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#302 Napoleon (The Mind of Napoleon)
May 8th, 2023 | E302

What I learned from reading The Mind of Napoleon: A Selection of His Written and Spoken Words edited by J. Christopher Herold. 


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[3:45] A man who combined energy of thought and energy of action to an exceptional degree.

[4:45] He knows that men have always been the same, that nothing can change their nature. It is from the past that he will draw his lessons in order to shape the present.

[5:15] Destiny must be fulfilled. That is my chief doctrine.

[6:05] Napoleon: A Concise Biography by David Bell (Founders #294)

[9:25] To aim at world empire seemed to Napoleon a most natural thing.

[10:00] To have lived without glory, without leaving a trace of one's existence, is not to have lived at all.

[10:55] The greatest improvisation of the human mind is that which gives existence to the nonexistent.

[11:45] The best way to understand a person is to listen to that person directly. —  Make Something Wonderful: Steve Jobs in his own words (Founders #299)

[12:55] The great majority of men attend to what is necessary only when they feel a need for it—the precise time when it is too late.

[16:10] The worst way to live according to Napoleon:

When on rising from sleep a man does not know what to do with himself and drags his tedious existence from place to place; when, scanning his future, he sees nothing but dreadful monotony, one day resembling the next; when he asks himself, "Why do I exist?”—then, in my opinion, he is the most wretched of all.

[17:45] Instead his (Steve Jobs) ego needs and personal drives led him to seek fulfillment by creating a legacy that would awe people. A dual legacy, actually: building innovative products and building a lasting company. He wanted to be in the pantheon with, indeed a notch above, people like Edwin Land, Bill Hewlett, and David Packard. — Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson. (Founders #214)

[19:15] He must know himself. Until then, all endeavors are in vain, all schemes collapse.

[20:15] Napoleon on George Washington: Britain refused to acknowledge either him or the independence of his country; but his success obliged them to change their minds and acknowledge both. It is success which makes the great man.

[21:15] Washington saw the conflict as a struggle for power in which the colonists, if victorious, destroyed British pretentions of superiority and won control over half of a continent. — Franklin & Washington: The Founding Partnershipby Edward Larson. (Founders #251)

[23:15] If you do everything you will win: All great events hang by a single thread. The clever man takes advantage of everything, neglects nothing that may give him some added opportunity; the less clever man, by neglecting one thing, sometimes misses everything.

[23:45] Warren Buffett: We are individually opportunity driven. — All I Want To Know Is Where I'm Going To Die So I'll Never Go There: Buffett & Munger – A Study in Simplicity and Uncommon, Common Sense by Peter Bevelin. (Founders #286)

[24:15] Imagination rules the world.

[25:00] Ambition is a violent and unthinking fever that ceases only when life ceases.

[34:52] The corpse of an enemy always smells sweet.

[35:30] Roots of Strategy: Book 1

[38:45] Robert Caro profiled two men who seeds were not high (in a tournament) they were without many advantages. And to get all the way to the top you probably had to sacrifice everything to the effort. The meta lesson is if you are not willing to pay that price presume someone else will.

If you want something like the presidency (or being a billionaire) you should presume there is someone out there who will devote all their time, money, relationships, sense of ethics, everything in sacrifice of that one goal. Of course that person would win that race.  — Invest Like The Best Sam Hinkie Find Your People 

[40:45] I do not want be roadkill on the modern-day Napoleon's path to glory.

[43:15] The ancients had a great advantage over us in that their armies were not trailed by a second army of pen pushers.

[44:05] A wasted life should be your greatest fear.

[46:30] Make use of every possible opportunity of increasing your chances of victory.

[48:55] Paul Graham on Be Hard to Kill:

The way to make a startup recession-proof is to do exactly what you should do anyway: run it as cheaply as possible.

For years I've been telling founders that the surest route to success is to be the cockroaches of the corporate world. The immediate cause of death in a startup is always running out of money. So the cheaper your company is to operate, the harder it is to kill. —  Paul Graham’s essays (Founders #275)

[51:30] Winning is the main thing. Keep the main thing, the main thing.


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