SMARTCUTS

by Shane Snow
Focus: Business • Careers

OVERVIEW
Smartcuts is about why some people can be as productive, effective, and successful as they decide to be — and
how you can do it too… and in these FlashNotes we’ll highlight how a little experimentation and a lot of hard
work can make real and rapid success a reality for you as well.

BIG IDEAS + KEY INSIGHTS
#Professional success is no longer just a question of scaling one career ladder but of knowing
when to switch to another.
Is working hard and slowly making your way up the career ladder the best way to achieve success? Not really.
While it provides a clear, well-trodden path to follow, it’s slow and doesn’t guarantee success.

It turns out that only half of the Presidents of the United States followed traditional political careers and served
on a national level, i.e., as a governor or senator, before becoming president.

Furthermore, more traditional politicians weren’t necessarily better prepared for office.

Take Andrew Johnson: before becoming president, he had a brilliant political career. But during his presidential
incumbency, Johnson’s leadership qualities were so weak that today he’s ranked as the second-worst president
in American history.

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Mentorship isn’t about being dependent on someone: it’s about exchanging knowledge through a personal relationship. I’ll make it anywhere. to exchange your current career for something more promising. based on professional affiliations.com | Smartcuts . if you reach a stage on your current path that doesn’t allow you to advance. Voters. Having a mentor can give a huge boost to your career. for example. This effect is called The Sinatra Principle in reference to Frank Sinatra’s legendary song “New York.” For example. how do people – whether voters or recruiters – decide if you’re right for the job? Well. What is a mentor.” in which he sings: “If I can make it there. toggled between careers as a military officer and university president before he entered the White House. look for leadership qualities in a president. such as past jobs. just jump to another career that provides you with more opportunities. academic background and personal connections. A far better way to advance your career is to switch ladders – that is. exactly? And how can a mentorship improve your career? The term mentorship describes a relationship in which a mentor supports a mentee by passing on knowledge and experience.Ultimately. most of us make snap judgments. mentorship is an elusive concept for most people. Slowly clambering up the career ladder is clearly not the only way to be successful. usually unconsciously. but it doesn’t work the way you might think. #Mentorship can help you build a deeply satisfying career. our personal characteristics are what truly qualify us for a job — not our experience. Diggin’ these FlashNotes? Get more book summaries at GetFlashNotes. Texas will probably seem more qualified than a more experienced local professional. So. a former New Yorker applying for a job in Waco. But if experience doesn’t always count. Even presidents have shown the efficacy of this type of sideways switching: Eisenhower. for example. Credibility can even be established based on where the candidate used to work. they don’t care how many years someone has spent in politics. New York. Although it’s a buzzword.

so we should seek out people we admire and try to figure out what made their success possible. But for this relationship to work. Imagine someone constantly telling you that you’re a phenomenal bowler. But if someone tells you there’s room for improvement. he nailed his second SNL audition and was cast in the show. you’ll work harder to surpass your current level. This leads to more deeply satisfying professional opportunities. we can all have role models.com | Smartcuts . setbacks are all but inevitable on a journey to the top. mentorship is a time-consuming process. Of course. Just look at comedian and Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon: the first time he auditioned for Saturday Night Live he didn’t make the cut. but criticism will motivate you to do better. refusing all smaller gigs that didn’t serve his ultimate goal of getting onto SNL. Compliments might feel good. so it’s not for everyone.You might encounter formal mentoring programs through a job center or the HR department at your workplace. They focused on improving Fallon’s skills and reputation. you’ll never step up your game. learn from other people’s mistakes and embrace setbacks. you have to put a lot of trust in your mentor. #Fail better: Ask for criticism. However. only an informal and organically grown mentorship will help you sustain true long-term success. But even if we don’t have personal mentors. Although this kind of arrangement will help you achieve your goals faster. We’ve all experienced failure before – and it’s no fun. Eventually. If you believe them. A more personal. Fallon spent months polishing on his stand-up act at comedy clubs in New York City. especially when you’re having a hard time. The first way to embrace failure is by deliberately looking for critiques to help you evaluate and improve your performance. Diggin’ these FlashNotes? Get more book summaries at GetFlashNotes. long-term commitment relies on mutual trust and requires participants to be attuned to each other’s needs. But his mentor Randi Siegel encouraged him to keep trying. so we need to learn to use them to our advantage.

