I publish WendellNotes for significant books I read to make their perspective available to friends and GIN subscribers who may not otherwise have time for them. Before I started writing WendellNotes in 2011, book notes were part of my Journal. [Brackets separate my comments from the author's.]
Doesn't Hurt to Ask
Asking questions is the subtlest and most effective way to persuade. Questions have been the way I persuaded others for as long as I can remember because they have been the way I persuaded myself for as long as I can remember. The most persuasive are the persuadable. Debating is for the best talker. Persuasion is for the better listener. We must be willing to do what we are asking others to do, which is to be persuadable. The person we should begin to persuade first is ourselves.
Don't Waste the Pain
Ian was the 13 year-old son of my sister Renee and her husband David Lyons who died of cancer. David’s sister, Linda, lived with cancer for the last 10 years of her life. David combined his and LInda's journals and journeys to co-write this book published by NavPress with foreword by Larry Crabb. Many of you may have also heard about my recent diagnosis with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and beginning of chemo treatment on September 10, 2010. This book was published and given to me by David the day before I began the chemo. It feels like God’s hand-written letter of love written to me. I’ve included some excerpts that were particularly meaningfu (Wendell Globig).
To truly understand the human condition we have account for intrinsic reward and motivation. For too long, there’s been a mismatch between what science knows and what business does. Open source depends on intrinsic motivation with the same ferocity that older business models rely on extrinsic motivation. Economics isn’t the study of money; it’s the study of behavior. If you need me to motivate you, I probably don’t want to hire you. Carrots and sticks achieve precisely the opposite of their intended aims. When institutions focus on the short-term and opt for controlling people’s behavior, they do considerable long-term damage. This is one of the most robust findings in social science—and also one of the most ignored. Rewards, by their nature, narrow our focus. Management hasn’t changed much in more than a 100 years. The course of human history has always moved in the direction of greater freedom. Motivation is the oxygen of the soul. Children seek out flow with the inevitability of a natural law. So should we all.
Effortless: Make it easier to do what matters most
Habits explain “what” you do--rituals are about “how” you do it. Our rituals are habits with a soul. Gratitude is a powerful catalytic. First principles are the building blocks of knowledge: once you understand them you can apply them hundreds of times. Reading a book is among the most high-leverage activities on earth. Messages should be not just easy to understand but hard to misunderstand. Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations we can perform without thinking about them.
Absence of revelation will produce absence of faith. Church produces one thing. Ekklesia produces another. Ekklesia has to do with many things, but perhaps most of all, authority in prayer. The ekklesia was not just an assembly (church), it was a ruling assembly. If all we want is church, we’ve got it. But if Jesus wants an ekklesia, we don’t. Our passivity is actually rebellion, for it undermines His government. Ekklesia must be a community of prayer in holiness and love or it cannot be an ekklesia, 2 or 3 who live holy, love well, and by virtue of their forgiving and praying together, binding and loosing. Authority is invested in groups as small as 2 or 3. Once a revelation is crafted to the point of enactment, vote on it in prayer.]
Musk has somehow delivered the biggest advance the space, automotive, and energy industries had seen in decades in industries larded by regulation and bureaucracy, which favor incumbents. Each one of his businesses is interconnected both in the short and the long term. What Musk had done was turn Tesla into a lifestyle.
The Church is the joy that was set before Him. No man or system has been ordained of God to control the free will and conscience of another. The early Church went into its Dark Ages because men became more interested in doctrine than experience. It is one of the ironies of Church history that the persecuted participants of the former restorational movement became the primary persecutors of the next restored truth. The Great Restoration has continuing restoration movements until the Church comes unto the full stature of Christ in character, power, and purpose. Apostles were the first to be established and the last to be fully restored. Each period of restoration has taken a group of scriptures that religious men had placed in the mythical allegorical, spiritual, and futuristic realm and made them a workable reality in the life of man. What they interpreted to be the literal coming of the Lord turned out to be a restorational movement of the Holy Spirit to restore another truth in the Church. As the ministry of the apostle and prophet founded the Church, so shall the ministry of the apostle and prophet put the finishing touches on the Church. The 5-fold ministry of the apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher must function until the Church reaches the unity of the faith. If Jesus has not returned, then that means there is more restoration that must take place. Members of the Body of Christ will then fill all those positions vacated by Satan’s angelic and demonic host, just as the children of Israel filled all the places vacated by the vanquished “ites” of Canaan Land.
Everybody Lies - Big Data
People’s search for information is, in itself, information. Google searches are the most important dataset ever collected on the human psyche. A major reason that Google searches are so valuable is that people are so honest in them. New types of data and honest data are the first 2 powers of Big Data. Allowing us to do many causal experiments is the 4th power of Big Data. Don’t trust what people tell you; trust what they do. The algorithms know you better than you know yourself. Growing up near big ideas is better than growing up with a big backyard. Bid Data makes randomized experiments, which can find truly causal effects, much easier to conduct. While going to a good school is important, there is little gained from going to the greatest possible school. Social science is becoming a real science which is poised to improve our lives.
Everything that Remains
Our memories are not in our things--they are in us. Literary texts are the only creations that impart an exchange of consciousness between author and audience. Passion is a mixture of love and obsession. My priorities are what I do each day. The real value was in the words—in the act of reading. You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you. The best way to give yourself a raise is to spend less money. You can skip the pursuit of happiness altogether and just be happy. You can’t grow unless you give. When you discover your true motivation, you don’t need an arbitrary goal. I could see happiness getting closer and closer as I walked away from the stuff I thought would make me happy.
