Reading is steroids for your mind. I can't believe that for $ 10 and a few hours I could learn what it took someone a lifetime to figure out.

When I started reading business books, I was obsessed with motivation and mindset. I wanted to be an entrepreneur and needed all the motivation I could get.

When I started running affiliate marketing campaigns, I studied every marketing and copywriting book I could get my hands on to increase my conversions. Then I hired my first employees. My daily Kindle reading was about leadership and management.

What am I reading these days? I realized how little I know and how many blind spots I have in my head.

The quality of your thinking determines the quality of your life. If so, it makes sense to improve your thinking.

The best way to do this is to learn from different perspectives and learn how others think.

Here are some of my favorite books and some lessons I have gathered from them.

My 9 favorite books this year

1st championship by Robert Greene

My psychology class in high school introduced me to Maslow's hierarchy of needs.

The different lines made sense, but I couldn't understand what self-actualization meant. It took me over a decade later to internalize the meaning.

Here is the formal definition: Self-actualization is achieved when you can reach your full potential.

Do you know what kept me going at 2am every night to make it in affiliate marketing? I wanted this 4 hour work week lifestyle. I wanted to have enough money and just live in Asia.

And I achieved that years later. I moved to Vietnam around 2012. I traveled around Asia for fun, only worked a few hours a day and had no stress or responsibility. I made the perfect life for myself.

But I slowly turned towards depression. I couldn't understand Why. This is the life I wanted

I was talking to a friend and he gave me some advice. "What were the happiest periods of your life and why?"

The happiest time came when I first learned affiliate marketing. Yes, that time was stressful and full of fear. But it was also the time when I learned and grew the most.

I decided to leave Vietnam because it made me complacent. It's hard to feel like you have to make an effort when you can easily live on $ 1,000 a month. (That mentality motivated me to move to NYC later.)

Everyone has a major struggle in life that defines them. Mine feels like it has reached my full potential. I don't have it yet and it's something that powers me in a healthy way.

That feeling made me discover the book championship by Robert Greene. In this book, Greene analyzes the life, behavior, and habits of various masters.

These masters included famous people from the past such as Mozart, Einstein and Da Vinci. It also includes many modern masters who are not so well known.

A couple of tidbits I learned:

1. Move towards resistance and pain. It's easy to focus on our strengths because it's convenient. We have to put ourselves in situations that challenge us.

Let's say I'm playing someone "better" than Jiujitsu in Brazil. I could use my best moves and beat them again and again. But that doesn't make any of us any better. Instead, I purposely put myself in positions of weakness. It's uncomfortable for the ego, but I'm learning more than I normally would.

2. Extreme focus + time. These masters devote hours every day to their craft. Complete concentration. And that for decades.

In the modern age it becomes more and more difficult. There are distractions everywhere. Social media trains us to seek instant gratification.

The world just gets more distracted. It is a competitive advantage when you can cultivate your focus.

Start small. Meditate for five minutes a day. Go to the gym without a phone or headphones. Clear ONE Social media app from your mobile phone.

Continue reading: The most important skill

3. Mastery requires obsession.

It's hard to compete with someone who is obsessed. Obsession means that they think about their craft all the time. It means they'd rather work than go out with friends or play video games.

We all have natural tendencies and you need to discover them.

It's hard to get obsessed with something. Fishing is the most boring thing ever for me, but some people out there can't stop thinking about it!

The most important step in mastering it is figuring out what your calling is. Don't let society, your co-workers, or your parents distract you.

It's easy for me …What doesn't feel like work when you do it? What can you easily lose sight of when you do something?

The world is becoming more competitive.

Businesses have finally recognized the benefits of remote working. If you're one of the few programmers in Iowa, you can be average. However, companies are realizing they can find better, cheaper employees by looking for talent outside of their city.

The antidote to this is mastery. Be so damn good at your craft that you are irreplaceable.

2. Billion Dollar Brand Club by Lawrence Ingrassia

Dollar Shave Club. Warby Parker. Casper mattress.

This book details how some of the largest D2C companies were founded.

