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Book: The Power of Habit

I just finished reading The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and wanted to write down an overview of the book so that I can reference it in the future if I wanted to. I’m just going to go chapter by chapter here.

  1. Habits are ingrained in people at a very deep level. Duhigg told the story of a man who lost the ability to form short term memories, but could still remember all of his habits. While sitting in the living room of his own house he couldn’t say which door led to the kitchen, but when he wanted some food he just naturally got up and walked to the fridge without hesitation. The same man also walked out of his house and always made it back despite not remembering which house was his. FURTHERMORE, the man had the ability to learn new habits. He was repeatedly given an assignment each day to pick up a shape with the sticker on the bottom of it. Even though he couldn’t remember doing the experiment he began to instinctively pick up the shape that had the sticker on the bottom of it.

  2. Cue → Routine → Reward. There are three parts to every habit, the cue, the routine, and the reward. The routine is the actual act where something is done, but that part doesn’t matter as much. Studies have shown that brain activity actually drops during the Routine, and that the brain is somewhat on autopilot.

  3. To change a routine, it’s important to focus on maintaining the cue and the reward, but just replacing the Routine with a new habit. Many ciggarette smokers have found that their cue is that they are bored and that their reward is that they get to socailize. So instead of smoking, they should try to replace their routine with a walk with friends. Duhigg also found something else strange: subjects need to believe in something in order for it to work. Members of Alcoholics Anonymous have always cited that they need to believe in a higher power in order for them to give up alcohol.

  4. Keystone Habits: In order to make changes, people must start by changing one thing. Many people fail to lose weight when they set out to do so since they try to do too many things at once. Additionally, Michael Phelps has a long routine that he does before each swim that allows him to swim well regardless of other circumstances (one time he won a race, even with his goggles filled up with water at the start). Furthermore, when Paul O’Neill became the president of Alcoa, he started by just focusing on safety, but that allowed the workforce to begin improving the company in all aspects.

  5. Willpower can be both learned and taught. This is shown through a study of how starbucks trains it’s employees to deal with tough customers (when their employees’ willpower will be tested the most).

  6. Even though a crisis can be painful to go through, they are really good for causing a change in habits. A terrible fire at the King’s Cross Station in London was the catalyst for the organization to reorganize around having everyone be responsible for safety, and not just the task that their department handles. In a second example Duhigg talks about how a series of medical failures forced doctors and nurses to become more cooperative and better follow safety procedures so that they could reduce the number of mistakes in the operating room.

  7. People have been shown to rarely change habits without going through a major life event. Companies have discovered that having a baby, is the single biggest opportunity to change a person’s purchasing habits. Target however got in trouble by freaking out pregnant women with ads full of baby supplies, so they now instead put lawnmowers next to diaper ads so that the baby supplies seem random. SECONDLY, since people are so resistant to change, clever ways must be found to disguise changes. For example, when there was a shortage of steak during WWII, the US Army started serving liver inside of meatloaf. This allowed them to serve something new (liver), but made it seem familiar (with meatloaf). Radio DJs do something similar by playing very popular songs before and after a new song that they’re introducing to their rotation.

  8. How Movements Happen: People in communities made up of close and weak ties always adhere to a set of social norms. In order to stay in good standing with the community, members must adhere to those social norms (peer pressure). These social norms are like habits, but on a group scale. An example of this is at work is when someone helps a member of their church/country club/workgroup by giving them a referral for a new job. The author went into two in depth examples of this. First he showed how Rosa Parks started a large movement by having many strong and weak ties in her community that would therefore participate in a boycott of the busses. Second, he told how a pastor created a church community of 20,000 by having them create small groups that they met in each week to supplement their large services. Those small groups helped people create strong ties and kept them in a habit loop of obeying norms for their religious group.

  9. Free Will: Habits are so powerful that they have been shown to force people to lose their power of free will. The first example of this was a man who was found innocent after killing his wife in a sleep terror, since in the sleep terror he thought that he was just reacting to an intruder and therefore he didn’t mean to kill his wife. In another example he tells the story of a woman who lost everything because she couldn’t stop gambling more and more money. In that story it was interesting how the casinos kept luring her back in with more and more free trips and gifts. These examples of how people lose their free will highlight the importance of how people must constantly reevaluate their new habits to make sure that they don’t fall into bad ones. However, looking at existing habits can often be hard, somewhat like telling a fish to examine the water around it.

