1-Sentence-Summary: Smartcuts explains how some people and businesses achieve rapid growth and build sustainable, profitable companies in the time it takes you to get another promotion, by working smart, not hard and hacking into the ladder of success, instead of climbing it one step at a time.
Read in: 4 minutes
Favorite quote from the author:
Wouldn’t you just love to skip the first ten years of a consulting career and start right at the partner level? Or have your Youtube channel explode to 500,000 subscribers in just two years, instead of ten?
That’s exactly what Smartcuts is about. And before you think “this sounds like shortcut, and shortcut sounds sketchy,” keep in mind that this isn’t a book about time management hacks and quick fixes.
It’s a book about strategies, which function like shortcuts. None of the stuff this book describes is an easy to implement tactic. They’re strategies and these take time. But if you follow Shane Snow’s guidance you’ll end up where you want to go a lot faster.
Here are 3 lessons to help you work smarter, not harder:
- Get a mentor, but make it someone you know well.
- Try to time your efforts right, so you can build upon the momentum from landing a hit.
- Go for 10x improvements, instead of incremental changes.
Ready to cut the learning curve? Let’s hack the career ladder!
Lesson 1: Find a mentor, but make sure it’s a friend.
If you haven’t stumbled across him on Youtube yet, I’d be surprised – Tai Lopez, probably the loudest voice telling you to get a mentor on the internet. This book agrees, making an often-cited argument: all professional athletes have coaches, all professional musicians have teachers, and all professional businessmen (and women) should have a mentor.
However, there’s a caveat, and it’s an interesting one: your mentor should be an informal relationship, not a formal one.
There’s plenty of paid mentorship programs, but according to a study by Christina Underhill, informal mentorship yields better results than formal mentorship, simply because mentors are more invested in helping their mentees through struggling times when they feel personally connected to them.
Paying someone to tell you what to do can help some of the time, but when a true friend commits to helping you get up to his or her level, that’s the kind of mentorship that’ll show the biggest results.
For example, when a London hospital team reached out to Ferrari’s Formula One pit stop team for help with transferring patients from operating to the ward, they eventually ended up building close-knit relationships, which led to a long-term cooperation. The error rate in the hospital decreased by 66% over the years and Ferrari even became their sponsor.
Lesson 2: Try to have good timing with your efforts, so you can build on the momentum from landing a hit.
The best way to grow any successful venture is to double down on what’s already working. But what if you haven’t found anything that works yet?
This is where timing comes in. You can never know which of your ideas turn out to be brilliant and which ones no one will care about. But you can at least try to have good timing.
For example, Michelle Phan has one of the most popular Youtube channels about make-up and fashion around. She’d made videos since 2007, but had her first big springboard hit in early 2010. Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ video had come out around a month earlier, and Michelle explained how to do one of Gaga’s creepy makeups and the video exploded to 30 million views.
Now she had a stepping stone to work from, which she instantly used to make more videos re-creating popular make up styles, like from Catwoman, Tim Burton movies, or Disney princesses.
Once you find something that works, do it again. But until you do, try to strike the right nerve at the right time.
Lesson 3: Shoot for 10x improvements instead of incremental updates to the status quo.
Astro Teller works at Google X. He’s in charge of their Moonshots program. Why Moonshots? Because every project they tackle fells like trying to put a man on the moon in the 1960s. It’s a long shot, but if it works, it’ll be phenomenal.
Astro says it’s often easier to try and make something that’s ten times better than just improving the current solution by 10%. When you’re trying to revolutionize the status quo, you’re not bound by the same, limited thinking everyone else is grappling with.
It forces you to throw out everything you know and start from scratch. People are usually very open to crazy, visionary ideas and things that force them to use their imagination.
Jim Collins described this in Great By Choice – big risks come with big rewards, so instead of entering the race for cheaper, faster and smaller, throw out the rulebook and come up with something new altogether.
My personal take-aways
It sounds like a book full of quick hacks. But it’s actually a book full of solid strategies. I like that. It’s a book that will surprise you. This draws on lessons I’ve seen in many other business books, but combines them in a new and useful way, and it’s a book that’s both useful to the individual as well as to companies.
Plus, its from 2014, so fairly new and up to date. Definitely a recommended read.
What else can you learn from the blinks?
- What lateral thinking is and how it lets 1/3 of all US presidents avoid the common process to become POTUS
- Why all good feedback is negative feedback, but not all negative feedback is good feedback
- How to use existing platforms to build on other peoples’ work
- What allowed Skrillex to become a mega-success fast, in spite of being a newbie
- How Che Guevara spread the message of revolution by using superconnectors
- Why what works today doesn’t have to work tomorrow
Who would I recommend the Smartcuts summary to?
The 21 year old with a slightly older, successful friend, who’s brain she can pick at any time, the 27 year old gamer, who completely ignores Pokémon Go, and anyone who’s never attempted a 10x improvement.