The Road Less Stupid

Welcome to my book review of The Road Less Stupid by Keith J. Cunningham.

At 5% through this book, I already had more significant highlights than most.

“Measuring the critical drivers is the only way to create sustainable business success….Most business owners just measure the end results, or KPIs. A KPI might be sales, profits, or gross margins.” (p. 263)

Technically it’s a business book, but it’s about thinking, something that humans do too little of.

Think of The Road Less Stupid like a mini business course. Easy to read and easy to understand business concepts written by someone who’s been in business for many, many years and clearly has good foundational advice.

When you get stuck or think about a problem:

  1. Ensure you’re asking the right question or finding the unasked question
    1. Findng the right question is rarely the problem, instead it’s inferior questions that produce unattractive choices
    2. Framing the problem as a statement (ie a fact) is always a mistake
    3. “why am I poor?” versus “how might I…so that I can…”
      1. Also relevant “how/why did it get/stay this way?
  2. Separate the problem from the symptom
    1. The question is not ‘how to attract quality girls?’, that is actually the sympton due to an underlying problem

A great question always has three common characteristics:

  1. It provides insight on what the actual problem is that needs to be addressed.
  2. It simplifies the problem and makes it solvable.
  3. It expands the number of possibilities available to solve the problem or improve the situation.

Sage advice on identifying problems:

  • Most people, when asked to pinpoint their biggest problem, erroneously identify their problems as the gap between where they are and where they would like to be. For proof, check the answer you were about to write down. What you identified as the problem is actually a description of the gap. The gap is not your core underlying problem; it’s the symptom. The symptom is what indicates something is wrong, but it does not shed any light on what is causing it to show up. (Loc214)
  • The key to defining the root problem is discovering the obstacle (it resides in the gap) that is impeding your progress from here to there. It is the obstacle that is the problem, not the dissatisfaction with your current circumstances.

3 most fundamental questions to ask to help get clarity about the root problem/obstacle are:

  1. What are the possible reasons I am noticing this symptom?
  2. What isn’t happening that, if it did happen, would cause the perceived gap ( symptoms) to either narrow or disappear?
  3. What is happening that, if it stopped happening, would cause the perceived gap (symptoms) to narrow or disappear?

A CEO’s 7, non-delegable jobs:

  1. Clarity on Point A and Point B
  2. Identify the Gap and the Obstacle
  3. Design the Plan and Machine
  4. Allocate Resources
  5. Top Grade for A Players
    1. A Players/employees see opportunities while C players see only problems.

Log of Lessons Learned (p. 74-82) is worth the price of the book plus some.

Some good quotes:

  • When emotions go up, intellect goes down. (Loc100)
    • I, Danny, want to make an important districtin that there is NOTHING wrong with emotions even though in our current society, it seems as such. Feel depressed, take this pill. Angry, go to jail.
  • The people with the best life have the best choices. People with a lousy life have lousy choices. If I want to improve my life, I need to create better choices. (Loc143)
  • An unenforced rule is not a rule; it’s a suggestion (Loc690)
    • You can change out ‘rule’ for ‘law’!
  • Making mistakes is inevitable; admitting them and learning the lesson is optional. (Loc876)
  • All upsets are simply unmet expectations. (p. 91)
  • When my effort to help you get better exceeds your effort to get better, this stops working for both of us. (p 94)
  • In dealing with employees, I have found one universal truth: They all want to be successful. The key is alignment on the definition of success. (p. 96)
  • If you want the most, make it easy. If you want the best, make it hard.”
    • U.S. Marine Corps slogan
  • Hell on earth would be to meet the man you could have been. (p. 168)
  • The Master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he’s always doing both. (p. 168)
  • It is more important to ensure survival under negative outcomes than it is to predict maximum returns under favorable ones. (p. 211)
    • Attribute: Howard Marks
  • Pleasure is about stimulating the senses. Happiness is found by being grateful for what I’ve got. Success is getting what I want. Fulfillment is giving what I’ve got. (p. 288)

    Did you know I’m an author? I wrote four books on real estate investing, travel, and language learning.

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