Some interesting things:

  • An early investor passed the Casper mattress on. He thought, “How often do people buy new mattresses? Every ten years? "He later expressed his regret. He did not know that houses have multiple bedrooms. And he underestimated the sleep economy. Items like pillows, sheets and bed platforms have high edges.
  • The machines take over. How do you choose a successful product idea? Some people "scratch their itch". Others research the market. There are now companies building brands based solely on data. One software is called AIMEE. They use AI and data to identify product opportunities. They specifically analyze bad reviews of competing products to find opportunities.It makes me think about the role of A.I. and build brands in a decade. Imagine a company where A.I. selects the product, Copy.AI writes the entire copy, and all traffic is automated. We are closer to this reality than most people believe. We will see many 8 digit companies run by 1 person + a virtual assistant + an army of robots.
  • There are different “formulas” for developing a product idea. My favorite part is reading about how the entrepreneurs got their ideas. And there are also “formulas” that use them. One of the founders is looking for Niches where the incumbents have high prices, no innovation, and poor customer experiences.

The greatest value in the book is constant problem solving. There is no such thing as a "blueprint" to follow in business. It literally solves one problem at a time every day.

Warby Park encountered an issue where people were wary of ordering glasses without being able to try them on.

They innovated by sending six glasses for people to try on from home. They opened personal stores a few years later. And now Warby Parky has developed an augmented reality app to see how the glasses fit you.

3. Tao by Charlie Munger by David Clark

Charlie Munger is the vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway and best known as Warren Buffett's business partner.

I saw one of his speeches over a decade ago. This video introduced me to the concept of mental models. And it showed me so many physiological prejudices that affect our daily thinking.

See: Charlie Munger on the psychology of human misjudgment

I started reading this book because the investing world is getting a little crazy. GameStop, AMC and Dogecoin have dominated the headlines for the past few weeks. I wanted to read a book that would ground me a bit.

Some of my favorite quotes:

  • Don't try to be stupid instead of being intelligent. It is path Avoiding silly mistakes is easier than focusing on making brilliant moves. In poker there is a concept called "Leaks.“These are the mistakes you keep making that leave money on the table. One of my "leaks" was that I would only raise preflop if I had one MONSTER Hand. Overtime people knew to avoid me teasing me. It was much easier for me to get better at poker by fixing my leaks than it was to try out fancy techniques.
  • Wait for the right opportunity. The whole problem of mankind rests on the inability of man to sit quietly in a room alone.
  • Superconsciousness destroys even the brightest of all. Everyone thought real estate would never go under before the 2008 crash. Cults were formed around so many altcoins that became frauds. I used to be cocky about decisions and it burned me. Let go of the ego. Find others willing to play Devil & # 39; s Advodate. Look for holes in your ideas. The truth is more important than being right.

4. The psychology of money by Morgan Housel

I've been obsessed with personal finances for the past decade. However, when you dive into financial independence there is nothing “new” to learn.

Each book is a variation on repayment debts, investments in index funds through retirement accounts, and waiting times of several decades.

The math of money is important. But what matters more are the behaviors and psychology that affect money.

A mathematician may understand how bad the odds are in roulette, but that doesn't stop them from wasting money on it.

Some takeaways:

  • Wealth is what you don't see. What does the average person see as a signal of prosperity? Nice cars. Expensive vacations. Eating out in nice restaurants. None of this is wealth. Wealth is wealth that is earned while you sleep.

    Here's the problem: Society rewards ostentatious purchases. Showing off a $ 100,000 car will earn you more likes than showing off $ 100,000 in your Vanguard account.

    So much wealth resists tempting choices. It says no to the over the top, lavish weddings. It's about investing money instead of buying luxury handbags.

    "What you eat dies. What you invest lives forever.

    Person A looks like he is living life for the world. The car is leased and he has not invested any money. It only takes an emergency for the house of cards to collapse.