The afterward included that Duhigg’s best piece of advice is to make one small change at a time, and cautioned that most people fail because they try to change too much at once.

In the appendix the author gave a great example of how he identified the parts of one of his habits and effectively changed it: He first recognized that he had a habit of going to the cafeteria and getting a cookie each day. He found the cue by determining that the only thing that stayed the same each day was that it was 3:30pm and that he was at work. To find the Reward, he found that he felt refocused after getting up from his desk and taking the opportunity to socialize while walking to the cafeteria. He changed the routine by instead setting his alarm for 3:30pm each day, and then walking over to a coworker’s desk to chat at that time instead of going to the cafeteria. This preserved the Cue and the Reward, but just changed the Routine.

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dpstyles:

bassman5911:

Plus Fours Routefinder - Worlds First Navigation System

Invented in 1920′s this could be world’s first navigation system. No satellites or digital screens were used in the making of this portable navigation system. Called Plus Fours Routefinder, this little invention was designed to be worn on your wrist, and the “maps” were printed on little wooden rollers which you would turn manually as you drove along.

(via avaxnews)

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Book: Happy Money

I recently finished the book “Happy Money” by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, and thought it had some awesome takeaways. This book essentially analyzes how to get the most utility out of each dollar that you spend, which is an area that I think receives far too little attention. There seem to be a million books out there on how to make more money, but no one is thinking about their finances by analyzing the return on their purchases.

This book focused on 5 key messages that I am definitely going to apply when thinking about purchases in the future.

  1. Buy Experiences - What stood out to me most in this chapter was how much more people will value experiences than they will value purchases of tangible items. The best example of this is shown when analyzing the continue returns of vacations when compared to the continued returns of a car. You only experience a vacation for a short period of time. However, the value of that vacation actually will increase over time. The reasoning behind this is that when you go on a vacation, you will make memories that will last a lifetime. Additionally, it’s been shown that as time passes, your memories of vacations will actually increase, since you’ll  focus on the good times that you had on your trip, and you will gradually forget any negative aspects of the trip. Alternatively, when you buy a nice new car, you may think that the return will be higher since you can use the car every day, but studies have shown that this is incorrect. Over time it’s been shown that people who buy a car quickly return to the happiness levels that they had before buying the car.

  2. Make it a Treat - This chapter focused on how indulging in a purchase repeatedly actually decreases the return on happiness that you get from making the purchase. For example, if you buy coffee every day two times a day, it’s no longer special, and you won’t really think much of it. However, if you hold off on buying coffee until you’re about to PTFO and you really need that caffeine to help you out, that coffee is going to make your world turn around.

  3. Buy Time - In this chapter the ways that people exchange time for money was analyzed. My favorite example of this was analyzing how far out of their way people go to save a little bit of money on something like gas. They cited studies that show many Americans will drive 20 minutes out of their way to save 10 cents a gallon on gas. Obviously that is an extreme case, but In many of these situations, the juice really isn’t worth the squeeze. So it’s just good to really analyze those times when you’re going to cause a lot of extra work for yourself, just to save a few dollars.

  4. Pay Now, Consume Later - This chapter says that you should always opt for situations where you pay for something a long time before you will get it, for a maximum return on happiness. I recently put this method into practice by buying a season pass for skiing. This had two main benefits for myself: First, I got to spend lots of time getting excited to go skiing. This was great for getting me through long days in the office when I was staring at my computer, since while at my desk, I could fantasize about how great going skiing was going to be. Second, it actually made my skiing experience more enjoyable since I didn’t have to shell out $100 right before getting on the lift. Instead, I was able to really enjoy a nice prolonged lunch with friends, instead of stressing about getting the maximum about of runs out of my $100 lift ticket.

