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Prioritization of your tasks is one of the most valuable skills you want to get good at. Doing it poorly and working on low-leverage tasks is just wasting time.

Compile the tasks you could be doing into a todo list, and rank them by leverage. If it's hard to figure out which task is more important, just pick one and then ask yourself "Is there something else I could be doing that's more high-leverage?"

When I'm trying to meditate, my mind often gets distracted and resumes mental chatter until I catch myself doing that and stop.

I used to think of these moments as fuckups that devalue the meditation session, making it worse.

Instead, it's better to think about them as exercises, like reps in the gym. Meditation is a skill of noticing mental noise, stopping it, bringing attention into presence, and holding it here.

View distractions as opportunities to practice this skill.

What are the most interesting fields to apply CS skills to?

There's a lot of value on the intersection between CS and other fields. You don't want to just learn programming, you want to learn programming + some other field, so that combining them would allow you to solve cool problems, create a lot of value, make profitable startups.

What are some examples of such fields? If you were to apply CS to another field, what are the top 3 fields that would generate the most value?

- IQ (intelligence quotient) - assessment of the mind’s raw horse power.

- RQ (rationality quotient) - assessment of how well the mind’s models map to the real world; a measure of efficiency of the IQ’s application to real problems.

- EQ (emotional quotient) - ability to recognize, label, and deal with emotions.

Brilliant people can be jerks and kooks, empathic people can have wacky ideas about reality, and effective people can have average intelligence.

A local optimum is the best solution in a neighboring set of possible solutions, a global optimum is the optimal solution among all possible solutions.

You can get stuck in local optima when you're making small incremental improvements, but can't see the whole picture. At that point, you can't get better no matter how many small steps forward you take.

If you pick suboptimal career or a startup idea, you need to be willing to backtrack and explore other options.

Idea meritocracy is an environment where the best ideas win.

3 key elements for building an idea meritocracy:

- People are free to speak their mind and say what they really believe

- Information is as transparent as posisble, everyone has access to everything

- Believability-weighted decision making - decision are made weighted by best track record of solving similar problems and have great explanations of their approach.

Apply scientific method to your marketing.

- Form a hypothesis ("changing the call to action will increase the number of signups by 40%")
- Test it (do split testing on 2 pages so you could compare the results)
- Analyze the outcome, use it to adjust hypothesis, come up with more experiments, and get better at predicting the outcomes.

This will make your progress way more strategic and effective. You can come up with multiple hypothesis, and test the most promising ones first.

One of the cool things about working at a startup is that it enables you to take on jobs you're not yet qualified for, and learn as you go - which means you'll be able to do exciting things and learn extremely quickly.

Inversion method is a helpful way of solving problems by approaching them backwards, basically it means figure out what you don’t want, avoid it, and you’ll get what you do want.

Study failure as much as you study success. Learn about common "failure modes" at what you do and avoid them. Before you do something, google "10 most common newbie mistakes in my field", or "Top 10 reasons startups fail".

Convergent thinking is following a set of logical steps to arrive at one correct solution.

Divergent thinking is the process of generating as many answers to a question as possible.

Divergent thinking is very useful skill for creativity, because creativity involves generating a lot of possible ideas you can then select from.

Exercises:
- Try to come up with 50 ways to use a paperclip (or another ordinary object)
- Write a chain of associations from a topic
- Generate 10 new ideas every day

Not every change is improvement but every improvement is necessarily change.

Just striving to improve/optimize things using first principles is enough to be original. When you strive to maximize some value you necessarily end up creating something different.

You can't invent an iPhone by asking "How do we make a keyboard better?", you have to ask "What a mobile device should look like?"

Cook vs Chef.

Cook creates food by following a recipe. Chef understands core principles (the raw ingredients and how they affect the final result) and uses them as building blocks to create what he wants. That gives him the freedom to experiment and create things that have never been made before.

When thrust into a new situation without knowing what to do, you can either create or copy. A chef creates a solution from first principles, a cook copies someone else’s solution.

Ability think independently is is one of the best predictors of founder (or investor) success, and it is a skill you can practice.

The key is to think "from first principles" instead of "by analogy". Boil things down to fundamental truths, and reason up from there. Understand core principles and put them together like lego blocks in a way that optimally achieves your purpose, instead of following recipes, copying "best practices" or conventional wisdom.

Identify delusional popular beliefs to discover a contrarian truth.

What important truths very few smart people agree with you on?

A proximate cause is an event immediately responsible for some outcome, as opposed to the root cause - the ultimate, "real" reason something happened.

To diagnose the real cause, you can use "5 Why's" method.

For example, a problem:
I got a speeding ticket.

- Why?
Was driving too fast. (Proximate cause)

- Why?
Was late for work.

- Why?
Woke up late.

- Why?
Went to sleep late.

- Why?
Watched Netflix whole night. (Root cause)

4 types of innovation:

1. Basic research - making fundamental scientific discoveries.
(Deep Learning, Blockchain)

2. Breakthrough innovation - applying fundamental discoveries and thinking from first principles to engineer new products. (Tesla, SpaceX)

3. Disruptive innovation - finding new applications and business models.
(Uber, YCombinator)

4. Sustaining innovation - gradually improving what already exists, making it better/cheaper. Solving clear problems using preexisting skillsets.

Set goals that are:
Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, Time-bound. (SMART)

And:
- Written in present tense.
- Stated in the positive.
- Attached to an identity, or 'self-image'.
- Expansive.

"I will own 30 apartments" (future tense) -> "I own 30 apartments." (present tense) -> "I am the owner of 30 apartments." (identity) -> "I am the owner of 30 or more apartments." (expansive)

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