The Price Is Right

Anyone who’s watched The Price Is Right for even thirty
seconds and has heard the announcer say “COME ON DOWN!”
knows the contestants are colorfully dressed and have wild
personalities that fill the television screen. The show makes it seem
like the contestants are randomly selected from the audience—but at
around 4:00 a.m., as I’d Googled “how to get on The Price Is Right,”
I discovered it was far from random. A producer interviews each
audience member and picks the wildest ones. If the producer likes
you, he puts your name on a list that’s given to an undercover
producer who observes you from afar. If the undercover producer
puts a checkmark by your name, you’re called on stage. It wasn’t
luck: there was a system.

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Success Is The Result Of Overcoming Obstacles

Wise men are able to make a fitting use even of their enmities.

Gandhi didn’t fight for independence for India. The British Empire did all of the fighting—and,
as it happens, all of the losing.
That was deliberate, of course. Gandhi’s extensive satyagraha campaign and civil disobedience
show that action has many definitions. It’s not always moving forward or even obliquely. It can also
be a matter of positions. It can be a matter of taking a stand.

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Trust The Process

Under the comb, the tangle and the straight path are the same.

Coach Nick Saban doesn’t actually refer to it very often, but every one of his assistants and
players lives by it. They say it for him, tattooing it at the front of their minds and on every
action they take, because just two words are responsible for their unprecedented success: The

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Persistence Is The Key

For nearly a year, General Ulysses S. Grant tried to crack the defenses of Vicksburg, a city
perched high on the cliffs of the Mississippi, critical to the Confederacy’s stranglehold on the
most important river in the country. He tried attacking head-on. He tried to go around. He spent
months digging a new canal that would change the course of the river. He blew the levees upstream

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Action Wins Every Time!

There was little evidence that Demosthenes was destined to become the greatest orator of

Athens, let alone all of history. He was born sickly and frail with a nearly debilitating speech

impediment. At seven years old, he lost his father. And then things got worse.

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Think Differently And Make The Best Of The Situation

Genius is the ability to put into effect what is in your mind. There’s no other definition of it. —F. SCOTT FITZGERALD 

Steve Jobs was famous for what observers called his “reality distortion field.” The part motivational tactic, part sheer drive and ambition, this field made him notoriously dismissive of phrases such as “It can’t be done” or “We need more time.” Having learned early in life that reality was falsely hemmed in by rules and compromises that people had been taught as children, Jobs had a much more aggressive idea of what was or wasn’t possible. To him, when you factored in vision and work ethic, much of life was malleable. For instance, in the design stages for a new mouse for an early Apple product, Jobs had high expectations. He wanted it to move fluidly in any direction—a new development for any mouse at that time—but a lead engineer was told by one of his designers that this would be commercially impossible.

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Startup Is All About Speed

“Move fast and break things.” Mark Zuckerberg

 13 years into my soul-crushing indoctrination into entrepreneurship, it became clear why I’d failed so many times. I had acted based on assumptions instead of making decisions based on real data. When I purchased another company, I assumed I could bolt on $40,000 profit. Wrong. When I launched Informly, I assumed that if I created something great then people would buy it. Wrong. When I released a new version of Informly, I assumed that people would act according to the survey results. Wrong again. The only time I didn’t act out of assumptions was with WP Curve. I had no time to assume anything. I launched, and every important decision came afterwards. I based those decisions on real customer behavior, not assumptions. The ability to learn from real data is why the 7 Day Startup works. You wipe assumptions off the table. Your focus is on launching in 7 Days. 

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How To Start Your Startup?

“A startup is a human institution designed to deliver a new product or service under conditions of extreme uncertainty.” Eric Ries 

There is a lot of bullshit in startup land. Every second person is starting an incubator, raising money, pivoting, exiting, scaling, starting, failing, and telling the world as they do it. That said, I do prefer the word “Startup” to the word “Business,” which is why I’ve used it in this book. A business is anything that derives a wage for its founder. By that definition, buying a lawn mowing franchise or opening a corner store is a business. But neither is a startup. A startup is a bit more exciting. It has: 

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The 80% Approach

I start my explanation of The 80% Approach with a warning: The solution it offers is so simple and obvious that you may discount and ignore it. Here’s how this remarkably simple concept and method will help you eliminate perfectionism and procrastination for the rest of your life. 

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What Is Behavioral Economics?

The Carolina Brewery is a hip bar on Franklin Street, the main street outside the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. A beautiful street with brick buildings and old trees, it has many restaurants, bars, and coffee shops—more than one would expect to find in a small town. As you open the doors to the Carolina Brewery, you see an old building with high ceilings and exposed beams, and a few large stainless steel drink containers that promise a good time. There are semiprivate tables scattered around. This is a favorite place for students as well as an older crowd to enjoy good drinks and food. Soon after I joined MIT, Jonathan Levav (a professor at Columbia) and I were mulling over the kinds of questions one might conjure up in such a pleasant pub.

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