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The First Principles Method Explained by Elon Musk

In an interview with Kevin Rose Elon Musk has beautifully explained how thinking based on first principles can lead to remarkable insights. Here are the gems:

“I think its important to reason from first principles rather than by analogy…The normal way we conduct our lives is we reason by analogy…

We are doing this because it’s like something else that was done..or it is like what other people are doing…slight iterations on a theme…

“First principles” is a physics way of looking at the world…what that really means is that you boil things down to the most fundamental truths…and then reason up from there…that takes a lot more mental energy…

Someone could –and people do — say battery packs are really expensive and that’s just the way they will always be because that’s the way they have been in the past…

They would say it’s going to cost, historically it cost $600 KW/hour.  It’s not going to be much better that in the future…

So first principles..we say what are the material constituents of the batteries.  What is the spot market value of the material constituents?  It has carbon, nickel, aluminum, and some polymers for separation, and a steel can..break that down on a material basis, if we bought that on a London Metal Exchange, what would each of these things cost.  oh geez…It’s $80 KW/hour.  Clearly, you need to think of clever ways to take those materials and combine them into the shape of a battery cell, and you can have batteries that are much cheaper than anyone realizes.”



Leadership to Inspire

In this in-depth talk, ethnographer and leadership expert Simon Sinek reveals the hidden dynamics that inspire leadership and trust. In biological terms, leaders get the first pick of food and other spoils, but at a cost. When danger is present, the group expects the leader to mitigate all threats even at the expense of their personal well-being. Understanding this deep-seated expectation is the key difference between someone who is just an “authority” versus a true “leader.”

For more on this topic, check out Sinek’s latest book Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t now available for pre-order.

About Simon Sinek

A trained ethnographer and the author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action, Simon Sinek has held a life-long curiosity for why people and organizations do the things they do. Studying the leaders and companies that make the greatest impact in the world and achieve a more lasting success than others, he discovered the formula that explains how they do it.

Sinek’s amazingly simple idea, The Golden Circle, is grounded in the biology of human decision-making and is changing how leaders and companies think and act.

His innovative views on business and leadership have earned him invitations to meet with an array of leaders and organizations, including Microsoft, Dell, SAP, Intel, Chanel, Members of the United States Congress, and the Ambassadors of Bahrain and Iraq.

Sinek recently became an adjunct staff member of the RAND Corporation, one of the most highly regarded think tanks in the world. He also works with the non-profit Education for Employment Foundation to help create opportunities for young men and women in the Middle East region. He lives in New York, where he teaches graduate level strategic communications at Columbia University.

Cheapest way to JFK airport

This is the cheapest way to get to JFK airport. Total time around 2 hours.

Flying out of NYC:
1. Take the 3 train to New Lots ave (last stop)
2. Take B15 bus to Leffers Boulevard stop*
3. Take Airtrain to your airline terminal – avoiding the $5 entry fee

*If your flying JetBlue go past Leffers Boulevard stop to Terminal 5 (last stop on B15) bus.

Total amount one way is $2.50, that includes transfer from subway to bus. I have used this path many times traveling abroad and back to NYC and it works every time.

Flying into NYC:

Returning back to NYC, all you need is Metrocard that has at least $2.50 on it to board the B15 bus at the airport. At any terminal in JFK airport, simply go to information desk and ask where you can take the B15 bus to New Lots ave number 3 subway train.

Future Proof software

It was an unexpected blow to all users of Catch Notes when its company announced that it will no longer support this app, leaving all of its users and their notes without the online sync feature future development. It was a very useful app that provided seamless sync of user’s notes to the cloud. All this happened in the wake of Snowden’s whistle-blowing about the U.S. government’s illegal collection of people’s private online data without their consent of knowing.

What if there was a open standard, a commitment to users to future proof software, which provided the would be user assurance that the sudden shut-down of service like Catch Notes wouldn’t happen? This would require app labeling, for instance “Future-Proof”. This way when a user is about to decide to install a given software he’d look for this label. No label, no trust. So what if the company decides to no longer focus on a piece of software? In that case, if this software has the “Future-Proof” label, they would have to find a trustworthy provider who would continue this service uninterrupted.


Recalibrate your Senses

By Douglas Lisle, Ph.D. and Alan Goldhamer, D.C.