Of course. The key is to not take it personally. This is the paradox of failure: seeing others fail makes us more likely to succeed. #Leveraging platforms can help you work and learn more effectively. but those small failures ultimately give Upworthy more information about how to engage its users on a larger scale. Certain headlines don’t resonate with the test audience. everyone makes mistakes. or an instrument that simplifies your job. viral content website Upworthy tests different article headlines to see how they’re received by a small group of users before passing them along to a bigger audience.com | Smartcuts . you’ll know what to expect when performing in the big leagues and significantly lower your risk of big losses. Can you imagine how much more time-consuming it was to do math before the invention of a calculator? This simple device is a perfect example of a platform. the calculator makes it easier and faster to solve complicated equations. Before going for something big. So when a surgeon sees a colleague make an incision in the wrong place.Still. shattering failures by experimenting and embracing small setbacks. she’ll be extra careful not to repeat the mistake when it’s her turn to perform the same task. You can also inoculate yourself against really big. Diggin’ these FlashNotes? Get more book summaries at GetFlashNotes. you can turn them to your advantage. Our own failures clearly provide excellent learning opportunities – but there’s also a lot we can learn from other people’s mistakes. This way. For example. In this case. Doing so will only frustrate you and keep you from focusing on the task at hand. criticism can sting. you can test your endeavor on a small scale to figure out what works. but if you follow the advice above.

Unfortunately. these platforms don’t only make room for creative thinking. most schools and universities still teach students to do repetitive tasks themselves instead of showing them how to use platforms that let them focus on more important tasks. a problem-solving approach that produces especially unconventional and innovative ideas. we don’t have to devote as much time to repetitive. As a result. was developed to automate repetitive tasks and arbitrary decisions that most languages demand of the programmers.com | Smartcuts . Kids can intuitively grasp the logic of coding (and see how it works in practice) without having to learn all the complex underpinning first. and can instead focus on more demanding endeavors like innovation. #Don’t rely on experience alone: pave a path to success by experimenting with new approaches. mechanical tasks. conceptual understanding and creative problem-solving. What’s more. Have you ever wondered how small. A child can. for instance. The main focus in its schools has shifted towards teaching students how to use tools and solve problems creatively. Another example is Daisy the Dinosaur. This helps foster lateral thinking. a programming language.Thanks to such time-saving platforms. an educational theory that says we learn better when we can make or manipulate objects ourselves. allowing them to focus instead on developing more complex. the entire school system has improved dramatically. Case in point: Ruby on Rails. novel features. This approach is called constructionism. an iPad app that teaches kids basic programming skills. unknown companies sometimes manage to outgrow rival business leaders? Diggin’ these FlashNotes? Get more book summaries at GetFlashNotes. Finland is one country where the educational establishment has taken to platforms. they can also be used to teach it. learn a lot about underlying mathematical principles just by playing around with a calculator.

These upstarts are probably proficient in two related skills: pattern recognition and pattern hunting. Consider the surfer: if he knows the ocean well. pattern hunting can outperform pattern recognition. So if another surfer comes along who doesn’t know the waves at that spot. For example. Diggin’ these FlashNotes? Get more book summaries at GetFlashNotes. pattern hunting is about deliberately analyzing and searching for new patterns. Google has implemented the 20% Doctrine which instructs its employees to spend 20 percent of their work time developing new ideas. which the new arrival can leverage to catch better waves. Kodak lost almost $30 billion of its market capitalization when it ignored the emerging digital photography trend. These large corporations are often so focused on the traditional way of doing business that they fail to notice major new trends. he can still observe the waves and try to find patterns in them. To combat this conservative streak. he’s practicing pattern recognition. Although both skills are valuable. The hope is that this system will ensure that Google stays a leader in innovation. pattern hunting is essential for a company that wants to find promising new opportunities. On the other hand. So from a business standpoint. Unfortunately. In the 1990s. as he’s seen the wave form many times before. That’s because if we only rely on our past experience. This can have disastrous results. when a surfer who’s surfing his favorite spot recognizes a promising surfing wave. then he probably expects it to behave a certain way all the time. Pattern recognition is about understanding underlying principles and repetitive developments based on experience and practice. he might not notice changes from day to day. Therefore. experimenting with new patterns and venturing into the unknown aren’t standard practices at most established companies. we are less sensitive to changes in patterns.com | Smartcuts . for example.

