“What You Do Is Who You Are: How to Create Your Business Culture” by Ben Horowitz

Book Notes

Leash yourself (to turn values into actions) #

Last week, I bought a physical copy of Ray Dalio’s Principles. I listened to the audiobook around when it was initially released but want to revisit it in text form. I want to come up with some set of principles to refer to and dig into on this blog. None will be original but the set and prioritization could be useful. A few that come to mind:

  • bias to action (instead of over-thinking, over-planning, and over-discussing)
  • it depends (but pick a side)
  • 80/20 (and 64/4)
  • easy and sustainable (to do hard things consistently)
  • get your reps in (or choose your favorite version of the ceramics professor story)
  • aim for daily (because your day to day adds up to your life)
  • listen, learn, and move (mental stillness through body movement and mental movement through physical stillness).

Something like that.

It’ll probably just end up being d.school principles with Tim Ferriss and Seth Godin mixed in. That could be fine.

Anyway, having those principles and values is useful, but I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how values would translate to action. Mostly because I finished reading Ben Horowitz’s book What You Do is Who You Are recently and he writes about creating “shocking rules”:

Here are the rules for writing a rule so powerful it sets the culture for many years:

It must be memorable. If people forget the rule, they forget the culture.

It must raise the question “Why?” Your rule should be so bizarre and shocking that everybody who hears it is compelled to ask, “Are you serious?”

Shocking rules turn company values into individual actions day to day.

On a personal level, you can have shocking rules to translate your own life values into action. And it helps to check the daily rules you have for yourself right now to see if they align to things you say you value.

I say I want to put health and fitness first. Some mornings I wake up, zombie walk to the couch and then get stuck looking at newsletters and deals on my phone. I’ve been trying to put a shocking rule in place: only use the phone when it’s charging on our entryway stand. (I learned about the technique in a Cal Newport post.) It’s like putting your less-present, auto scrolling self on a leash.

To put health first, I want to make movement the very first thing in my day. The workout I think I could do on most days would be:

  • 100 kettlebell swings
  • 10 kettlebell get-ups
  • 30 minute walk/jog/run

(You might recognize the 100 swings, 10 get-ups as Simple & Sinister.)

It really is pretty straightforward, but I’m still thinking about removing the friction involved in it. Sometimes I need to pack my bag to go or need to do some other things that aren’t movement and then I eventually get stuck to the couch scrolling away.