When you climb into a hot tub, it pays to edge in slowly. The water can be so hot as to be unpleasant—until you get used to it. Then it will feel pleasant. When you step into a swimming pool, the water sometimes feels cold. But after a few minutes, you get used to it. The scent of a Christmas tree or fragrant flowers is wonderful—at first. But then you get used to it, and soon you may hardly even notice it. How is it that our internal experience can change so dramatically, even when our environment is staying the same? How is it that we so easily “get used to” things? It turns out that scientists have carefully studied this striking phenomenon, which they refer to as neuroadaptation. This process is called “neuroadaptation” because it involves nerves and adaptation.
Our sensory processes are dependent upon the activation of sensory nerves. It is through the activation of various sensory nerves that we are able to see, hear, smell, sense touch, and to taste. The activity of these various sensory nerves tells our brain what is going on, and to what degree of intensity. For example, when you are sitting in a dimly lit room, and you turn on more light, your visual nerves become more active. This causes you to notice an increase in brightness. Similarly, if you increase the volume on your stereo, your auditory nerves become more active. This same principle works for all of the five senses.

Relative perception

We tend to think that our nerves provide us with a very accurate depiction of real-world stimulation. Surprisingly, this is not the case. Let’s go back to the example of sitting in a dimly lit room. If you turn on all of the lights, it will seem very bright. However, if you later go outside into full sunshine, that will seem brighter still. When you go back inside, it will seem dim—even though all of the lights are still on. Clearly, your nerves are not providing you with an “accurate” depiction of reality in these instances. They are providing a relative depiction. Your senses are highly responsive to change. They tell you when a new stimulus is brighter or dimmer, louder or softer, hotter or colder, and so forth, but not precisely how bright, or loud, or hot. Perception is largely a gauge of relative change.
When there is a sudden increase in stimulation, your nerves increase their rate of “firing” (the basic mechanism that communicates sensory information to the brain). Any change in the intensity of a stimulus results in a change in the firing rate of the appropriate sensory nerves. For example, when you brighten the lights, your visual nerves will increase their firing rate. When you later dim the lights, the firing rate will be reduced.

Dangerous adaptations

In this article, we shall focus on an aspect of “getting used to” things that can lead to life-threatening mistakes.
After we brighten the lights in a room, our visual nerves increase their firing rate—but only for a short while. After a few minutes, the firing rate will slow down, or “adapt,” to the new, higher rate of stimulation. Sometimes, the nerves may even slow down their response to the level that they were previously firing at the lower level of illumination. This is why even a brightly lit room will seem merely “normal” after your sensory nerves adjust to it.
All of our sensory nerves work in this manner. When we first enter an office, we might be distracted by a noisy air conditioner. But after a while we may cease to notice it. When a person first starts smoking cigarettes, he is acutely aware of the smell of the smoke. He smells it on his fingers, in his clothes, and in his car. But before long, he won’t notice it at all. He will have “gotten used to it.” His sense of smell has adapted to the constant presence of this stimulus. The smoker may not notice much of the smell unless he quits smoking. Only then will his sense of smell re-calibrate to a more smoke-sensitive state. Then he will be able to smell the smoke—just like everyone else does.

Taste troubles

Like our other sensory nerves, our taste buds also will “get used to” a given level of stimulation—and this can have dangerous consequences. The taste buds of the vast majority of people in industrialized societies are currently neuroadapted to artificially high-fat, high-sugar, and high-salt animal and processed foods. These foods are ultimately no more enjoyable than more healthful fare, but few people will ever see that this is true. This is because they consistently consume highly stimulating foods, and have “gotten used to” them. If they were to eat a less stimulating, health-promoting diet, they soon would enjoy such fare every bit as much. Unfortunately, very few people will ever realize this critically important fact. Instead, nearly all of these people will die prematurely of strokes, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, diabetes, and cancer as a result of self-destructive dietary choices.

How To Find And Do Work You Love

Scott Dinsmore’s mission is to change the world by helping people find what excites them and build a career around the work only they are capable of doing. He is a career change strategist whose demoralizing experience at a Fortune 500 job launched his quest to understand why 80% of adults hate the work they do, and more importantly, to identify what the other 20% were doing differently. His research led to experiences with thousands of employees and entrepreneurs from 158 countries. Scott distilled the results down to his Passionate Work Framework – three surprisingly simple practices for finding and doing work you love, that all happen to be completely within our control. He makes his career tools available free to the public through his community at http://LiveYourLegend.net


To succeed in business, act like a child

Courtesy: Matt Hunt

During a rainy vacation day last summer, I watched my six-year-old son playing a game on my iPad.

He was stuck on the first level for what seemed like an eternity. Hoping to help, I tried to offer some suggestions, but he immediately turned me down. I eventually realized that he didn’t care how many times he failed that level. He was going to try everything he could until he succeeded.
For him, it was a puzzle — not a problem. In business, we could learn a few things from that type of determination to succeed.

Children are creative, ambitious and fearless — which sounds like the makings of a perfect entrepreneur, right? So, if we want to encourage innovation in business, we need to follow that example. There are several qualities kids have that many adults have lost along the way.

1. They don’t worry about failure

When a child takes on a challenge, the thought of failure doesn’t even cross her mind. It’s not that she thinks she’ll succeed immediately; it’s that she knows she has to try different things to succeed. She also isn’t afraid of what other people might think. Kids have more self-confidence than self-consciousness.

