My Brain Cells

Easiest (and best) learning materials for anyone with a curiosity for machine learning and artificial intelligence, Deep learning, Programming, and other fun life hacks.

The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss

Less Is Not Laziness.

  • Alternating periods of activity and rest is necessary to survive, let alone thrive.
  • By working only when you are most effective, life is both more productive and more enjoyable.
  • Doing less meaningless work, so that you can focus on things of greater personal importance, is NOT laziness.
  • Focus on being productive instead of busy.
  • If you can’t define it or act upon it, forget it.
  • It is imperative that you learn to ignore or redirect all information and interruptions that are irrelevant, unimportant, or unactionable.
  • Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.
  • Being busy is most often used as a guise for avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.
  • Slow down and remember this: Most things make no difference. Being busy is a form of laziness — lazy thinking and indiscriminate action.
  • Being overwhelmed is often as unproductive as doing nothing, and is far more unpleasant. Being selective — doing less — is the path of the productive. Focus on the important few and ignore the rest.

Work smart.

  • To prevent work for work’s sake, and to do the minimum necessary for maximum effect (“minimum effective load”).
  • Replace the habit of “How are you?” with “How can I help you?”.
  • Learn to Propose. Offer a solution. Stop the back-and-forth and make a decision. e.g. “can I make a suggestion?” “ I suggest that … What do you think?” Let’s try … and then try something else if that doesn’t work.”
  • Ask for Forgiveness, Not Permission.
  • Action may not always bring happiness, but there is no happiness without action.
  • Finding someone who’s done it and ask for advice on how to do the same.
  • Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
  • Grads from top schools are funneled into high-income 80-hour-per-week jobs, and 15–30 years of soul-crushing work has been accepted as the default path.
  • Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.
  • Never check e-mail first thing in the morning. Instead, complete your most important task before 11:00 A.M. to avoid using lunch or reading e-mail as a postponement excuse.
  • E-mail communication should be streamlined to prevent needless back-and-forth. The “if … then” structure becomes more important as you check e-mail less often. Can you meet at 4:00 P.M.? If so If not, please advise three other times that work for you.

Fear and uncomfortable.

  • Define your nightmare, the absolute worst that could happen if you did what you are considering.
  • It is the fear of unknown outcomes that prevents us from doing what we need to do.
  • Usually, what we most fear doing is what we most need to do.
  • Define the worst case, accept it, and do it.
  • A person’s success in life can usually be measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations he or she is willing to have. Resolve to do one thing every day that you fear.
  • When everything and everyone is failing, what is the cost of a little experimentation outside of the norm? Most often, nothing.
  • What’s the worst that could happen? Hope for the best and planned for the worst.
  • The Timing Is Never Right. For all of the most important things, the timing always sucks. Conditions are never perfect. “Someday” is a disease that will take your dreams to the grave with you.
  • There is a direct correlation between an increased sphere of comfort and getting what you want.


  • Life exists to be enjoyed and that the most important thing is to feel good about yourself. What can I do with my time to enjoy life and feel good about myself?
  • What we’re seeking is an experience of being alive.
  • For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something … almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure — these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. — STEVE JOBS
  • Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.
  • Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination.
  • The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool.
  • If you are insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is, too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.
  • Be strict with yourself. I can prescribe medicine, but you need to take it.
  • Emphasize Strengths, Don’t Fix Weaknesses.
  • Money is multiplied in practical value depending on the number of W’s you control in your life: what you do, when you do it, where you do it, and with whom you do it. I call this the “freedom multiplier.”
  • Relative Income Is More Important Than Absolute Income. Relative income uses two variables: the dollar and time.

Start your own business.

  • Finding a market before designing a product is smarter than the reverse.
  • To be neither the boss nor the employee, but the owner. To own the trains and have someone else ensure they run on time.
  • Start Small, Think Big.
  • It is more profitable to be a big fish in a small pond than a small undefined fish in a big pond.
  • Doing the Unrealistic Is Easier Than Doing the Realistic. There is just less competition for bigger goals.
  • Creating demand is hard. Filling demand is much easier. Don’t create a product, then seek someone to sell it to. Find a market — define your customers — then find or develop a product for them.
  • Be a member of your target market and don’t speculate what others need or will be willing to buy.
  • The main benefit of your product should be explainable in one sentence or phrase. How is it different and why should I buy it?

