wrote this year, including what really separates amateurs and professionals, a system for remembering what you read, the powerful interviews of Naval Ravikant, Ray Dalio, and Rory Sutherland, how we abuse time, and so much more.

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1. The Difference Between Amateurs and Professionals — There are a host of other differences, but they can effectively be boiled down to two things: fear and reality. Amateurs believe that the world should work the way they want it to. Professionals realize that they have to work with the world as they find it. Amateurs are scared — scared to be vulnerable and honest with themselves. Professionals feel like they are capable of handling almost anything.

2. How to Remember What You Read — Why is it that some people seem to be able to read a book once and remember every detail of it for life, while others struggle to recall even the title a few days after putting down a book? The answer is simple but not easy. It’s not what they read. It’s how they read.

3. Naval Ravikant on Reading, Happiness, Systems for Decision Making, Habits, Honesty and More — In this wide-ranging interview, we talk about reading, habits, decision-making, mental models, and life. Just a heads up, this is the longest podcast I’ve ever done. While it felt like only thirty minutes, our conversation lasted over two hours!

4. The Difference Between Open-Minded and Closed-Minded People — The rate at which you learn and progress in the world depends on how willing you are to weigh the merit of new ideas, even if you don’t instinctively like them. Perhaps especially if you don’t like them. What’s more, placing your trust and effort in the right mentor can propel you forward, just as placing it in the wrong person can send you back to the starting point.

5. Maker vs. Manager: How Your Schedule Can Make or Break You – If you’re a maker on a manager’s schedule or a manager on a maker’s schedule, you could be spinning your wheels. Find out the ideal way to schedule your day for maximum results.

6. Charlie Munger on Getting Rich, Wisdom, Focus, Fake Knowledge and More — While we can’t have his genetics, we can try to steal his approach to rationality. There’s almost no limit to the amount one could learn from studying the Munger mind, so let’s at least start with a rundown of some of his best ideas.

7. Habits vs. Goals: A Look at the Benefits of a Systematic Approach to Life — The power of habits comes from their automaticity. This is why they are more powerful than goals. Read this article to harness the power of habits.

8. The Code of Hammurabi: The Best Rule To Manage Risk — King Hammurabi of Babylon, created Hammurabi’s Code. The laws were more effective at containing risk than today’s laws. Here’s why they were effective.

9. Life Lessons from a Self-Made Billionaire: My Conversation with Ray Dalio — In this interview with billionaire investor and entrepreneur Ray Dalio, you’ll learn the principles Ray prescribes for making better decisions, fewer mistakes, and creating meaningful relationships with the people in your life.

10. 29 of the Most Gifted and Highly Recommended Books — It started with a simple question: What book (or books) have you given away to people the most and why? The email was sent to an interesting subset of people I’ve interacted with over the past year — CEOs, entrepreneurs, best-selling authors, hedge fund managers, and more.

11. The Butterfly Effect: Everything You Need to Know About This Powerful Mental Model — The Butterfly Effect shows that we cannot predict the future or control powerful complex systems. Read to learn more about this mental model.

12. The Wrong Side of Right — One big mistake I see people make over and over is focusing on proving themselves right, instead of focusing on achieving the best outcome. People who are working to prove themselves right will work hard finding evidence for why they’re right. They’ll go to the ends of the earth to disagree with someone who has another idea. Everything becomes about their being right. These otherwise well-intentioned people are making the same costly mistake that I did.

13. The Generalized Specialist: How Shakespeare, Da Vinci, and Kepler Excelled – Should we generalize or specialize? This article explores how Shakespeare and Da Vinci excelled by branching out from their core competencies.

14. Seneca on The Shortness of Time — If we see someone throwing money away, we call that person crazy. This bothers us, in part, because money has value. Wasting it seems nuts. And yet we see others—and ourselves—throw away something far more valuable every day: Time.

15. Rory Sutherland on The Psychology of Advertising, Complex Evolved Systems, Reading, Decision Making — In this wide-ranging interview with Rory Sutherland (the Vice Chairman of Ogilvy & Mather Group, which is one of the largest advertising companies in the world), we talk about: how advertising agencies are solving airport security problems, what Silicon Valley misses, how to mess with self-driving cars, reading habits, decision making, the intersection of advertising and psychology, and so much more.

16. How to Live on 24 Hours a Day: Arnold Bennett on Living a Meaningful Life Within the Constraints of Time — Despite having been published in 1910, Arnold Bennett’s book How to Live on 24 Hours a Day remains a valuable resource on living a meaningful life within the constraints of time. In the book, Bennett addresses one of our oldest questions: how can we make the best use of our lives? How can we make the best use of our time?

