Abhi Yerra

Sheepdog: A Framework for Action in Life and Work

Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs
Why ask my birth, Diomedes? Very like leaves upon this earth are the
generations of men old leaves, cast on the ground by wind, young
leaves the greening forest bears when spring comes in. So mortals
pass; one generation flowers even as another dies away. - Illiad


  • Before you can acheive to your full potential you need to have the lower levels of Maslov’s Hierarchy of Needs met.
  • Some people are lucky in that they get some of these lower tiers taken care of for them, but most of us have to work at it.
  • This book covers the Esteem and Self-actualization goals, but before we can get there we need to cover the other tiers that allow us to fulfill the other aspects that will allow us to get to where we want to go.
Basically this deals with the lower part of the pyramid
  • You need to have some semblance of this before you can move forward since if you don’t have your basic needs met then you will very much not have the energy to find self-actualization.
  • You need exercise
  • I struggle with this.
  • But I’m trying to get better. Even if it is 5 minutes.
  • You need food
  • You need good relationships with people close to you.
  • This doesn’t mean you have to make everyone happy.
  • But your friends should give you joy and help your also advance yourself.


For we are mistaken when we look forward to death; the major portion of death has already passed. Whatever years be behind us are in death's hands. 
No man can have a peaceful life who thinks too much about lengthening it, or believes that living through many consulships is a great blessing.
-Letters from a Stoic, by Seneca
  • Your brain will not work well if it doesn’t get enough food with good nutrition, sleep and exercise.
  • The world runs according to how your body functions, and unfortunately most of us are pretty bad when it comes to taking care of our bodies.
  • It took me a long time for me to get better as well including getting over copious amounts of drinking, not exercising, thinking sleep is for the weak and other jackassery that I thought was supposed to make me strong.
  • Instead neglecting all of that made me unhappy, depressed, and in general not very effective.
  • Not getting enough food and exercise means you will be working twice as hard on something and it is easier to burnout because your body will stop functioning at a certain point.
  • It is really easy to not treat your body well and get into bad habits and then coast.
  • That is easier to do than deal with then actually taking care of yourself.
  • The best way to get these fundamental things done is to remove the decision making that is involved in doing them.


  • Eat three meals a day.
  • Start with breakfast in the morning.
  • Eat eggs, no cereal.
  • Eat some greens and fruit
  • Stop for lunch and take a solid 30 minutes off to actually enjoy your food.
  • Eat dinner
  • Eat a lot of vegetables and fruit
  • I am still working on this one but it has affected my mood drastically in terms of how much energy I have during the day.
  • I quit drinking but that is not a requirement.
  • A beer every so often is totally fine, but regular drinking can affect your mood and behavior for days after.
  • Most of all, enjoy your food. Don’t take diets too seriously and eat what you enjoy.
  • I love grilling so I try to do it frequently during the spring.


  • A solid regular time to sleep and 7-8 hours is needed for everyone to function at a peak.
  • I used to be of the mindset that sleep is for the weak.
  • This has likely caused so much wasted time and energy in my life.
  • Getting enough sleep is more valuable than proving how little you get.
  • Sleeping less results in working twice the amount, and no you can’t just push through.
  • Your brain will just stop functioning at all and it becomes completely useless.
  • Furthermore, sleep at a regular time everyday.
  • Like get into bed by 10pm so you can wake up with your body’s wake up time.
  • By getting up a regular time whether weekend or not weekend will give your body regularity.
  • Doing things in a regular time also creates a ritual for your body so that it gets used to knowing what to think about.
  • To make getting up easier have a specific morning ritual that you keep to every morning.
  • Like you get up out of bed and immediately have a coffee or brush your teeth.
  • Having morning rituals like this that you do on a regular basis allows your body to just start auto-piloting in the morning so on days where you don’t want to get out of bed you can.
  • This is really important for people who struggle with depression since it removes the thinking that induces that not wanting to get out of bed feeling.
  • To change your sleep schedule to get up earlier change by moving your sleep time 15 minutes a week.
  • Do not try to change it all at once because that will not stick.
  • Smaller changes to get up earlier done in a weekly interval will give your body time to adjust and it also lets your body know that it needs to sleep earlier, getting you into bed sooner.
  • At a biological level sleep clears toxins from your head and gives it a chance to work on problems that you’ve been struggling with.
  • Ever notice how you work on a problem and don’t get anywhere, you rest and the next day your brain is able to solve it quickly?
  • It also takes the deliberate practice you have done and makes it better.
  • It gives you better ability to think clearly.


  • Exercise creates your body which powers your brain, but your brain also creates the body.
  • You are Michelangelo sculpting David when you are exercising.
  • However, as someone who did not grow up with a big push to exercise I had to come up with ways to push myself to exercise regularly.
  • This means mostly find an activity you like to do and make sure you do it regularly.
  • Ideally you should workout for 1-2 hours a day. 
  • You need to disconnect completely from work, no browing the net or watching tv while doing this.
  • Work on strength, mobility and power.
  • The most important aspect of exercise is when you get to exercising you know exactly what you are going to do before you get there.
  • You don’t get there and dilly dally but get to the place you want to exercise and have an exact system that you follow.
  • Again, the more you autopilot the better.
  • I do the following:
  • Starting Strength: Use the novice progression
  • Yoga: stretching and mobility
  • Row Machine: 10,000 meters or 2,000 meters
  • Krav Maga: Power and mobility. Also you are basically making your body into a weapon which is also pretty cool.



