As mentioned last month, my brother and I competed in a triathlon. We both trained hard for several months leading up to it. The swim portion went well and we were 2nd and 3rd out of the water (he was 15 seconds ahead of me). He was much faster during the first transition and I couldn’t see him by the time I started biking. Five miles in I still hadn’t caught up. A few minutes later I saw him on the side of the road and immediately knew what had happened. Flat tire. I felt so bad for him. 

I ended up winning by 21 minutes. The flat tire set him back 16 minutes, which still gave me a five-minute margin of victory. He took the setback in stride, better than I would have. Can’t wait to face off again next year

Books, articles, etc.
The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by Seth Godin (Book)
I first read this book in 2015 and found it so insightful I decided to read it again. Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi is known for saying, “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” It makes for a great quote, but it’s completely false. Winners quit all the time, they’re just good at quitting at the right things. Free market systems reward the exceptional, and those who are best in the world at something get compensated 10x more than those who are merely good. Godin argues that we can all be the best in the world at something. To become exceptional, we first need to make sure we’re on the right path, then be willing to push past the point where most people give up. 

Five years ago I left the finance world, largely because I didn’t feel I had the talent or desire to be exceptional in that field. I made the decision to forgo two years of income to pursue an MBA and completely switch careers. Several years later it’s clear to me I made the right choice. Knowing when to quit and when to stick isn’t easy, but this book provides a good framework to help with the decision.

Ann Miura-Ko — The Path from Shyness to World-Class Debater and Investor The Tim Ferriss Show (Podcast)
I hadn’t heard of Ann until I heard her speak at the LDS MBA Conference at Stanford earlier this year. Ann Miura-Ko is a founding partner at Floodgate, an early stage venture capital firm, and was dubbed “the most powerful women in startups” by Forbes.

Tim Ferriss interviewed her for his podcast and she was fantastic. I was most impressed by her perseverance. In discussing what sets her apart from others, she said, “The main difference was that I was willing to outwork and outdo every competitor who walked in through that door.”   

Educated: A Memoir by Tara Westover
I loved this book. Might be the best I’ve read all year. There’s no business angle to Educated but I thought I’d share given that I literally couldn’t put it down.


A simple tool to neutralize anger
I recently had a meeting with an employee that I was dreading. I’ll spare the details, but he was frustrated about his compensation and felt like he had been wronged. He had spoken about this with his manager and HR partner on multiple occasions. Still not satisfied, he reached out to me over Slack. I walked him through the situation, the various factors at play, why we made the decision we did, and that we wouldn’t be revisiting that decision. Undeterred, he asked if we could meet in person. 

Given that I had little to lose in this meeting (he was likely going to be angry regardless of what I said), I tried a tool I learned while reading Chris Voss’ book, Never Split the Difference. Voss taught that you can neutralize angry people by identifying the worst things the other party could say about you and say them before the other person can. These accusations often sound exaggerated when said aloud, so speaking them will encourage the other person to claim that quite the opposite is true.

The employee was already in the conference room when I arrived. Before he could say anything I blurted out, “Listen, I know you’re pissed off about the situation and must think I’m a total jerk.” The employee responded by saying he wasn’t really that mad, he just wanted to understand why I’d made the decision. His anger was diffused, and after I walked through the rationale for our decision, the conversation came to an amicable close.

The more I read the happier I am
This is a very simple observation but one I’ve seen time and time again. Also, I usually don’t re-read books, but this year I made a commitment to revisit some of my favorites. I’m surprised at how little I remembered since the first read and how many insights I didn’t find the first time around. 

I’ve found power in regularly expressing gratitude so I’ll continue the habit. Sometimes I share small gratitudes, such as air conditioning, but this is a big one. My wife and I are expecting our fourth child in early February! We recently found out it’s a girl and we’re so excited.  

Thanks for reading. If you've read anything worth sharing I'd love to hear about it. And do let me know if there's anything I can do to help you.  

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