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#226 Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle
January 12th, 2022 | E226

What I learned from reading Heroes: From Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar to Churchill and de Gaulle by Paul Johnson.


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[0:55] I have always had a soft spot for those who speak out against the conventional wisdom and who are not afraid to speak the truth, even if it puts them in a minority of one.

[1:20] 4 traits of heroes:

1. Absolute independence of mind. Think everything through yourself.

2. Act resolutely and consistently.

3. Ignore the media.

4. Act with personal courage at all times regardless of the consequences to yourself.

[2:25] Churchill by Paul Johnson

[2:47] Intellectuals: From Marx and Tolstoy to Sartre and Chomsky by Paul Johnson and Creators: From Chaucer and Durer to Picasso and Disney by Paul Johnson. 

[3:34] Founders #196 Book link: The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitzby Erik Larson. “It’s slothful not to compress your thoughts.” —Churchill

[4:58] They carved out vast empires for themselves and hammered their names into the history of the earth.

[5:04] Each was brave, highly intelligent, and almost horrifically self-assured.

[6:09] Founders #208 In the Company of Giants: Candid Conversations With the Visionaries of the Digital World  "People are packaged deals. You take the good with the confused. In most cases, strengths and weaknesses are two sides of the same thing." —Steve Jobs

[10:22] Alexander the Great read Homer all of his life and knew the passages by heart. It was to him, a Bible, a guide to heroic morality, a book of etiquette and a true adventure story. The Illiad and The Odyssey by Homer. 

[11:50] Can't Hurt Me: Master Your Mind and Defy the Odds by David Goggins

[12:15] The most important factor, as always with men of action, was sheer will.

[15:56] Caesar appreciated the importance of speed and the terrifying surprises speed made possible.

[16:15] Founders #155 Invent and Wander: The Collected Writings of Jeff Bezos “You can drive great people by making the speed of decision making really slow. Why would great people stay in an organization where they can't get things done? They look around after a while, and they're, like, "Look, I love the mission, but I can't get my job done because our speed of decision making is too slow."

[18:33] Caesar was a man of colossal energy and farsighted cunning. He aimed to conquer posterity as well as the world.

[19:42]  You should avoid an unfamiliar word as a ship avoids a reef. —Julius Caesar

[20:55] You train an animal, you teach a person. —Sol Price

[23:02] Caesar’s approach to difficulty was all problems are solvable.

[24:36] Caesar was a man of exceptional ability over a huge range of activities. Among his qualities: great mental power, energy, steadfastness, a gift for understanding everything under the sun, vitality, and fiery quickness of mind. Few men have had such a combination of boldness shrewdness and wisdom.

[26:30] George Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow 

[27:14] Founders #191 The Almanack of Naval Ravikant: A Guide to Wealth and Happiness

[27:25] George Washington was a vigorous and active man, an early riser about his business all day. And by no means intellectually idle, he accumulated a library of 800 books.

[29:57] The best talk on YouTube: Runnin' Down a Dream: How to Succeed and Thrive in a Career You Love 

[35:08] His (Washington) strategy was clear, intelligent, absolutely consistent, and maintained with an iron will from start to finish.

[36:12] All that counts is survival. The rest is just words.

[37:18] A lesson from the history of entrepreneurship: Why you start your company matters. Doesn’t have to be complex. A great example: Phil Knight said he started Nike because he believed if everyone got out and ran a few miles every day the world would be a better place.

[42:06] Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin

[45:23] Words and the ability to weave them into webs which cling to the memory are extremely important in forwarding action.

[53:01] Founders #200 Against the Odds: An Autobiography by James Dyson: This is part of my anti-brilliance campaign. Very few people can be brilliant. Those who are, rarely do anything worthwhile. You are just as likely to solve a problem by being unconventional and determined as by being brilliant. And if you can't of be unconventional, be obtuse. Be deliberately obtuse, because there are 5 billion people out there thinking in train tracks, and thinking what they have been taught to think.


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