Barking Up the Wrong Tree PDF Summary

Barking Up the Wrong Tree PDFThe Surprising Science Behind Why Everything You Know About Success Is (Mostly) Wrong

Achieving success is both much more complex and simpler thing than people say it is.

At least that’s what Eric Barker believes.

And he has a book-length apology of his belief:

Barking Up the Wrong Tree.”

Who Should Read “Barking Up the Wrong Tree”? And Why?

Wide-ranging and abounding in practical advice, “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” is for everybody who needs a manual for success and happiness.

It’s not a book you read – it’s a book you reread and constantly employ.

Eric BarkerAbout Eric Barker

Eric Barker is an American blogger.

The content of his “Barking Up the Wrong Tree” blog is syndicated by “Time Magazine,” “Business Insider,” and “The Week;” the blog, updated once a week, has over 300,000 subscribers to its newsletter.

A sought-after speaker featured in “The New York Times” and “WSJ,” Eric Barker has so far authored only this book.

“Barking Up the Wrong Tree PDF Summary”

Let’s start our summary with an eye-popping statistic:

A study of 700 American millionaires has revealed that their mean grade point average was 2.9!

In other words, the valedictorians didn’t do as well as the outliers!

In fact:

Research shows that what makes students likely to be impressive in the classroom is the same thing that makes them less likely to be home-run hitters outside the classroom.


Because to excel at school, you need to conform; and it’s very likely that this will teach you to be that kind of a person even after graduating and getting a job.

Which may get you a top job, and even a few “employee of the year” titles.

However, the ones that actually change the world are the non-conformists, the people capable of defining success in their own terms.

The earlier they do that, the earlier they realize that many of the activities they are made to do while young are actually extraneous to their goal.

So, they choose not to do them.

And, in the long run, this focus gives them just enough grit to come out on top!

If you want to follow them and build just enough perseverance to succeed, then a good idea will be to use the WGNF guidelines and transform your struggles into a game:

#1. Make the games winnable: you’ve played a lot of games in your life and, chances are, you’ve lost at least half of them; however, the very fact that you know a game was winnable has motivated you to play out the game until the very end.

#2. Attach goals: just like a video game, split the game of your life into levels which gradually become more difficult and have a clear goal on each of them; splitting up your goals into smaller chunks will motivate you to move and move you will – with the right pace.

#3. Build in novelty: each level should be not just more difficult than the last, but also introduce something new; just like a character in a video game, acquire new skills as you go along the road to success.

#4. Give/ask for Feedback: in the absence of feedback, you may be tempted to give up; interaction is a great way to keep track of your progress.

Of course, there’s no point in playing a game the outcome of which will not make you happy.

So, how do you discover whether a future objective is worth your time, effort, and attention?

Eric Barker has a solution for that as well!

If you don’t want to bark up the wrong tree, then constantly check your decisions against the WOOP process.

WOOP stands for wish, outcome, obstacle, plan, and, once broken down like that, it seems pretty self-explanatory.

So, when you have a wish to do something, first start with a specification of the outcome you want.

After that, it’s time to see which could be the obstacles preventing you from reaching that outcome.

Once you get to know them, it’s time to make a plan to circumvent them or, even better, jump over each of them.

If the last one is impossible (due to lack of competence, lack of time, etc.), then it’s best if your wish stays a wish until some better moment arrives.

However, when there is a plan, and that plan is doable – it’s time to be gritty!

One thing you should know in advance is that even though a plan is doable, it doesn’t mean that it will work out in the end: some level 10 bosses are just unbeatable!

What should you in cases such as that?

Simply: quit.

Don’t be afraid to do some experiments and quit the ones that don’t work… you need to try stuff knowing you might quit some of it to open yourself up to the luck and opportunities that can make you successful.

However, while trying to do that, never forget the real objective of success: allowing you to lead a balanced life.

And a balanced life means scoring high on the four metrics that matter most:

#1. Happiness
#2. Achievement
#3. Significance
#4. Legacy

Key Lessons from “Barking Up the Wrong Tree”

1.      The WGNF Guidelines for Success in Life
2.      The WOOP Decision-Making Process
3.      HASL: The Four Metrics Which Matter the Most

The WGNF Guidelines for Success in Life

“Homo sapiens” may just as well be called “homo ludens,” i.e., the game-playing man: that’s how much people like to play games!

So, use this to your own benefit and transform your struggles into games.

However, as always in games, there are certain rules you need to follow, or, in Barker’s opinion, the WGNF guidelines.

WGNF is short for winnable, goal-based, novelty-ridden, feedback-centered – and these are all adjectives which should describe each of the games you need to devise.

Do that – and your road to success will be much less thorny, and much more enjoyable!

The WOOP Decision-Making Process

If you are not sure which project you should take, be sure to check it with Barker’s WOOP tool before you embark upon it.

WOOP stands for wish, outcome, obstacles, and plan, which means that you should only try to make your wish come true if you can devise a plan specific enough to address each probable obstacle and, eventually, reach the wished-for outcome.

Otherwise, try to direct your energy on something else.

HASL: The Four Metrics Which Matter the Most

Always measure your life against these four metrics:

Happiness: find a way to live a pleasurable and content life;
Achievement: set yourself meaningful goals and try to achieve them;
Significance: try to have a positive impact;
Legacy: live your life in such a way that others may say that they have benefitted from your existence.

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“Barking Up the Wrong Tree Quotes”

When you align your values with the employment of your signature skills in a context that reinforces these same strengths, you create a powerful and emotionally engaging force for achievement, significance, happiness and legacy. Click To Tweet

Success is not the result of any single quality; it’s about alignment between who you are and where you choose to be. Click To Tweet

College grades aren’t any more predictive of subsequent life success than rolling dice. Click To Tweet

You do need to be visible. Your boss does need to like you. This is not proof of a heartless world; it’s just human nature. Click To Tweet

Hard work doesn’t pay off if your boss doesn’t know whom to reward for it. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Barking Up the Wrong Tree” is not so much innovative, as it is thorough in its research.

Well-structured and humorously written, it’s easily digestible and straightforwardly applicable; certainly a book worth reading and rereading.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Minimalism PDF Summary – The Minimalists

Minimalism PDFLive a Meaningful Life

You deserve to live a meaningful life.

Everybody does.

And “Minimalism” may be the path to it.

Say… well, the Minimalists.

Who Should Read “Minimalism”? And Why?

Minimalist lifestyle – to quote Leo Babauta, one of its champions and most prominent figures – “boils down to two steps: Identify the essential. Eliminate the rest.”

So, something like tidying up… the cluttered rooms of your very own life!

If you still don’t get what this book is about, let us put it this way: Henry David Thoreau would have certainly approved it!

Which, to expand on the previous sentence, doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to actively live – or even want to pursue living – a Minimalist life to enjoy this book.

Just like you can read “Walden” and find out what it means to “go to the woods and suck the marrow of life” without even getting up from your cozy bed, you can read “Minimalism” and discover what being happy actually means without even a single attempt at how simple living actually looks like.

So, really, this book is for anyone who’s not pleased with how his or her current life looks like.

Which, unfortunately, we guess means about 99% of the people on this planet.

Ryan NicodemusAbout The Minimalists (aka Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus)

Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are bestselling American authors and life coaches, most famous as the duo The Minimalists.Joshua Fields Millburn

They were both born in 1981 and lived a comparatively similar life until their thirtieth year when each of them stopped chasing the American Dream and started living their own.

They have written few books together chronicling their transformation and giving advice to other people who want to start living a simpler life.

Find out everything at

“Minimalism PDF Summary”

According to almost every thinker and philosopher who has ever lived – sorry, Eric G. Wilson, you are alone here! – the goal of the good life is to be a happy person.

But, equations aside, does anybody really know what happiness means?

Just like, say, time, it seems that happiness is something you can only experience for yourself – it’s difficult to grasp the concept or give a general definition which will be to everyone’s liking.

Happiness,” claim the Minimalists, “comes from within, from inside yourself, from living a meaningful life.

And then they add:

Real happiness… comes from who we are – from who we’ve become.

And who we are is certainly not what we own or, even less, what we don’t own.

Who we are Is something far more immaterial.

And far more essential.

Well, minimalism is all about finding the essential in your life!

And since it is your life, minimalism can only be expressed on a case by case basis.

In the words of the authors:

Minimalism is a lifestyle choice. Minimalists search for happiness not through things, but through life itself; thus, it’s up to you to determine what is necessary and what is superfluous to your life.

The goal, however, remains the same: to live a meaningful life.

And, according to the Minimalists, whatever may be essential to you, your meaningful life should always be built around five core values: health, relationships, passions, growth, and contribution.

