Daily Nugget

General James ‘Mad Dog’ Mattis on Professional Reading

You’re never too busy to read.

This eloquent letter from Marine General Mattis is wise, direct and incontrovertible – I’ve never read anything better on reading:

The problem with being too busy to read is that you learn by experience (or by your men’s experience), i.e. the hard way. By reading, you learn through others’ experiences, generally a better way to do business, especially in our line of work where the consequences of incompetence are so final for young men.
 Thanks to my reading, I have never been caught flat-footed by any situation, never at a loss for how any problem has been addressed (successfully or unsuccessfully) before. It doesn’t give me all the answers, but it lights what is often a dark path ahead.
Going forward, I will print and share this letter with every graduate as ‘some of the best life advice I can give.’

I’m reminded also of Charlie Munger’s observation, “In my whole life, I have known no wise people (over a broad subject matter area) who didn’t read all the time – none, zero.”


Will It Make the Boat Go Faster?


I absolutely love catchphrases. When used as part of our language and culture, they become a great ‘shorthand’ to make a point or to provide direction.

You will notice these catchphrases throughout the For Impact thinking and writing:

Shoulder-to-shoulder. Right people on the bus. Don’t make decisions for your prospects. Hope is not a strategy. Think … and grow rich. (Even) Just Ask.

I came across this great catchphrase/book/YouTube hit recently:


Simple backstory: Ben Hunt-Davis wrote a book capturing Great Britain’s almost- miraculous win at the Sydney Olympics in 2000. (Here’s a great six-minute clip of the race.)

Hunt-Davis now gives talks all around Europe about how their crew could have kept doing the ‘same old thing’, and continue to come in well behind all the other international crews.

They came up with a simple mantra/question: WILL IT MAKE THE BOAT GO FASTER?

For them, that applied to everything they did. For example:

If we spent an extra hour on the rowing machine … will it make the boat go faster? Obvious answer: Yes.

If we go to the pub tonight … will it make the boat go faster?
Obvious answer: No.

I don’t want you to overthink this. The beauty of a catchphrase is in its simplicity.

You can decide whatever your ‘boat’ is. (A goal, a project, revenue/income, whatever.)

Then, decide on what ‘faster’ equates to. (More successful, etc.)

Then, simply ask yourself every day: