CategoryNewsletters

But What For Newsletter – No. 007

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We appreciate all our subscribers’ ongoing support. Please continue to share with those who might also enjoy receiving our free newsletter. Any suggested materials for our Sunday newsletter can be sent to social@butwhatfor.com. Thank you! Latest from But What For? (Underlined titles are links to full articles) Takeaway Friday – A Stoic Philosopher in a Hanoi Prison “The flight in September 1965 was part of his third combat tour of North Vietnam, serving as Wing Commander of the aircraft carrier Oriskany. Despite his misgivings about the purpose of him being in Vietnam, he was a competent and skilled career fighter pilot. Nothing suggested he shouldn’t expect to make it back home that day – let alone that decade. But sometimes life deals you a lousy hand, and it dealt Stockdale quite an unhappy one. While trying to aid trapped American soldiers on the ground, he was suddenly falling out of the sky and hurtling towards a small Vietnamese village. His plane was on fire, the control system shot out by North Vietnamese who had used the grounded soldiers as bait, and he didn’t have much choice beyond punching out of the plane.”   Charlie Munger: The Psychology of Human Misjudgment “I am very interested in the subject of human misjudgment, and Lord knows I’ve created a good bit of it. I don’t think I’ve created my full statistical share, and I think that one of the reasons was I tried to do something about this terrible ignorance I left the Harvard Law School with. When I saw this patterned irrationality, which was so extreme, and I had no theory or anything to deal with it, but I could see that it was extreme, and I could see that it was patterned, I just started to create my own system of psychology, partly by casual reading, but largely from personal experience, and I used that pattern to help me get through life. Fairly late in life, I stumbled into this book, Influence, by a psychologist named Bob Cialdini, who became a super tenured hotshot on a...

But What For Newsletter – No. 006

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We appreciate all our subscribers’ ongoing support. Please continue to forward and share with those who might also enjoy receiving our free newsletter, and we are always interested in receiving suggested materials from subscribers for next week (social@butwhatfor.com). Thank you! Subscribe now Latest from But What For? (Underlined titles are links to full articles) Facing Adversity with Charlie Munger “In 1953, Charlie was 29 years old when he and his wife divorced. He had been married since he was 21. Charlie lost everything in the divorce, his wife keeping the family home in South Pasadena. Munger moved into “dreadful” conditions at the University Club… Shortly after the divorce, Charlie learned that his son, Teddy, had leukemia. In those days, there was no health insurance, you just paid everything out of pocket and the death rate was near 100% since there was nothing doctors could do. Rick Guerin, Charlie’s friend, said Munger would go into the hospital, holding his young son, and then walk the streets of Pasadena crying. One year after the diagnosis, in 1955, Teddy Munger died. Charlie was 31 years old, divorced, broke, and burying his 9-year-old son.”   Charlie Munger: A Lesson on Elementary Worldly Wisdom “What is elementary, worldly wisdom? Well, the first rule is that you can’t really know anything if you just remember isolated facts and try and bang ’em back. If the facts don’t hang together on a latticework of theory, you don’t have them in a usable form. You’ve got to have models in your head. And you’ve got to array your experience—both vicarious and direct—on this latticework of models. You may have noticed students who just try to remember and pound back what is remembered. Well, they fail in school and in life. You’ve got to hang experience on a latticework of models in your head.” Elsewhere (Underlined titles are links to full articles) How to Stay Out of Debt: Warren Buffett Takeaway: There are many things in life you can’t change about...

But What For Newsletter – No. 005

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Welcome to our 55 subscribers added since last week! We appreciate all our subscribers’ ongoing support. Please continue to forward and share with those who might also enjoy receiving our free newsletter, and we are always interested in receiving suggested content from subscribers for next week (social@butwhatfor.com). Thank you! Subscribe now Latest from But What For? (Underlined titles are links to full articles) On Old Age (De Senectute) by Cicero “I think, my friends, that you marvel at a thing really far from difficult. For to those who have not the means within themselves of a virtuous and happy life every age is burdensome; and, on the other hand, to those who seek all good from themselves nothing can seem evil that the laws of nature inevitably impose… But bear well in mind that in this entire discussion I am praising that old age which has its foundation well laid in youth. Hence it follows— as I once said with the approval of all who heard it— that that old age is wretched which needs to defend itself with words!” Elsewhere (Underlined titles are links to full articles) Reasons Revealed for the Brain’s Elastic Sense of Time Takeaway: Time is an illusion – lunchtime, doubly so “Our sense of time may be the scaffolding for all of our experience and behavior, but it is an unsteady and subjective one, expanding and contracting like an accordion. Emotions, music, events in our surroundings and shifts in our attention all have the power to speed time up for us or slow it down. When presented with images on a screen, we perceive angry faces as lasting longer than neutral ones, spiders as lasting longer than butterflies, and the color red as lasting longer than blue. The watched pot never boils, and time flies when we’re having fun… ‘Everyone knows the saying that ‘time flies when you’re having fun,’’ said Sam Gershman, a cognitive neuroscientist at Harvard University who was not involved in the study. ‘But the full story might be more nuanced: Time flies...