Let’s have a look at each of them.

#1. Health

Living a healthy life is obviously a prerequisite to living a meaningful life.

According to the minimalists, living healthy is all about adhering to four tenets:

a. Eating a nutritional diet

Nothing you didn’t know already here: sugar and processed foods should be avoided, fruits and vegetables, organ foods and legumes, water and fish – all should be increased.

The most important thing: diet shouldn’t be a fad, but a lifestyle choice.

In other words, you’ll do no wrong if you practice one of these dietary regimes: veganism, vegetarianism, pescetarianism, paleo, or intermittent fasting.

b. Exercising regularly

Exercising should be both mandatory and fun.

The former because it contributes to your physical health and relieves stress, the latter because you don’t need a body of an Apollo to live a healthy and meaningful life.

18 minutes – and no more than 5 sets of push-ups, pull-ups and air squats – should do!

c. Eliminating harmful substances

This is self-explanatory: harmful substances can lead to nowhere but death.

d. Treating your body as a precious possession

Your body is, by far, your more prized possession.

In fact, it is the only one you can’t live without.

Don’t ever forget that.

#2. Relationships

Everyone wants to love and be loved.

However, there’s no point being in a relationship – whether with a friend or a lover – which doesn’t make you happy.

In fact, all of your relationships should be based on eight elements: love, trust, honesty, caring, support, attention, authenticity, and understanding.

If you focus on the above eight elements, you will strengthen your relationships more than you thought possible. Sure, it takes a considerable amount of hard work, focus, and time, but having meaningful relationships is worth every bit of effort you put into them.

#3. Passions

If the American Dream is a hefty paycheck after a Monday to Friday 9-to-5 job – then count us out!

And consider counting yourself out this very second!

Because work shouldn’t be about money – it should be about passion!

It should be about the spark in your eyes and about the interest to talk about what you do for hours and hours with trembling lips and knees!

Compare this to “Well, I’m an accountant…”

How to find your passion?

Ask yourself “What would you do with your life if money wasn’t an object?”

A lion tamer it is, then!

#4. Growth

Stagnation is one of happiness’ greatest enemies.

Because nobody likes to live in a status quo.

And yet – most of us do!

No matter where you are in your life, “you must continue to improve,” write the Minimalists, “you must continue to grow. If you’re not growing, you’re dying; and if you’re dying, then, by definition, you’re not living a meaningful life.”

The key to growth?


Step by step – you’ll get to the top!

#5. Contribution

Back in the 19th century, Karl Marx was terrified that people have been thoroughly alienated from themselves and from others through their jobs – instead of the opposite!

How much satisfaction can a man get from writing a report and feeling that he has contributed nothing to society?

Well, the Minimalists share the same feeling: “a life without contribution,” they write, “is a life without meaning.”

And since “giving is living” – do that.

All the time.

Key Lessons from “Minimalism”

1.      The Five Values of Minimalism
2.      The Benefits of Minimalism
3.      Start Living Minimally… and Meaningfully

The Five Values of Minimalism

Minimal living is all about doing away with the unnecessary and building your life on the foundations of the essential.

And there are five core values around which everyone’s essential revolves: health, relationships, passions, growth, and contribution.

The Benefits of Minimalism

What are the benefits of minimalism?

First, you will get rid of many things you don’t need and many “anchors” that hold you back.

Then, you’ll realize that you have, in fact, a lot more time than you ever thought was possible.

You can use this time to discover and pursue your passions or set a life mission.

Or, if that’s what makes you happy, you can begin experiencing true freedom and start enjoying life.

It’s your life.

The point is to reclaim it.

Start Living Minimally… and Meaningfully

In order to start a minimal lifestyle, you first need to put down in writing your anchors, i.e., the things which hinder your personal growth.

Next, divide them into major (debts, unhealthy relationships) and minor anchors (bills, time-wasting activities…).

Obviously, start eliminating the former: pay off your debts and put an end to every relationship which you feel that it makes you unhappy.

Finally, start getting rid of all material possessions which you don’t use regularly and don’t spark some joy in you.

That’s it!

You’re ready to go!

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“Minimalism Quotes”

You needn't settle for a mediocre life just because the people around you did. Click To Tweet

Success = Happiness + Constant Improvement. Click To Tweet

We weren’t downsizing, we were uprising. Click To Tweet

The people who are rebelling meaningfully don't buy a lot of stuff. (Via David Foster Wallace) Click To Tweet

It's the growth that makes you feel alive. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Unfortunately, the general public lives not only a mediocre, but a very wrong life: it tends to love objects and use people.

The Minimalists believe that only the opposite makes sense.

Because loving people and using objects doesn’t only mean setting your priorities straight, but it also means finding some joy in being yourself and not being the one who can’t do without some material objects.

Because, essentially, minimalism doesn’t mean possessing less than 288 things. It means possessing only what truly expresses you, even if that’s more than your body and your passions.

“Minimalism” argues – rather convincingly – that there’s no other way to be happy.

So, read it – not because it can, but because it should change your life.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Go Put Your Strengths to Work PDF Summary

Go Put Your Strengths to Work PDF6 Powerful Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance

Have you discovered your strengths?

Well, then, Marcus Buckingham says:

Go, Put Your Strengths to Work!”

Who Should Read “Go Put Your Strengths to Work”? And Why?

Best-case scenario:

Those who have done their homework and are already familiar with “First, Break All the Rules” and “Now, Discover Your Strengths.”

But, even as a standalone, “Go Put Your Strengths to Work” could be helpful for anyone.

Marcus BuckinghamAbout Marcus Buckingham

Marcus Buckingham is a motivational speaker and consultant, best known as one of the founders of the strengths movement.

Founder of the Marcus Buckingham Company (TMBC), he has made numerous TV appearances and has made a name as one of the top management trainers in the world.

He is most famous as the co-author of “First, Break All the Rules” (with Curt Coffman) and “Now, Discover Your Strengths” (with Donald O. Clifton).

“Go Put Your Strengths to Work PDF Summary”

If you know Marcus Buckingham, you certainly know the drill so far:

First, break all the rules!

Now, discover your strengths.

And finally, go put your strengths to work!

In six simple, but powerful steps, each one an answer to some of the most dreaded questions you’ve ever had to answer.

Step 1: Bust the Myths
So, what’s stopping you?

There are many myths which may hinder your growth to greatness.

However, three of them are especially dangerous:

Myth 1: As you grow, your personality changes.

The truth is – it doesn’t: growth comes from you investing your energy to build on what you already have.

A cat will never become a lion no matter how much it trains to roar.

Just as well: you will never become an expert in someone else’s field.

To quote William Blake:

The eagle never lost so much time as when he submitted to learn of the crow.

Myth 2: You will grow the most in your areas of greatest weakness.

Even though it may seem like it – after all, there’s more room for maneuver in an empty area – the truth is that you can only grow effectively in an area of strength.

Myth 3: A good team member does whatever it takes to help the team.

Sometimes this may be true, but most often it is not.

Simply put, if you’re not giving your best, you’re not doing the best for your team either.

Just ask yourself:

How much would Michael Jordan have helped the Chicago Bulls win a title if he had been forced to play in the position of a center?

Step 2: Get Clear
Do you know what your strengths are?

People usually know much more about their weaknesses than about their strengths:

Our strengths are the very qualities that could make us look our best, and yet when asked to detail them we lack, well, detail.

Well, it’s time to change that!

Because capturing, clarifying and confirming your strengths is a prerequisite to living the life of your dreams.

How can you do that?

By making an analysis of yourself and checking your supposed skills and talents against Buckingham’s four SIGNs of strengths:

Success: Which activities do you do most successfully?
Instinct: Which do you feel like doing most intuitively?
Growth: Are you continually getting better in these activities, in an almost natural way?
Needs: Do these activities matter to you, making you feel fulfilled and content?

Step 3: Free Your Strengths
How can you make the most of what strengthens you?

Now that you’ve discovered your strengths, it’s time to FREE them and put them to work. This is a process which – as the acronym gives away – consists of four strategies:

Focus: first, you need to understand which of your strengths you actually employ while at work; understand when you need it, how much you need it, and how often you use it;
Release: start doing the things which may bring the most of your skillset, even if that means doing someone else’s job;
Educate: bring your knowledge up to date and become even more skillful in what you’re already best.
Expand: redefine your job in terms of your newfound and updated strengths; your team needs the best of you.

Step 4: Stop Your Weaknesses
How can you cut out what weakens you?

Just like your strengths, you should clear, capture and clarify your weaknesses as well.

Obviously, the objective now is different.