Wright’s Law: For every doubling in units produced, costs fall by 15%--otherwise known as the “learning rate.” It better describes what happened to silicon chip prices than Moore’s Law. Free-market capitalism unleashed the power of exponentiality. Stability is an important force within institutions. In fact, it’s built into them. Exponential processes are counterintuitive—most processes follow a linear scale. Executives in established industries regularly look at the spread of a new product or service and dismiss it. Influence goes to the individuals that 1st understand the power of exponential technology. In the end, across an economy, automation leads to more jobs, not less. Platforms are incredibly capital-efficient. In all of its guises technology functions as an instrument of governance. It molds all of the ethical, legal, and social systems on which we depend. We cannot prevent this from happening, but we can direct it.
Fate of Empires
The only thing we learn from history is that men never learn from history, perhaps because our studies are brief and prejudiced. The heroes of declining nations are always the same—the athlete, singer or actor. All dominant nations go through the same procedure from the Age of Conquest, Commerce, Affluence, Intellect, to Decline and Collapse.
Firms of Endearment
Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted. Endearing companies tend to be enduring companies. Intangible assets account for 80% of the market cap of S&P 500 companies. Public FoEs returned more than 8X of S&P 500 companies. Middle age and older people are now the culture shaping majority. Endearing behavior toward its stakeholders is one of the most decisive competitive differences ever wielded in capitalistic enterprise. Principles: positive relationship, transparency, empathy, reciprocity. Employees either benefit or burden every dimension of a company’s existence. The components of the FoE and SRM models constitute a strategic system, enabling them to outperform their competitors on a consistent basis. FoEs draw on 4 key elements to build trust with employees: respect for individuals, transparency, team building, and empowerment. Most companies that are highly profitable are not principally focused on profit making.Love your neighbor embodies the value system of FoE.]
Flashpoints - Europe in Crisis
The nation became more than a language. It became a moral bond and a universal administrative system. The Europeans, with their empires, were now operating on a global scale in a world filled with other powers of vaster size and organization. The European Union intended to achieve what the Romans, Charlemagne, Napoleon, and Hitler had all failed to do: create a united Europe. The Maastricht Treaty bound together 6 countries—France, German, the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Italy in a European Community (EC). After WWII Europe boiled down all its dreams to safety and wealth. For the most part, every language now had its own nation. Since 1945 Europeans have tried to achieve a collective amnesia, but memory is reemerging. You see this most clearly in the borderlands--the underlying problem of the EU. Families are each hardened by history and conflict, never forgetting, rarely forgiving. All post-Soviet post-Maastricht wars occurred here where Christianity and Islam mixed, the first harbingers of a resurrected issue—Islam within Europe. The Balkans are a fragmented region caught between 3 great powers: Turkey, Russia, and the Germanic countries. You can probe as deeply as you like for the reason behind the hatreds, but in the end, each loved his own and that is who he was. Events 500 years before are as if they had happened yesterday. Germany intends to have an economic policy without political and military consequences. Southern Europeans will resist the discipline, and they have the power of all debtors—default. Germany will eventually become a full-fledged power, first flexing its political muscles and in time its military ones as pressures develop. Whereas the peninsula has diversity that can’t be overcome, Russia has homogeneity that cannot be destroyed. The fundamental question of the relationship between Germany and Russia is a question that will define Europe as a whole. It is the relationship between the mainland and the peninsula. When Germany demanded austerity, it addressed its own needs and constraints, and alienated those who would bear the burden. The concept of nation is shared blood, language, or at least common birth. In Europe, where the stranger remains the stranger because of birth, friction is not the problem of the wealthier Europeans who can insulate themselves from the lower class. It is the problem of the lower middle class and the poor, who cannot ignore the foreigners’ presence. Muslims are sufficiently religious to put them at odds with the secularism of Europe. The maniacal efficiency of northern Europeans, the culture of work as life, is not compatible with those of their Arab neighbors across the Mediterranean, with whom they have fought and traded for millennia. Being rich and weak is a dangerous combination. Virtually any country that wishes to pose a military challenge can force the Europeans to try to buy their way out of the problem, ignore the problem in the hopes it goes away, or capitulate, but not to fight. The engine of conflict—a romantic nationalism that challenges the legitimacy of transferring authority to multinational institutions and resurrects old national conflicts—is stirring again.
You cannot change methods without changing the message—they’re inseparable. The media through which we acquire information are not neutral. The East and the West began thinking in ways that mirror their respective alphabets. The tools we use to think shape the way we think. Under the force of the printed word, the gospel message was efficiently compressed into a linear sequential formula. Protestant Christianity is a by-product of a single medium—the printed Bible. Without printing, no one could have challenged the authority of the pope. The technology of writing weakens and even destroys tribal bonds and profoundly amplifies the value of the individual. Written words stimulate and liberate the imagination, while images usually captivate it. Our political discourse is now based on intuition rather than reason. The shift from emphasizing our intellectual beliefs to the ethics of following is a direct consequence of the influence of images. America was born at the height of the print age. Power is derived from information control. This shift marks the first time in the history of the world that parents have limited access to the world of teens and children. Parents have reduced ability to provide oversight, boundaries, or direction to their kids. We move from understanding salvation as a light switch to seeing it as a gradual illuminating.
All of the high points of your life take place around other people. Doing a kindness produces the single most reliable momentary increase in well-being of any exercise we tested. Government policy should be measured not by increases in gross domestic product but by increases in global well-being. Depression is the costliest disease in the world. Abraham Lincoln and Winston Churchill were severe depressives. But both learned to function extremely well even when they were massively depressed. The failure of children to control their fast emotional and cognitive impulses is the seed crystal around which the cascade of school failure begins. Self-discipline outpredicts IQ for academic success by a factor of 2, and also solves one of the perennial riddles about the gap in school achievement between girls and boys. It is the queen of all virtues, the strength that enables the rest of the strengths. Left and right are the politics of means— empowering the state versus empowering the individual. Happiness turns out to be more contagious than depression.