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Who Moved My Cheese?: An A-Mazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life by [Johnson, Spencer]

Here is a list of my favorite quotes from this book.

Capitalism, Here I come

‘it’s the “doers,”, the lean and hungry ones, those with ambition in their eyes and fire in their bellies and no notions of social caste, who go the furthest and achieve the most.’

‘Life, I’ve found, works the following way: Daily, you’re presented with many small and surprising opportunities. Sometimes you seize one that takes you to the top. Most, though, if valuable at all, take you only a little way. To succeed, you must string together many small incremental advances – rather than count on hitting the lottery jackpot once. Trusting to great luck is a strategy not likely to work for most people. As a practical matter, constantly enhance your skills, put in as many hours as possible, and make tactical plans for the next steps. Then, based on what actually occurs, look one more move ahead and adjust the plan. Take lots of chances, and make lots of individual, spur-of-the-moment decisions.’

I Love Mondays

‘Think about the percentage of your life spent working and commuting. If you’re not content doing it, you’re probably pretty miserable with the situation. Change it! Work it out with those next to you on the production line. Talk to your boss. Sit down with those you supervise. Alter what’s in your own head. Do something to make it fun, interesting, challenging, exciting. You’ve got to be happy at your job. Sure, being able to feed the kids is the first focus. But when layoffs and promotions are announced, those with surly looks on their faces, those who always try to do less, those who never cooperate with others get included in the layoffs and miss the promotions. This big part of your life affects you, your family, society, and everything else you touch.’

‘If you’re going to succeed, you need a vision, one that’s affordable, practical, and fills a customer need. Then, go for it. Don’t worry too much about the details. Don’t second-guess your creativity. Avoid overanalyzing the new project’s potential. Most importantly, don’t strategize about the long term too much.’

We Can Do That

‘Today at Bloomberg, we use algorithms we developed to detect anomalies in data, such as a stock that’s rising in an economic report with slow sales. We automatically turn those findings into news stories, which are written and published by computer without involving human hands. At first reporters were concerned that this kind of machine learning, or artificial intelligence, might take their jobs away. But they came to embrace it as they saw that the computers actually freed them to do the kind of reporting they wanted to do – not merely transcribing, but more in-depth writing and analysis, using their knowledge and skills to help readers understand data and events. The computers are sparing them some of the drudgery of their jobs – exactly what computers have done in so many other industries  – and allowing them, and us, to cover even more news.’

“No’ Is No Answer

‘What’s required for success in these businesses? Why do some companies like Bloomberg, charging about $2,000 per month for electronically delivered information, keep growing when others can’t keep customers even when charging only pennies – or nothing at all? Simple: supply and demand. If you’re not providing something unique, you have no ability to impose charges. 

Money Talks

‘In many of our new ventures, we don’t appoint a manager at the beginning. We simply throw everyone interested into the deep end of the pool, as it were, and stand back. It becomes obvious very quickly who the best “swimmers” are. We just watch who people go to for help and advice. And later, when we formalize a management appointment, no one’s ever surprised.’

‘Few innovations are accepted right away. You must bring changes along slowly, improving them over time, building an audience with persistence and repetition. But with just as much resolve, when you find something not working, after giving it a reasonable time, you’ve got to take a deep breath, bite the bullet, and stop the carnage. The embarrassment of failure can’t be allowed to kill the company.’

‘At Bloomberg, we don’t resist multiple cross-product responsibility. We don’t have problems blending short-term performance with long-term growth and development. And so far, we’re not obsolete because the difference between those timid, failing companies and Bloomberg is people – from top to bottom.’

Man vs. Machine

‘Back then, and now, I’ve always insisted on building a simple “do a few things” version of software up front. Most people are terrible at understanding and enunciating what they actually do day in and day out, and on what basis they make decisions. They’re even worse at defining what tools they would use in the future. But if you give them something they can see and touch, then both they and you can get experience as to a program’s utility and applicability, or at least have a common basis for enhancements. And chances are, they’ll use what you give them up front, forget about anything else that was requested earlier, and think you’re a hero for delivering” what they always wanted.”

‘When we develop new products, we build and deliver a practical working model of what the client can actually use, and then through an iterative development process, we add features and functions that make the product outstanding. In management-speak, this is called MVP: minimal viable product. But for customers, it just means: Buy what’s deliverable, not what could be.”

‘I’ve never believed that we need computers in every classroom in the early grades. We should focus on teaching the basic skills of reading, writing, arithmetic, logic, concentration, cooperation, hard work, and leadership. Interaction with a sympathetic, understanding teacher can’t be automated, nor can their teaching of the “three Rs.” For young children, it’s still the best way to teach the basics. it’s also the only way to teach the social skills needed to survive in society.’

Management 101

‘Every job performance review I give my direct-reporting mangers includes the question, “Who’s your replacement? If you don’t have one now, I can’t consider you for bigger things. If you don’t have one the next time I ask, you may no longer be a direct report.”‘

Coming Up Next

‘Technology is clearly improving our lives, but not all effects prognosticated will prove accurate. Take the prediction that we’ll all work from home, for example. Technology makes it possible with connected smartphones and computers. And with the dramatic increase in two-income and single-parent households, there’s a need for flexibility to accommodate work and family simultaneously. What’s more, the growing service industries (as opposed to the declining manufacturing ones) better allow independent “tasking.”‘

‘Being well-rounded, inquisitive, perceptive, logical, and communicative is more valuable than knowing a given sequence of buttons to push. In the future, technical details will matter less – big pictures, more.’

Out of the Office

‘There are many reasons why some succeed and others don’t, why some just continue to grow and others spurt up and, as quickly, collapse. Three things usually separate the winners from the losers over the long term: time invested, interpersonal skills, and plain old-fashioned luck.

‘To win big, you must have an ability to leverage your work by identifying, including, convincing, and inspiring others to follow your vision. Then share the praise, or they won’t be there for very long to help, and soon there’ll be little for you to talk about.’