17. Thought Experiment: How Einstein Solved Difficult Problems — Read this and learn how the mental model of thought experiment, helped people like Albert Einstein, Zeno, and Galileo solve difficult problems.

Go back in time and see the best of 2016.

The Best of Farnam Street 2016

After the publishing the 16 best books I read this year, it’s time to take a look at the best of Farnam Street this year. Of course, ‘best’ is an editorialized list from what you loved and shared and what I took the most pleasure in writing. Spanning everything from learning and thinking to mental models and history, here’s to an amazing year.

1. The Best Way to Learn Anything: The Feynman Technique

2. The Pot Belly of Ignorance

3. The Munger Operating System: How to Live a Life That Really Works

4. Books that Improve Your General Knowledge of the World

5. 20 Rules for a Knight

6. Joseph Tussman: Getting the World to Do the Work for You

7. Second-Level Order: What Smart People Use to Outperform

8. Ego is the Enemy: The Legend of Genghis Khan

9. The Four Tools of Discipline

10. At Some Point, You Have to Eat The Broccoli

11. Too Busy to Pay Attention to Life

12. The Value of Grey Thinking

13. A Few Useful Mental Tools from Richard Feynman

14. Stop Crashing Planes: Charlie Munger’s Six-Element System

15. Peter Bevelin on Seeking Wisdom, Mental Models, Learning, and a Lot More

16. Get 5% Better

Still curious? Check out the Best of Farnam Street: 2015, and 2014

The Best of Farnam Street 2015

As the year heads toward an end, what better way to reflect than to look back on the pieces that moved you.

Find below the 15 most read and shared articles published on Farnam Street in 2015, spanning everything from philosophy and psychology to mental models and understanding.

Thank you for joining me for another year on our intellectual and philosophical journey of discovery.

Best of Farnam Street 2015

1. Carol Dweck: The Two Mindsets And The Power of Believing That You Can Improve
A summary of Carol Dweck’s book Mindset, which explores our two mindsets (fixed and growth) and how they impact not only our attitudes and learning but also our outcomes.

2. The Reasons We Work
It’s more complicated than money.

3. The Single Best Interview Question You Can Ask
“This question sounds easy because it’s straightforward. Actually, it’s very hard to answer. It’s intellectually difficult because the knowledge that everyone is taught in school is by definition agreed upon. And it’s psychologically difficult because anyone trying to answer must say something she knows to be unpopular.”

4. Albert Einstein on the Secret to Learning
“That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes.”

5. Thinking About Thinking
This is the path, the rest is up to you.

6. Richard Feynman: The Difference Between Knowing the Name of Something and Knowing Something
The top people in the world understand that knowing the name of something doesn’t mean you understand it as Novel winner Richard Feynman explains in this article.

7. The Two Types of Knowledge
“In this world we have two kinds of knowledge. One is Planck knowledge, the people who really know. They’ve paid the dues, they have the aptitude. And then we’ve got chauffeur knowledge. They have learned the talk. They may have a big head of hair, they may have fine temper in the voice, they’ll make a hell of an impression.”

8. William Deresiewicz: How To Learn How To Think
An argument to spend more time thinking.

9. How Successful People Increase Productivity
“One thing that successful people do to increase productivity is they avoid to-do lists. These lists are rarely as effective as scheduling time.”

10. Academic Economics — Strengths and Weaknesses, after Considering Interdisciplinary Needs
This is the full text of Charlie Munger’s Herb Kay Memorial Lecture, ‘Academic Economics: Strengths and Weaknesses, after Considering Interdisciplinary Needs,’ at the University of California at Santa Barbara, 2003.

11. The Peter Principle and the Law of Crappy People
If you’ve ever worked in an organization, you’ve no doubt come across someone in senior management and asked yourself how they ever got promoted.

12. In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed
We live in a world of scarce understanding and abundant information. We complain that we never have any free time yet we seek distraction. If work can’t distract us, we distract ourselves. We crave perpetual stimulation and motion. We’re so busy that our free time comes in 20 second bursts, just long enough for us to read the gist and assume we understand. If we are to synthesize learning and understanding we need time to think.

13. The Nine Primary Tactics Used to Influence Others
The number one thing to understand about influence is that people make decisions for their reasons, not yours.

14. Summer Reads for the Curious Mind
Out of the 44 books I read from January to June, here are the 7 that resonated with me the most

15. The Power of Full Engagement — Managing Energy, Not Time, is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal
Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr argue that energy, not time, is the key to managing performance.