  5. Invest in Others - Finally, nothing provides more happiness than putting a smile on someones face. Now, it’s important that money isn’t just thrown mindlessly at various charities. Instead try to make it personal, so you can actually see those smiles. For example, maybe instead of donating money to One Laptop Per Child (my personal favorite charity of choice http://laptop.org/), you could instead get involved with the charity and help them set up rural communites themselves. It’s my dream to someday have the time and resources to do something like this.

Happy Spending :)

Tags: happymoney
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my life… 2 days a week, every week, always leaving DTW and then coming back to DTW.
I love it, but I hate it.

my life… 2 days a week, every week, always leaving DTW and then coming back to DTW.

I love it, but I hate it.

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On Vine

24 hours ago my buddy Oleg (twitter employee) texted me and told me to check out Vine. I downloaded it, posted a vine, and texted him back saying it’s stupid.

Today:

I change my mind about Vine. I was wrong to immediately pass it off as stupid. It’s an awesome app. Hell, I’ll even say that I love it. it’s the perfect logical next step for america’s snapchat obsessed youth. Facebook looks like a bunch of idiots for simply responding with their new poke app.

My only concern is: does it have staying power. I’m a bit worried that it won’t be able to catch on.

The two main chalenges that it faces:

1. I don’t want another feed to check, I already need to check Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and foursquare every day, and I’m not sure that there is room for another one. Snapchat brilliantly avoids that problem by being a messaging platform and not a feed.

2. Will the network be able to grow. Vine is completely useless if only my tech savy (read: SF and CMU) friends use it. I need the normal people on it too for it to be indispensable (the people that live outside the bay area and didn’t go to an engineering centric school). One of the reasons I knew snapchat was going to be so big is that the first place I heard about it was from my 19 year old sister who goes to a state school. Not an SF clown, not hackernews, my sister.

I think Path was in the exact same position when they came out with their new app. Path had the slickest app with original and useful use cases, but I needed to check a new feed, and I my normal friends didn’t use it. Path has essentially failed to take off as I hoped because of those reasons. Only time will tell if Vine will suffer the same fate.

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native v html5

Apple Analyst Zabitsky Is Lone ‘Sell’ Holdout as IPad Maker’s Stock Climbs

This analyst is basically arguing that you should sell apple stock because, html5 apps are going to take off, making apples awesome iOS app store less relevant.

I actually totally agree with this, html5 is the future and making a custom app for each mobile OS will become very archaic. The problem I have with his argument is his time scale. He claims that the repercussions of this movement from native apps to html5 is going to take place in the next 2 quarters. THAT’S INSANE! Yes I hate trying to write objective-c, and yes I think html5 is the future, but it’s a future that is at least 3 years away, if not longer. For at least the next 3 years, native apps are going to fully dominate the mobile landscape.

Although the potential for html5 web based mobile apps is awesome, it’s just not going to do it for right now. My reason for this is purely based on the present day capabilities of web based mobile apps, the problem with them being is that they can’t access enough of the phones hardware sensors at this time.

Let’s not sell them short though, for some web apps they are just as capable as their native app counterparts. I’ve seen web apps that can store huge amounts of background data, use location, and even access a phones accelerometer.

Another huge problem with this prediction is that web developers don’t use all of these features. For html5 to have any chance developers need to better utilize a phones capabilities. While phones can store data from a website, most of them don’t thus making the user wait for around 10 extra seconds just to get onto the web site. This is nonsense! The Financial Times does an awesome job at demonstrating how this can be done (the reading experience still can’t compare to that being done in the native app Flipboard, but maybe someday).

Most importantly, the two hardware features of phones that html5 apps need to find a way to access in order for them to succeed are being able to use a camera and being able to access a phones background processing so that they can run in the background (thus enabling them to send notifications). Once these two problems have been solved, I think that the usage of mobile web apps will explode.

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Pressing play in @Spotify for iPhone and then having my desktop client pause is so gratifying. I wonder if this was planned as a feature or if it was conceived in order to prevent multiple people from sharing a single account.