But What For Newsletter – No. 004

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Latest from But What For? Knowing History and Knowing Who We Are: “Standing where you are today, your future can only be seen through an appreciation for the past – through an understanding of the history of who you are. And you are much more than your own story. Without an understanding of this complicated, tangled path we have collectively taken to get to today, we have no roots…” Others to Read Success Comes from Daily Disciplines Compounded Over Time: “Ultimately, this comes down to a commitment to small, smart decisions performed on a regular basis. Over time, these decisions compound into effective habits and routines, the true drivers of discipline, confidence, and ultimately, success. Your only path to success is through a continuum of mundane, unsexy, unexciting, and sometimes difficult daily disciplines compounded over time. Of all the high-achievers and business owners I’ve worked with, I’ve seen that, along with good habits, each has developed routines for accomplishing necessary daily disciplines. It’s the only way any of us can predictably regulate our behavior.” People Who Say “Work Smart Not Hard: “The smart-hard thing isn’t and either or – it’s an ‘and’… The people who say you should work smart, nto hard, pretty much always fail… there are counter examples, but those are more people who benefited from luck.” Obvious Things That Are Easy To Ignore: “‘The world is full of obvious things which nobody ever observes,’ says Sherlock Holmes… It’s not that the simple things are hidden. It’s that our attention is drawn to things we assume make the biggest difference, and the idea that obvious equals ineffective is more powerful than the reverse.” Surfing the Right S-Curve: “ Since the industrial revolution, US growth has been eerily stable over long periods, but the nature of that growth has completely changed. Economic growth is one S-curve stacked on top of another, ad infinitum, and as the economy gets bigger and more complex, the law of large...

But What For Newsletter – No. 003

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Latest from But What For? Perseverance is Great, But Don’t Forget to Prepare: “This is another lesson – it is rare that failure is a permanent state. After failure, you have the option to keep going. You can treat failure as only a stop on your journey. You don’t have to let it be the destination. Many people treat getting knocked down as a reason to stay down. Like Haney, we don’t have to.” Others to Read Scott And Scurvy: “Scurvy is rapidly and completely cured by restoring vitamin C into the diet. Except for the nature of vitamin C, eighteenth century physicians knew this too. But in the second half of the nineteenth century, the cure for scurvy was lost. The story of how this happened is a striking demonstration of the problem of induction, and how progress in one field of study can lead to unintended steps backward in another… But the villain here is just good old human ignorance, that master of disguise. We tend to think that knowledge, once acquired, is something permanent. Instead, even holding on to it requires constant, careful effort.” You Can Achieve More With Less: “Francine Jay once said, ‘My goal is no longer to get more done, but rather to have less to do.’ When you train yourself to drop everything else, and focus on getting the vital few done, you become highly productive and accelerate your path to real success. ‘If you want to succeed, you need to focus the biggest majority (75% — 90%) of your time and energy on those tasks that are actually essential. By choosing the essentials, you make the greatest impact with just the minimal amount of resources spent,’ argues Jari Roomer. Productivity is about priorities and fiercely protecting your time. Unfortunately, many people are still choosing quantity over quality — they focus too much on the number of tasks they accomplish instead of looking at the high-value tasks they get done in a given day.” Big Tech at the End of History: “Growth starts out scalable and...

But What For Newsletter – No. 002

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Latest Articles Invert, Always Invert – Avoid Failure to Succeed : “Suppose I wanted to kill a lot of pilots – what would be the easy way to do it?” That might not be what you want to hear from the guy clearing your plane for take off, but if your fellow passengers are an elderly billionaire and some Cold War era Soviet engineers, they might rest easy knowing the right questions are being asked. That is because thinking about how to do the exact opposite of your goal is sometimes the best way to ensure you achieve it.” Others to Read While Everyone Is Distracted By Social Media, Successful People Double Down On An Underrated Skill: “The average person who is not deliberate will tend toward a media diet of “junk food.” They will engage with what’s presented, click on distractions, and when offered good options, never feel quite sure which is best. In health policy, a “food desert” is a geographic region where healthy food is not available. To those who are not deliberate, the Internet looks more and more like an information desert: full of mostly junk information. Even worse, many people living on “junk food” media diets think they’re getting more informed and smarter when the opposite is happening.” Blood Red Sunset: A Memoir of the Chinese Cultural Revolution: “But getting angry wouldn’t do any good… I was a counterrevolutionary mirror that reflected people’s true souls. When they looked into it they discovered they weren’t as attractive as they’d thought. That made them unhappy, so they blamed the mirror.” “Standing on your own two feet is one thing, standing alone is quite another.” “Skeins of tangled emotion spilled into the pages… I wrote until I was lightheaded and breathless; then I wrote some more. I didn’t have to worry about the creative process. I just wrote what happened, letting the story tell itself.” Quotes “Part of our emergency is that it’s so tempting to do this sort of thing now, to retreat to narrow arrogance, pre-formed...

But What For Newsletter – No. 001

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Latest Articles Habits Maketh the Man (And Un-Maketh Him, Too): “Life is complex. Chaotic. Surprising. Uncertain. It is full of new things – many of which can kill us. And that’s a problem, because we humans tend to prefer not dying. Fortunately, we have been practicing surviving for quite some time and have consequently developed a way to cut down on that chaos with a bit of order: the ability to form habits. However, and unfortunately for those humans looking for more in life than just survival, these habits often have more control over us than we have control over them.” Others to Read The Three Sides of Risk: “‘Well, let me take this to a dark and tragic place,’ I said before telling a group of 500 strangers a story I hadn’t talked about much in almost 20 years…” How Do I Stop Forgetting What I Learned So Quickly?: “We aren’t actually reading to learn. We just feel like we’re learning something by reading and recognizing the words on the screen. The information is not yet knowledge, but we are fooled to believe that it has been transferred into our brains and will stay there forever.” Quotes “Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not. It is the first lesson that ought to be learned and however early a man’s training begins, it is probably the last lesson that he learns thoroughly.” – Thomas Huxley “Always turn it around. Is there some different issue on which my side is just as obtuse?” – Making Sense with Sam Harris “Don’t use Google Calendar as a tyrant; you should use your calendar as if it’s your confidant or advisor. Sit down, open your calendar and design a week of days that you’d like to have, schedule events that you would consider to be meaningful and productive on a daily basis so that you feel that your life is justified by having a day like that. The goal should always be to make...