Gilad"s shared items

Friday, August 31, 2007

The Power of Community

Priscilla Palmer has put together this massive list of personal development websites.

I see you saying to yourself, "Another list, why should I bother with it". So this is why, Chris Marshall from Martial Development has created The Personal Development Oracle. A Google custom search engine, if you ask the oracle a question it will search for the answer from the personal development blogs on the list.

This is the power of web 2.0, each member of a community puts is his own special contribution of the subject and everybody can enjoy it, with simple tools such as search box.

Friday, July 6, 2007

3 ways, only one leads to success

On his book The Dip, Seth Godin presents three ways to view any path you are taking in your life. The Dip, The Cul-de-Sac (dead end), and The Cliff.

You are on the Cul-de-Sac, when you are doing something that gives you some reward but over time the reward does not increase no matter how big the effort you invest in it. For example, watching television or surfing the web on work time (and writing this blog post).
You are on the cliff, when the reward/effort ratio increases in time but you know in the end there is a big cliff. For example, smoking, not exercising, and surfing the web on work time (and writing this blog post).

You are on the Dip when first the reward is big, but after a while it is getting harder and harder , only the ones that get out of the dip get a high reward. For example, writing a blog, on the first few posts it is fun and you have a lot of ideas, but then after a while you hit the dip and you don't have time to post anything, the hits on your blog don't increase enough, and you are out of ideas on what to write.

Most people stay on the cliffs and dead ends of life, and quit on dips. Seth advice to happiness is to do the opposite. Quit the cliffs and dead ends and focus on the Dips.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Taking productivity to the next level

Originally uploaded by rachelluttrell

"Self development" literature tends to focus on the "self".

How to set goals, manage your time and tasks. Building information management systems, being organized. How to stay in focus and be motivated. Having healthy and intimate relationships.

Self-growth is a hard and never ending mission, which I struggle with every day.

Albert Einstein once said:

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it."

The same is true with the problem of personal growth.

In The The 8th Habit, Stephan Covey, talks about taking growth to the next level. How? Find your Voice & Inspire Others to find Theirs. Become a leader.

Leadership by Covey does not depend on your on your formal position, it is an attitude. What ever is your position is in an organization, you can always take the "personal-growth" ideas and implement them on the team/group/community/organization level.

The framework for growth focus on all 4 sides of being human:

  • Body:
    Personal - exercise, be healthy, control your impulses, develop good habits and work to eliminate bad habits.
    Team /Organization - build good routines and information flow systems, keep the organization healthy by making sure it meets the needs for survival (i.e. economic growth, members satisfaction).

  • Mind:
    Personal - Learn all the time, expend your skills and responsibilities. Visualise yourself in a year from now, 3 years, 20 years. Set goals and plan to achieve them.
    Team/Organization - Develop a mission statement, a vision. Plan for the long term goals.

  • Heart:
    Personal - Learn to recognize your emotions and to control them. Develop heart-full relationships in your family, with friends and colleagues.
    Team/Organization - Trust (verb and noun) your team members, be a trustworthy person. Develop relationships inside the group and with other groups. Empower team members by beliveing in them and helping them in a significant way(for them).

  • Spirit:
    Personal - Live by principles and values. Contribute to make the world a better place.
    Team/Organization - Act according to pricipels and values. Meet a genuine need in the world. "Don't be evil".

Questions to ask on a daily basis
(team = team/organization/group)

  • Do I identify with my team values?
  • How are my goals meet the goals of my team?
  • How can my team grow and improve?
  • How can I help my team members?
  • How can I become a leader and a force of growth in my team?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"All the good ideas I ever had came to me while I was milking a cow", Grant Wood

Having a personal organization system is vital for achieving a state of flow in your life. It releases your mind for creativity and growth.

I'm using remember the milk as my task manager.


  • It is simple, clean, streaming and have a zen like feeling to its design. No clutter, everything is clear, and easy to maintain.