Namely, to STOP them from reaching your full potential:

Stop: this is selfexplanatory: cease doing anything you dislike; sometimes this may be something so irrelevant that nobody will notice; other times, explain your rationale;
Team up: now that you’ve stopped doing some activity you dislike, team up with the person who actually likes doing it;
Offer up: time for a swap – in exchange for helping you with your least favorite activity, offer your partner to help him with the one you’re best at;
Perceive: now, look at your weakness anew; does it matter that you have it?

Step 5: Speak Up
How can you create strong teams?

Now, that you know there may be a way to make yourself more essential to the team while getting rid of those activities you don’t like to do – a win-win of the highest order – it’s time for a talk with your boss.

Conversation 1: To prepare, have a strengths chat with your colleagues, rummaging for work examples to back up your talk, and devising a plan what to say to your boss once he invites you to his office;

Conversation 2: Time for the discussion. It will go well if you manage to answer the “how I can help you” question. Try putting your presented plan into practice.

Conversation 3: The weakness chat (same as 1 – but different objective).

Conversation 4: This should be the pinnacle of your efforts: the “how you can help me” chat with your boss.

Step 6: Build Strong Habits
How can you make this last forever?

Michael Jordan didn’t remain Michael Jordan because he relied on his strengths but because he continually used them and built upon them.

Do the same.

First, introduce a daily routine to identify the three strengths you are/like to be using and the three weakness you like to get rid of.

Then, start a weekly routine to identify two actions which may help you strengthen your strengths and shut down your weaknesses.

Finally, do a personal quarterly review to see how things are going.

Key Lessons from “Go Put Your Strengths to Work”

1.      Strengths Before Weaknesses
2.      The 6 Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance
3.      Stand Out

Strengths Before Weaknesses

Less than half of surveyed Americans think that they should build on their strengths, preferring to overcome their weaknesses instead.

However, this may be one of the worst things you can do if you want to be successful.

Because life is just too short to focus on your weaknesses.

No matter what, you will always have a few of those.

Hell, even Richard Feynman sucked at art history and music!

The point is to spend as much of your time as you can to strengthen your strengths.

And shut down your weaknesses altogether.

The 6 Steps to Achieve Outstanding Performance

To put your strengths to work, you need to follow these 6 steps:

#1: Bust the myths which hinder your growth.
#2: Get clear, i.e., capture, clarify, and confirm your strengths by checking them against the four SIGNs (success, instinct, growth, and needs).
#3: FREE your strengths, by focusing and releasing them, and then by educating yourself in the field and expanding upon them.
#4: STOP your weaknesses. Literally: first stop doing them, and then team up with someone whose strengths are your weaknesses, and whose weaknesses are your strengths; once you do that, offer up to swap the tasks and finally, start perceiving your weakness with some fresh eyes.
#5: Speak up. Arrange a meeting with your boss and inform him of your strengths.
#6: Build strong habits. You’re in this for the long run. Constantly repeat this process.

Stand Out

Now, that you’ve mastered your strengths, it’s time to make the next step.

Discover your strength role and start excelling.

Time to stand out!

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“Go Put Your Strengths to Work Quotes”

The strengths movement says that all we learn from mistakes are the characteristics of mistakes. If we want to learn about our successes, we must study successes. Click To Tweet

The radical idea at the core of the strengths movement is that excellence is not the opposite of failure, and that, as such, you will learn little about excellence from studying failure. Click To Tweet

Your strengths are defined by your actual activities. They are things you do, and more specifically, things you do near perfectly. Click To Tweet

Start with your own life, and to paraphrase Mahatma Gandhi, be the change you want to see in your team. Click To Tweet

Your teammates need to know where they can rely on you the most. The most responsible thing you can do is tell them. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Go Put Your Strengths to Work” is Marcus Buckingham’s attempt to complete his tentative strength’s trilogy, but he doesn’t do a fairly good job.

True, the first two books set a very high standard – we, for one, featured them both in our list of top 15 management books in history – but this one feels just too repetitive and simplified.

And, in our opinion, it refers too often to the book’s website (, on whose SET tests (now, supposedly, outdated) it relies just too much for its own benefit.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Affluence Without Abundance PDF Summary

Affluence Without Abundance PDFThe Disappearing World of the Bushmen

Do you know who the Bushmen are?

Of course, you know – especially if you’ve watched “The Gods Must Be Crazy.”

Well, you want to learn more?

James Suzman’s “Affluence Without Abundance” is here to teach you practically everything about them!

In addition to few things about you!

Who Should Read “Affluence Without Abundance”? And Why?

If you have ever wondered,” writes Wade Davis, Canadian anthropologist and ethnobotanist,”how it might be to measure wealth not by material possessions but by the strength of social relations between people, read this book.

Read it if you’re interested in anthropology as well, especially in the lives of the Bushmen, since this is the best book on the subject you’ll ever find.

James SuzmanAbout James Suzman

James Suzman is a South African anthropologist based in Cambridge, UK.

The great nephew of famous anti-apartheid activist Helen Suzman, and the nephew of Janet Suzman, a great Shakespearean actress, James Suzman received an MA in Social Anthropology from the University of St. Andrews in 1993 and was awarded a Ph.D. from Edinburgh University three years later.

In 1998, Suzman was appointed as the leader of a landmark study on the Bushmen population, The Regional Assessment of the Status of the San in Southern Africa.

Since then, he has written numerous articles on the Bushmen.

Affluence Without Abundance” is his first book.

“Affluence Without Abundance PDF Summary”

Have you ever watched “The Gods Must Be Crazy”?

If not – you should!

We, for one, have found it to be riotously funny: it’s a story about a Bushman who tries to return a bottle of Coca-Cola to the gods at the end of the earth in order to save his community.

Sounds funny already, right?

It gets even funnier:

The problem with the film, however, is that nobody took it seriously.

As we’re soon to find out, the narrator’s words at one point – the Bushmen “…must be the most contented people in the world. They have no crime, no punishment, no violence, no laws, no police, judges, rulers, or bosses” – are actually pretty much true.

Everything else isn’t.

In fact, most of the other works about the Bushmen (or the San people as they call themselves for some time) – usually use the tribe as a canvas on which their authors project our most primitive visions and fantasies.

In the eyes of James Suzman – who has studied the San people thoroughly for over two decades – this is one of the worst things a man can do, because, eventually, he ends up with a “stereotypical, two-dimensional, almost dehistoricized view” of who someone is.

So, he decided to right the wrongs, and he wrote “Affluence Without Abundance,” a majestic book which, though essentially a portrayal of the Bushmen, is also a portrayal of us.

And a revelatory juxtaposition of what it probably meant to be a human some time ago as opposed to what it means to be a human today.

And what it may mean to be a human in the future.

In fact, when asked by “The New York Times” to recommend his book in fifty words or less, Suzman gives the following reply:

If we judge a civilization’s success by its endurance over time, then the Bushmen are the most successful society in human history. Their experience of modernity offers insight into many aspects of our lives, and clues as to how we might address some big sustainability questions for the future.

Bushmen? Successful?

And we are the ones who need to learn from them?

Are you sure that we’re talking about the same people?

Yes, we’re pretty sure!

The book abounds with information about their ways of life – including intimate portraits of several Bushmen – but we’re not going to bother you with the technical information anthropologists usually drool over.

So, straight to the main point:

The Bushmen – and the ancient so-called primitive societies – probably know more about what happiness and leisure mean than you do!

Because, unlike you, they are not a child of Adam and Eve.

Bear with us for a moment.

Most of the ancient civilizations believed in the idea of an original Paradise (a Golden Age, a Garden of Eden, an Arcadia), which humans have lost due to some serious sin against God.

The punishment for it?


Or, in the archaic words of God to Adam: “cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.”

Well, about half a century ago, Marshall Sahlins and Richard Borshay Lee started propagating to the world that this should be taken quite literally.

Namely, that hunter-gatherer society wasn’t at all a primitive society.

On the contrary, they were “existentially more secure” than the farmers and the herders, who had no option but to start teaching their children that work is the only important thing in life.

Which is, essentially, what you still believe.

And which is, once again essentially, far from the truth.

That’s the first thing Suzman realized while analyzing the habits of the Bushmen.

Simply put, they didn’t care about work as much as we do, a luxury the farmers couldn’t afford because if they didn’t work that much and stored and guarded the surpluses, they would be left with no food whatsoever:

The agricultural revolution was sort of an accidental one, and once we developed it, we became hostage to it. The population became hostage to its own growth, and this has shaped a huge amount of the economic and intellectual architecture of our modern culture. We’re still obsessed with growing, even when there’s not much room left to grow in.

