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Life Rules

Following is list of ideas, guidelines and rules-of-thumb that I’ve discovered to be important (in my life, at least).

  1. The Golden Rule. Treat others the way you want to be treated. So much derives from this one little rule.

  2. Trust. Trust is not something that exists by default, but is earned over time. A lifetime of built trust can be lost in a moment.

  3. Humility vs arrogance. Humility (and all that derives from it) is one of the most valuable characteristics a person can have. Arrogance, on the other hand, is one of the most detrimental.

  4. Important vs urgent. We tend to spend too much time on the urgent, and not enough on the important. The important is what has long-term value.

  5. Focus. Interruptions are the killer of productivity. Try to get in a couple of interrupt-free focus period during the day, to work on what’s important.

  6. Write well. Writing well requires effort and practice. It is one of the most underrated, yet valuable skills a person can possess. When I look to hire someone, written communication skills are at the top of my list.

  7. Understand the basics of design. A basic understanding of the fundamentals of design will dramatically improve your written and visual communication abilities. Read Robin Williams’ “Non-Designers Design Book”

  8. Daily planning. Don’t end the day without planning the next.

  9. Retirement spending. If you spend no more than 4% of your savings per year, and you have your savings reasonably invested, you will (likely) never run out of money.

  10. Save as much as you can. Save as much as you can. Be disciplined. Pay yourself first. Plan in terms of percentages.

  11. Investing. Take the time to learn the fundamentals of investing. Read books by William Bernstein. Everyone should invest their savings in something likely to outpace inflation. The math of compound returns is compelling, but never forget that risk and return are inextricably related. Invest your savings in a diversified portfolio of uncorrelated asset classes, primarily stocks and bonds, but also real estate (REITS) and commodities. The most important investing decision is the broad allocation, as that sets the risk you’ll take. Rebalance annually.

  12. Religion. Be aware that culture, family and our particular moment in history tend to shape our beliefs. Be particularly careful to distinguish beliefs and truths, when raising children. Don’t confuse an incomplete theory of one hypothesis as evidence for another. Avoid discounting a hypothesis due to your own inability to understand it. Avoid falling prey to Pascal’s wager. Encourage individual thought, and reason.

  13. Relativity & perspective. From time to time, it’s good to remember the effects that relativity and perspective have on our perception of reality.

  14. Email etiquette: Confirm receipt. If you can’t immediately reply to an email, then at least confirm receipt with an estimate of when the sender can expect a reply. Nothing’s worse than emailing into a black hole.

  15. Productivity: Don’t check email often. Try not to check email more than a few times per day, and at set times. (I’ve never been able to achive this, but I maintain hope…)

  16. Reporting. If you are responsible for something, provide frequent status updates to whom you report. Don’t make your manager/boss have to remember to ask.

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