July 11, 2020

Useful advice that I have collected over my life

I am a huge fan of Ramit Sethi. I can’t even remember how I learned about him but I think one of the first times that he got onto my radar was through his book “I will teach you to be rich”. The book provided no nonsense advice for getting out of debt, growing your wealth and then maintaining it. It also provided very practical advice on negotiating any monthly service you have (such as cellphone bills), making sure that you’re not just saving on a coffee every day (because those small expenses pale in comparison to saving on larger expenses like cars or a house) and how to take advantage of the perks that you get from credit cards.

After subscribing to his blog and reading some really great articles, there was one piece of advice in particular that I remember from Ramit that has stuck with me ever since I learned about it. In his article, he was talking about how one of his readers was asking him about finances and said “hey should I get book A or book B? They’re both fairly similar – let me know which one you would recommend.” Ramit, in his no nonsense style, said “Why are you even asking me this question? Get both books”. The reason, he stated, was that the value of the book (say $20 – $30) pales in comparison to getting one great idea out of a book and implementing it (which could be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars). Not only did it change my perspective on books (I stopped blinking at price tags when I saw books as an investment) but I had also grappled with the decision many times in the past, trying to decide between 2 equally good books. To Ramit, it was not worth the time to decide between the two. In short, if you have to decide between two books, buy them both.

It might look like I’m jumping topics here but I’ll connect it after, I promise. I also recently purchased Bed of Procrustes from a used book sale – in it are a bunch of aphorisms from Nassim Taleb. Here are a few select aphorisms from a Farnham Street Blog article

*An erudite is someone who displays less than he knows; a journalist or consultant the opposite.

  • If your anger decreases with time, you did injustice; if it increases, you suffered injustice.
  • Usually, what we call a “good listener” is someone with a skillfully polished indifference.
  • You don’t become completely free by just avoiding to be a slave; you also need to avoid becoming a master.
  • People focus on role models; it is more effective to find antimodels—people you don’t want to resemble when you grow up.
  • The three most harmful addictions are heroin, carbohydrates, and a monthly salary.
  • It is much harder to write a book review for a book you’ve read than for a book you haven’t read.
  • You can only convince people who think they can benefit from being convinced.

Okay, what is the connection between the two? The Bed of Procrustes made me think about some of the advice that I’ve collected and I wanted to share that advice in this post, attributing the directives to those that I learned it from and those that are unattributed are ones that I learned over the years:

If you have a choice between two books, buy both

If you can even get one great idea from a book, it is well worth the money that you spent on it.

Two is one and one is none

Advice from Jocko Willinck to Tim Ferriss on buying, having or packing indispensable items. What he means is that if you have something that is critical to you (mobile phone charger while traveling, charging cables, flashlights for a camping trip) then inevitably, one will either go missing or break down. Having two of something equates to having one of that thing and having one of that thing equates to having nothing. I’ve used this advice to purchase mobile phone chargers, gloves, dress shoes and anything that I may forget or misplace and is otherwise ‘essential’

When faced with different alternatives, choose the alternative that gives you more options

Advice from Derek Sivers – say you are picking between two fairly similar jobs but one is in Edmonton and the other is in Vancouver – which option will give you more future options, which city has the bigger market for your job, more opportunities to grow or develop business? Choose that alternative.

Take every opportunity to use the washroom when you can

Advice from Gretchen Rubin – especially relevant when traveling around in a place that you have never been before or really in general. If you have a chance to use the washroom and you need to use it, do it – don’t wait because you do not know when the next time to use the washroom may be.

If you do not have a USB outlet for your charger and you are at a hotel, you can plug it into the TV

I picked this up from some travel advice articles but can’t remember which one in particular

As you get older, you have to put in more effort to maintain friendships

Nothing profound I know but it’s something I’ve noticed as I’ve gotten older – effort has to be put in on both sides to maintain the friendship otherwise it won’t work.

The best activities that you can do are ones where you invest in yourself (exercise, reading, learning, meditation). The best investment you can make is in yourself.

Advice from James Altucher (well the investment part at least)

If you have to read out in public, make sure that the book you are reading makes you look good in case something happens to you (I heard this somewhere and don’t know how useful it is but it is funny!)

Do you want the news to read “man dies on the bus reading 50 shades of grey”?

If you are traveling, bring an extra pair of socks and underwear

You never know what might happen and it does not take up too much extra space

As you get older, it’s not your kids that will hang around you, it’s your partner so make sure you spend time nurturing that relationship too

Advice from my girlfriend!

Work will always be there – sleeping early and waking up early to do work is much better than sleeping late and waking up late (or early)

Something I learned too late in my life. Being a workaholic means that I end up working late most of the time (and thinking back, it really was not necessary).

If you are going to an event / party / social outing, drive yourself

My Mom’s advice – her reasoning: if you need to leave, you are not dependent on a friend or coworker to drive you home and you are not ‘trapped’ there when your friend or coworker is more social than you are.

Carry a book around with you

You might not have a lot of time but any time spent waiting for anything can be filled in by reading.

Act professional, even when everybody around you makes you want to be unprofessional

Acting unprofessional can only hurt you or your image, especially if in a work setting.

Don’t just under promise and over deliver, over promise and over deliver

Advice from James Altucher when he was starting his business of making websites.

Life is short and there’s no point in staying mad at people

I always think – if I am mad at somebody and they suddenly pass away, how would I feel?

When you are asked a question that you are not sure about, joke about it

Does not always work but can sometimes get you out of a tough spot.

Buy quality expensive products over cheap fragile products

Quality lasts and it will save you money in the long run

Perfection is a form of procrastination. 90% complete is still an ‘A’.

An article I read today from Raj Jana.

If given the choice, focus on the positive and give people the benefit of the doubt

One of my secrets in charming people and developing relationships is to assume the best in people every time.


That’s all for now! What are some of your quick directives that you follow in your life? Things that you have learned over your many years of experience and wisdom?]

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