  • This is super important to deal with first.
  • if your finances are not in order you will struggle to get any of the rest of the book.
  • you need to make this your main priority in the world as financial stability or the ability to get a job and have some money any money left over after all your bills are paid will lead you to what you can do.
  • however if your action is to give up everything and live like thorou remember that even he had to rely on money.

Belongingness and Love

  • Family and Friends are important and you should make a lot of time for them.
  • Everything in life is fleeting and it makes no sense to not spend it with that which makes you happy.
  • Frankenstein was happy spending time with his family and he was sickly when he was working on the monster.
  • He should have spent more time with his family instead of the monster.
  • In the end all our goals are like that monster that starts taking a life of its own, but it is family and friends and our good relationships with people that make us happy.

Intimate Relationships

  • push your partner as you would yourself.
  • Have success be as much a part of their life as it is yours
  • Have them pursue larger goals and support them even if inconvenient to you if in the long run you are both better.
  • Create OKRs for yourselves about what your relationship should be like and have outcomes that you want to achieve.
  • Do activities together, plan them out together
  • enjoy the little things
  • Make sex a part of your routine
  • Major arguments should end with reconciliation or sex, preferably both and it is also important to resolve whatever caused the fight in the first place.
A Partner You Don’t Want
Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
  • Someone who doesn’t grow and change along with you
  • Doesn’t mean they follow the same things as you but that they have their own set of aspirations that they are pushing toward.
  • They are not changing and evolving, while you are changing and evolving.
  • The problem with someone who doesn’t evolve
  • You get bored with them.
  • You don’t learn from them or you learn what you need from them, and you get into a rut.
  • They may get jealous of your growth.
  • The can’t evolve with changing circumstances and blame others and you for their inability to change.
A Partner You Want
Year 1
Year 2
Year 3
  • They are evolving along side you.
  • You can help and push each other in your evolution and growth
  • They are not the same person you first met, they are better and are continuing to get better.


  • Family always comes first. No buts or ifs. You can bitch about it, but at the end it doesn’t matter you take care of them.
  • It is just as important to push your family in their growth as it is to push your own growth.
  • Some people may be fixed in their ways, but it is also important that you push them.



No matter who you are, you need two kinds of friends in your life. The first kind is one you can call when something good happens, and you need someone who will be excited for you. Not a fake excitement veiling envy, but a real excitement. You need someone who will actually be more excited for you than he would be if it had happened to him. The second kind of friend is somebody you can call when things go horribly wrong—when your life is on the line and you only have one phone call. Who is it going to be? - Hard Thing about Hard Things


  • No friend will be a friend for all stages of your life. Sometimes friends drift apart and you need to let them go. It is just a part of life.
  • Do activites with friends outside of drinking and eating. It makes the bonds more fun and interesting.


Unscheduled WIP slightly smiling face 
  • Telling kids that they are smart makes them less likely to succeed over time. Tell them that they were good but also point out that maybe they should try something more challenging.
  • Raise children to make good decisions on their own and then trust them with their decisions when they start making them. Don’t spy on them, don’t nag at them, you have to let them fly from the nest at some point.
  • Give kids a lot of time to explore, let them disappear, go on adventures, give them time to learn new activities and push them toward new activities.
  • Don’t hide things from kids. Let them know what you are struggling with early on, let them know that you are human and can make mistakes and aren’t always right. Children are resilient even at a young age and can be tasked with big responsibility.
  • Make reading a big part of their life, push them to achieve but having them set goals for themselves. The goals should get progressively more challenging but manageable.

Other People

For so many, instead of looking for “cause of death” when they expire, we should be looking for “cause of life” when they are still around. - The Bed of Procrustes: Philosophical and Practical Aphorisms
  • Other people are more than their work. They are who they love, who they are as a friend, what they like to do for fun. Don’t equate a person to their job. Many people are finding meaning and a job may be one criteria for their meaning but not the only one. So don’t judge them on it. Find common ground such as their love of things similar to yours.
Our stereotype of men holds that they are providers, decisive, and driven. Our stereotype of women holds that they are caregivers, sensitive, and communal. Because we characterize men and women in opposition to each other, professional achievement and all the traits associated with it get placed in the male column.
All through my life, culturally reinforced signals cautioned me against being branded as too smart or too successful. It starts young. As a girl, you know that being smart is good in lots of ways, but it doesn’t make you particularly popular or attractive to boys. 
So perhaps one positive result of having more women at the top is that our leaders will have been trained to care more about the well-being of others. My hope, of course, is that we won’t have to play by these archaic rules forever and that eventually we can all just be ourselves.
- Lean In
Your brain gets too comfortable in your everyday surroundings. You need to make it uncomfortable. You need to spend some time in another land, among people that do things differently than you. Travel makes the world look new, and when the world looks new, our brains work harder. - Steal Like an Artist
Bad People
  • Life needs people like Trump
  • They throw a rock at the system but they also provide fuel and a basis for people fighting against people like him.
  • Most of the time it is bad but in the long run things improve because people see what it can be like if things are bad.



  • Your body is a machine 
  • Exercise You feel good
  • You have more energy
  • You can see further into the future
  • Yes it is a drag at times. But get through the drag so you can have some fun.
  • It has benefits from reducing anxiety, stress and depression, improving learning rate, and makes you feel much, much better.
  • Eat Breakfast
  • Eat greens when you start the day.
  • Life is too short to be angry all the time. Get over it, use your anger for good or a positive change.
  • Exercise is 80-90% about breathing. Learn to control your breathing and use it to calm yourself. A lot of fear is losing control of your breathing instead of being in control of it. So really learn to breathe