mass media is one of the most powerful superconnectors in the world. but it won’t automatically help you build a relationship with other people. who was able to win the support of Cuban citizens by broadcasting his message over a radio transmitter – i. In fact. Take Fidel Castro. Most of us are familiar with classic networking. recognizing other people’s needs and offering them something meaningful will help foster deeper loyalty and trust. But there’s another. Superconnectors have played an important role at various points throughout history. selling to customers all over their country and the rest of the world. long-term relationships. kind of networking based on exchange. a superconnector. Using mass media in this fashion will get your message out there. superconnectors – the influential people and technical devices that transmit mass communication – help us spread our ideas and meet more people on a mass scale. But once the media developed on a massive scale. the citizens had very little information about the revolution that had just taken place. Before radio and television were invented. To do that. businesses could advertise on a much grander scale. Have you ever been at a party with a friend who seems to know everyone? Like popular friends at a party. Let’s call the people who do this takers. you need to network.. most newspapers had a very small circulation. there were very few national and international businesses. Diggin’ these FlashNotes? Get more book summaries at GetFlashNotes. Consequently. as it requires offering something meaningful (like mentorship) to others as a way of establishing reciprocal. ultimately. This form of networking is for people who are givers. Before that. This process entails making friends with influential people and using their credibility to your advantage.com | Smartcuts .#Mass communication can spread your message – but you still have to offer something meaningful for it to catch on. more valuable. The latter kind of networking is a powerful tool for creating sustainable success because.e.

Imagine you’ve decided to go running each morning. you oversleep one morning. you have a cold and don’t get out of bed. like a new business or career. Momentum is an extremely valuable tool for achieving success. Finally. she used the momentum to keep moving forward. and there are different ways to take advantage of it. Pretty soon. one of her videos appeared on the YouTube homepage. Once she did that.#Once you have momentum. As a contrast. consider Shepard’s fellow moonwalker Buzz Aldrin. Diggin’ these FlashNotes? Get more book summaries at GetFlashNotes. during and after momentum strikes. she started researching how she could get them onto the YouTube homepage and make her videos go viral. Pretty soon. After that. He lost his momentum. who turned to alcoholism because he couldn’t cope with the end of his career. beauty blogger Michelle Phan recorded and uploaded hundreds of make-up tutorials to her YouTube channel. she invested in a more sophisticated camera. After a week. using his fame to his advantage. stay motivated and keep moving forward. To satisfy all the new fans that had followed her YouTube channel. The next day. but you don’t have to stick to the script – you can also invest it in something completely different. she was the second-most-watched woman on YouTube and the official video make-up artist for Lancôme. your big plans to run every day are kaput. momentum is fleeting. She had achieved her goal! Game over? Not at all. What happened? You had all this momentum… Well. Not wanting to rest on his laurels. That’s what astronaut Alan Shepard – the first American in space – did when he retired from his space travels. That requires a lot of hard work – before. he launched a new career as a businessman. For example.com | Smartcuts . You can follow Phan’s example and use your momentum to move forward on a single venture. so we have to take advantage of it while it lasts.

we need some insight into human psychology: studies show that patience and creativity are exhaustible resources. Most often. we won’t have the bandwidth lef to tackle big tasks later on.#Simplicity makes for better innovations and boosts productivity. which tends to use simplification to eliminate costs. it can also be applied to our own lives to increase productivity. To understand how this works. is a simple and cost-effective alternative to snail mail that has disrupted the operations of postal services around the world. for example. What’s more. But when it comes to innovation. Diggin’ these FlashNotes? Get more book summaries at GetFlashNotes. Innovation is rarely about creating something completely new or something bigger and better. Consider Jane Chen. who wanted to design an affordable neonatal incubator so it could be used in impoverished areas to save newborns’ lives. the opposite is true: to truly innovate. not add bells and whistles. This is the principle behind disruptive innovation. Chen learned that warmth is the most important factor for infant survival. Email.com | Smartcuts . The result? Chen’s invention saved tens of thousands of babies’ lives in just a few years. we need to cut away the fat. simplicity isn’t just good for designing products. If we waste them on small tasks and decisions throughout the day. Most people today think that more is better. That way we can save our creative energy and willpower for more important endeavors. To create this kind of innovation. everyday processes. #Dream big to motivate yourself and convince others to believe in you. it’s useful to think small: looking for underlying problems in common. so she developed a special sleeping bag that came with a heating pad that cost only $25. it’s about doing something differently. After doing some research.

for example. you could organize a big. but research shows that we can only reach our peak potential when we aim big. you have to start with a perspective that’s geared towards this mentality. which allowed her to build a massive and dedicated fan base. So if you want to pursue a big. remember that your ideas must have substance if you want to achieve sustainable success. But of course. Ultimately. Try 10x Thinking. It’s much easier to get support if you’re aiming to provide something that’s 10x better for a large amount of people. once arranged a freefall from a massive height as a marketing stunt. 10x Thinking invents an automobile. Having big ambitions will also motivate us to strive harder. Diggin’ these FlashNotes? Get more book summaries at GetFlashNotes. innovative idea. Those big ideas may be harder to realize. 10x Thinking might seem grandiose. not just a little better. So if you’re hoping to monetize your innovation. you also have convince others to support you. To get people’s attention. but we’ll encounter fewer competitors going for those same dreams. Here’s an analogy: if normal thinking tries to get a horse to go faster. there’s another very important reason going big will help secure other people’s support: it’s hard to convince someone to invest in your venture if the potential outcome results in only a small increase in value. Although stunts like these generate attention. That was Lady Gaga’s recipe for success. you can’t realize your big dreams alone. Red Bull. others will too. it shatters basic assumptions about the way the world works and presents something radically different than what came before. but she also made great music and behaved authentically. or coming up with a way to make something ten times better than it already is. over-the-top demonstration.com | Smartcuts . Her outrageous costumes and music videos were all brilliant marketing and earned her lots of attention. as long as you believe in yourself.What defines a truly groundbreaking innovation? Quite simply.

don’t just wait around for someone to retire. .Author.If your career ladder is blocked. you could look for sales positions at other companies. The Meaningful Show [listen on iTunes] Diggin’ these FlashNotes? Get more book summaries at GetFlashNotes. switch to another one. FlashNotes Book Summaries Host. Look for tangential careers or positions in another industry or company where you can advance. If you work in sales for an advertising agency. but innovation alone won’t produce long-term success if it isn’t accompanied by hard work and focus.#FINAL NOTES The key message in this book: Some people achieve rapid success by bucking conventional norms and taking a non-traditional path. Think about the ways the skills you use in your current job might be applicable in another. This sense of experimentation helps produce groundbreaking ideas.com | Smartcuts .If you’ve reached a point in your career where you can’t foresee opportunities for development and advancement. Smartcuts DEAN BOKHARI Founder. ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S) SHANE SNOW . Actionable insights: .

He believes we can change the world by doing meaningful work that serves the greater good. He speaks five languages and holds a B. CA. a consulting firm in Orange County. With a bold mission to change the world through Leadership . He is the founder of MeaningfulHQ.Dean Bokhari believes that everyone deserves to live an optimal lifestyle.at the same time. CA with his wife. in Political Communication from Virginia Commonwealth University. Diggin’ these FlashNotes? Get more book summaries at GetFlashNotes.com | Smartcuts . Dean teaches people and organizations how to inspire + empower people in a positive way.S.Dean and the Meaningful crew are teaching leaders how they can move the world forward and move their organizations forward . He currently resides in Orange County. Amna. where he also studied Philosophy.

com | Smartcuts . — Dean Bokhari Founder.GetFlashNotes.com Diggin’ these FlashNotes? Get more book summaries at GetFlashNotes. {flashnotes} Visit us online! www.STILL NOT A MEMBER OF GETFLASHNOTES.COM? GET STARTED TODAY FOR JUST $1 Our purpose at FlashNotes is to provide busy professionals with MORE KNOWLEDGE in LESS TIME. Every FlashNote extracts the most actionable.com Questions? Email info@getflashnotes. high-value content possible so that you can forget about sorting through the fluff and instead prepare yourself to apply what matters most to you.