Snow has crafted a very interesting and thought provoking book in Smartcuts: How Hackers, Innovators, and Icons Accelerate Success.
What he describes are not short cuts, as inferred from the title, but more specifically strategies and techniques people have used to accelerate their progress in achieving their goals and creating lasting success.
Snow has applied his journalistic skills and analytical acumen to review, assess and identify some of the ‘Smartcuts’ that have allowed people to achieve much more than would ordinarily have been possible with a traditional approach.
Having reviewed the successes of, amongst others, presidents, designers and music artists, Snow has identified factors such as lateral thinking, networking, mentoring and the use of rapid feedback as key to accelerating success.
In a style reminiscent of Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner and Malcolm Gladwell, Snow presents interesting, engaging and well-researched anecdotes to demonstrate how others have applied their talents. And in contrary to many other books, he doesn’t suggest a 10 step process or formulaic how-to guide for replicating the same kind of career success for yourself. What he offers are general principles that have been fruitful for others and that, with some tailoring to your own situation, may accelerate your own progress.
The 9 principles that Snow has identified are:
1. Hack the ladder
Small wins may seem unimportant, but they have induce a reduce levels of resistance to subsequent proposals. Incremental changes (small steps on a ladder) over time improve your situation in a fashion similar to compound interest.
Ladder switching is also powerful. Stepping sideways onto a different ladder can translate and even accelerate your success. How many US presidents where elected from other careers such as the military and even show business.
2. Training with the Masters
Chess students who trained with coaches increased their average ranking 168 points. Sports players that use coaches proress faster than those that don’t. Telemachus, the son of Odysseus, shortened his path to success by understudying a man named Mentor (where the name for a mentor now originates).
3. Rapid feedback for course correction
Experts in a trade have always preferred negative feedback to positive. Negative feedback is more actionable and a compliment can breed complacency.
4. Exploit platforms
Platforms allow you to exploit levels of abstraction. Computer programmers use application development suites as platforms to accelerate their work. The internet accelerates research. Platforms support activities that can often be complex and repetitive.
Schools could encourage thinking and application of learning how to think as a platform for success rather than rote memorising.
5. Catch the wave
When surfing, there are 2 ways to catch a wave:
– Exhausting hard work paddling to where you need to be to catch the wave.
– Exploiting pattern recognition, spotting a wave early and casually drifting to the sweet spot.
By looking for patterns and trends well in advance of others you can spot the coming opportunity and prepare for that opportunity.
6. Super connecting
Very few people are successful on their own. Success therefore requires linking with other people. Super connecting will allow you to tap into that network and gain support for your objectives.
Something in motion will stay in motion unless acted on by a force. Small wins will turn the success flywheel so engage your team and customers in helping you progress. Small steps can be as powerful as major breakthroughs in the path to success.
Remove as much complexity from a system as possible. this makes it easier for people to apply and much easier to automate.
9. 10 X thinking
Think 10 times bigger and it will open up other opportunities. Ford looked for something to increase the speed of transport and so a car was built rather than a faster horse. If you are thinking anyway, why not think big?
Overall, Snow has written an interesting and entertaining book with some excellent insights into the success of others. If success leaves footprints, then ‘Smartcuts’ certainly captures some of them. The challenge is to adapt your thinking so that you can exploit these principles.
A book well worth reading and a delight to consider the potential of these principles.
Dare to Aspire