It’s Sunday — Be Happy :-)

I now understand why Jonathan Haidt‘s The Happiness Hypothesis is the number #1 ranked book in “Brain Pickings Blog’s” Happiness Must Read List. In an nutshell it’s “Happiness 101”. It definitely put a good wrapper around the happiness and neuroscience books that I’ve recently read. Most of the negative reviews on Amazon are about lack of depth, and this book is not about depth. This is a very good survey of happiness writings.

My favorite quote is on “Wisdom”

Page 242 a good place to look for wisdom, therefore, is where you least expect to find it: in the minds of your opponents. You already know the ideas common to your side. If you can take off the blinders of the myth of pure evil, you might see some good ideas for the first time.

The Progress Principle – “things won are done; Joy’s soul lies in the doing”

Page 84 we call this the progress principle: pleasure comes more from making progress towards goals than from achieving them. Shakespeare captured it perfectly: things won are done; Joy’s soul lies in the doing.

Taking Pot Shots at Buddha & St Augustine – “do as we say, not as we did”

Page 132 do as we say, and not as we did. Buddha and St. Augustine for example, drank their fill of passionate love as young men and came out only much later as opponents of sexual attachments.

What can one change to be happy?

Page 100 so now you know where to shop. Stop trying to keep up with the Joneses, stop wasting your money on conspicuous consumption. As a first step, work less, earn less, accumulate less and consume more family time and other enjoyable activities.

I found Chapter 9 Divinity with or without God to be rather mind-blowing. Haidt argues that man is wired to perceive sacredness and divinity. His argument is rather good.

I first heard about this book in the Heath Brothers “Switch”. They take Haidt’s “Elephant and Rider” metaphor, introduced in Chapter 1 The Divided Self, and flesh it out for real world use.

Lots to Read on the Web – @achiu, @martinertl, @ericries, and @vancouvergolf

Lotsa good reading in blog/twitter land this past week.

@achiu has two tweets this week that I really liked.

The first tweet links to an FT article discussing how entrepreneurship programs are becoming more important in MBA programs. Innovation and creativity move to the heart of the curriculum. I find this interesting because many people think that MBA programs are about entrepreneurship and are shocked that most MBA students don’t focus on entrepreneurship. I’m still waiting for the press to figure out that a new innovation at MBA schools is to have sales courses. Yes it’s true, very few business schools have sales courses. They always have some slippery words like its “embedded in our other courses”. If they do have sales courses it’s likely they’ve only been introduced in the last five years.

The second tweet is on work/life/balance. Good Dad, Good Entrepreneur, Good Husband. You’ve been here or will be soon. It’s real life.

@martinertl links to Ben Horowitz.

Thanks Martin!

I used to read Marc Andreesen’s pmarca blog with a passion and was sad to him slow his blogging. I’d never really looked at his business partner Ben Horowitz’s blog in the past. Horowitz is not a prolific blogger, but wow does he have some good stuff to say for technical founders. It also feels like he’s got a serious chip on his shoulder. Highly recommend the top posts.

@ericries — on Facebook’s Hacker Way

LeanStartUp guy Eric Ries has a great post The Hacker Way discussing Zuckerberg’s “Hacker Way”. Excellent stuff.

@vancouvergolf — Fraser Mulholland

How Fraser has any time to tweet at all is incomprehensible. His spirit is always contagious. Who else is keen enough to host golf in Mission,BC on Feb 7 🙂

Happiness Part Deux – Matthieu Ricard

I really enjoyed this book. It’s written in an easy reading style, but it’s not one that can be read quickly. The ideas are “subtle” and require time to digest. It’s similar to Howard Cutler’s “The Art of Happiness” and I think it’s better to read this after that book. This book is much deeper and satisfying, but it can be a big step. The difference is in the authors depth of knowledge and their distance to us readers. Matthieu Ricard is a French Buddhist monk, the Dalai Lama’s french translator, and Cutler is a US psychiatrist interested in Buddhism. Both are westerners and this helps in talking to a western audience, but Ricard has so much knowledge of “Happiness” that he often has the “curse of knowledge”. It’s easy for him to get it, but not for me to get it. It’s definitely worth the effort.

Should we believe Ricard?
I think it’s interesting that he includes a discussion on modern ethics and concludes that modern man doesn’t know who to trust. I would think that this includes him. I like the irony.

Ethics in Crisis? … Unable to adhere to absolute laws, alienated from divine commandments, dismayed by the thought that mankind is fundamentally evil, and confined to a fluctuating ethic based on the opposing theories of myriad philosophers and moralists, modern man is at a loss. page 251

more cool tidbits

… Ricard was one of the first monks to meditate in MRI machines and thus there is quite a bit on neuroscience in this book. This led me to look up Ricard Davison on Wikipedia and see that this work has been controversial within Davison’s scientific community. Not sure why, but it is interesting to see this because it’s usually portrayed as unequivocally good.

… I read it at same time as Isaacson’s Steve Jobs book. Interesting connection given that Jobs was a Buddhist. Not sure if it helped me understand Jobs any better.

Commenting on other “Blank vs Jobs” Comparisons

I’m one of many using Steve Blank’s Four Steps to the Epiphany when teaching entrepreneurship at MBA school. Jeffrey Bussgang has a great post on “Steve Blank vs Steve Jobs“.

The comments stream is like a FAQ of customer development. I like it. Adds stuff like

  • Eric Ries view that “We’re not listening to customers, we’re experimenting on customers.”
  • Customers can only comment about what they know … doesn’t help with new markets.

My only niggle is that I don’t believe it’s “Steve vs Steve”, I think it’s more like Steve on how to become Steve. An iterative style and learning from ones mistakes is a common theme in the Jobs book. For example at Pixar it wasn’t instant success. The sale of software failed, the sale of hardware failed, it was the third thing, animation solutions, that succeeded. I think that Blank’s “Customer Development Model” and Ries’ extension “the Lean Startup” provides a rigor, and focus on detail, that the Big Zen Steve would have liked. Essentially this is how you can learn to say “This is Shit”, build what the customer desires, and not what the customer asks for.

Tip to Christos ( @c_makiyama ) for tweeting this link 🙂