Hostages to hoarding and growing. Hmmm… That kind of reminds us of Jonathan Swift’s predictions in “Gulliver’s Travels.” Have we essentially already evolved into Yahoos?

In that case, are the Bushmen the smarter Houyhnhnms?

They basically already have 4-hour-workweek – or something along those lines – and spend most of their time resting.

They are absolutely uninterested about things such as surpluses, since they believe, with Diogenes and the turtles, that they should be able to carry everything they own with themselves.

And they are absolutely unafraid from the future, since to them the concept of time is basically pointless.

Either way, experience has taught them that the land would provide enough food for them to survive, so why should they worry about what happens next?

Another thing: they are fiercely egalitarian. And they have remained that way for over 150,000 years!

Even more:

Over and above their extraordinary longevity, genomic evidence reveals that not only were the Khoisan the most populous human population on the planet until a little over 20,000 years ago, they also remain the most genetically diverse. This tells us that over their long history, Khoisan populations have suffered far fewer of the catastrophic population bottlenecks that are the result of famine, war, and disease as other human populations elsewhere.

Do you still think that we are so much better than the San people?

We don’t.

Key Lessons from “Affluence Without Abundance”

1.      The Most Successful Society in Human History
2.      The Original Affluent Society
3.      The End of the Bushmen?

The Most Successful Society in Human History

In case you jumped straight to the “Key Lessons” section, we guess that you expect to read here few words about our glorious nation or, possibly, Singapore.

However, not if you ask James Suzman.

In his opinion, the most successful society in human history is the Bushmen society.

And he has a point!

Unlike Singapore’s – which is thriving for few decades – or United States’ – which is the world’s most imitated society for about a century – the Bushmen are living in basically the same society for over 150,000 years.

No one but them has endured that much.

And on top of that: they don’t want to change it for the world.

The Original Affluent Society

In case you know anything about the Bushmen, you may be already wondering what is so good about their society that they wouldn’t want a computer or an Internet connection.

After all, they are just a primitive society!

Well, in 1966, Marshall Sahlins, at a symposium entitled “Man the Hunter,” proposed a solution to the conundrum.

Simply put, they are not at all that primitive. True, they don’t have cars and millions, but they also don’t have to work 8 hours a day or worry about their future.

The earth gives them as much as they need, and they don’t want anything more.

Meaning: no hoarding, no surpluses.

Also – no envy, since there are no such things as rich and poor Bushmen.

They share everything they own.

And are, altogether, happy.

The End of the Bushmen?

Unfortunately, for the first time in 150,000 years, the Bushmen’s way of living is under threat from agricultural societies and modernity.

The Bushmen are basically forbidden to hunt – and the young don’t even know how to hunt anymore. Are we facing the end of humanity’s oldest society?

And is James Suzman’s book just an elegy?

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“Affluence Without Abundance Quotes”

True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence upon the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have… (via Seneca) Click To Tweet

(Mockery) was one of the many social leveling mechanisms Ju|’hoansi used for enforcing the fierce egalitarianism that enabled their ancestors to make such a good living for so long in this desert. Click To Tweet

The love of money as a possession… is a somewhat disgusting morbidity, one of those semi-criminal, semi-pathological propensities which one hands over with a shudder to the specialists in mental disease. (via Keynes) Click To Tweet

Sahlins characterized hunter-gatherers as the gurus of a ‘Zen road to affluence’ through which they were able to enjoy ‘unparalleled material plenty—with a low standard of living.’ Click To Tweet

We are on the cusp of a new age in which we will no longer be hostage to the economic problem and in which the productive mindset that the Neolithic Revolution nurtured will no longer be fit for purpose. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Affluence Without Abundance,” writes Yuval Noah Harari, is ” an insightful and well-written book, describing the hard transition of foraging communities in Namibia from relative affluence during the Stone Age to contemporary poverty and misery.

Elizabeth Marshall Thomas shares the same opinion: “This book has truth on every page and is filled with important insights that range from hunting and tracking to how we think about time, money, value or success.”

And while learning the bushmen’s tracking and hunting ways may interest just a small number of people, learning what is important in life certainly interests everybody.

Who knew that you could learn it from some of our planet’s earliest human inhabitants?    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Payoff Summary – Dan Ariely

Payoff SummaryThe Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations

The only way to achieve your dreams is to persist.

And, the only way to persist is to continue being motivated.

What is motivation and what are the factors that drive it?

Read on and find out.

Who Should Read “Payoff” and Why?

To be successful, you have to persist.

Hence to achieve results, you have to be highly motivated.

“Payoff” explains the meaning and roots of motivation, as well as which motivation-inducing tools it is best to use.

After reading it, you will feel enlightened, you will finally understand yourself more, and you will know what to do the next time you face a lack of motivation.

We believe that this book is an excellent read for all people who have a problem with persisting in what they do or having a problem finding what they want to do.

About Dan Ariely

Dan ArielyDan Ariel is a best-selling author and a professor of behavioral economics and psychology at Duke University. He has founded The Center for Advanced Hindsight.

“Payoff Summary”

Today, many people work jobs they do not enjoy working.

They are looking at their professions as a way to make ends meet, and are unmotivated to become the best workers they can be.

Motivation, however, is the only thing that can keep you stick to your routine of going to work every day, year after year, without ending up extremely unhappy.

But, wait, everyone talks about motivation, but what exactly is it?

Many people would agree that the best motivator there is is money.

However, they could not be further from the truth.

Motivation is much more complex than people think it is, and it is a mix of pride, achievement, happiness, and many other factors.

Among all these factors, the most significant one is meaning.

Do not mix up meaning and happiness, like most people often do.

Meaningful work does not always bring happiness.

Many times people that do meaningful work do not do it because it makes them happy, but because it gives them a sense that they are doing something that counts.

This helps us arrive at the next conclusion: motivation does not depend on happiness.

But then, what generates meaning?

Most of the time, it is the sense that you are doing something bigger than yourself, that changes more than just your own life.

Repetitive tasks and jobs are contrary to those of meaning. Us, humans, after being faced with repetitiveness, simply quit.

We cannot find the meaning anymore after doing the same task over and over again.

On the other hand, performing activities that feel the meaningful build up people’s motivation. And the key to feeling that you do something meaningful is to feel the promise of achievement.

Another thing that contributes to creating meaning is an effort.

Tasks that you put your time, energy and effort in are more meaningful for you than those you did in a short amount of time, without investing yourself in them.

Next, let us not forget the ownership of the work as a major motivator as well. In other words, when people are given a chance to claim ownership, they feel more motivated, since they are standing behind what they did.

Also, when it comes to motivation, it comes from external and internal sources.

The most central motivator of all is the wish to achieve happiness.

Unfortunately, many people have wrong notions of happiness and the things that would make them happy.

They usually tie happiness to external motivators such as money.

However, these motivators can work only in the short time, while in the long haul people need something more: an internal source that will fuel their efforts and keep them going.

Only in instances when people find pleasure in doing something and are driven from within can they continue working hard toward their goals.

So, stop wishing for happiness that comes from bigger material possessions, and start finding it in small everyday things.

Even if your surroundings are not granting you with motivation, such as a “well done” from your boss, or a sense that you are doing something meaningful, try to find that meaning yourself.

Even in the most mundane tasks, find the things that they help you master, and think of them as only stepping stones to what you will achieve in the long run.

Be your biggest supporter and applaud yourself for every small achievement you make daily.

Key Lessons from “Payoff”

1.      Meaning and Happiness Are Not Connected
2.      Ways to Induce Meaning
3.      Motivation Must Come From the Inside

Meaning and Happiness Are Not Connected

Many factors define the levels of your motivation, but the core one is meaning.

If you find what you do meaningful, you will continue doing it, even in times when you do not feel happy.

That is right, happiness and meaning are not synonyms, and meaningful jobs do not make people feel happy, but still, they keep their motivation levels high.

Ways to Induce Meaning

A sense of meaning usually happens when people feel that they are working for a bigger purpose.

Also, when people put more effort into a task, more time and energy, they will consider it more valuable and thus more meaningful.

Motivation Must Come From the Inside

There are different motivators one can use to persist, but internal and external.

However, external motivators are just momentary and are not sustainable in the long haul.

For a long-term motivation, individuals have to feel motivated from the inside.