    Person B looks average. He drives a Honda Civic. What do people not see? For 22 years he has used his 401,000 to the full. He has no debt, including student loans. He saved a year on emergency funds. Who will be a decade or two ahead?
  • People play different games. We tend to mimic other people's actions. The problem is, we don't know their real motivations.Do you remember when everyone was crazy about Gamestop stocks? Well, Marc Cuban stepped in to defend WallStreetBets.When asked what to do, “If you can afford to hold the stock, hold. I don't own it, but I would. “So people felt safer. Marc Cuban is on your side! Except it wasn't him. He did not personally own any GME stock. His game wasn't about making money with GameStop or "sticking" it to Wall Street. His game was self-promotion.
  • Feel afterwards. Rajat Gupta was the former CEO of McKinsey & and Co. and sat Rajat was at a Goldman Sachs board meeting in 2008 and received valuable information: Warren Buffet would save Goldman Sachs by investing $ 5 billion. Immediately after the meeting, Rajat called his friend who owned a hedge fund. He told him the news and they both banked an investment in GS before the announcement went public. Well … both of these men were convicted of insider trading and sent to prison. A big question is why did Rajat do it? He didn't need the money. My husband was worth over a hundred mills at the time!

    I pulled the following from his wiki:

    Gupta reportedly began to express some aversion to money when his Silicon Valley and Wall Street colleagues (including McKinsey's private equity clients) raised "astounding sums of money at the time while Gupta moved on with a senior partner's millions "

    He felt "back" because he wasn't worth a Billi. He compared himself to billionaires and felt insecure.

    When you feel like you are behind, you need to take bigger risks to catch up.

    It reminds me of when I played poker. When I'm behind on chips, the right strategy is to take more risks. I'll bluff more and go all-in, otherwise I'll be permanently at a disadvantage.

    I see that now with a lot of people who invest too aggressively. They feel “lagged” in life and need to catch up by taking more risks.

    Greater risks come with a price: GME, XRP, and Doge all crashed in a matter of days.

    Remember that there is no such thing as a "backside" in real life. It's a social construct. We feel like it because we don't own a house until a certain age. Or our wealth does not match what an online article prescribes.

    Is this belief true or did society and others tell you that?

    We all have our own way.

5. Invent & Wander by Jeff Bezos, Walter Isaacson

This is not a biography or analysis of Jeff Bezos. This is a collection of his annual letters to Amazon shareholders.

If you've studied Amazon before, some of its principles keep popping up.

Principles such as long-term thinking, customer orientation and continuous experimentation are the main pillars.

Bezos' principles of growth are not unique. It is unique in two ways. The principles have remained the same for the past two decades. Most of the companies are reactionary. If the strategy doesn't work, they like to spin. Reading his letters to shareholders shows how consistently he has followed the same principles.

Second, he is ready to be extremely obedient to these principles.

Most companies think in years. He thinks in terms of decades. Amazon started testing drones in 2013.

Amazon was unprofitable for years. Their stock decreased by 80%. He wasn't reactive. Instead, he doubled up on innovation believing e-commerce would pick up pace.

Note: You can receive all letters for free Amazon and save yourself $ 15. I found it worthwhile to read on my Kindle and read Walter Isaacson's introduction.

6. Deceived by chance by Nassim Nicholas Taleb

Once the pandemic started, people started using the term black Swan More.

"A black swan is an unpredictable event that goes beyond what is normally expected of a situation and has potentially serious consequences. Black swan events are characterized by their extreme rarity, grave impact, and the widespread persistence that made them evident in retrospect. "

I wanted to go straight to the source: Nassim Nicholas Taleb. He was the person who popularized the term black swan.

I actually bought his book Deceived by chanceI gave up reading it after a few hours.

The book was difficult to read and I did not understand many of the sentences and concepts. It felt like I was trying to read Calculus without understanding the basics of algebra.

Fortunately, I was able to understand most of the concepts a decade later.

Here are some concepts from the book.

Alternative stories: Alternative stories are invisible stories that could have happened, but not by chance / coincidence / luck.

If you relived certain events 1000 times, what would the results be? A dentist makes $ 5 million over several decades. If he were to become a dentist again in 999 other lives, he would likely do well for himself.

Compare this to a caretaker who plays a lot. In the current reality, he won a lottery ticket and is worth $ 5 million. Chances are he's broke in all other realities.

Both people have the same results in this life but you want to optimize towards it security.

Protect the downside:

There is nothing wrong with losing, but make sure you limit your cons. Disadvantages are "rules" that you make to protect yourself.

My altcoin portfolio was worth several hundred thousand dollars during the 2017 craze. I did not protect myself. It went down. And it went down further.

