What I Wish I Knew When I Was 20

Tina Seelig

Finished Reading:
Apr 19, 2019

Edition Publisher:

Edition Release:
Apr 19, 2009

Purchase Search via DuckDuckGo:
ISBN 9780061735196

Highlights & Annotations

1 Buy One, Get Two Free

Page 9 · Location 123

all problems can be viewed as opportunities for creative solutions 

2 The Upside-Down Circus

Page 16 · Location 194

Attitude is perhaps the biggest determinant of what we can accomplish .

Page 21 · Location 249

Paul believes that “ a well - characterized need is the DNA of an invention . ” In other words , if we clearly define a problem , the solution will logically present itself .

Page 22 · Location 264

the status quo is so entrenched that those closest to the situation can’t imagine anything different .

Page 23 · Location 274

The key to need finding is identifying and filling gaps — that is , gaps in the way people use products , gaps in the services available , and gaps in the stories they tell when interviewed about their behavior .

Page 28 · Location 330

It is much more comfortable to stay locked in a role that’s “ good enough ” than to reach for an alternative that has a higher degree of uncertainty . Most of us are content taking small , reliable steps . We don’t get very far , but we don’t rock the boat either .

Page 29 · Location 345

author Guy Kawasaki , who says it is better to “ make meaning than to make money . ”

Page 29 · Location 350

there is great benefit to identifying problems in your midst and then relentlessly working to solve them by challenging traditional assumptions .

Page 30 · Location 351

Problems are abundant , just waiting for those willing to find inventive solutions . This takes acute observation , coordinated teamwork , the ability to execute a plan , a willingness to learn from failure , and creative problem solving . But the first requirement is having the attitude that the problem can be solved .

Page 32 · Location 371

She , along with all the other students , already had the bulk of the skills they needed to accomplish amazing things . All we offered them was tangible proof , along with a healthy dose of permission , that they could turn the problems around them into opportunities .

Note - Page 32 · Location 373

Proof + permission = strong combo

3 Bikini or Die

Page 34 · Location 389

We always make our own prisons , with rules that we each create for ourselves , locking us into specific roles and out of an endless array of possibilities .

Page 39 · Location 451

most ideas , even if they look silly or stupid on the surface , often have at least a seed of potential . It helps to challenge the assumption that ideas are either good or bad , and demonstrates that , with the right frame of mind , you can look at most ideas or situations and find something valuable .

Page 43 · Location 492

Patricia Ryan Madson , who wrote Improv Wisdom , designed a great warm - up exercise that brings to life these two ideas : there are no bad ideas and build on others ’ ideas . You break a group into pairs . One person tries to plan a party and makes suggestions to the other person . The other person has to say no to every idea and must give a reason why it won’t work . For example , the first person might say , “ Let’s plan a party for Saturday night , ” and the second person would say , “ No , I have to wash my hair . ” This goes on for a few minutes , as the first person continues to get more and more frustrated trying to come up with any idea the second person will accept . Once this runs its course , the roles switch and the second person takes on the job of planning a party . The first person has to say yes to everything and must build on the idea . For example , “ Let’s have a party on Saturday night . ” The response might be , “ Yes , and I’ll bring a cake . ” This goes on for a while and the ideas can get wilder . In some cases the parties end up under water or on another planet , and involve all sorts of exotic food and entertainment . The energy in the room increases , spirits are high , and a huge number of ideas are generated . This is the type of energy that should be present during a great brainstorming session . Of course , at some point you have to decide what is feasible , but that shouldn’t happen during the “ idea generation ” phase . Brainstorming is about breaking out of conventional approaches to solving a problem . You should feel free to flip ideas upside down , to turn them inside out , and to cut loose from the chains of normalcy . At the end of a brainstorming session you should be surprised by the range of ideas that were generated . In almost all cases , at least a few will serve as seeds for really great opportunities that are ripe for further exploration .

Page 49 · Location 567

it is better to know the few things that are really against the rules than to focus on the many things you think you should do .

Page 54 · Location 604

You can always follow a recipe , drive on the major thoroughfares , and walk in the footsteps of those before you . But there are boundless additional options to explore if you are willing to identify and challenge assumptions , and to break free of the expectations that you and others project onto you . Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone , to have a healthy disregard for the impossible , and to turn well - worn ideas on their heads .

4 Please Take Out Your Wallets

Page 56 · Location 622

She couldn’t imagine taking on such a project without the blessing of someone in a position of greater authority .

Page 57 · Location 634

Nobody told me I could or should do this … I just did it .

Page 57 · Location 635

the world is divided into people who wait for others to give them permission to do the things they want to do and people who grant themselves permission . Some look inside themselves for motivation and others wait to be pushed forward by outside forces .

Page 60 · Location 667

figure out how your skills can be translated into different settings .

Page 69 · Location 778

Those who are successful find ways to make themselves successful . There is no recipe , no secret handshake , and no magic potion . Each person he studied has a story as unique as a fingerprint . The consistent theme is that they each pay attention to current trends and leverage their own skills to build their influence .

5 The Secret Sauce of Silicon Valley

Page 80 · Location 890

He loved thinking about the company’s big picture and scoping out its vision , but he was hardly inspired by the day - to - day management issues .

