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"Higher Tier" Self Development Writers
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Andy_B Offline
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"Higher Tier" Self Development Writers
I have a problem with self-help literature:

Most of the people who write it never did anything in their lives other than write self-help.

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with writing self help. but as a pre-requisite, I think you should have to have done something else first. For example, if you want to write a book about living abroad, you should have actually lived abroad.

So, for me, the way I approach self help literature is not to dismiss it all and write it off as a scam, but to find self-help material written by people who were/are successful OUTSIDE of self help.

Finding these kinds of people is harder than you think. Tim Ferriss might SEEM to fit the bill, for example, but honestly I don't think he QUITE makes the cut. Yeah, he started companies before he wrote the 4 hour workweek. But the 4 hour workweek was WAAAAAAAAAAAAY bigger than any of his companies were, so I don't place an overly high amount of value on his pre-4HWW experience.

That said, I have found a few authors who fit the bill. These are guys who made significant contributions in their careers (in business, philosophy, the arts etc) and only THEN started giving out advice. In no particular order:

Charlie Munger

Co-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway with Warren Buffet. Wrote "Poor Charlie's Almanack" along with a bunch of articles and talks you can find online. Charlie's writing isn't self help in the strict sense but he does talk about "strategies for being rational" and things like that so if you're into the headier side of self-development, you'll learn a lot from him.

Best book: Not a book but his talk "Causes Of Human Misjudgment" is awesome.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pqzcCfUglws

Paul Graham

Paul Graham is a startup dude who works in Silicon Valley. He writes a lot about topics like choosing a career, starting a company, etc. My favorite thing about his writing is that he examines the deeper underlying questions behind common advice; for example, in "how to do what you love," he starts off with the recognition that "doing what you love is hard," then proceeds to tackle it from there.

http://www.paulgraham.com/love.html

Arthur Schopenhauer

Most people in the manopshere know of Schopenhauer through his essay 'on women,' but personally I'm a much bigger fan of his 'advice' writing (seen in 'The Wisdom Of Life' and 'Counsels And Maxims'). I guess it would be hard to categorize Schopenhauer as 'self help,' since self help didn't exist when he was writing, but he definitely wrote books of practical advice. His advice is definitely pessimistic, but the more I think about it the more I think his counsel of 'low expectations' is basically the best (I would advise low expectations combined with tons of action, though). Here's an article on his basic philosophy:

http://www.spring.org.uk/2008/01/schopen...lp-for.php

And here's his chapter on "worldly fortune," which has lots of nuggets of gold:

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/s/schopenh...l#chapter4

Worth noting is that most people don't know about Schopenhauer but he influenced many of history's most influential thinkers, including Einstein, Nietzsche, Freud, Tolstoy, Wittgenstein etc, so he's kind of like the philosophical equivalent of a garage band that your friends haven't heard of but influenced all the popular stuff they're into.

So, I guess the point of this thread is...

... Who are some of your favorite 'self help' writers who weren't really self help writers? Famous people who influenced you by combining great advice with great achievement, whether in business, technology, philosophy, the military, etc? And why?
10-07-2013 04:09 AM
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BadgerHut Offline
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RE: "Higher Tier" Self Development Writers
A PDF of Munger's speech is available here:

http://www.rbcpa.com/Mungerspeech_june_95.pdf

It is WELL worth taking a couple hours of your time to read it carefully. It is one of those pieces that is worth reading multiple times at the expense of reading something else.
10-08-2013 12:40 PM
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BadgerHut Offline
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RE: "Higher Tier" Self Development Writers
One of the best books I ever read that prepared me for adult working life was "In But Not Of" by Hugh Hewitt, now repackaged as this: http://www.amazon.com/Guide-Christian-Am...000SI9LOK/

Forget the "Christian" aspect of the title and content; the tips in here, from a Harvard law grad who worked in the White House and now hosts a radio show and writes books (in addition to having a wife and family), are the most outstanding collection of social and work tips I've ever seen in one place. I've used them to great effect in my own working and personal life.

In a parallel to our own discussions, he says that to influence the ethics and structure of society, one has to master the social skills to gain influence in the first place, and forget the idea that ladder-climbing strategies are only for Machiavellian narcissists - just like how game is amoral, it's a tool to improving your life you need to have even if you don't want to be a player.

Most of the tips are common sense but it helps to see them laid out - get educated, get jobs that put you in touch with powerful people, do a lot of favors, get good mentors, sharpen the saw, save your money, keep your goals in focus, stay in shape.

It's its own type of red-pill wisdom, geared towards the educated white-collar person.

Also interesting, I'm currently reading Rumsfeld's Rules which covers similar ground: http://www.amazon.com/Rumsfelds-Rules-Le...00APGQ5K8/

Forget his politics - his tips are good shit.

Roosh is right that corporate dronage sucks, but if you're smart and educated and on your way to a good career, a lot of these tips can really help you reach the next level and get more security and prestige.

I think the top tip I've distilled from them is to make sure that you are working on the highest-impact projects you have access to and keeping your eyes out for more. Doing a job well doesn't buy you much progress if the job is rote, as opposed to being involved on a big important project even if the project fails (AAMOF, sometimes failing on a big project can move your forward).
10-08-2013 01:48 PM
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