Good Monday to all, my podcast analysis follows what I posted over the weekend with improving my lateral thinking. So I decided to look for any interviews with Shane Snow the creator of Contently a site that helps freelance writers with publishers, generally brands, that would like to feature content on their websites. It helps bridge the gap of two entities to bring great content to its readers and benefit all involved by giving freelancers jobs and brands business. He is also the author of a book named Smartcuts which teaches entrepreneurs through stories how famous people used lateral thinking to shortcut their way up the ladder of success in innovative ways. Since I am currently listening to his audio book, I thought hearing about his personal thoughts on lateral thinking and his book would serve as an additional push in the right direction.
Here is the podcast link http://www.entrepreneuronfire.com/podcast/shanesnow/
Key Points Taken
Shane’s Backstory – 1:30
Was bit by the entrepreneurial bug when he was a young boy in his home town of Idaho, which lead him to a series entrepreneur endeavors as well as places. One of these places was New York where he decided study journalism and after began writing about tech start-ups for sites like Mashable, fastcompany and wired. He then was inspired by these people doing these incredible things and created his own tech start-up that combines his passions of journalism and story telling with technology and entrepreneurship.
His Success Quote – 3:44
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re
on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go… “ ― Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go!
“Dont just work hard work smart.” – was his other quote from his last time being interviewed.
Story behind his Dr. Seuss quote – 5:01
He starts his book smartcuts with this quote and while deciding how to go about with the format of the book he decided to read up on Dr. Seuss real name Theodor Seuss Geisel. The quote was from the book Oh, The Places You’ll Go, which is about finding your own way in life because although during your journey you may be helped by others you still make the decisions and act accordingly. Each part of Snow’s book starts with a doctor Seuss quote, which more explains what the section’s chapters entail. The first two chapters are about rethinking the expected path, you do this by questioning the conventional wisdom which you are taught while growing up. Shane continues to say that the book (Oh, the places you’ll Go) aims to teach that those conventional paths can be good if you want to follow them but if you do incredible things you are forging your own path.
Side-note – Despite his whimsical and simple entertainment factor to his kids books he knew exactly what he was doing and there is a lot of adult wisdom packed into it. Some examples of how much of a genius he is are in this web article, in it explains how green eggs and ham was a bet which he had to use only 50 unique words to make the story and also the cat in the hat, where he had to write it in with at least 225 unique
words from a list of 250 and he did it with 236.
How the book SmartCuts came about – 9:07
While writing about tech companies and how they were able to accomplish incredible things so quickly compared to other areas such government of health care where the growth was either slow or moderate. Was it the way the people in this industry thought? He wanted to further research these companies because his current company was struggling and he was trying to incorporate some of their secrets to help them grow.
Superlatives in business was a list he made which consists of companies that not only progressed successfully but ones that did it outrageously fast eg. the fastest billion dollar company, the youngest or fastest self-made billionaire, the youngest fortune 500 CEO’s. To gather this info he used Wikipedia which lead to deeper research, then to interviews but his list made a turning point into a larger variety of people such as the youngest noble price winner, fastest rising people in entertainment or comedy or race car driving etc.
The list grew and grew (this coming to look like a Dr. Seuss story) until he began to find patterns with the people he researched, with one main pattern standing out with all, which was they all rewrote the rules. They had an unconventional approach to gaining success, using a method called lateral thinking. This is the idea of approach a problem from its side by rewriting the question and removing the straight forward assumptions to the problem.
Lateral Thinking and an example – 12:06
“Pretend you are driving a car in the middle of a thunderstorm and you happen upon three people on the side of the road. One of them is a frail old woman, who looks on the verge of collapse. Another is a friend who once saved your life. The other is the romantic interest of your dreams, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet him or
her. You have only one other seat in the car. Who do you pick up? There’s a good reason to choose any of the three. The old woman needs help. The friend deserves your payback. And clearly, a happy future with the man or woman of your dreams will have an enormous long-term impact on your life. So, who should you pick?
