Book — Anything You Want

If you think your life’s purpose needs to hit you like a lightning bolt, you’ll overlook the little day-to-day things that fascinate you. If you think revolution needs to feel like war, you’ll overlook the importance of simply serving people better.

It immediately reminded of Adam Robinson's framework to put fun, enthusiasm and delight in everything you do:

  • Connect with everyone you encounter, make an effort to make a connection.
  • Create fun and delight and approach each person with enthusiasm.
  • Lean into each moment or encounter expecting magic.

As Adam puts it: "none of them have anything to do with “you”. Fun, enthusiasm and delight is for the other person. You are there to delight the other person, not to get the job or the date. This gives you infinite power, because you want nothing and you are offering everything."

Because you are in total control of these three things, this is a game you can't lose.

It also resonates with Delivering Happiness and draws a similar lesson: "I believe that there’s something interesting about anyone and everyone — you just have to figure out what that something is."

We’ve all heard about the importance of persistence. But I had misunderstood. Success comes from persistently improving and inventing, not from persistently doing what’s not working.

Being efficient is not the same thing as being effective, kind of a Tim Ferriss mantra. You could be as efficient as you want, but yet performing an unimportant task. Being effective is what matters, prioritizing things that are important over the ones that are not.

It’s a big world. You can loudly leave out 99 percent of it. Have the confidence to know that when your target 1 percent hears you excluding the other 99 percent, the people in that 1 percent will come to you because you’ve shown how much you value them.

The Internet has created a world where percentages don't matter anymore. Is the Ben Thompson's theory of the Rainforest all over again: having a small fraction of a huge market is enough to thrive as a business. The Internet has unlocked infinite niches, and that of course makes owning a niche more difficult, but once is yours, you will have a sufficiently large market for your business to flourish.

Same reason why back in the 80s the Mac struggled in a PC dominated world: having a small percentage of the PC market was not enough to attract developers and create a sustainable ecosystem. The PC market was simply not large enough. But on the other hand iOS is today able to thrive with a small percentage of the mobile market, because the mobile market is times larger than the PC's ever was. Again, once you have a big enough market, percentages don't matter anymore.

More business related takeaways would be:

  • When you make a business, you get to make a little universe where you control all the laws. It becomes your utopia.
  • Ideas are worth nothing unless they are well executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.
  • Make every decision according to what’s best for your customers.
  • When it comes to grow your business, also think of the tiny details that really thrill people and make them tell all their friends about you.

When you want to learn how to do something yourself, most people won’t understand. They’ll assume the only reason we do anything is to get it done, and doing it yourself is not the most efficient way. But that’s forgetting about the joy of learning and doing. Yes, it may take longer. Yes, it may be inefficient. Yes, it may even cost you millions of dollars in lost opportunities because your business is growing slower because you’re insisting on doing something yourself. But the whole point of doing anything is because it makes you happy! That’s it! You might get bigger faster and make millions if you outsource everything to the experts. But what’s the point of getting bigger and making millions? To be happy, right?

The book is full of references correlating simplicity and happiness. There are a lot of great ideas, but they all gravitate around three main axis.

First, craft - learning and building - is an end in itself and what you ought to pursue in order to achieve happiness. To have something, on the other hand, is just the means. Again, Delivering Happiness draws a similar conclusion.

In the end, it’s about what you want to be, not what you want to have. To have something (a finished recording, a business, or millions of dollars) is the means, not the end. To be something (a good singer, a skilled entrepreneur, or just plain happy) is the real point. When you sign up to run a marathon, you don’t want a taxi to take you to the finish line.

Second, focus your time and energy on the things that make you happy. Seems obvious, but there are so many distractions and prejudgments around certain ideas that is easy to get trapped into a task - or life - you did not want to begin with.

I loved sitting alone and programming, writing, planning, and inventing—thinking of ideas and making them happen. This makes me happy, not business deals or management. So I found someone who liked doing business deals and put him in charge of all that.

And third, it rounds back to material possessions. There is an appropriate balance for everybody, but generally the less you own, the more freedom you will earn to focus on craft and stuff that makes you happy.

Material happiness is not long lasting happiness, but on top of that it adds an additional layer of complexity and you will be entitled to:

  • Store it, both mentally and physically.
  • Maintain it.
  • Worry if it breaks.
  • Sell it when it comes the time or you just get bored of it.

I live simply. I don’t own a house, a car, or even a TV. The less I own, the happier I am. The lack of stuff gives me the priceless freedom to live anywhere anytime.