Work. Smarter.


Social media oftentimes alludes to a “dues free” world. The gifted, simply come up with an idea, get funding, sell their company for millions and have people clap when they walk into rooms. Their route is as effortless and clear as the crow flies.

The not-so-gifted are still living life as the squirrel walks. Directionless, steep, anxiety filled jaunts that are interrupted with attempts on their lives every time that the cynicism they’re lugging around gets caught in the weeds.

Fortunately, all of this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Two impossibly hard tests were given to hundreds of children. After the first test, all of the students were praised, but half of the students were privately told these 6 words: “You must be good at this.” (fixed mindset) The other half were privately told these 6 words: “You must have worked really hard.” (growth mindset)

When they were given the second test, the students who were told, “You must be good at this”, did 20% worse on the 2nd test. Those 6 words encouraged a fixed mindset that made them feel there was no point in trying. You either are or you aren’t.

The students who were told “You must have worked really hard”, did 30% better on the 2nd test. Those 6 words encouraged a growth mindset that made them feel that working harder made all the difference.

So that’s a +-50% difference in performance because of 6 quick words by one teacher.

Fifty. Percent.

If you think you’ll always be good (or bad) at something because that is the way your double helix of skill is wound, then you’ll always be stuck.

If you haven’t read Jerry Seinfeld’s interview in Esquire do so now. Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Read it .

After being asked how a recent show went, Seinfeld said:

It was great, but not easy. I felt sweat rolling down my back for about a half hour. Droplets just going all the way down. There are nights when it’s easy, and there are nights when it’s not easy and you got to make it look easy. And you’ve got to work hard…You’re giving them a big thing. And it’s worth feeling a bead of sweat rolling down your spine. To me, it’s still worth it.

Work. Work. Work.

Some people might begin at different starting points, but no one starts at the top.

To quote the recently passed, Maya Angelou, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

And how can you know better, faster?


A team of researchers created the first empirical test of the effect of reflection on learning.

In the field study, groups of newly-hired customer-service agents undergoing job training were compared. Some were given 15 minutes at the end of each training day to reflect on the main things they had learned and write about at least two lessons. Those given time to think and reflect scored 23 percent better on their end-of-training assessment than those who were not. And these improvements weren’t temporary—they lasted over time, researchers found.

Memory isn’t passive, it’s active.

It’s called “The Generation Effect.”

For younger students, teaching someone else is a good way to practice synthesizing content after a lesson. For older students, other methods suffice: writing themes in journals, summarizing main ideas on note cards, or dictating takeaways into a phone.

Learning it once is trying. But learning it once isn’t enough.

We have to re-member, re-assemble, re-put together.

The four things I do to keep things in the noggin

(Some of these from an earlier post)

I use the app Outliner and record everyday:

  • One thing I learned
  • One thing I improved
  • One thing I enjoyed

I “Up Periscope.” On the first of every month, I poke my head above water and check in with myself in a Google Doc. I look at all of my Outliner entries  and ask myself: How was business? How was my personal life? What did I do? What went well? What would I like to change? I write for 30 minutes in a google doc after I have reviewed my previous month’s entry. It’s crazy how therapeutic and helpful this is when I feel like the wheels are about to fall off of my confidence and drive.

I review all my notes/highlights of a particular book in right after I finish reading a book.

I do the Kindle “Daily Review” (also on once a day which gives me 30 random highlights I’ve made from one of the books I’ve read in the past. It’s like 30 daily flashcards.

Once a week I take at least a 30 minute (agenda free) walk without my phone.

How do you learn smarter?

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