Friday, 1 June 2012

A list in time...

20 things I should have known at 20
These things are more "speak for yourself mate" but, like the more famous Niven's Laws, provides a point of difference for conversation and grist for blogs.

This particular one is not too bad:

1. The world is trying to keep you stupid.
It's more that there is a strong pressure not to think about things - the author comes down in favor of knowledge over learning meta-skills. Critical analysis is what you want here.

2. Do not have faith in institutions to educate you.
Education is an active rather than a passive process - sure, though I'd have used the phrase "rely on" instead of "have faith in". The author favors personal experience over book learning but I'd point out that the best lessons are learned off someone else since they have already made the mistakes. Once you have a platform of other people's mistakes to learn from, you can confidently go forward to make your own brand-new mistakes.

3. Read as much as you can
Reading is a skill that involves more than speed and retention - you also need to understand what you read, and be able to select worthwhile things to read - which means you need to be able to reason critically about what you read. Works with a very high information density are harder to read than those without (see #1) but usually more worthwhile, for example.

You should also learn to write well.

4. Connect with everyone, all the time.
The authors comment about being genuine here is an important one - though sometimes you also have to be diplomatic.

7. Have as much contact as possible with older people.

This is a special case of #4. The author's example is also a reason to have contact with younger people since this guy met his future employee at 13, sitting next to him on a plane.

11. Instead of getting status through objectsdo it through experiences.
Status comes from who you are not what you have. However, it is perfectly legitimate to signal status through possessions ... usually you try to signal a status only slightly better than what you actually have. Don't fake anything you cannot live up to.

14. Get a Six Pack (or get thin, whatever your goal is) while you are young.
Yeah sure, like that's advise every teenager is going to take.

17. Get a reminder app for everything.
It used to be this would read: develop your memory. Since the other suggestions seem to come from training seminars and such I'd guess the author hasn't done a memory training one. To be fair, my life went a lot more smoothly when I got a PDA (remember those) and put all my appointments in it's PIM.

20. Don't try to fix anyone.
Unless, of course, you are a doctor or a psychologist or it is your goal or something.

You'll notice I didn't comment on all of them.


  1. I like this post. All the points are useful & important. Reading & continous practise is must for making command in language. Thanks for this sharing.

  2. Oh look an advert - it's not obnoxious so I'll let it stand ;)