Influence and Power

Decision Making

  • The principle of intervention, like that of healers, is first do no harm (primum non nocere); even more, we will argue, those who don’t take risks should never be involved in making decisions. 
  • This large payoff from stubborn courage is not limited to the military. “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,” wrote Margaret Mead. Revolutions are unarguably driven by an obsessive minority. And the entire growth of society, whether economic or moral, comes from a small number of people.
  • - Skin in the Game
  • Do not let the mind become clouded inside; keep it broad, and place your wisdom in that broad place. It is very important to polish both wisdom and mind earnestly.
  • Even when the action is extraordinarily lively on the battlefield, you should take the principles of the martial arts to the extreme and keep your mind unmoved.
  • Here is the reason: when you attack quickly and indiscriminately, without knowing the mind of your opponent, you will confuse your own rhythm and make it difficult to gain the victory. -Book of Five Rings
  • Motivation is more like a skill, akin to reading or writing, that can be learned and honed. Scientists have found that people can get better at self-motivation if they practice the right way. The trick, researchers say, is realizing that a prerequisite to motivation is believing we have authority over our actions and surroundings. - Smarter Faster Better: The Transformative Power of Real Productivity, Charles Duhigg
  • What makes Pixar special is that we acknowledge we will always have problems, many of them hidden from our view; that we work hard to uncover these problems, even if doing so means making ourselves uncomfortable; and that, when we come across a problem, we marshal all of our energies to solve it.
  • In any creative endeavor, there is a long list of features and effects that you want to include to nudge it toward greatness—a very long list. At some point, though, you realize it is impossible to do everything on the list. So you set a deadline, which then forces a priority-based reordering of the list, followed by the difficult discussion of what, on this list, is absolutely necessary—or if the project is even feasible at all. You don’t want to have this discussion too soon, because at the outset, you don’t know what you are doing. If you wait too long, however, you run out of time or resources.
  •  - Creativity, Inc.
  • This is the nature of management. Decisions are made, usually for good reasons, which in turn prompt other decisions. So when problems arise—and they always do—disentangling them is not as simple as correcting the original error. Often, finding a solution is a multi-step endeavor. There is the problem you know you are trying to solve—think of that as an oak tree—and then there are all the other problems—think of these as saplings—that sprouted from the acorns that fell around it. And these problems remain after you cut the oak tree down. - Creativity, Inc.
  • The executive who wants to be effective and who wants his organization to be effective polices all programs, all activities, all tasks. He always asks: “Is this still worth doing?” And if it isn’t, he gets rid of it so as to be able to concentrate on the few tasks that, if done with excellence, will really make a difference in the results of his own job and in the performance of his organization. 
  • Decisions are made by men. Men are fallible; at their best their works do not last long. Even the best decision has a high probability of being wrong. Even the most effective one eventually becomes obsolete.
  • One needs organized information for the feedback. One needs reports and figures. But unless one builds one’s feedback around direct exposure to reality—unless one disciplines oneself to go out and look—one condemns oneself to a sterile dogmatism and with it to ineffectiveness.
  • The effective decision-maker does not start out with the assumption that one proposed course of action is right and that all others must be wrong. Nor does he start out with the assumption, “I am right and he is wrong.” He starts out with the commitment to find out why people disagree.
  • As a result, decision-making can no longer be confined to the very small group at the top. In one way or another almost every knowledge worker in an organization will either have to become a decision-maker himself or will at least have to be able to play an active, an intelligent, and an autonomous part in the decision-making process.
  • - Effective Executive

Decide, Simplify, Execute, Validate


  • Most things in life have two doors so figure out which one makes most sense to go through.
  • This decision making should be done through the OODA Loop
  • Observe and Orient towards where you need to go and who is going to lead the pack in your growth.
  • Go toward that goal.


  • After you decide use the 80/20 rule to simplify what you are going after.
  • If you decide you need to get 100% there you will never get there.
  • Instead find the 20% of the decision that will lead to 80% of the value for that decision.
  • Simplify until you get to that point


  • Execute on your decision and run fast to get the 20% you built done.