We all understand the importance of trial and error in moving our ideas, businesses and lives forward, but as we transition into adulthood, we lose our willingness to experiment. We lose our tolerance for failure. We become conditioned to mitigate risks to preserve our wealth and egos, particularly when our financial futures are dependent upon the success of our self-run businesses and ventures.

The older we get, the more comfortable we become with our lives. It becomes more and more difficult for us to manage our own risk-versus-reward equation.

2. They appreciate the process

Kids don’t expect to know everything. Their minds are open, and they want to learn – failure is simply another method through which they gather information.

3. They recover quickly

If you watch a child lose a sport or game, you will likely see a small volcanic eruption. There’s no burst of frustration quite like that of a child, but kids also move quickly to the next challenge. As adults, we’ve learned to control ourselves better, which is good, but we often lose the ability to move on. It’s understandable that after months or years of working on a product or service, a person would be emotionally invested and would struggle to see past that one goal.

But without seeing through a wider lens, failures hold us back — often yielding more failures.

So, foster an environment that accepts failure

There’s a lot of buzz in business publications suggesting that innovation is dead. I believe it’s far from dead, but our fear of failure is paralyzing us. In order to foster innovation, we need to be able to experiment. There are many ways small business owners can promote a tolerance of risk-taking and failure.

1. Hire risk-takers: During interviews, ask qualified candidates to share their experiences with professional failure. What did they accomplish? What did they learn? What would they do differently to succeed in business? This is a great way to quickly assess an individual’s comfort level with failure and establish it as part of your organization’s culture.

2. Retention policies: In one organization I worked with, employees whose projects had failed were given 60 days to find a new position within the organization, rather than being immediately cut loose. Another option is transitioning employees to positions where they can jump into new innovation projects. Policies like these take away a major fear that comes with risk-taking, and they encourage employees to be more adventurous.

3. Address risk-taking and failure: Ensure that employees and managers are communicating about risks and failures. One CEO I worked with added a section to his company’s annual review process in which employees captured their failures and discussed them with their managers. This is a great way to lead employees beyond their failures and on to more successes. You can also see if employees have escaped failure, which often means they’re being too cautious.

4. Demonstrate transparency: No organization is flawless, and sharing the mistakes a company makes with its workforce establishes the expectation that all employees, from the top down, share failures. Not only does this communicate that failure is valued as part of a learning process, but it also offsets the cost of failure by sharing lessons learned.

No matter how much we try to avoid failure, it will happen one way or another. You can make the most of it and use it to your advantage, or you can let it block progress.

My son finally did solve that level of the game – and many more after it. If your company and employees can learn to fail like children, who knows what level you will reach.

Matt Hunt is the founder of Stanford and Griggs, LLC in Inver Grove Heights, Minnesota. Hunt is also an author, speaker and consultant.

SONY HXR-NX30U manual

Download the manual in PDF format.


Maine School Engages Kids With Problem-Solving Challenges

How to wake up earlier & do more stuff

Courtesy: Neila Rey

And no, it’s not about going to bed earlier… although that helps. At the core of being able to wake up earlier in the morning and actually connect before you have your first cup of coffee is the desire to be awake. Have you ever been so excited about the events of the previous day that you had no problems waking up before your alarm and feeling fresh and alert despite being short of sleep?  Basically, being excited about life is what makes your brain switch on faster after a long time of idleness, having something to look forward to is what does it.

Getting a great job to look forward to every single day is probably a dream of every and each one of us but, in reality, a job is a job. The majority of us have jobs we definitely do not look  forward to so the treasured sleep is something we don’t want to end prematurely, not even five minutes before we absolutely have to. There are other ways to get that spark and the extra time in the beginning of your day, though, like starting a routine that will get you excited and make you want to get up. Going for an early morning run or playing a game before work can be that routine, for example. It’s up to you what this exciting activity will be but it has to be something you really enjoy and want to do.

Even if you are an owl and go to bed late it’ll still work – you’ll be cutting back on sleep and reclaiming the most and the best time for living.

Why start your day earlier than you have to? Because that’s life – having time for yourself and things you enjoy doing apart from work, chores and other responsibilities that tend to just pile up on top of you throughout the entire day/week/year. If you haven’t got the time to do things you love – make time, cut back on things you can cut back on. Starting a day doing something you truly enjoy is starting your day on a high and being more satisfied with yourself by the end of it even if short of sleep.

Some people can sleep over eight hours a day and still feel tired. This well may be the disconnect of the brain from the reality you live in. If you make your life exciting enough there will be no time or need for that much sleep.

You’ll want to be awake for the life you design for yourself. You might be short of sleep but you’ll surely feel more alive, more with it and more satisfied with your life overall.