  • Great keyboard interface. almost everything can be done from the keyboard. adding tasks, tagging them, prioritizing, updating, adding links/notes/due dates. even batch editing (use the 'm'ulti-mode).

  • used as a module in my personal management system. It has great gadgets for your mobile phone, personalized homepage, calender, maps, dashboard, email, and with the new Google gears feature you don't have to be connected to have your list.

  • using tags and smart lists you can customize the way you using RTM. you can tag task by project, context, location, status, and then have specialized lists using the tags.

  • Sharing tasks is great for project management, family messages and shopping lists.
Here is how I use RTM:
  • I have only few lists:
    • Inbox - for fast insertion of tasks, that i can process later.
    • tagged - all processed tasks
    • projects - list projects and for every project i have and Outcome, progress, and reference notes.
    • goals - prioritized by: short term(few months), medium term (1-3 years), long term (3-20 years)
  • I tag every task by project, location, context, and any other tag that come into mind. On my weekly review I go over my tag cloud instead of on lists.
  • I use smartlists to have a list of tasks i use. Then I have a RTM gadget on my iGoogle page, in addition to the main RTM gadget that I use as my "hard landscape", that i change to watch the list I want at any given depending on what I work on.
  • Get Things Done - on my weekly review I tag tasks I want to complete this week as 'thisweek', then I go over the list and give a due date for each task on the list. I make sure that I have an action for every project I'm working on. This way I know I'm going to make progress on all my projects.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Focus, Focus, Focus

Originally uploaded by bocavermelha-l.b.

Want to be productive - you must get focused

One of the key concepts of getting into a mode of flow in your work is control over the conscience and the ordering of it. When you are in the flow, your creativity appear, you are "in the zone", you can solve any problem. When you are not focused, you can think only in short bursts, you are preoccupied with other things, your brain is submerged in noise. Therefore you feel obliged to take a break and recharge your energy, but when you get back to your desk, this all process start again.

How do I break the cycle and get focused?

  • Clear your head, the most basic principle of GTD, take it out of your head and into your organization system. Anything that pops into your head, just take it out of there a soon as possible.

  • Time boxes, eliminate all distractions - email, phone, people, news feeds for a short defined period of time (30-60 mins). Nothing will break during this time, that is why you don't need to worry about the things you are not doing.

  • Script it, select the next 3 most important tasks (MIT) and actively think only on them, all others tasks does not exist now. Visualise yourself doing the tasks and the outcomes of completing the tasks

  • Do the task for its own sake - this was the key for me, similar to the Jewish tradition that you learn the holy texts "LiSh'ma" (for its own name) not for achieving knowledge, not for achieving reward, not because this is your religious obligation, but because you want to learn. You do somthing beacuse you want to do it.

    But why should this work? we are attracted to doing stuff that gives us fast feedback. You want to get feedback and reinforcment for your actions as fast as possible, why wait for a week to see the results of preparing to a meeting a week from now, when you can read a 100 more posts from your very important news feeds, and see your list of "to-read" get shrinked by a 100. So how do we break this habit. We do a task beacuse we want to do it. we visualise us doing the task and having the doing as the reward.

    "The Journey is the Destination" when you act by this motto you always have feedback and reward in your actions - if you are focused and actualy do what you planned of doing. when you actually complete the task, your reward is doubbled. with a doubble reward you will make the habit of being in focus even stronger.

So choose your next task, visualise yourself doing it, focus on the doing as your reward and actually GET THINGS DONE

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Freedom Writers

I just finished watching the amazing Freedom Writers movie. The story is similar to other teacher movies which are based on true stories,Coach Carter for example. But the acting in this movie is superb as is the real story.

It is unbelievable what one person can achieve with when he/she really believe in the value of its own work, and how empowering it can be if you set up a system of trust and believing in the unique voice of each individual in the group.

The environment created in that class room by this "novice" teacher, should be a model for every team and group of people working together. And the teacher's attitude of no obstacles just opportunities, should be a model for my own attitude.

