Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success

Smartcuts

Authors: Shane Snow,

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Shane Snow introduces the concept of “lateral” thinking, an approach to challenge the conventional ways of doing things. Unlike other mythical, counterproductive ways of achieving success, Snow shows you realistic methods and strategies that will help you do great things in a shorter span of time. The secret is to work smarter.

Video Review of Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success by Shane Snow,

Quotes & Tips from Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success

An Open Mind

Genius has less to do with the size of your mind than how open it is.

PRETEND YOU ARE DRIVING a car in the middle of a thunderstorm and you happen upon three people on the side of the road. One of them is a frail old woman, who looks on the verge of collapse. Another is a friend who once saved your life. The other is the romantic interest of your dreams, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet him or her. You have only one other seat in the car. Who do you pick up? There’s a good reason to choose any of the three. The old woman needs help. The friend deserves your payback. And clearly, a happy future with the man or woman of your dreams will have an enormous long-term impact on your life. So, who should you pick? The old woman, of course. Then, give the car keys to your friend, and stay behind with the romantic interest to wait for the bus!

Focus

Those who hack world-class success tend to be the ones who can focus relentlessly on a tiny number of things. In other words, to soar, we need to simplify.

Simplification often makes the difference between good and amazing.

Often, the thing holding us back from success is our inability to say no.

Time to Innovate

“20% Time” is not Google indigenous. It was borrowed from a company formerly known as Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing, aka 3M, which allowed its employees to spend 15 percent of their work hours experimenting with new ideas, no questions asked. 3M’s “15% Time” brought us, among other things, Post-it Notes.

Seek out negative feedback

The research showed that experts—people who were masters at a trade—vastly preferred negative feedback to positive. It spurred the most improvement. That was because criticism is generally more actionable than compliments.

The importance of a good mentor

Mentorship is the secret of many of the highest-profile achievers throughout history. Socrates mentored young Plato, who in turn mentored Aristotle. Aristotle mentored a boy named Alexander, who went on to conquer the known world as Alexander the Great.

Aristotle was privileged to study at Plato’s Academy, but some kid on the other side of the world was probably just as promising as young Aristotle and never got the mentorship.

From The Karate Kid to Star Wars to The Matrix, adventure stories often adhere to a template in which a protagonist forsakes humble beginnings and embarks on a great quest. Before the quest heats up, however, he or she receives training from a master: Obi Wan Kenobi. Mr. Miyagi. Mickey Goldmill. Haymitch. Morpheus.

We can spend thousands of hours practicing until we master a skill, or we can convince a world-class practitioner to guide our practice and cut the time to mastery significantly.

With every increase in communication, with every autobiography published, and every YouTube video of a superstar created, we increase our access to the great models in every category. This allows us to at least study the moves that make masters great—which is a start.

Create your own luck

Luck is often talked about as “being in the right place at the right time.” But like a surfer, some people—and companies—are adept at placing themselves at the right place at the right time. They seek out opportunity rather than wait for it.

Shortcuts vs Smartcuts

The difference between rapid, but short-term gains, which I call shortcuts, and sustainable success achieved quickly through smart work, or smartcuts. Whereas by dictionary definition shortcuts can be amoral, you can think of smartcuts as shortcuts with integrity. Working smarter and achieving more—without creating negative externalities.

Platforms

Effort for the sake of effort is as foolish a tradition as paying dues. How much better is hard work when it’s amplified by a lever? Platforms teach us skills and allow us to focus on being great, rather than reinventing wheels or repeating ourselves.

Leverage

Leverage is the overachiever’s approach to getting more bang for her proverbial buck. It’s how brand-new startups scale and young sci-fi geeks become movie directors. It’s how below-average school systems turn around and revolutions are won. It’s how surfers take championships and artists go from homeless to the Grammys.

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