Work on the most important things.

  • The most important actions are never comfortable.
  • Learn to ask, “If this is the only thing I accomplish today, will I be satisfied with my day?” Don’t ever arrive at the office or in front of your computer without a clear list of priorities.
  • There should never be more than two mission-critical items to complete each day.
  • If you haven’t already accomplished at least one important task in the day, don’t spend the last business hour returning a DVD to avoid a $5 late charge. Get the important task done and pay the $5 fine.
  • Limit tasks to the important to shorten work time (80/20). Shorten work time to limit tasks to the important (Parkinson’s Law).
  • Identify the few critical tasks that contribute most to income and schedule them with very short and clear deadlines.
  • At least three times per day at scheduled times, Am I being productive or just active? Am I inventing things to do to avoid the important?
  • The key to having more time is doing less, and both of which should be used together: (1) Define a to-do list and (2) define a not-to-do list.
  • Doing something unimportant well does not make it important. Requiring a lot of time does not make a task important.
  • What you do is infinitely more important than how you do it.
  • Efficiency is still important, but it is useless unless applied to the right things.

Doing what excites you.

  • What is the opposite of happiness? Sadness? No. Just as love and hate are two sides of the same coin, so are happiness and sadness. The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of happiness is — here’s the clincher — boredom. Throughout life on a regular basis and recognize that inactivity is not the goal. Doing that which excites you is.
  • Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It is the cure-all. When people suggest you follow your “passion” or your “bliss,” I propose that they are, in fact, referring to the same singular concept: excitement. “What would excite you?”.
  • Create two timelines — 6 months and 12 months — and list up to five things you dream of having (including, but not limited to, material wants: house, car, clothing, etc.), being (be a great cook, be fluent in Chinese, etc.), and doing (visiting Thailand, tracing your roots overseas, racing ostriches, etc.) in that order.
  • If you have difficulty identifying what you want in some categories, as most will, consider what you hate or fear in each and write down the opposite.


  • If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not working on hard enough problems. And that’s a big mistake. Only those who are asleep make no mistakes.
  • An expert is a person who has made all the mistakes that can be made in a very narrow field.
  • Get good at being a troublemaker and saying sorry when you really screw up.
  • Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.
  • You won’t believe what you can accomplish by attempting the impossible with the courage to repeatedly fail better.

The Expert Builder: How to Become a Top Expert.

  • Give one free one-to-three-hour seminar at the closest well-known.
  • Join two or three related trade organizations.
  • Read the three top-selling books on your topic.
  • Optional: Offer to write one or two articles for trade magazines.

80/20 rule.

  • 80% of the wealth and income was produced and possessed by 20% of the population — also applied outside of economics.
  • 80% of the outputs result from 20% of the inputs.
  • 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort and time.
  • Which 20% of sources are causing 80% of my problems and unhappiness?
  • Which 20% of sources are resulting in 80% of my desired outcomes and happiness?

It is possible to work WAY less than we do and to simultaneously make WAY more money.

A subtitle for this lesson would be No More Excuses. Tim does such a great way of explaining to us that there is no need to work ourselves to the bone until we retire at age 65 after having worked miserably from a cubicle for most of our lives. We can have the lives we want NOW and it’s time for all of us to stop making excuses.

The older I get the clearer it is that so much of us (myself included) excuse our way out of so many opportunities and end up missing out on those things we actually desire for our lives. If you want to accomplish something in your business or life, there is ALWAYS a way to get it done.

Live life NOW with no excuses and no regrets!

Tim does an incredible job of providing resources that eliminate our excuses that are so easy to make. Tim provides affordable and free resources for services and travel and products that will allow you to really make anything you want to experience a reality.

The goal isn’t to have more money.

I don’t picture myself with money sitting in my hands and get excited. What excites me is picturing what I’ll be able to experience and how I’ll be able to LIVE when I have more money. Honing in on that end goal (whatever that is for YOU) is the key.

What do you want your business and life to look like 1 year, 3 years, 5 years, 10 years, 20 years in the future? Fulfilled desires are the things we want, not the actual physical money sitting in our hands.

We do not have to be slaves to our email.

Tim talks about this a lot in The 4-Hour Work Week. It was a process for him, but over time he was able to get to the point where he only checks his email once a week. ONCE A WEEK, PEOPLE! When I read this, I was like, WHAT THE WHAAAAT?!