Note - Page 80 · Location 891

// Hypenotic I like thinking about what it could be, but it’s going to take change on all levels to get there. And time. I don’t think the pay off if worth the time commitment. And I don’t think that what comes after the change is lined up with what I envision for myself either.

Page 82 · Location 917

it’s important to know whether you’re putting energy into something that has the potential to pay off . This is one of life’s biggest challenges . We often stay in dead - end situations way too long 

Page 82 · Location 922

The most scientific answer I’ve found is , listen to your gut and look at your alternatives . Essentially, you have to negotiate honestly with yourself . Do you have the fortitude to push through the problems in front of you to reach a successful outcome, or are you better off taking another path ?

Page 91 · Location 1018

inaction is the worst kind of failure … .

Page 92 · Location 1027

Doing small , incremental experiments with predictable results is much less valuable than taking a big risk that will potentially lead to a much bigger reward .

Page 94 · Location 1054

risk taking is not binary . I’d bet that you’re comfortable taking some types of risks and find other types quite uncomfortable .

Page 98 · Location 1102

If you aren’t failing sometimes , then you probably aren’t taking enough risks .

6 No Way...Engineering Is for Girls

Page 99 · Location 1109

Passions are just a starting point . You also need to know your talents and how the world values them .

Page 109 · Location 1227

This is an important reminder that ideas can be so attractive that they actually impede progress . People latch onto them and don’t see the other viable alternatives ; they unconsciously “ adjust ” conflicting observations to fit prevailing theories . In retrospect , it seems obvious that glia serve an important role in the brain . But those who began doing research in this area two decades ago were taking a risk by stepping off a clearly defined path to explore uncharted territory .

Page 112 · Location 1252

It is important to reassess your life and career relatively frequently .

Page 112 · Location 1257

The more frequently you assess your situation , looking for ways to fix problems , the more likely you are to find yourself in a position where things are going well .

7 Turn Lemonade into Helicopters

Page 122 · Location 1360

First , lucky people take advantage of chance occurrences that come their way .

Page 125 · Location 1392

every day you should act like a foreign traveler by being acutely aware of your environment .

Page 126 · Location 1410

Lucky people don’t just pay attention to the world around them and meet interesting individuals — they also find unusual ways to use and recombine their knowledge and experiences .

Page 134 · Location 1497

he made himself lucky by paying attention to non-obvious but exciting alternatives . He put himself out there by asking for what he wanted .

Page 134 · Location 1500

Dana’s fortune comes from putting everything he knows into everything he does .

Page 136 · Location 1512

We dramatically increase the chances that we will be lucky by exposing ourselves to as many diverse experiences as possible , boldly recombining these experiences in unusual ways , and fearlessly striving to get to the stage on which we want to play out our life .

8 Paint the Target around the Arrow

Page 142 · Location 1572

thinking about how you want to tell the story in the future is a great way to assess your response to dilemmas in general . Craft the story now so you’ll be proud to tell it later .

Page 143 · Location 1591

it is important to take responsibility for your actions and be willing to learn from your experiences .

Page 149 · Location 1654

that the most important outcome of any negotiation is to get to the next negotiation . The first deal is just the beginning .

Page 154 · Location 1715

Too often , we focus on just getting the job instead of figuring out if the job is a good match for our skills and interests and , more important , whether we can work with the other people on the team .

9 Will This Be on the Exam?

Page 160 · Location 1789

It’s easy to meet expectations , knowing exactly what you will get in return . But amazing things happen when you remove the cap . In fact , I believe there’s a huge pent - up drive in each of us to blow off the cap .

Page 161 · Location 1791

individuals who remove perceived limits achieve remarkable results .

Page 163 · Location 1819

Being fabulous implies making the decision to go beyond what’s expected at all times . On the flip side , if you do the least you can to meet a baseline expectation , then you’re cheating yourself of that opportunity .

Page 163 · Location 1823

Bernie Roth , a Stanford mechanical engineering professor , does a provocative exercise at the d.school to highlight this point . He selects a student to come up to the front of the room and says , “ Try to take this empty water bottle out of my hand . ” Bernie holds the bottle tightly and the student tries , and inevitably fails , to take it . Bernie then changes the phrasing slightly , saying , “ Take the water bottle from my hand . ” The student then makes a bigger effort , usually without result . Prodding the student further , Bernie insists that the student take the bottle from him . Usually the student succeeds on the third attempt . The lesson ? There’s a big difference between trying to do something and actually doing it . We often say we’re trying to do something — losing weight , getting more exercise , finding a job . But the truth is , we’re either doing it or not doing it . Trying to do it is a cop - out . You have to focus your intention to make something happen by giving at least 100 percent commitment . Anything less and you’re the only one to blame for failing to reach your goals .

Page 165 · Location 1842

achieving is your responsibility from start to finish .

Page 168 · Location 1874

There’s a significant difference between being competitive and being driven toward an objective . Being competitive implies a zero - sum game in which you succeed at someone else’s expense . Being driven involves tapping into your own passion to make things happen . But many great leaders are inspired and motivated by the successes of those around them .

10 Experimental Artifacts

Page 179 · Location 1994

I took a creative writing class in which the professor asked us to describe the same scene twice , the first time from the perspective of someone who has just fallen in love , the second from the point of view of someone who has just lost a child at war .

Page 180 · Location 2009

we choose how we view the world around us . The environment is filled with flaws and flowers , and we each decide which to embrace .