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i heart path

I originally sent this as an email to one of my friends who just started using path, but I thought I’d share my love of path with the world:

just incase you didn’t read up on why they created path. The idea is that you’re friends with everyone that you’ve ever met ever on facebook, and this isn’t good because you don’t actually care about all 1000 of these people. This theory is based on dunbar’s number, which basically says that humans don’t have the mental compactly to keep track of over 150 relationships (basically it’s unfathomable that you could truly trust 150 people). I find this concept really interesting which is why I’m so passionate about path. also I think it has huge potential since my facebook and twitter feeds are just becoming way too overwhelming, and this attempts to find a solution to that.

Path also designed itself a little bit differently than other social networks beyond the limit of having 150 friends. First off, it’s mobile only, which I think is awesome since it just gets people in the habit of checking it regularly on their phone wherever they are and ultimately provides a much more intimate experience (foursquare started as mobile first and had great succes with this strategy). Although that they will eventually have a web version, I think that starting mobile only at first will be key to their success. 
Another cool thing about path is that there is no way to directly send a message to another user (like sending a fb message, DM, @mentioning, or writing on someones wall). This creates an experience where people simply share what they are doing and lets other people comment on it.
In addition to commenting there is of course the :), :(, <3, :O, and ;) that you can leave on someones moment. I personally think that this is genius and is a huge improvement on the fb “like” and the twitter fav since it allows you to share your emotion about a moment in an extremely quick way that has a very low barrier to entry, unlike the somewhat more tedious task of commenting on something.
Finally, the emotion sharing is just one small part of what I think is the most beautiful iOS app (or mobile app on any platform for that matter) that I have ever seen. I personally have just clicked on the “+” sign (which brilliantly transitions into an “x”) for probably about an hour just to admire how gracefully the 6 icons unfurl out from it. I could go on about the intricacies of path’s UX for hours, but I’ll stop there.
Currently I generally use path to post things that I think would be viewed as unprofessional (pictures of me drinking and thoughts about drinking) or that are mundane and that I would like to share with my close friends (but would generally be viewed as spam by most of my twitter followers or facebook friends). 
Path just passed 2 million users so I’m excited to see where it goes, but I really do believe in it and I think it has potential to be the 4th social network that I use to interact with my friends (after facebook, twitter, and foursquare).
happy pathing!
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This is genius marketing
khuyi:

8226:

This is genius marketing

khuyi:

8226:

(via dpstyles)

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whatupchuck:

fucking drama.

(Source: himymthebest)

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Tokyo Police Club! (Taken with Instagram at University Center)

Tokyo Police Club! (Taken with Instagram at University Center)

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Room for a 4th?

I’ve been talking to lots of my friends lately about whether or not there is room for a fourth social network in our lives. In my circle of close friends we basically all check facebook, twitter, and foursquare in that order throughout the day.

While every consumer facing startup claims that they are going to create a new web service or mobile app that people will check and utilize every day I simply don’t know if people have the time or want to do so.

I personally have begun checking Quora and Tumblr just about every day but most of my friends simply don’t use these services. This means that if I’m particularly busy one day even I will forget to check them.

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newyorker:

“Vignelli’s 1972 map wasn’t just lovely to look at. Its obsessive clarity turns out to be the perfect basis for digital information. It’s more modern looking than any of the maps that followed it. Now that people at the M.T.A. have figured out that this map is good for things other than dresses, why don’t they go the rest of the way, and bring it back as the basis for a more complete interactive map that will be kept live seven days a week?”
Paul Goldberger discusses how the M.T.A. brought back Massimo Vignelli to update his famous subway map.

newyorker:

“Vignelli’s 1972 map wasn’t just lovely to look at. Its obsessive clarity turns out to be the perfect basis for digital information. It’s more modern looking than any of the maps that followed it. Now that people at the M.T.A. have figured out that this map is good for things other than dresses, why don’t they go the rest of the way, and bring it back as the basis for a more complete interactive map that will be kept live seven days a week?”

Paul Goldberger discusses how the M.T.A. brought back Massimo Vignelli to update his famous subway map.

(via dpstyles)

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My new hero:
kellysutton:

laughingsquid:

ABC News Radio Interviews Andrew Hyde Who Only Owns 15 Things

Andrew is the real Cult of Less.
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Lofty goals

Beginning to realize that founding a successful consumer web company is like wanting to play in the NBA, with the exception that it seems easier at first.