For years I have been an absolute slave to my email inbox, so the idea of no longer being an email-slave inspired me to make changes. I have recently started checking my email only a couple times a day, which is a huge change from before.

Also, I no longer check email from my phone because honestly there’s never a need for it. I can get everything accomplished that I need to by checking in twice a day on my computer.

This new habit has spilled over into my social media check-ins. I peek into Instagram once a day (if that) and Facebook twice a week. Do you have any idea how much time and energy this opens up?

Go on a low information diet.

This point is controversial but when I read his thoughts on how little information Tim chooses to consume, it resonated with me in a really huge way. The only time I’ve watched the news in my adult life is when I visit my parents (and even then I completely tune it out).

I don’t log into Facebook unless I have a group I need to visit. I don’t consume any news that can potentially produce fear or worry or confusion.

As Tim states: “Most information is time-consuming, negative, irrelevant to your goals and outside of your influence.” I 100% agree with this and choose to fill my mind with information that is only productive and beneficial.

Some of you might argue that I need to educate myself. I need to know what’s going on in the world! And although Tim addresses this much more eloquently, I’ll say that there is nothing I need to know that doesn’t eventually come to me. Important news has a way of finding us.

Outsourcing/delegating is important for opening up space.

Tim talks about how we should consistently evaluate our daily and weekly tasks to see if there are things we can start outsourcing. If you wanted to, you could outsource basically every single thing you do.

Hold onto the things you want to be doing and get rid of the rest. This is a process, but it’s something to evaluate regularly.

You fill the amount of time designated for each task.

This principle has a name known as Parkinson’s Law which states that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. If you have one task to complete and you set out to finish it in 10 hours, it’ll take 10 hours to complete.

If you set out to finish that same task in 1 hour, it’ll take 1 hour to complete. Aim for the shorter time of completion in order to open up space for the good things you want in your life.

The goal is excitement.

Tim explains that 5 years before writing the book, if someone had asked him his goal in life it would have been… happiness.

And wouldn’t you know it, that’s the goal he heard from many other people over the years too.

I myself assumed that that was my goal in life as well. Until I had a few revelations that maybe happiness isn’t the be all an end all and that happiness directly conflicts with the experience a lot of people go through when making significant change in the world for the better.

But then what is the goal? What are we striving for?

(Fact: Once you take care of all of your ‘money problems,’ ‘life problems’ start appearing. Great video explaining that here. Like the questions, “What am I going with my life? What is my purpose? What is my goal in life?”)

Here’s what Tim says about what our goal really should be, and why happiness isn’t the answer.

“What is the opposite of happiness? Sadness? No. Just as love and hate are two sides of the same coin, so are happiness and sadness. Crying out of happiness is a perfect illustration of this. The opposite of love is indifference, and the opposite of happiness is – here’s the clincher – boredom.

Excitement is the more practical synonym for happiness, and it is precisely what you should strive to chase. It’s the cure-all. When people suggest you follow your “passion” or your “bliss,” I propose that they are, in fact, referring to the same singular concept: excitement.

This brings us full circle. The question you should be asking isn’t “What do I want? or “What are my goals?” but “What would excite me?”

I find answering the question “what do I want and what are my goals?” to be pretty overwhelming and hard to nail a good answer to.

But what excites me? That I can answer easily and make progress on! It’s hard to work towards something you’re only half-sure about.

If you don’t define the alternative, you’ll keep working.

The book starts off the book by getting you to “dreamline”. Basically a timeline, but with dreams.

He starts it this way because there’s one very true fact of life he learned.

If you don’t define an alternative of what you’ll do every day once you get the amount of time your job is taking up in your life down, you’ll go right back to working!

In the book it says,

““I’ll just keep working until I have X dollars and then do what I want.” If you don’t define the “what I want” alternative activities, the X figure will increase indefinitely to avoid the fear-inducing uncertainty of this void.”

Ain’t that the truth!

So Tim has readers define the alternative. What would you do if you actually had time?!

Here’s a few of my dreamlines:

  • Be in a calm, zen flow
  • Be a donator to the Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation
  • Paraglide in the Alps
  • Spend weeks at a cottage on a lake in Canada
  • A week at this hotel on Lake Como in Italy
  • Fluent in German
  • Meet penguins in Antarctica
  • Ski & apres ski in the Swiss Alps

If I just cut down on work, but then chill around my apartment all day, more than likely I’ll think up something that needs to be worked on and go back to working. (Sad truth of running your own business, there’s always more that could be done.)

