The standard pace is for chumps.
Founder of CDBaby, Derek Sivers found this out the hard way riding his bike. Redlining to finish a regular 15-mile track, Sivers would always clock in at 43 minutes. Then, one day, when giving everything he had was a bit too exhausting, he took a chill pill and a calmer pace instead of zipping around other cyclists. Do you know how long it took then? 45 minutes.
All the effort and pushing and pain for two measly minutes. Of his relaxed ride, Sivers recalled, "I saw two dolphins in the water. A pelican flew right over me in Marina del Ray. When I looked up to say “wow!”, he shit in my mouth. I can still remember that taste of digested shellfish. I had to laugh at the novelty of it."
On keeping book notes:
"Books are my mentors. Books guide almost everything I do, like the stuff I've learned from books totally guides my life. I realized though that I would love a book while reading it and maybe it would still echo with me for a few weeks after but, you know, two years later I couldn't even remember if I had read it or not. And I thought that's really a shame. I remember at the time that book meant a lot to me, why is it now two years later I've forgotten everything?
I said, no, no, no that's not good. So what I started doing in 2007 is every book I read I would keep a pen in hand and I would underline my favorite sentences, circle my favorite paragraphs, write notes in the margins, and then after I was done reading the book I would put aside like two hours to open a blank text file and type out everything...
I started doing this for every book I read and then I would review my notes later. So every time I'm say just eating breakfast or something for ten minutes, I'll pull up one of the notes from a previous book I read, and just kind of re-review it, sometimes kind of stop, take a sentence that means a lot to me now, open up my diary and write about that for a while. Like really internalize. Basically I wanted to memorize every lesson I had learned in every one of these books.
If you trust the source, you don't need the arguments. So much of a book is arguing its point but often you don't need the argument. If you trust the source, you can just get the point.
After taking detailed notes on 220 books on my site, I realized that distilling wisdom into directives is so valuable but it's so rarely done. In fact, the only time I can think of when it was done was Michael Pollan with his three books in a row about food, each one getting shorter and shorter.
On why directives feel presumptuous and are important:
Who am I to tell others what to do? But then I think well who am I not to? Right? It's useful. So get over myself, kinda like you asked about me onstage when I was eighteen - what was the biggest lesson learned? This isn't about me. People aren't here about me. They're here for their own gain.
Oh, you asked about my advice to TED speakers, that's my main advice to TED speakers: People aren't here to see you and your life story. People come to Ted or watch TED videos to learn something so just speak only about what is surprising and skip everything else.
How to be useful to others
1. Get famous.
Do everything in public and for the public. The more people you reach the more useful you are. The opposite is hiding which is of no use to anyone.
2. Get rich
Money is neutral proof that you're adding money to people's lives. So by getting rich you're being useful as a side effect. Once rich spend the money in ways that even more useful to others, then getting rich is double useful.
3. Share strong opinions
Strong opinions are very useful to others. Those who are undecided or ambivalent can just adopt your stance, but those who disagree can solidify their stance by arguing against yours, so even if you invent an opinion for the sole sake of argument, boldly sharing a strong opinion is useful to others.
4. Be expensive
People given a placebo pill were twice as likely to have their pain disappear when told that that pill was expensive. People who paid more for tickets were more likely to attend the performance, so people who spend more for a product or service value it more and get more use out of it, so be expensive
How to thrive in an unknowable future
1. Prepare for the worst
Since you have no idea what the future may bring be open to the best and the worst. But the best case scenario doesn't need your preparation or your attention, so mentally and financially just prepare for the worst case instead. And like insurance, don't obsess on it just prepare and carry on appreciating the good times.
2. Expect disaster
If you ever watched a VH1 Behind the Music, you know that like every single success story had that moment when that narrator would come in and say, "and then things took a turn for the worst", so fully expect that disaster to come to you at any time. You have to completely assume that it is going to happen and make your plans accordingly. Not just money, but health and family and freedom, you have to expect it to all disappear. Besides, you appreciate things more when you know this may be your last time seeing them.
3. Own as little as possible.
Depend on even less. The less you own, the less you're affected by disaster.
4. Choose opportunity, not loyalty.
Have no loyalty to location, corporation, or your last public statements. Be an absolute opportunist doing whatever is best for the future in the current situation unbound by the past. Have loyalty for only your most important human relationships.
5. Choose the plan with the most options.
The best plan is the one that lets you change your plans. For example, renting a house is actually buying the option to move at any time without losing money in a changing market.
6. Avoid planning.
For maximum options, don't plan at all. Since you have no idea how the situation or your mood may change in the future, wait until the last moment to make each decision.
How to stop being rich and happy
Prioritize lifestyle design. You've made it so it's all about you now. Make your dreams come true. Shape your surroundings to please your every desire. Make your immediate gratification the most important thing.
Change that comparison moment.
You have the old thing, you want the new thing. Yes! Do it! Be happy for a week. Ignore the fact that happiness comes only from the moment of comparison between the old and new. Once you've had your new thing for a week and it becomes your new normal, just go seek happiness from another new thing.
Advice to younger self: Women like sex. I didn't know that till I was 40.
Advice to 30-year-old self: Don't be a donkey, referring to Buridan's ass - the fable of a donkey between equidistant piles of hay and buckets of water, unable to decide until he dies of starvation and thirst. Our awareness of the future allows us to do everything in our life. We need foresight and patience.