Lessons from the Freedom Writers can be learned on so many levels: motivation, power of commitment to change and growth, blame-everybody vs. you can make a change, leadership, education and parenting, overcoming obstacles and so more.

I'm still owed by this story, go now and watch the movie or read the book.

Go Freedom Writers

Saturday, June 2, 2007

The best way to learn a new set of skills requires two steps

The best way to learn a new set of skills requires two steps:

  • Doing it
  • Teaching it

Doing it
Michel Jordan once said:
I've missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.

You cannot be good in something if you have not practiced it. You want to be a good speaker; grab any opportunity you have of presenting something to a big audience, try Toastmasters. Sure you will suck at the beginning but after 1000 presentations you will be a great speaker. To develop any skill be it mental, emotional or physical you have to train yourself. Before you can run a marathon you need to train and run 5 miles. You want to own your own business, first be a leader in your own job - do your job to perfection, help colleagues as best as you can , be proactive and make a change in your organizational environment.

To help you do what you want to do, commit yourself publicly to your goals. Tell to all your friends what your goal is, write about it in your blog. The public commitment well help you stay focused on your goal in the first steep steps of the learning curve.

Teaching it
To really understand a subject deeply, the best way it to teach it to someone. When you teach you must reorganize your knowledge of the subject and connect it to other parts of your memory and associations. When you don't teach the material will probably stay in your memory in the same format it was presented to you and only few connections will be made with your full knowledge and skills.

This are the main reasons way I write a blog. I wanted to improve my writing and what a better way then committing to write a few posts a week. I want to develop myself and the blog is a place to publicly commit to my goals. And one of the best ways to make knowledge be an integral part of the way I think is to try and teach it to others, it using the blog platform I can receive continuous feedback from my readers on how am I doing and have a place to return and tap my knowledge about personal growth.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Putting the inner engine on fire

Your motivation, productivity, happiness will all come if you can only find out your special "Voice".

The motto of my life should be

"When I engage in work that taps my TALNET and fules my PASSION that raises out of a great NEED in the world that I feel drawn by CONSCIENCE to meet - therein lies my calling"
from The 8th Habit by sthephen covey

When reviewing my goals and life I should ask:
TALENT - what are my skills and strengths?
PASSION - what am I passioned about - personal growth, robotics, israel, web2, programming, hiking...
NEED - What does society and people need
CONSCIENCE - What are my core values

Am I following my inner voice and making a change?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Parent yourself by using the Economics of Nudging

Reading stack
Originally uploaded by mitten
An article in the NY Times from last week called "Sometimes, What’s Needed Is a Nudge" made me think of how we can parent ourselves to improve our well-being.

The main point of the article is that you can significant improvements in the well being of people if you install in place small and simple mechanisms to make them do things they need to do. Like a parent nudging his child to do homework. This has even a fancy name "Libertarian paternalism" which means the state should help you make the choices you would make for yourself—if only you had the strength of will and the sharpness of mind.

This is an interesting idea on the political and economical level, but one can also apply the idea to his own life, and parent himself. How?? Make small changes in your life and acquire habits and routines that will help you do the right choices without thinking about it too much.
This is what life - hacks is all about.

There are two ways this can be done and we can summarize it in the biblical phrase: "Turn away from evil, and do good." (Psalm 34:14). And here are a few example

Turn from evil:
  • Limit your surfing on the web with Time2Go
Do Good:
  • Do the next action. (based on GTD) Always have a small list (three is a good number) of next actions. Having this list it is easy to decide what to do now.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

How to enjoy your daily chores or any other boring activity

Make them enjoyable by transforming them to a game.

Let's face it , chores are boring and unsatisfying. If we could we would have delegated them to someone else or postpone doing them forever. However without washing dishes, washing the floor, throwing the garbage and cleaning the bathroom our home would look like after a hurricane.

The dilemma is to procrastinate about doing you chores, gain some productivity time, and loose it because your home is all cluttered and you can't focus on achieving your goals because of the smell. Or make your chores into a game.

Games are enjoyable because:

  • There is a clear goal.
  • Three are clear rules.
  • It requires skills.
  • We have instant feedback about our progress.
  • It requires our attention and therefor life troubles are forgotten.
  • We sense accomplishment.
So why not turn all our experiences into games? For example take washing the dishes.
The washing dishes game:
  1. Clear goal: finish washing the dishes as fast as you can.
  2. Clear rules: Max time per small item 5 seconds, medium item 10 sec and large pots 30 sec. you can accumulate extra time by doing an item faster and spend it on items that take longer. Important: the dishes must be clean
  3. Skills: Time tracking, math for keeping up with extra/spent time, optimize order of items and movements, ....
  4. Feedback: Dishes are being cleaned.
  5. Attention: If you are really into the game, you can't think of anything else but the time, how much extra time you have, what is the best order to get the best time ...
  6. Accomplishment: The kitchen is clean, you exercised your brain, you know how to clean the dishes better and faster.
Let's hear you, what other games for boring chores yo can think of?
If you take this step and make a game from every activity you take, you will enjoy every activity and have an enjoyable and happy life.

picture by Foto Blitz Color's buddy icon

Sunday, May 20, 2007

A map to hapiness and optimal experience

In his book Flow, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced as "Chick-Sent-Me-Hali") explores the map of finding happiness. His over a quarter of a century research suggests that happiness is achieved when a person achieves growth in his life through getting to a goal and overcoming all obstacles in the way to this goal. The mental condition in which a preson is found when struggling and getting his goal is called Flow.

To get into the Flow you need to:

  • Control you consciousness
  • Build order and focus by making realistic goals
  • Struggling to overcome obstacles and achieve goals is the most enjoyable activity you can be involved in.
  • Condition yourself to get into the flow and stay there.
  • Acquire physical and sensory skills to practice flow, like playing music, athleticism or Yoga.
  • Acquire symbolic skills like when playing chess or learning mathematics.
  • Transfer you work into flow-producing activity.
  • Have meaningful relationships with your family and friends.
  • Enjoy life in face of adversity.
  • Find Meaning in all you experience.
If you can do all that it does not matter if you are healthy or sick, rich or poor you could find hapiness in your life. And the most surprising fact is that it is doable.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives

Today I heard a talk by David Sloan Wilson
about his view of evolution. You can read all about it in his book Evolution for Everyone: How Darwin's Theory Can Change the Way We Think About Our Lives which can be described as

"journey from the origin of life to human morality and religion,"
In short, Wilson claims that we can view all our levels of life from Bilogical to Social and Religious through the eyes of evolution, and it is a very powerful toll for us to understand what is being Human all about.

Multi Level Selection

One point Wilson mention in his talk is of Mutli Level Selection, that is the evolution on each level is based on a lower level evolution but it is independent from it. The higher level behaviur is not internal to the lower level but emergent from it. You cannot understand the high level in the terms of the lower level. This has huge implications, if to borrow from the Technology world, software cannot be found in the hardware level. Google is not inherent in the IP networking protocol. And human behavior is not the product of the molecules in out brain Although we would like to think that way (tip by robotstocknews). Furthermore, usually lower level fitness if working against higher level fitness.

This view of evolution in very similar to the view of Metaphysics of Quality where evolution is the dynamic quality and the different levels are the static quality levels of life.

So go and read Lila by R.M. Pirsig and Evolution for Everyone by D.S. Wilson and acquire a better way of understanding, analyzing and making the right decisions about life.

Monday, May 14, 2007

control your emotions at the work place

Emotions are our strength and our weakness, how should we control them instead of them controlling us?

"I am what I feel"
Emotions are our compass in life. Without our emotions we would not be able to make any decision in life. In the end of every "good" dilemma we are left with few options and we decide one of them based on the feeling and emotions that the options arise in us.