But those dreamlines above, they get me excited! Excited enough to work towards them and actually plan my life and business in a way which enables me to achieve those goals.

They’re the motivation needed to actually work less.

Effectiveness over efficiency.

I had always thought of myself as a very efficient person. But Tim put me straight, efficiency without effectiveness is useless.

“Effectiveness is doing the things that get you closer to your goals. Efficiency is performing a given task (whether important or not) in the most economical manner possible. Being efficient without regard for effectiveness is the default mode of the universe.

I would consider the best door-to-door salesperson efficient – that is, refined and excellent at selling door-to-door without wasting time — but utterly ineffective. He or she would sell more using a better vehicle such as e-mail or direct mail.”

Offering fewer options is of service to your customer and yourself.

I’ve had a few experiences which has proved this to be true.

If I learned one thing in running a business, it’s this, “confusion kills conversion.”

I also learned in Ashlyn’s Copywriting for Creatives course that “clear converts over clever.” (Also an affiliate link!)

Basically, all the fancy, clever things and options you’re putting out there only make decision making harder.

I also was recommended to only have 2 options on a sales page from my course-building mentor Mariah. So I have a ‘pay in full’ and a ‘payment plan’. I had other ideas for offers and options with bonuses and VIP options, but eventually determined that the page looked like a hot mess and was confusing, so I eliminated those ideas.

I also remember in The Defining Decade by Meg Jay (fabulousss book! – affiliate link!) she gave an example of marketers selling jars of jam. I don’t remember the story word for word, but the general idea was that some marketers were doing an experiment and they set up a stand at the front of a grocery store.

At first they had 26 flavors of jam on the table. They offered customers to try them and then get a discount coupon to buy a jar. They tracked how many customers came to the table, tried the jam and eventually bought a jar.

Then they did the same thing but with just 3 flavors of jam on the table, offered customers to try then, get a discount coupon to buy a jar and tracked the results.

Their finding was that when they cut down the options from 26 to 3 (and therefore made the decision easier for customers) more customers bought a jar of jam.

Tim reinforced this idea in his book.

“Joseph Sugarman… was once recruited to design an advertisement for a manufacturer’s watch line. The manufacturer wanted to feature nine different watches in the ad, and Joe recommended featuring just one. The client insisted and Joe offered to do both and test them in the same issue of The Wall Street Journal. The result? The one-watch offer outsold the nine-watch offer 6-to-1.

Henry Ford once said, referring to his Model-T, the bestselling car of all time, “The customer can have any color he wants, so long as it’s black.” He understood something that business people seem to have forgotten.” Serving the customer (“customer service”) is not becoming a personal concierge and catering to their every whim and want/ Customer service is providing an excellent product at an acceptable price and solving legitimate problems (lost packages, replacements, refunds, etc.) in the fastest manner possible. That’s it.

The more options you offer the customer, the more indecision you create and the fewer orders you receive — it’s a disservice all around.”

A prime example of a company getting this really right at the moment is Away with their suitcases.

In comparison, Samsonite has – get this – 157 suitcase options on their site right now.

Which site is easier to make a decision and buy a suitcase on? Away! Hands down.

Basically, through all of these different stories, I learned not put the hard work on my customer to make a decision.

We know our product/service best because we created it, and we (should) truly understand our customers problems.

We should give customers the exact, fabulous quality thing which will solve their problem, and eliminate all the other confusing options.

You don’t have to recoup losses the same way you lose them.

Tim lists this as a lesson he learned in the book, and I was there nodding along as I read.

“I own a home in San Jose but moved almost 12 months ago. It’s been empty since, and I’m paying a large mortgage each month. The best part? I don’t care. But this wasn’t always the case. For many months, I felt demoralized as others pressured me to rent it, emphasizing how I was just flushing money away otherwise. Then I realized: You don’t have to make money back the same way you lose it. If you loose $1,000 at the blackjack table, should you try to recoup it there? Of course not. I don’t want to deal with renters, even with a property management company. The solution: Leave the house alone, use it on occasion, and just create incoming revenue elsewhere that would cover the cost of the mortgage through consulting, publishing, etc.”

