by Shane Snow

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: February 23, 2024

What are the big ideas? 1. Questioning the usual ways of thinking can unlock new and innovative solutions. 2. Building momentum through small wins is more important

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What are the big ideas?

  1. Questioning the usual ways of thinking can unlock new and innovative solutions.
  2. Building momentum through small wins is more important than relying solely on past experiences for future success.
  3. Mentorship, whether formal or informal, plays a critical role in personal and professional development.
  4. Success teaches us patterns that work, while failure highlights areas needing improvement, but only if we're willing to learn.
  5. The ability to focus and say no to distractions is essential for making meaningful progress in any endeavor.


The Power of Innovative Thinking

  • “New ideas emerge when you question the assumptions upon which a problem is based.”
  • “Lateral thinking doesn’t replace hard work; it eliminates unnecessary cycles.”
  • “Innovation is about doing something differently, rather than creating something from nothing (invention) or doing the same thing better (improvement).”

The Role of Leverage and Momentum in Success

  • “Leverage is the overachiever’s approach to getting more bang for her proverbial buck.”
  • “Momentum—not experience—is the single biggest predictor of business and personal success.”

The Significance of Small Wins and Taking Chances

  • “People are generally willing to take a chance on something if it only feels like a small stretch.”
  • “Weick says, ‘Once a small win has been accomplished, forces are set in motion that favor another small win’.”

The Impact of Mentorship on Achievement

  • “Mentorship is the secret of many of the highest-profile achievers throughout history.”
  • “Underhill found ‘Informal mentoring produced a larger and more significant effect on career outcomes than formal mentoring’.”
  • “There’s a big difference, in other words, between having a mentor guide our practice and having a mentor guide our journey.”

Learning from Success and Failure

  • “Failing in business doesn’t make us better or smarter. But succeeding makes us more likely to continue to succeed.”
  • “It turns out that the surgeons who botched the new procedure tended to do worse in subsequent surgeries. Rather than learning from their mistakes, their success rates continuously declined. On the other hand, when surgeons did well on the new surgery, more successes tended to follow.”
  • “When doctors failed due to what they perceived as bad luck, they didn’t tend to work any smarter the next time. They attributed failure in a way that made them feel as good as they could about themselves.”
  • “We externalize our mistakes because we need to live with ourselves afterward.”
  • “The difference was how much the feedback caused a person to focus on himself rather than the task.”
  • “The research showed that experts—people who were masters at a trade—vastly preferred negative feedback to positive. It spurred the most improvement. That was because criticism is generally more actionable than compliments.”

The Importance of Focus and Saying No

  • “Often, the thing holding us back from success is our inability to say no.”


  1. How can questioning assumptions lead to innovative solutions?
  2. Why is lateral thinking important in problem-solving?
  3. How does leverage increase your success without extra effort?
  4. What makes momentum crucial for achieving goals?
  5. How do small victories contribute to larger success?
  6. In what ways does mentorship impact your career and personal growth?
  7. Why is it important to learn from both successes and failures?
  8. How can saying no help you focus on what truly matters?


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