  • After you go with your decision you need to validate that your decision was in fact the correct decision.
  • This will require that you go back and see if the decision that you made was in fact valid.

Decision Making

  • Effective decisions are one of the pillars of power.
    • The way to make decisions is two fold. Quick decisions with limited information, longer decisions which require more input.
  • Decide, Simplify, Execute, Validate
    • Decide they type of task that you want to make
      • Is it a big choice? Or a simple one?
      • Most decisions are as Jeff Bezos put it a two way door.
        • You can walk through the door and you can walk back out.
      • Some decisions are big existential ones that is more akin to burnings the ships after you land.
      • Know which decision you have to make.
        • Furthermore, you will not know all the information before making a decision and nor can you.
        • 60-80% is enough information to make a decision.
          • Anything more and you are wasting time or are too late.
  • You will never have 100% of the perfect information to make a decision. You only have imperfect information to work with most of the time. Have a criteria that you have that is yours that you can empirically test that you revolve over time for helping you make decisions. How do you make decisions on what you invest in, what you buy, who you date? Sometimes you don’t want perfect you want the good enough that meets your criteria.
  • Most of the time you want to make a good decision not a perfect one. A good decision is made by taking 60-80% of information available. 100% is never available to you.
  • It is just as important to remove the need to make decisions as it is to make them. Standard Operating Procedures, kill projects that don’t or won’t give you joy, etc. are important. You can’t focus your energy on everything, you can really only focus on 2-3 projects so it really depends on how you want to get those projects done quickly that matter.
  • delegate. You can’t do it all yourself and great things are done with other people so learn how to have others do tasks for you.
  • Remove tasks that doesn’t fit a certain criteria that you have.
  • When you have the upside you also bear responsibility for the downside. You can’t blame others for it

Decide if You need to make the decision

  • Sometimes you don’t need to.
    • Is this a decision I and I alone need to make?
  • over time the number of decisions you make should be reduced but those decision should be broad and deep.
    • making too many decisions over time can lead to decision fatigue.
    • that is you make so many decisions you get exhausted and do something stupid.
    • think of all the really smart, powerful people who end up with affairs.
      • they probably were making too many decisions that led to them deciding on the wrong thing at the wrong time.

Decision Making When Things are On Fire

One of the things you did today when you got the text from adam was you started to panic. You couldn’t think clearly and you were all over the place and not collected.

Always be cool and collected. Never show fear even if you feel it. You can have fear and fear is needed but when you transfer that to physiology you are wasting your body’s resources in a fight and flight response. During a stressful moment instead take a couple deep breaths.

Observe the situation. What is unfolding at the moment.

Orient to what needs to be done. What do you have at your disposal to respond with?

Decide. Decide what you are going to do to respond.

Act. Execute on that decision to go back to Observe.

You need to act on the OODA loop but that means not acting on fear and not getting emotion blind you.

Always stay cool. Even when you are angry. The more angry you are the more you oponenet has over you. Sont physiologically show anger, ever. Use exercise to take it out. You need a way to get it out.


Structuring Meetings


High Output Management

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  • What decision needs to be made?
  • When does it have to be made?
  • Who will decide?
  • Who will need to be consulted prior to making the decision?
  • Who will ratify or veto the decision?
  • Who will need to be informed of the decision?

Effective Executive / Managing Oneself by Peter Drucker

  • Look for disagreements even if overall the main task is in order
  • Feedback analysis
    • Make a decision
    • Every 6 months review the decisions
  • Once a decision has been made and worked on you need to go check on it.
    • Is it the work you want.
    • What were the failures and mistakes?
    • Were certain things not met?
    • Was the project too big to chew?
    • Was work not held to high standard.
    • All of these are important. What you lead with creates the culture that you want. You shouldn’t expect less
  • When making a decision think of boundary conditions
    • Will you want to live with this if it is going to last a while
    • What are the limitations and who will need to run this in the future. Are we making it too complicated for them?