It doesn’t matter how many people don’t get it. What matters is how many people do.

A few months ago I had a conversation with an old friend. He’s a true character. An out-of-the-box thinker. A guy who says the stuff we’re all thinking, but that nobody has the backbone to say. He’s someone who is so genuinely beating to the tune of his own drum and DGAF’ing (definition here if you’re unfamiliar) what others think, it’s fabulous to behold.

The fact that’s he’s so truly and unapologetically himself is what makes him a fabulous human that you want to spend time with.

He was the first of my friends to have a blog, and I encouraged him to start one again recently when we spoke. Why? Because I felt like the world would be a better place with his blog, and therefore his fabulous self available on the internet for all to enjoy.

But, he works in a corporate job and knew that he couldn’t write on his blog what he would really want to share because of clients and bosses.

Basically, he didn’t want to be a watered down version of himself online, and I agreed. His magic is his true self, not the watered-down-PG version of it.

He has plans to quit corporate in the future, and then he said, when he’s his own boss and therefore can go all-in with putting out content he believes in online, then he’ll start the blog back up.

I’ve often thought about, as a personal brand, is it okay to take a stand on a cause? To share your thoughts on tough topics? To be authentically yourself? To share the parts and thoughts that some might not like? Or is it better to stick to the vanilla, always positive raw-raw messages that anyone and everyone will get behind?

Here’s what Tim said on the topic;

“If you strive to do anything remotely interesting, just expect a small percentage of the population to always find a way to take it personally. F*ck ‘em. There are no statues erected to critics.”

After that conversation with my friend and the line from Tim’s book, I also decided, f*ck ‘em, I want to be authentically me online, because it truly is the best me. So I am making a conscious effort to do so these days.

With this of course comes a bit of criticism from the people who don’t get it. I’ve received my fair share of rude emails, and I’ll be honest, I’m just in the beginner stages of showing up authentically online. But I’ve got this go-to quote for anytime someone rains on my parade.

“I for one have never received a piece of hurtful criticism from someone who’s actually out there accomplishing things in the world…

Most successful people are too darn busy creating things in the world, and actually living their lives to have time to harshly criticize and judge you.

The majority of the time the people who are the harshest critics are creative cowards. They are bystanders on the sidelines of life who risk nothing and create nothing.”

– Marie Forleo

Eliminate buyers regret & make use of your limited attention wisely.

This one ties into the jars of jam and too-many-options point so well.

“I was stressed out … over dog cartoons.

It was 9:47 PM at Barnes & Noble on a recent Saturday night, and I had 13 minutes to find a suitable exchange for The New Yorker Dog Cartoons, $22 of expensive paper. Bestsellers? Staff recommendations? New arrivals or classics? I’d already been there 30 minutes.

Beginning to feel overwhelmed with a ridiculous errand I’d expected to take five minutes, I stumbled across the psychology section. One tome jumped out at me as all too appropriate. The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less. It wasn’t the first time I’d seen or read Barry Schwarz’s 2004 classic, but it seemed like a good time to revisit the principles, among them, that:

  • The more options you consider, the more buyer’s regret you’ll have
  • The more options you encounter, the less fulfilling your ultimate outcome will be This raises a difficult question: Is it better to have the best outcome but be less satisfied, or have an acceptable outcome and be satisfied? For example, would you rather deliberate for months and get the 1 of 20 houses that’s the best investment but second-guess yourself until you sell it five years later, or would you rather get a house that is 80% of the investment potential of the former (still to be sold at a profit) but never second-guess it? Tough call. Schwarz also recommends making nonreturnable purchases. I decided to keep the stupid pooch cartoons. Why? Because it’s not just about being satisfied, it’s about being practical. Income is renewable, but some other resources — like attention — are not. I’ve talked before about attention as a currency and how it determines the value of time. For example: Is your weekend really free if you find a crisis in the inbox on Saturday morning that you can’t address until Monday morning? Even if the inbox scan lasts 30 seconds, the preoccupation and forward projection for the subsequent 48 hours effectively deletes that experience from your life. You had time but you didn’t have attention, so the time had no practical value. The choice-minimal lifestyle becomes an attractive tool when we consider two truths.
    1. Considering options costs attention that then can’t be spent on action or present-state awareness.
    2. Attention is necessary for not only productivity but appreciation.

reference: & Medium


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