Answer – The old woman, of course. Then, give the car keys to your friend, and stay behind with the romantic interest to wait for the bus!” Solving the problem so each party member is satisfied, you do this by totally removing assumptions. One of which is
that you only have one seat so you can only help one person, the other assumption was that you have to stay in the driver’s seat. But those aren’t the rules it’s just how the story was phrased, so if you had to help them all what would you do? The lateral solution would be to give someone else the keys.
How got the name Smartcuts for the book – 15:09
Well the concept for the content in the book was on how the successful shortcutted their way up the top, but in this situation it sounded amoral. So before finally deciding what name to use, he bounced off names via Facebook to different people. The technique he used was to tell them a couple of the titles he was thinking of using then hear their thoughts on each one, two weeks later he would email them back and remind them about the book and let them recall the titles they remembered, whatever they responded with first was what he went with. So technically he used a smartcut to get the right book title, which would resonate with his potential buyers.
“Number 1 when you are coming up with something be clear, Number 2, yeah be clever but if you have to give up one of those things always get rid of clever.” – 17:01 Jason
The tagline “How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success” – 20:23
First thing he did was look for patterns between the groups and people, also he came up with a list of the common advice you hear in business. Then he mapped the conventional advice to the unconventional patterns these people took towards success and verified if it was justifiable. Some of these were like if experience and paying your dues were ways to get you to the top, or the use of mentor-ship, or taking small steps for innovation and creating a product is more effective than taking big swings and failing fast fail often. He did interviews, research into historical figures and academic research then coming up with hypothesis.
Mentor-ship example – 24:27
Relationships dont result in success, reason why it doesn’t work is that formal mentor-ship relationships perform very poorly whereas organic mentor-ship where the mentor is not in it just for the skill teaching but in helping the person in their journey beyond acquiring the skill is much more powerful. It accelerates the growth for success
Shane’s example of organic mentor-ship – 25:54.
This is where the comparison of conventional vs unconventional comes into play where people have been mentored as tradition over time for example. Socrates mentored Plato. Plato mentored Aristotle. Aristotle mentored Alexander the Great, whereas there are people with that same potential who don’t have that access but they use their own means to be mentored in unique ways for example this quote from Jay Z portrays how he was mentored.
“We grew as kids without fathers and yet we found our fathers on wax and in books and on records.” – 27:26
Elon Musk – 28:23
Creator of tesla motors, space X, pay pal loves reading biographies and autobiographies of great figures in history and one of his favorites is of Benjamin Franklin. So it’s an obsession of a mentor from the past that has inspired great things from him in the present.
Thoughts to take away about the book – 32:28
Be wary of formal mentor-ship programs because they are less likely to work, try to find a person or company or icon that is doing what you want to do very successfully and be obsessed. By obsession, it doesn’t only mean in business but in life. Apply the What would _____ (insert mentor) do to situations when you are faced with obstacles, for example the second African american shoe designer in america who used the first African american to play baseball Jackie Robinson as his mentor because they both faced adversity based on race in an area where it was dominated by another.
Final Words – 34:47
Go after a big dream or business something massive, something that’s a game changer because it becomes paradoxically easier than going after a small dream or business, the reason is big dreams and big ideas generate the sort of support that you need to be successful as an entrepreneur. It helps you get employees, partners, investors and customers. “Its easier to start a riot or a revolution than a successful lemonade stand, because people are indifferent about lemonade stands but they are very passionate about revolution.” Expand your thinking and don’t try to get 10% better try for ten times better which will make you get to success faster than just going after the small
Another podcast analysis done and boy my fingers are tired, Shane gave a great amount of insight into his book and focused a lot on mentor-ship with nice examples to go along with them. Formal vs Organic mentor-ship, ways people like jay z and Elon musk were inspired by mentors who weren’t physically there but with such an obsession they were able to apply techniques through a virtual connection. Also the use of unconventional methods to create accelerated success against the use of conventional methods. I took away some interesting tidbits which I can put to use especially dreaming big and sweating at the small stuff because with that mindset things will fall in place fill the
gaps and will make the success come at accelerated pace. The belief that it’s already happening and the emotional thoughts that its real makes the subconscious invoke the universe to act to bring it to reality. Well thanks again for reading, until tomorrow.