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“Payoff” Quotes

These results show that when we are acknowledged for our work, we are willing to work harder for less pay, and when we are not recognized, we lose much of our motivation. Click To Tweet The consultant experiment, I continued, showed that people dramatically underappreciate the extent and depth to which a feeling of accomplishment influences people. Click To Tweet It shows that when we work harder and spend a bit more time and effort, we feel a greater sense of ownership and thus enjoy more the fruits of our efforts. Click To Tweet A society without trust is not a society: it is a collection of people who are continuously afraid of each other. Click To Tweet The lesson here is that a little sweat equity pays us back in meaning—and that is a high return. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Payoff” is an excellent book on the topic of motivation, that can be read by any age group of readers.

Its biggest strength is that it is short and focused, it is easily read, extremely fun, and full of useful takeaways.

It is time you accomplished all of your goals!

We heartily recommend it.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Finish Summary

Finish SummaryGive Yourself the Gift of Done

Have you ever felt like your life is merely a list of disappointments and defeats, a catalog of ideas and in-progress projects?

If you’re like us – you have. Numerous times.

And Jon Acuff has written a guidebook just for you. Its title is as straightforward as it gets: “Finish.”

Who Should Read “Finish”? And Why?

Do you consider yourself a perfectionist? If so, it’s quite likely that your portfolio doesn’t include too many finished projects. Because – Jon Acuff says – you’re probably just giving yourself an excuse not to finish them.

What you need is someone to tell you how to strangle that disgruntled perfectionist inside you. And that someone is Jon Acuff. We feel that “Finish” is a book which targets preeminently creative people, but almost anyone who struggles to complete a project may find something useful inside.

We know we did. How do you think we finished this summary? Yeah – we know, it’s far from perfect. But, that’s precisely the point.

About Jon Acuff

Jon AcuffJon Acuff is a bestselling American nonfiction writer.

He first came into prominence when he was hired by Dave Ramsey as a full-time speaker and author in 2010. Soon enough, he wrote his first book for Dave Ramsey’s company, “Gazelles, Baby Steps & 37 Other Things Dave Ramsey Taught Me About Debt.”

The book was followed by “Stuff Christians Like,” a collection of essays on topics discussed on Acuff’s very popular blog, His next book, “Do Over,” may have been his greatest success so far; in fact, Seth Godin described it as “the best career book ever written.”

Before “Finish,” he also wrote “Quitter” and “Start.”

“Finish Summary”

How could it be that, no matter what you’re doing, you just can’t put the final full stop?

Because that has happened to you so many times before that the only viable explanation is that you are experimented on by aliens, who want to find out whether not finishing a project would cause humans more pain and torment than getting their extremities ripped out slowly.

Yup – that might be it.

That – or perfectionism. You know – the thing you say is your best-groomed personality trait every time your teacher asks you why you haven’t filed your report.

According to Jon Acuff – who, to your utter amazement, hasn’t even considered the first option – it’s undoubtedly perfectionism. Because, if you are like him – and like about 90 percent of the people – you will probably give up once the things stop being perfect.

And that will inevitably happen.

So, the real question is: why do you suppose that everything will be perfect from start to finish? Wouldn’t it be better if you assumed the opposite – so that you are happy when it goes according to the plan, and ready when it does not?

Sounds rational, right?

However, it’s not something you can achieve naturally. Because you’re probably inherently enslaved by something scientists refer to as “the planning fallacy.” And when we say scientists – we mean Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman.

We know it sounds like a good title for a Big Bang episode, but, unfortunately, is not funny. It means that you’re overly optimistic when you’re planning anything – even if your past experience has proven you otherwise numerous times before.

The solution?

Change your plans halfway down the road. Say you want to write the first four chapters of your book in two months? After a month – when you will be predictably stuck over the twenty-sixth revision of your seventh sentence – cut the initial objective in half.

So – two chapters by the end of the next month.

Jon Acuff says that, on average, you have about 63 percent chance of fulfilling this second, fine-tuned goal.

Another great way to make your life easier and get things done?

To the ears of all the slackers out there, this one will surely sound like a symphony: don’t really do them. Or, to use the more scientific term, practice strategic incompetence.

Essentially, this means that you are great at some things, good at some others and terrible at many. However, to resort to Daniel Kahneman’s psychological expertise once again, you’re overconfident, and you think you’re an expert in everything.

But, more often than not, doing something in an imperfect manner is much better than not doing it at all. And why should you be able to clean up your front yard perfectly if you’re a father of two with 4 billion readers of your blog?

Yes, we’re talking about Jon Acuff.

And no – we have no idea how unruly his front yard looks at the moment.

Key Lessons from “Finish”

1.      The Joy of Being Imperfect vs. The Planning Fallacy
2.      Don’t Go to Your Hiding Place or Use a Noble Obstacle as an Excuse
3.      Fun = Success

The Joy of Being Imperfect vs. The Planning Fallacy

The perfectionist conundrum – another possible Big Bang episode title – may have been best and most straightforwardly summarized by The Guild’s Felicia Day in “You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost).”

“It’s either perfect,” she writes, “or it’s the worst thing ever made and everyone is an artistic failure, including myself. (Yay, emotional extremes!)”

How many times have you felt this? And how do you still think it is healthy?

The problem is relatively straightforward: you’re overambitious. You’re suffering from a weird case of the planning fallacy, namely the idea that you can get things done flawlessly and in time. Nobody has; and nobody will ever be able to.

Because – as John Lennon sang right before his death (talking about the tragic irony of vindication!) – “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.”

Don’t Go to Your Hiding Place or Use a Noble Obstacle as an Excuse

You can blame perfectionism for two very distinct and very tormenting distractions which hinder your creativity severely on a daily basis. Namely, hiding places and noble obstacles.

Hiding places are activities which you do instead of doing the one which you need to be doing. They are safe places where you can go to “hide from your fear of messing up.” Which is why you visit them pretty often. But Netflix, Facebook, Twitter – neither of them asks for any real skill. How far can you get in life that way?

Noble obstacles sound virtuous – but are actually just excuses. On the surface, they seem like Very Good Reasons to not pursue your goal at the present moment. In one case they evolve into the Y of the phrase “I can’t do X until Y,” where X is your project. In the other, they are the negative Y in the false idea “But if I finish X I will become Y.”

For example, would be entrepreneurs would rather do nothing than become workaholics – even though not every entrepreneur is an alcoholic to start with.

Fun = Success

For example, this guy certainly isn’t. He’s the exact opposite, in fact: a flamboyant, otherworldly, larger-than-life character who’s in it for the fun. The success is just a side note.

Why – at least in that regard – can’t you be more like him? Find your why. Have fun. Enjoy. Do the work because you want to. If success comes as well with it – then great. If it doesn’t – it’s not like you spent your life doing something you don’t like, right?

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“Finish” Quotes

But more than just analysis, perfectionism offers us two distinct distractions: hiding places and noble obstacles. A hiding place is an activity you focus on instead of your goal. A noble obstacle is a virtuous-sounding reason for not… Click To Tweet This is the first lie that perfectionism tells you about goals: Quit if it isn’t perfect. Click To Tweet Developing tolerance for imperfection is the key factor in turning chronic starters into consistent finishers. Click To Tweet The harder you try to be perfect, the less likely you’ll accomplish your goals. Click To Tweet Finishers make things easier and simpler. The next time you work on a goal, I dare you to ask the following questions during the middle of the project: Could things be easier? Could things be simpler? Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“Finish” is an appropriate companion piece to Jon Acuff’s “Start” – and a nice addition to the philosophy expressed in “Do Over” and “Quitter.” It’s exciting and applicable, but, moreover, amusing and funny as well.

As Michael Hyatt says “no one beats Jon Acuff” when it comes to laughing at your own shortcomings. Chris Guillebeau paints a too vivid picture to get around it: “It’s wisdom disguised as stand-up comedy, like eating a bag of jelly beans and somehow ending up smarter.”

And he’s not far from the truth.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

The End of Average Summary

The End of Average SummaryHow We Succeed in a World That Values Sameness 

Are you frustrated because you do not fit the average?

Don’t worry, none of us do!

Read on to find out more about averages and why you should stop thinking of them as relevant.

Who Should Read “The End of Average” and Why?

“The End of Average” explains where averaging comes from, and all the problems related to it.

It shows the way this world must change, in order to become a better place to live to all individuals out there.

We recommend it to all graduates who are looking for that job that would really look good in their resume, for the women who want to fit the average weight, and for everyone who just compares him or herself to some image imposed by society, that squeezes out his or her individualism.

Stop trying to fit in. Instead, shine.

About Todd Rose

Todd Rose

Todd Rose is a high school dropout that eventually became a Harvard Graduate.

He is an author and is the director of Harvard’s Mind, Brain, and Education Program.

“The End of Average Summary”

Every day we are fed different kinds of statistical data about the “average” opinion, character, body, skills, or conduct.