Instead, I could have said, "I bought Nano for $ 1. It's now worth $ 25. If it ever drops to $ 15, I'll pay it off." But I got greedy.

Another idea is to protect yourself from a disaster. I am not in the supplementary area. One thing I would be scared of is that the supplements are tainted and I would be a target for lawsuits. I would definitely invest in liability insurance.

7. Think like a rocket scientist by Ozan Varol

"This is not rocket science!

Rocket science has a reputation for being the hardest topic to understand. My curiosity was piqued when I saw this book recommended by Bill Gates.

Varol is a former rocket scientist who worked on the projects that sent two rovers to Mars. Rocket scientists think differently. They have to because they want to make the impossible possible.

In this book, Varol shares various contrarian thinking strategies that we can all employ in our daily lives.

Random ideas:

  • The secret to staying calm in a high stress, high stakes situation is to face failure head on. Face it, dissect it, and think about what would happen if it failed. In a way, it reminds me of the way stoics think about death. We fear that Unknown.
  • The low-hanging fruits have already been picked. You cannot beat a stronger competitor by copying them. They use the same strategy, but they are more experienced. This reminds me of the opposite positioning from the book 7 powers. You can't make a cheaper cheeseburger than McDonald's. ShakeShack succeeded by doing the opposite and targeting the high-end market.
  • Use first principle thinking. Here's what that means in Elon Musk's words.
  • Treat success as failure and failure as success. For me, this was a kind of mindfuck to understand. Treat success with Suspicion. It's easy to mistake skill for luck. If you've used YOLO at $ GME and made a ton of money, this is something you should try to replicate.

    Failure is an opportunity to learn. I interpret this concept to mean that the results are not as important as they are Focus on improving the expected results.

    It made a lot more sense to me when I tied this game poker.

It's a fantastic book that kept me busy.

8. Billion dollar whale by Tom Wright & Bradley Hope

This is the most interesting book that I have read Years. Think of bad blood (Theranos) meets crazy rich Asians.

A young Malaysian named Jho Low defrauded the Malaysian government with $ 4.5 billionon dollars through a fund called 1MDB.

How? He used his connections with the Malaysian Prime Minister, enlisted the help of Goldman Sachs, and always had excuses for any action.

He celebrated with Hollywood elites, financed them Wolf of Wall Street Film and dated Victoria Secret model Miranda Kerr.

The craziest thing is that it's a real story.

Now the Prime Minister is in jail and Jho Low has been in hiding for the past five years. This is a government fraud book, so I'm not sure you should have any lessons from this book. But it was fascinating read.

9. Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel

Earlier this year, I was in the mood to read a book about life after the pandemic. One that wasn't about surviving zombies. My research led me to Station eleven.

A pandemic called Georgia Flu breaks out. It wipes out 99% of the population and civilization is crumbling. The book appears twenty years later.

It's about a group of traveling actors and musicians called Traveling Symphony. You will travel across the states playing Shakespeare to keep the arts alive.

"Survival is insufficient.

I love the post apocalypse genre. However, it gets annoying when you feel like every medium is this gritty and is about survival. This is a story about art, beauty and hope.

While I loved this book, I don't think too many people will. It burns slowly. When you've seen the movie Ad AstraIt gives me similar vibrations.



That is the value of reading multiple books. As you read books on different subjects, you notice patterns that keep popping up.

We all underestimate the role luck plays in success and we are all blind to how black swans could destroy us any second.

We have to create security and robustness margins in our systems.

Think bigger.

Control the entrances. We cannot control the results. The world is too chaotic. What we can control are the inputs that produce results, and we can control our own Behaviors.

What were your favorite readings of 2020?

By the way, I get a lot of questions as I read.

First, I'm not a fan of audiobooks. I was reading on a Kindle Oasis device. Reading on a Kindle deepens my focus compared to listening. If I want to listen while studying, I prefer podcasts.

How do I take notes? I use the Kindle device to highlight important text. It is automatically synced with a service called This service sends me 5 random highlights every day via email.

I find this more useful than spending hours taking notes and having them lost in my notetaking system never to be seen again.

Photo by Ricardo Esquivel from Pexels


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