What I'm Reading...

Drucker on seeing us today from the distant future

In a few hundred years, when the history of our time will be written from a long-term perspective, it is likely that the most important event historians will see is not technology, not the Internet, not e-commerce. It is an unprecedented change in the human condition. For the first time–literally–substantial and rapidly growing numbers of people have choices. For the first time, they will have to manage themselves. And society is totally unprepared for it.

– Peter Drucker, Managing Knowledge Means Managing Oneself, quoted by Marshall Goldsmith in The Earned Life, p. 54

Peter Drucker Managing Oneself long-term thinking

Donald Knuth on Pursuing a PhD

Donald Knuth on pursuing a PhD:

A PhD is awarded for research, meaning that the student has contributed to the state of the world’s knowledge. That’s quite different from a bachelor’s degree or a master’s degree; those degrees are awarded for a mastery of existing knowledge. (In some non-science fields, like Art, a master’s degree is more akin to a PhD; but I’m speaking now about the situation in mathematics and in the sciences.) My point is that it’s a mistake to think of a PhD as a sort of next step after a BS or MS degree, like advancing further in some academic straight line. A PhD diploma is another animal entirely; it stands for a quite different kind of talent, which is orthogonal to one’s ability to ace an examination. A lot of people who are extremely bright, with straight A+ grades as undergraduates, never get a PhD. They’re smart in a way that’s different from “research smart.” I think of my parents, for example: I don’t believe either one of them would have been a good PhD candidate, although both were extremely intelligent.

It’s extremely misleading to rank people on an IQ scale with the idea that the smarter they are, the more suitable they are for a PhD degree; that’s not it at all. People have talents in different dimensions, and a talent for research might even have a negative correlation with the ability to tie your own shoes."

Donald Knuth is considered the father of the analysis of algorithms, better known as the author of the multi-volume The Art of Computer Programming, and recipient of the ACM Turing Award (informally considered the Nobel Prize of Computer Science.)

H/t to this great recompilation of Knuth on work habits, problem solving, and happines.

phd donand-knuth talents IQ

AirBnB, Peter Thiel and Culture

Taylor Pearson writing about how company culture and how It Can Be Worth $150 Million:

After AirBnB closed out their Series C raising $200 million in a round led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, the AirBnB team invited Thiel to the office.

They took him into a conference room and had pulled up various metrics on the screen to show him how the company was doing.

Midway through the conversation, AirBnB CEO Brian Chesky asked Thiel what was the single most important piece of advice he had for us?

You’d think maybe it would be something about gross margins or network effects that you’d hear about in an MBA program. It wasn’t.

He replied, “Don’t fuck up the culture.”

This wasn’t what you might expect from someone who just wrote a $150M check. When asked to elaborate on this. He said one of the main reasons he invested in AirBnB was their culture.

Peter Thiel culture

Hugh Jackman and the 85% Rule

Hugh Jackman on The Tim Ferriss’ Show:

If you tell most, sort of, A-type athletes to run at their 85 percent capacity, they will run faster than if you tell them to run 100 because it’s more about relaxation and form and optimizing the muscles in the right way."

According to Jackman, the rule came from a man studying Carl Lewis, the sprinter.

performance hugh jackman