You probably spent school trying to get grades above average, you look at your love life, and base it on the average, et cetera.

Every day we get compared to this average, and based on in we feel like we fit in or not.

It has become so usual that we do not even question the meaning and value of these statements anymore.

However, it is time to change it!

Coming up with averages undermines what most humans fight for: individuality.

But if humans want individuality, why and how did this system start?

Averages began with astronomer Adolphe Quetelet, who in the nineteenth century tried to use averages to explain different human characteristics.

He did it because averages were quite useful when measuring astronomical characteristics, so he tried to apply it to human beings as well.

So, what did he do?

He gathered a large group of people and measured their psychological and physical characteristics, trying to find what he considered the “Average Man.”

However, averages cannot be successfully applied to people.

Most people possess different characteristics than the average, so the whole system is flawed.

Take for example human size.

We use multiple measurements to show it: we measure weight, hight as well as the size of all the different parts of the body.

If we average them, we will find that not many human beings fit into the average, since someone’s weight is not relevant to someone’s hight et cetera.

A person’s body has too many variables. And so does a human character.

However, the mind has also undergone the study of averages, and as a result, gives people an idea about the traits that are related to intelligence.

Needless to say that this idea is a wrong one, and is a source of many prejudices about people like: “nerds are not pretty” or “nerds are not sporty.”

However, the characteristics we have physically, have nothing to do with our mental ones.

Also, the speed of learning has nothing to do with intelligence and knowledge.

Furthermore, people have come up with different “best practices” to facilitate learning.

According to society, there is just one right way: start early, and proceed through a number of stages to reach a good knowledge level.

However, the deviation from this path is possible and may be done without any consequences.

In reality, there are many different ways to come to a certain outcome, and the success of these ways depends on the individual characteristics of each person.

The problem lies in the fact that anything that is not average is thought of abnormal.

Trying to fit in people have developed various fixed character traits that they show according to the context they are in.

However, that is not the way to shine.

Instead, everyone should just pay attention to and develop what he or she is good at, and try to strengthen their individuality.

Companies need to open up as well.

By searching for employees with strict characteristics that fit their company on paper, they re missing out on valuable talent with unique abilities.

But, if the education is not the best way to evaluate a person’s capability, then what is?

Well, companies need to look closer, and look for their employees’ individuality and not “intelligence.”

Changing the practice of averages can change the world and make it a better place where everyone will feel like he or she knows their place.

This world needs to embrace individualism, and start offering education in specific skills, and not in broadly designed majors.

This would shorten the educational process and would make people more skilled in one area, giving them all the knowledge they would need when they start working the job they have chosen.

The fact is that averages keep us from reaching our full potential.

So, forget about statistics for a while and don’t worry if you do not fit the standard. Instead, allow yourself to shine.

Key Lessons from “The End of Average”

1.      The Average Human Body is a Myth
2.      There is Not Only One Path to Learning
3.      Accept Your Individualism

The Average Human Body is a Myth

Representing anatomic characteristics with just one word is impossible.

Instead, when we describe more features, we must use different measurements and evaluations.

Just by knowing someone’s weight we do not know his or her height et cetera.

So, do not try to get to fit the average body standard: it does not exist.

There is Not Only One Path to Learning

Although we have grown in a society which believes that the only way to learning is starting the education from a young age, studies have shown that that is not true.

Even children that did not go through the “average” learning process have developed normally.

This takes us to the conclusion that there is no right age and right way to learn.

It all depends on the individual.

Accept Your Individualism

You have to start accepting your individualism, and companies should do as well.

People’s behavior changes constantly affected by the experiences they have as they live, as well as the context in which they function.

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“The End of Average” Quotes

The hardest part of learning something new is not embracing new ideas, but letting go of old ones. Click To Tweet Our modern conception of the average person is not a mathematical truth but a human invention, created a century and a half ago by two European scientists to solve the social problems of their era. Click To Tweet You no longer need to fly a World War II aircraft in an age of jet fighters, and you no longer need to weigh yourself against a non-existent Norma. Click To Tweet Out of 4,063 pilots, not a single airman fit within the average range on all ten dimensions. Click To Tweet From the cradle to the grave, you are measured against the ever-present yardstick of the average, judged according to how closely you approximate it or how far you are able to exceed it. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

“The End of Average” offers a fresh way to look at things, and at our society ruled by averages.

It is a great book that will open your eyes to all the stereotypes we believe in. Take a look at this book and find the path toward your own individuality.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Do the Right Things in the Right Order with Our Top Productivity Books

Top Productivity BooksYou’ll probably agree that we’re not very wide off the mark in proposing a fairly simple definition for productivity: “doing more in less.”

However, it seems that no matter how much we do in no matter how little time, there’s always something left on our to-do list.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, most of the people would tell you that you have to find a better technique. Some others – as the ones we’ve included on our list – will tell you something else.

Namely, that there’s more than one secret to productivity, and that productivity should not be about doing everything on your to-do list.

Maybe it’s should be about doing the right things in the right order.

So, without further ado –

Our Top Productivity Books

#1. “The Motivation Manifesto: 9 Declarations to Claim Your Personal Power” by Brendon Burchard

The Motivation Manifesto SummaryIf you’ve ever watched “Oprah”, you probably already know that Brendon Burchard is one of the “most influential leaders in the field of personal growth.” And he’s probably the most successful and highest-paid motivation trainer in history.


Well, not because he says something original. But, because everything that he says, he says it in such a manner that makes you jump out of your bed and start doing something. Well, not just something – exactly those things that he asks you to do.

The Motivation Manifesto” is one of the best productivity prerequisites. Keep it under your pillow. And learn its 9 declarations by heart – and start putting them into practice right away:

We shall meet life with full presence and power! We shall reclaim our agendas! We shall defeat our demons! We shall advance with abandon! We shall practice joy and gratitude! We shall not break integrity! We shall amplify love! We shall inspire greatness! And we shall slow time!

#2. “Eat That Frog: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time” by Brian Tracy

Eat That Frog SummaryIn the introduction to one of his numerous bestsellers, “Eat That Frog,” Brian Tracy explains the curious title straight away. He writes: “Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long.”

For what it’s worth, it may not have been Twain – but Nicholas Chamfort. But, either way – the point stands. The great thing about it is that it’s only 1 of the 21 Brian Tracy is trying to make.

The other include “plan every day in advance” and “prepare thoroughly before you begin,” as well as “consider the consequences” and even “practice creative procrastination.” Nothing especially new or not known, but everything worth repeating and remembering – and inspiring throughout.

Especially great as an introduction!

#3. “Smarter Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business” by Charles Duhigg

Smarter Faster Better SummaryBefore you say anything – we didn’t know which of Charles Duhigg’s books to choose either. And the only reason why both of them aren’t here (of course we have “The Power of Habit” in mind) is our dedication to the “one author/one book” ideal.

And, after all, we did include “Smarter Faster Better” among our top entrepreneurship books. So, we were kind of obliged to include it here as well!

In “Smarter Faster Better,” Duhigg thoroughly explores eight productivity concepts. Each of them essential to establishing the habits of a productive person. The eight concepts are: motivation, teams, focus, goal setting, managing others, decision making, innovation, and absorbing data.

But what may interest you more than the theoretical discussion is the Appendix: “A Reader’s Guide to Using These Ideas.”

No peaking!

#4. “StrengthsFinder 2.0: Discover Your Strengths” by Tom Rath

StrengthsFinder 2.0 SummaryNow, this is an interesting case.

Now, Discover Your Strengths” was such a great book that it found place both among our top management and top motivational books.

Well, “StrengthsFinder 2.0” is its update!

Written by Tom Rath, the book builds upon the work of the Don Clifton, the father of Strengths Psychology. The main idea behind it: there are 34 strengths and each individual is a unique combination of at least two of them!

How does this help you in terms of productivity?

In at least two ways! First of all, the book is linked to an online assessment tool which we’ll help you find your key strengths. Secondly, once you find them, it will help you realize how you can use them.

Because productivity is not about spending countless hours to develop strengths you don’t own. It’s about perfecting those you already have.

After all, you won’t try and teach a fish to fly, would you?

#5. “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-free Productivity” by David Allen

Getting Things Done SummaryCarola Endicott, director of “Quality Resources,” says that David Allen’s book “Getting Things Done” should come with a warning sign.

Its content:

“Reading ‘Getting Things Done’ can be hazardous to your old habits of procrastination. David Allen’s approach is refreshingly simple and intuitive. He provides the systems, tools, and tips to achieve profound results.”

OK – Endicott may have gone a little overboard with the “simple” part. We warn you that “Getting Things Done” is “jargony” enough that it includes its own “Glossary of Terms.”

