Dean's Notes (May 2021)

How much is enough, measuring your life, alternatives to resolutions, and more

Happy Monday!

I'm back with the monthly Dean Notes—a roundup of things I'm exploring, learning, and creating to help you become a better thinker and leader.

A quick recap/intro: I'm Dean Yeong (@deanyeong). Here, I write articles and share book notes on productivity, leadership, money, psychology, entrepreneurship, and more.

Let's dive in...

What's new

🤷‍♂️ How much is enough? My thoughts on the alternatives of chasing for more (more money, fame, shinny objects) after months—maybe years—on pondering on this question.

📖 Reading notes of How Will You Measure Your Life. While past experiences and advice from successful people teach us new insights, they are less helpful in helping us make big decisions in life. In this book, the author approaches the problem using theories from different fields and studies.

Recommended books

👆 How Will You Measure Your Life by Clayton Christensen.

Before we do anything, we must create a purpose for ourselves that includes all areas of our lives. Next, create guiding principles and commit to them. Things happen in small incremental and slowly compound their way up—both good and bad. Our guiding principles are what keep our integrity in check. "Just this once" is a dangerous first step that will get us to where we don't want to be.

One key insight I learned from the book is that you can say whatever you want, but until you allocate your resources—time, energy, money, and talent—on them, they don't matter. And often, things that matter need our attention before they are urgent. Take health and relationships, for example, the best time to take care of them is now, not when you most need them (it would be too late).

Articles worth reading

The days are long but the decades are short. Here's a list of life lessons written by Sam Altman six years ago that are still very relevant to most of us today.

The permanent portfolio investing strategy. In short, the portfolio breakdown: 25% equity, 25% bond, 25% gold, and 25% cash. Why? No one can predict the future of the market and the portfolio requires no prediction. It holds four negatively correlated basic asset types to counterbalance each other. The portfolio grows without huge swings in volatility.

A better alternative to resolutions and goals. Making consistent progress > Hitting vanity KPIs. And the best way to make progress is to focus on mastery—by simply making sure you can answer yes to the question, “Are you better today than you were yesterday?”

Marathon Mindset. How do we stay focused in a world with increasing optionality? To align our short-term focus with long-term results? Here's a podcast episode by my buddy Mitchell Cohen sharing what he learned from completing the Austin Marathon.

Quotes you might need

Half an inch is a small step. But when combined and compounded, towards one direction, they are what get us to where we want to be. —Dean Yeong
When we read, another person thinks for us; we merely repeat his mental process... This is the case with many learned persons: they have read themselves stupid. —Arthur Schopenhauer
The only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. —Steve Jobs

More interesting finds

🍦 The reason McDonald's ice cream machines are always broken. It doesn't happen as frequently in Malaysia (maybe it's just that I don't get ice cream that frequently). But it's interesting—but sad—to see how big businesses intentionally make their product sucks to protect their profit.

👋 "How are you?" is boring. Here are the alternatives to "how are you?" that will last you for a full month.

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Dean is a strong voice in the self-mastery space. His newsletter consistently delivers insightful ideas on how to become a better version of yourself and is the only newsletter that I always read.

Sebastian Kade

Head of product and engineering