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Book Freak #70: Think Like a Freak

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Book Freak

May 28 · Issue #70 · View online

Short pieces of advice from books


Stephen J. Dubner is an award-winning author, journalist, and radio and TV personality. He quit his first career—as an almost-rock-star—to become a writer. He has worked for The New York Times and published three non-Freakonomics books. He lives with his family in New York City.
Steven D. Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago, was awarded the John Bates Clark medal, given to the most influential American economist under the age of forty. He is also a founder of The Greatest Good, which applies Freakonomics-style thinking to business and philanthropy.
Here are four pieces of advice from their book, Think Like a Freak.

Seek feedback
“The key to learning is feedback. It is nearly impossible to learn anything without it.”
Wait at least 24 hours before acting on a new idea
“Ideas nearly always seem brilliant when they’re hatched, so we never act on a new idea for at least twenty-four hours.”
Rules for dealing with others
  1. Figure out what people really care about, not what they say they care about.
  2. Incentivize them on the dimensions that are valuable to them but cheap for you to provide. 
  3. Pay attention to how people respond; if their response surprises or frustrates you, learn from it and try something different. 
  4. Whenever possible, create incentives that switch the frame from adversarial to cooperative.
  5. Never, ever think that people will do something just because it is the “right” thing to do.
  6. Know that some people will do everything they can to game the system, finding ways to win that you never could have imagined. If only to keep yourself sane, try to applaud their ingenuity rather than curse their greed.
Abandon your duds
“Resources are not infinite: you cannot solve tomorrow’s problem if you aren’t willing to abandon today’s dud.”
Buy Think Like a Freak on Amazon
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Book Freak is published by Cool Tools Lab, a small company of three people. We run the Cool Tools website, a podcast, a video review YouTube channel, and a few other newsletters, including Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Tales, What’s in my bag? and Recomendo. You can support our work by becoming a patron via Patreon.
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