But, there’s a reason why “Lifehack” calls it “the modern Bible of productivity books” and why its philosophy has as many followers as a small religion. (Really: they are called GTDers!)

And the reason is simple: it works!

#6. “Your Best Just Got Better: Work Smarter, Think Bigger, Make More” by Jason W. Womack

Your Best Just Got Better SummaryYour Best Just Got Better” is a book which can help you become exactly what its title claims to be. And the path is there – in its very subtitle.

So, Jason W. Womack’s philosophy is as simple as 1-2-3!

1: Work Smarter!

“Duh?!”, you say. “But how?”

It’s simple as having an IDEA and a MIT. Or, in other words, as simple as remembering these acronyms and doing what they say you should do: identify, develop, experiment, and assess. While never forgetting your Most Important Things.

2: Think Bigger!

No more than four mantras should do the trick: “I did it before,” “They were able to do it,” “They think I can do it,” and “I know I can do it!” (Read our great summary to see how.)

And 3: Make More!

What you need so as you can make more is a feedback. In all of these areas: results, experience, contribution, measurement, service, and habits.

That’s it: your best just got better!

#7. “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind: 10 Unconventional Laws to Redefine Your Life and Succeed On Your Own Terms” by Vishen Lakhiani

The Code of the Extraordinary Mind SummaryMost of the books about changing your life and productivity habits are few-step manuals. And, naturally, the inclusion of “The Code of the Extraordinary Mind” on our list begs the question: why is this book so different than the rest?

Well, Vishen Lakhiani’s style – just like his laws – is unconventional. Down-to-earth, inspiring, well-structured. And – memorable!


Like it or not, you’ll catch yourself using its neologisms over and over again. You’ll understand them, however, only if you read the book. And, soon after – believe us – you’ll start using them.

First, you’ll want to transcend your culturescape – and, while doing that, you’ll see that you’ve been raised on brules. But, by the time you reach the seventh law – living in a blissipline – you would have already bended reality so much that you’ll be a king or a queen of a world of your own – a sort of a yourscape.

#8. “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change” by Stephen R. Covey

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People SummaryThe ones who read – know: Stephen R. Covey is a frequent guest on lists such as this one. And “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – the first non-fiction book to sell 1 million copies of its audio version – is practically a mainstay in many different categories.

Unsurprisingly, we’ve listed it among our top leadership and top self-help books.

So, what’s so special about it?

Well, almost everything!

It’s well-researched and well-planned, simply written and is perennially applicable. Covey deduces that effective people are different than the rest because they share seven habits. Namely, they are proactive, they begin with the end in mind, and they put first things first; also, they have a win-win mentality, they seek first to understand, then to be understood, and they synergize; finally, they sharpen the saw.

The first three habits are related to their independence; the second three to their interdependence. The final – self-improvement – is the bridge.

But, wait – there’s one more!

#9. “Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions” by Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths

Algorithms to Live By SummaryIf you feed your computer with enough information about a certain topic, you’re guaranteed that you’ll get the right answer, right?

But, if so – why aren’t we doing the same with our lives? Surely, there has to be some way to scientifically figure out whether it’s better for the tired me to do some more work tonight, or just relax and watch something on Netflix!

Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths are right there with you! There is, they say – and more than one, in fact! So, they have prepared for you a unique cheat-book, “Algorithms to Live By.”

What you’ll find out inside may amaze you. True, life may be a complex category, but some of our habits are actually simple. For example, there seem to be three simple algorithms to perfectly manage your time.

And one to find your perfect love!

#10. “Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World” by Cal Newport

Deep Work SummaryThe world is full of distractions. So many, in fact, that it’s hard to think what is distraction anymore? Namely, are Facebook and Twitter distracting us from work – or is work distracting us from Facebook and Twitter?

That will not do, says Cal Newport!

Leisure is leisure, but work is work! And when it is real work, it needs to be “Deep Work.”

And, according to Newport, deep work begins with embracing boredom and quitting social media. You think that Beethoven wrote the “9th Symphony” in a night, or that Michelangelo drew the Sistine Chapel before lunchtime?

No – they worked deeply for a long period of time! And they valued deeply deliberate practice and distraction-free environments.

Don’t believe us?

Then ask yourself this: why do so many writers go to the library to write?

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Final Notes

If productivity is doing the right things in the right order, then the books which will help you discover which are the right things for you and which is the best order to do them – are the top productivity books you can find on the market.

And we believe that these 10 fit the description better than any others.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Irresistible Summary

Irresistible SummaryThe Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked

Have you ever wondered why are you currently reading this on your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone? Adam Adler says that the answer to this question is pretty obvious. Technology is simply “Irresistible.”

But, is that good?

About Adam Alter

Adam AlterAdam Alter is an American marketing consultant and author, dedicated to “exploring the roots of our tech addiction.” He is also a teacher at the New York University Stern School of Business. So far he has written one more book in addition to “Irresistible”: “Drunk Tank Pink.”

“Irresistible Summary”

The best way to recommend a good book?

By telling the reader how good that book is considered by authors of some undeniably great books.

In the case of Adam Alter’s “Irresistible” we believe that we can’t skip over at least two recommendations: Adam Grant’s and Malcolm Gladwell’s.

Because, for one thing, you don’t need an introduction for either of them.

For Adam Grant, “Irresistible” is “one of the most mesmerizing and important books [he has] read in quite some time.” Because, in it, “Alter brilliantly illuminates the new obsessions that are controlling our lives and offers the tools we need to rescue our businesses, our families, and our sanity.”

Malcolm Gladwell is even more succinct: “’Irresistible’ is a fascinating and much needed exploration of one of the most troubling phenomena of modern times.”

And we can promise you one thing: you won’t look at tech addiction as something innocuous ever again.

Because it’s very real and it’s very scary. Even though you don’t notice it, you spend about three hours every day looking at your phone. Which you peak up about 40 times a day for no reason at all!

So the real question isn’t if smartphones are destroying our generation. It is: how can we stop them?

Well, a good start is understanding what addiction actually is. Interestingly enough, as James Olds discovered while experimenting with rats, its antonym isn’t “sobriety,” but “connection.” Or, to strip it down to bare basics, you’ll not be addicted to anything – if you have loving friends and a partner.

Tech addiction is similar to drug addiction – but it’s not the same. That’s because it stimulates the same areas as heroin and releases dopamine, but it doesn’t have the same effects. And it can be kicked out of life in an easier manner!

You need a starting point?

Look no further than your bed. Revolutionize your sleep habits!

Once you do that, disable email notifications; and still check your mail much less regularly. It will have a positive effect both on your productivity and health!

Next – and this is a fairly difficult thing to do – limit the time you spend on Facebook. And completely ignore the “Like” button! Because, you see, it’s a trick – it makes every post a gamble (in terms of whether you’ll receive a like or not) and that releases dopamine which makes you a like-addict.

Whether you like it or not.

However, it’s a risky ordeal to repress an addiction. It usually makes it worse.

As anyone who has ever tried quitting smoking or drugs has realized in the end, a much better strategy is substitution.

Create a new habit.

And Alter says that there’s a great book to teach you how you can do that.

Key Lessons from “Irresistible”

1.      Facebook’s “Like” Button Turns You into a Zeiler Pigeon
2.      Don’t Work Yourself to Death
3.      Save the Children – They Are Innocent

Facebook’s “Like” Button Turns You into a Zeiler Pigeon

In the 1970s, Michael Zeiler experimented with pigeons by rewarding them after they clicked a button. In the beginning, he gave them food every time they pressed the button. Afterward, he gave them only in 50 to 70 percent of the cases.

The pigeons started pressing the button more regularly in the second case!

The same happens with gamblers – and with you in view of Facebook’s “Like” button. You post more on Facebook in hope that every next post will get more likes.

Stop doing that: it’s a trick!

Don’t Work Yourself to Death

One of capitalism’s greatest tricks: making you believe that there’s always some work left to be done.

Even so – it’s not yours to finish it. Unfortunately, modern technology has given us opportunities to finish some tasks much faster. Does it ring a bell: “just to send one more email, just to make one more Excel table…”

Tech addiction creates “workaholics.” And the title is no joke. It’s a real thing, especially in Asia. In fact, the Japanese, the Chinese, and the South Koreans have words for it.

It’s that bad.

Save the Children – They Are Innocent

Whatever you do, protect your children from technology as long as you can. Putting a limit to the time they spend in front of televisions and computers is one of the greatest things you can do.

Playing with them instead – is even better.