However emotions can also be our weakness, holding us back. They could make the simplest meeting or conversation in to a major problem by breaking a relationship with a work colleague.

The Ririan Project Blog suggest 20 ways to outsmart our emotions.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Values, Morals, Evolution, Science and Mapping

Lila (1991) is the second philosophical novel by Robert M. Pirsig, who is best known for his classic text, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In this book, Pirsig presents his metaphysics of quality or MOQ for short.

The main claim of MOQ is that our view of the world should be a moral view or valued based view. Everything in the world is seen by its value. There is an hierarchy of value domains.

  • The inorganic values - physics
  • Organic values - biology
  • Social values - law
  • Intellectual values - science, spiritual thought
And most importantly there is static and dynamic quality. The value domains are static forms of quality the were found over history. Dynamic quality is the power that pushes reality forward.

Looking on reality and our life in that form is very helpful. When I feel down I should ask myself what is the problem? Why do I experience low or bad quality. What kinds of value domains are in conflict in my life.

When trying to answer this questions is important to remember that both static and dynamic qualities are important in order to progress and grow in life. Dynamic quality could take you to wrong allies, but as long you have your static quality in place, you can do the jump of leap knowing you have your safety net behind you.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

How the market crash affected me - part 2

Well, the markets did recover today, so this was not the big correction that is still to come.
So what should we do now?

First if you have properly diversified portfolio then you should not do anything, over the long-run history shows that the stock market as an average of 10% annual returns. Most of the jumps up are sone over periods of few months, so it is hopeless to try and time the market, you should just stay in the game, and invest each month a bit more.

However, you should make sure you are not exposed to undesirable risk, if you have stocks in your portfolio that are being traded at prices above your estimation of the company valuation. You should consider lowering your exposure to this risky stocks and move the money to increase other positions on your portfolio.

This one-day fall is also a very good thing for cost averaging your positions. A specially if you put some money into mutual funds on the first or last day of the month. Then the timing of this fall (@ smartmoneylife) was just perfect.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

How the market crush affected me - part 1

Dow plunges 416 points, the biggest fall in a day since 2002 or something. This could be very scary if you are a novice investor. I started investing in stocks a year ago, as anyone that intend to be financially free should do. But how should I react to such a fall?

The wall street experts are saying for some time that this fall is coming, and we should have expected it. The hot bubble markets of east asia , the debt problems in the US, and the simple fact that the market is a bull market for a few years now with no real correction (a fall of at least 10%).

So what should I do now?
........more coming soon.... in the mean time, what do you think?


Monday, February 26, 2007

Creating websites

The number of technologies that enable creation and management of webapps with out knowing the first thing about programming is growing by the minute.
This is a very important aspect of web2. That allows anyone with a bit of innovation to create sophisticated applications and content that is accessible by millions of people around the globe.
The power of Internet is no more in the hands of corporations and computer geeks, but in the hands of any creative person.
Here are two such platforms that I found of just today, zimki [web2], durpal [slashdot], and one I used to create my wife's website. Google's page creator

Innovation and Growth

Bill Gates wrote today in the Washington Post a column titled, "How to Keep America Competitive". His main argument is that economic growth depends on innovation. The best designed and the most opened economy would not be competitive without the power of innovation that utilizes the market to produce growth. The most important element in innovation is the people. And if you want the best people you need the best education and research institutes and and you want the brightest people. Hence he calls for radical improvement and investment in the US education system. He also calls for attracting the brightest minds from around the world to live in the US, and making the immigration process easier on them.
I agree with Gates on his arguments, but the slow in growth that the US is going to feel on the coming years is caused by different problems and not due to lack in innovation. The US still has the best universities and research centers, and it is still attracts the best minds from around the world. The problems that will bring the US down are the debt both on the federal and personal levels. As long as Americans will continue to spend and not save, and think on Today vs. Tomorrow, the accumulating problems will continue to grow until they would bring the ultimate fall of the economy. The US will have to be very innovative to overcome its debt problems.