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“Irresistible” Quotes

It seemed as if the people producing tech products were following the cardinal rule of drug dealing: never get high on your own supply. Click To Tweet

In 2008, adults spent an average of eighteen minutes on their phones per day; in 2015, they were spending two hours and forty-eight minutes per day Click To Tweet.

Tech devices are distracting because they remind us of the world beyond the immediate conversation Click To Tweet In 2000, Microsoft Canada reported that the average human had an attention span of twelve seconds; by 2013 that number had fallen to eight seconds. Click To Tweet It isn’t the body falling in unrequited love with a dangerous drug, but rather the mind learning to associate any substance or behavior with relief from psychological pain. Click To Tweet    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF:   

Algorithms to Live By Summary | FREE PDF |

Algorithms to Live By PDFThe Computer Science of Human Decisions

Computers are great at calculating stuff, right? Just imagine how good your life would have been if you could use them to assess day-to-day life problems!

Now, you don’t have to! Because Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths have written a handy, little book, you can use to compute your life away. And it has a great title too: “Algorithms to Live By”!

Who Should Read “Algorithms to Live By”? And Why?

There’s an equation which neatly links the imaginary unit and two irrational numbers; but there isn’t one which will help you find your soulmate. Really – then what’s the point in learning math?

Well, “Algorithms to Live By” answers this in a spectacularly unexpected manner: because math applies to real life. And because you can make better decisions and organize your time and your life better if you follow few mathematical equations. And you know what they say – math is an exact science.

So, want to learn few tips and tricks – dare we say: cheat sheets – to improve your life? Look no further than this book.

About Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths

Brian ChristianBrian Christian is an American writer and poet.

He holds both computer science and philosophy degrees from Brown University and is a Master of Fine Arts in poetry from the University of Washington.

In addition to “Algorithms to Live By,” he has also written “The Most Human Human.”

Tom GriffithsTom Griffiths is a professor at University of California, Berkeley, teaching subjects such as psychology and cognitive science.

He is also in charge of Berkley’s Computational Cognitive Science Lab. “Algorithms to Live By” is his only book so far.

“Algorithms to Live By PDF Summary”

Let’s start with the most obvious question:

What, exactly, is an algorithm?

According to Wikipedia, it is “an unambiguous specification of how to solve a class of problems.” According to us, that’s a fairly complex way to say something very simple. And that is: an algorithm is a finite series of steps which, if repeated, can help you solve one type of a problem with the same rate of success every time you try to solve it!

We don’t blame you for thinking that algorithms are something math-related; the word itself is too “scientificy.” However, if you read our definition once again, you’ll realize that you can use algorithms to solve everyday problems.

And, that’s exactly what Christian and Griffiths’ book is all about.

For example, let’s just say that you need to hire a person at your company and that there are ten possible candidates. Your intuition says that you need to assess each and every one of them and then decide on the best applicant.

Math, however, says that you only need to look at four applicants – merely in order to devise a standard. The next applicant who is better than each of the previous applicants is most probably the right one!

It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s an algorithm – so you can be sure that it’s true! More scientifically, it’s called the theory of optimal stopping, and the example we just went over – secretary problem.

And, in more general terms, it means that 37% is the magic number to stop analyzing and start making decisions!


Here’s another one.

Let’s say that you need to sort the books in your library in alphabetical order. There are at least three ways to do it.

First of all, you can choose the bubble sort method. It means repeatedly comparing each pair of neighboring books and swapping their places if they are not in the right order.

Secondly, you can choose the insertion sort. In this case, you remove all the books in your library before putting them back one by one, by comparing each new book with the ones already sorted.

Finally, you can opt for the merge sort, in which you divide your collection into halves (until you can manage one selection) and then combine those halves in a sorted manner.

All of these methods seem good?

Well, they are not! The bubble sort method is the worst, the merge sort is the best one. It doesn’t depend on a person, nor on circumstances.


Because, simply put, the math says so.

algorithms to live by summary

We’ll round up our summary with algorithm #3 (out of the many Christian and Griffiths elucidate). This one will certainly give you an argument to not clean your desk. And it may even help you pass your exams – especially those you’ve learned only little about.

In order to understand it, here’s a quick intro to how your computer works. It stores – but, you already know this – data on your hard-drive, which is basically a gramophone: a mechanical arm and a rotating disk; the latter keeps the information in the form of a binary code, the former writes and reads it. SSDs are even better – they don’t have moving parts (but a series of interconnected flash memory chips), so they access the information almost instantaneously. So, in other words, they are faster.

Either way, they need to be optimized for your optimal experience.

And that means – they need to be able to provide for you what you need the most faster than what you rarely need. So, they keep the most important stuff on the top layer. And they replace it gradually using a complex set of algorithms you can learn more about here.

But, in a nutshell – when you open a new program, for the next few days, your computer keeps parts of it open in the background, supposing you’ll need it in the recent future. If you don’t use it again in the next few days – it erases this, making room for what you have opened in the meantime.

OK, you say, but how does this help me pass my exams and tell my mother that “science says so I don’t need to clean my desk”?

Well, because essentially your brain functions in a much similar manner. Just like computers (and you yourself), it can’t know whether the book you’re currently reading or the film you watched this morning will be necessary to you in the future.

However, it makes sure that the information you are obtaining at any given moment would be most readily available for use during the next few days. You know – just in case. If you don’t use it – then it makes space for something else you’ve done in the meantime. And the cycle goes on until you finally start reusing some information which, translated into the language of your brain, means: “OK, this we’ll definitely need in the future. So, I better make sure that I put it in my ‘long-term’ drawer.”

Now, moving on to what this means in practice.

You have a big exam tomorrow morning? Read your notes the night before, and your brain will keep the information most readily available for you until you put down your pen. And the mess on your desk? Just keep the things you use most often on top and tell your mom that “clutter and creativity go together.”

Truth be told, we can’t guarantee that it will make any palpable difference.

Key Lessons from “Algorithms to Live By”

1.      Maximize Your Chances of Finding Your One Perfect Love
2.      Manage Your Time Using Three Simple Algorithms
3.      Make Your Employees Behave the Way You’ll Like Them to Behave

Maximize Your Chances of Finding Your One Perfect Love

Finding the perfect partner is a daunting task. After all, how would you know when to stop looking?

Well, the math says that there is a way. After all, we’re not immortal, so, in other words, you don’t have an unlimited amount of time to look for the perfect one.

What you need to do is very simple. First, decide how much time would you like to spend searching for your future husband or wife. Then, reserve 37% of it for partners who you will discard – but based on who you’ll also devise a standard for what’s good.

Finally, choose the very next one who will be better than the previous partners.

(Yes: in a way, this happened on “Black Mirror” as well).

Manage Your Time Using Three Simple Algorithms

Time management is one of the most important skills you can acquire in your lifetime. And there are three simple math algorithms from where you should start.

First, the Earliest Due Date algorithm. In plain words – start with the tasks with the closest deadline. Secondly, Moore’s algorithm, aka skip the task which requires most of your time (so, no, it’s not a good idea to eat that frog in the morning). And finally, the Single-Task algorithm. Now, that one’s pretty self-explanatory.

Make Your Employees Behave the Way You’ll Like Them to Behave

Many employers – especially in Japan – have problems with their employees not taking their vacations. And making many mistakes because of it.

The company “Evernote” even gave its employees incentives – $1,000 for those who’ll use their vacation days! To no avail! (Really? Really?)

Math says that they should have done something far more obvious: making vacation mandatory. Nothing else would have worked.

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“Algorithms to Live By” Quotes

Our judgments betray our expectations, and our expectations betray our experience. What we project about the future reveals a lot—about the world we live in, and about our own past. Click To Tweet If you followed the best possible process, then you’ve done all you can, and you shouldn’t blame yourself if things didn’t go your way. Click To Tweet No choice recurs. We may get similar choices again, but never that exact one. Hesitation—inaction—is just as irrevocable as action. Click To Tweet Everything starts to break down, however, when a species gains language. What we talk about isn’t what we experience—we speak chiefly of interesting things, and those tend to be things that are uncommon. Click To Tweet Not every problem that can be formally articulated has an answer. Click To Tweet

Our Critical Review

Algorithms to Live By” was described in many adjectives and not few of them were superlatives: “fascinating,” “remarkable,” “excellent,” “wonderful,” “compulsively readable.” Possibly because – as a “Popular Science” review stated – “it’s the perfect antidote to the argument you often hear from young math students: ‘What’s the point? I’ll never use this in real life!’”

So, you want to experience how life looks like from the viewpoint of Spock? Dig in: this book will help you do at least few things in your life in a purely rational Vulcan-type-of-way.    Take this summary with you and read anywhere! Download PDF: