The Outer Scorecard vs The Inner Scorecard

“The big question about how people behave is whether they’ve got an Inner Scorecard or Outer Scorecard.”  — Warren Buffett

When you’ve got the Outer Scorecard, you are at the mercy of perceptions outside of your control.  How can I suck up to the boss?  Does anyone above me notice that I’m putting in extra hours?  How does my appearance look?  Do I look like I’m successful and have made it?  Have I got enough Likes on my Instagram; otherwise I need to take it down.  I have to buy a new car, not a used one, or what will people think of me?  If I buy a home, will my family be proud of me?  My children are acting crazy, people must think I’m a bad parent!

When you’ve got the Inner Scorecard, your dialogue with yourself can be … Did I put in all my effort into this project?  Am I improving, or just going through the motions.  If I was the customer, would I be happy to receive this product/service?  Am I being courageous, or playing it safe?  Am I contributing to others?  Am I selfless, in order to help others?  Does my wife/husband, children, dog respect me?

“I say ‘Lookit.  Would you rather be the world’s greatest lover, but have everyone think you’re the world’s worst lover?  Or would you rather be the world’s worst lover but have everyone think you’re the world’s greatest lover?'” — Warren Buffett
When you’ve got an Inner Scorecard, it’s all on you to judge yourself, and be satisfied yourself.  That seems like a lot of pressure, but it’s freeing.  You have 100% control of your perceptions of yourself.

The Parable of the Genie, the Car, and the Greatest Asset of All

An excerpt from Chapter 53 of The Snowball by Alice Schroeder, a biography of Warren Buffet.

“Let’s say that when I was 16, a genie had appeared to me.  And that genie said ‘Warren, I’m going to give you the car of your choice.  It’ll be here tomorrow morning, with a big bow tied on it.  Brand-new.  And it’s all yours.’

Having heard all the genie stories I would say, ‘Whats the catch?’ And the genie would answer, ‘There’s only one catch.  This is the last car you’re ever going to get in your life.  So it’s got to last a lifetime.’

If that happened, I would have picked out a car.  But can you imagine, knowing it had to last a lifetime, what I would do with it?

I would read the manual five times.  I would always keep it garaged.  If there was the least little dent or scratch, I’d have it fixed right away because I wouldn’t want it rusting.  I would baby that car, because it would have to last a lifetime.

That’s exactly the position you are in concerning your body and mind.  You only get one mind and body.  And it’s got to last a lifetime.  Now it’s very easy to let them ride for many years.  But if you don’t take care of that mind and that body, they’ll be a wreck 40 years later, just like the car would be.
It’s what you do right now, today, that determines how your mind will operate ten, twenty, and thirty years from now.”

Leadership Lessons From One of the GOAT

Greatest of all time that is.

Bill Walsh joined the San Francisco 49ers in 1979, taking over the worst team in the league.   In his third season as head coach, he turned the worst team, and won the Super Bowl, a first of it’s kind turn around in the NFL.  Bill Walsh went on to win three more Super Bowl’s in his career, and revolutionalized the NFL with the West Coast Offence.

We are lucky, that before he passed away, he chose to write about his leadership principles and how he was able to turn around an entire organization, from the secretarial staff, to coaches, players, and physio staff.  How to manage NFL players, some of the most egotistical people.  How to set a standard of performance and work ethic, that leads to the highest performance.

“Everybody’s got an opinion.  Leaders are paid to make decisions.  The difference between offering an opinion and making a decision is the difference between working for the leader and being the leader.”

Standard of Performance

Walsh is known for his Standard of Performance, setting the bar to be the best in performance, while maintaining the right attitudes.  It is as follows …

“Exhibit a ferocious and intelligently applied work ethic directed at continual improvement; demonstrate respect for each person in the organization and the work he or she does; be deeply committed to learning and teaching, which means increasing my own expertise; be fair; demonstrate character; honor the direct connection between details and improvement, and relentlessly seek the latter; show self-control, especially where it counts the most — under pressure; demonstrate and prize loyalty; use positive language and have a positive attitude; take pride in my effort as an entity separate from the result of that effort; be willing to go the extra distance for the organization; deal appropriately with victory and defeat, adulation and humiliation (don’t get crazy with victory nor dysfunctional with loss); promote internal communication that is both open and substantive (especially under stress); seek poise in myself and those I lead; put the team’s welfare and priorities ahead of my own; maintain an ongoing level of concentration and focus that is abnormally high; and make sacrifice and commitment the organization’s trademark.”

Walsh has many facets around his philosophy of coaching, management, and leadership, however this is his cornerstone statement.  All activities and attitudes point back to this statement.  Regardless of how much you agree with his standards, Walsh highlights that it is of prime importance of a high performing organization to have high standards.

“The culture precedes positive results.  Champions behave like champions before they are champions.”

Sustained success does not happen by accident.  It always leaves breadcrumbs to follow.  So let’s dig further into his philosophy.

“I directed our focus less to the prize of victory than to the process of improving — obsessing, perhaps, about the quality of our execution and the content of our thinking, that is, our actions and attitude.”

Work Ethic

“For me, the starting point for everything […] is the work ethic. Without one of significant magnitude you’re dead in the water, finished.”

Walsh was known for his fierce work ethic.  In practices, he narrowed down to the quarter of a yard where a receiver should be and turn around to expect a pass.  During practice, if a receiver stepped a quarter of a yard out of position from where he was supposed to receive the ball, even if he received it, he would stop and call the play and demand the receiver to do it again until he got it right.  His discipline for the right execution of plays is what would lead his team in high pressure situations, to be able to perform their plays like clockwork.

Quarterbacks were taught the three step, five step, seven step back, how to throw the ball, when to throw it, how to hold the ball, and practice throwing at different distances, velocities, trajectories, and angles.  Linemen were taught specific key moves, foot movement, foot positioning, arm movements, and multiple drills were designed to practice each one of these. Practices were organized and scheduled down to the minute.

Walsh had raised the bar for his team, to practice their faces off, to go further than what other teams were willing, in order to have the most well practiced execution, with the right strategy, and people who were taught exactly how they should do what they need to do at the highest level.

“Most of the [leadership] theories seem to take monumental work ethic for granted, as if it is assumed or something, as if people automatically know what it is and do it.  I didn’t assume it.  The majority of people out there don’t know what it is.”

Making Good Decisions and Planning

Outside of the time Walsh spent on practices, tape, games, travel, he was planning strategy and execution.  He would plan for several scenarios under several circumstances, running what-if and scenario analysis so that he would be prepared for almost anything.

“If I’d done my work properly, little would arise that hadn’t been anticipated.  There’s always something you can’t anticipate, but you strive to greatly reduce the number of those unforeseeables.”

Walsh would also script the beginning of the game.  Not only would the first number of downs be planned, but every game he was known for planning out the first 25-30 plays that the offence would run.  His players came to expect this and looked forward to hearing the script of the game.  This allowed players to visualize and pre-meditate on the execution of the beginning plays to set the right tempo for the game.  Proper execution of the script would lead to a quick lead at the beginning of the game.

It also gave the team a sense of calm.  In an environment where tens of thousands of the opposing team’s fans are screaming at you, in howling wind and freezing weather, these environments and contexts are not conducive to the best decision making.  Making decisions on the fly in high pressure situations, does not produce the best decisions.  Scripts and contingency planning would assure that the decisions were made ahead of time, in better environments when emotions and distractions were controlled.

“What is the width and depth of the intellect you have applied to your own team’s contingency planning?  What could happen tomorrow, next week, next year that you haven’t planned for, aren’t ready to deal with, or have put in the category of “I’ll worry about that when the time comes”?

“Great organization is the trademark of a great organization.”

Managing Personell

At this point, it is no surprise that Walsh has a lot to say and think about regarding employees of your organizing. On setting his standard and letting it permeate through the organization:

“Bonding within the organization takes place as one individual and then another steps up and raises his or her level of commitment, sacrifice, and performance.  They demand and expect a lot of one another.”
“Employees can thrive in an environment when they know exactly what is expected of them — even when those expectations are very high.”
“Place a premium on those who exhibit great desire to keep pushing themselves to higher and higher performance and production levels, who seek to go beyond the highest standards that you the leader set.  The employee who gets to work early, stays late, fights through illness and personal problems is the one to keep your eye on for greater responsibilities.”

Reading Walsh’s book, The Score Takes Care of Itself, was a difficult read. It brought out insecurities of mine and I would ignore or disagree with many of his writings.  However, through reflection, it is the work ethic and discipline of a great man, who pushed it outside of the limits of my own thinking, that I realized that I am miles away from one of the greatest coaches of all time.  So what now?

“It takes time to develop the Standard of Performance; it is not just a seminar or a practice or a season’s worth of seminars and practices, but thoughtful and intense attention over years and years.”

22 Books I Read in 2016

As 2016 comes to an end, I am taking stock of all that I’ve read and learned this year.  It really does seem like last December was just around the corner as I was planning on what books I would read this year.  Not everything I actually got to, but I am really proud of how much I did actually get to read.

Below are a list of books, in a rough order of when I read them.  I’ve marked a asterisk (*) symbol beside the books that were my favorite reads of the year and I will carry lessons that I learned from them for the rest of my life, and that I would recommend others to read.  Also the title of the book may have a link to my book notes that I’ve posted on my blog if you are interested in knowing more.

Mindset by Carol Dweck *

Mindset is based on a thesis that people, in different forms and areas of their life, approach life with a fixed mindset vs a growth mindset.  This book has been extremely popular and has been blowing up all over within the business field, education, parenting, and I would imagine sports as well. Many influencers recommend it, including being on Bill Gates’ reading list.

The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday *

This book’s central tenet is that “The impediment to action advances action, what stands in the way, is the way”, a quote from the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius.  This book was my introduction into the school of philosophy called Stoicism.  This philosophy also has been blowing up all over, particularly in the start up world as well as making rounds throughout the NFL.  I just about highlighted a passage from every single chapter.  Stoicism isn’t a boring philosophy, they were interested in pragmatic and practical strategies in living a good life.  If you’ve started to hear about Stoicism or have read about how this ancient philosophy relates to modern life, I would highly recommend this book.

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl *

An absolute classic of a book that has stood the test of time, and is recommended on so many people’s recommended book list.  Man searches for meaning, but perhaps it is in fact that life is asking man what meaning to give to one’s life.  A good place to start when asking yourself what you want out of life, or what you want to do with the life you’ve been given.

Frankl was a psychologist that lived through the horrors of concentration camps, losing his entire family, and came out with a sense of purpose in his life, by writing this book.  He observed that those who were most likely to live through life in concentration camps, were ones that had assigned meaning or purpose to their life. Whether it was writing a book, completing their work, or living for a loved one.

Also it goes into great description of what it was like to live in a concentration camp.  Definitely an eye opener. I was touched so much and it grew a yearning inside of me to learn more about WW2, that I arranged a trip to Berlin, Germany in 2017.

No art is original, all art is stolen. Many artists have been influenced by Michael Jackson, James Brown, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton.  Every great artist has been influenced by the past, and build on what was created, but give their own uniqueness to it.  So there is no need to feel like you are copying someone else’s art.  You should be copying someone else’s art, it is the only path to original art.

Show Your Work by Austin Kleon

You can’t find your voice unless you use it. Artists don’t develop in a vacuum, they are developed with other artists.  Share your work, so you leave a trail for people to find you.  If you ever wanted to have an online presence of a body of work, I recommend getting this book.  Only takes an hour or so to read.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

I’m glad that I took the chance to re-read this classic book.  Nice to read some children’s fiction every once in awhile.

The Score Takes Care of Itself by Bill Walsh

Bill Walsh was the coach of the 49ers, that was the first coach to take a last place team and turn it around to a championship team within 2 years, and create a dynasty and changed the way the game was played with his West Coast Offence.  His central theme is his standard of performance, how he expected his entire organization to take their job seriously and do everything with excellence.  I did not enjoy this book very much, however I must admit that their are lots of hard lessons that I may be trying to avoid.

Tartine by Chad Robertson

This book is the bible on home sourdough bread baking.  I never got around to creating my own sourdough starter (however I attempted once and failed), but I grew a huge appreciation for bread and how it’s made. The book is filled with bread recipes as well as what to do with the bread.  It goes through a history of bread through the ages and it’s origins, and is wonderfully written.  I salivate now thinking about the stories of Chad’s time in France as he learned to bake bread all day, and ate raclettes, bread, and local rose every night.  An excellent read.
If you are interested in baking your own bread, a very easy access point is Jim Lahey’s video for a no knead recipe.

The Elements of Pizza by Ken Forkish

I liked what my friend said recently as he was also embarking on learning to create his own pizza, it’s a life skill that you can use for the rest of your life.  I’ve probably made 20-30 pizzas this year after reading this book.  It’s a highly accessible place to learn how to make your own pizza dough and learn about the different styles of pizza around the world. Worth it to know the difference between a traditional Neapolitan pizza vs an American pizza (and even the differences between a NY slice, West Coast, New-Haven, Chicago, St.Louis).  I could go on …

Linchpin by Seth Godin *

The workplace is changing at an unprecedented pace.  What we learned from our parents and teachers no longer apply.  If you’ve ever been worried about your future job security, I would recommend reading this.  In a world where organizations are applying rules and standards to their employees, and when services are being automated, what the world will hunger for is true authenticity and human touch.  That is something that will always be in demand, and a skill that will always be rare in the workplace.

Vagabonding by Rolf Potts

There is a certain template that most of us live.  Work ~50 weeks of the year, and take the rest travelling, dashing between 2-4 cities per year.  But what if this template was flipped on it’s head.  What does it mean to travel well? Is travel very expensive?  If you want to become a better traveller, of start forming your philosophies on travel, this could be a place to start.

Deep Work by Cal Newport

We are in the age of distraction, and a skill that is becoming more rare, while becoming more essential to the knowledge worker, is the skill of deep focus and doing deep work.  The type of work that can’t be automated or systemized, that requires creativity and thought and deep problem solving, requires the ability to work deeply.  Cal Newport shares why this is such a problem, why it’s so necessary, and strategies to deploy in your own work life.  I should mention, Cal Newport is a full time professor, with a kid, publishes research papers, runs a blog, and has time to write books.  If you want to see in detail how productive people work, you may consider listening to this guy.

Home Game: An Accidental Guide to Fatherhood by Michael Lewis

Arguably, some of the hardest times I’ve laughed this year (not just in reading, but in general), has come from reading this book.  If you are a parent or interested in parenting life, this book has a ton of funny stories that I am sure are very relatable.  You may know Michael Lewis as the author of such books turned movies as The Big Short, Moneyball, and The Blind Side.  Michael is a fantastic writer, and this is the first book I’ve read from him.

Deskbound by Kelly Starrett and Glen Cordoza

We live in a sitting world.  It’s a bit scary to consider that it’s possible to not do any significant walking, say, more than a few minutes from the parking lot to the office everyday.  Or to consider that many people’s most significant movement is only once or twice a week to the grocery store.  Our bodies have not been able to catch up in evolution to deal with all the sitting that we do. Sitting can wreak havoc on our bodies, by putting us in unnatural positions, shortening the length of muscles and tendons, reducing blood flow, dropping our metabolism, and slowly reducing functionality of our muscles.  Sitting and position is a skill that is completely lost in our age because of the sedentary lives that we live.  Over a lifetime, all this bad positioning can lead to heart disease, injuries, loss of productivity, and suboptimal overall performance.  I certainly don’t want to be held back in my 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, 100s, because I did not maintain the one opportunity at a healthy body that I got in this life.  Learn proper sitting, standing, and walking positions, and overall maintenance of your body.

Microadventures by Alistair Humphreys

In our world of internet, highways, netflix, and offices, our culture has lost a sense of adventure.  Often we dream about a time when we can just quit our job, hit the road, and follow wherever the journey takes us, a great adventure.  However that is impractical, or not necessarily something we want to do for those with a career, family, or any number of reasons that hold us back from a great adventure.  Humphreys challenges the reader with practical ways to get away and take on “microadventures” that can be done on a weeknight, or over a weekend.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalinithi *

A beautifully written memoir, that is arguably one of the best books of the year across all genres.  If you want to read something that will touch you, read it.  If you want to read something that is well written, read it.  If you ponder the meaning of life, read it.  I thirst for another book written as well and is as touching as this. Also an easy read, ~3 hours.

Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

Like most popular young adult series, this was highly addictive.  I think I read the whole series in 4-5 weeks.

Customer Success by Mehta, Steinman, Murphy

In this age of subscription based businesses, often the revenues of a subscription does not cover the cost of acquisition even after several years.  What this requires is a new paradigm so that a customer continues to renew or upgrade in order to become profitable.  Long term retention, reducing cancellations, upsells, adding value, and making the customer successful are necessary to compete in the world of SaaS these days.  If you work in the SaaS or start-up space, particularly the first 3 chapters were written very well explaining the state of SaaS companies now.  The 10 Laws of Customer Success weren’t written quite as well. I believe that this space is still quite immature and needs time to mature to really define what it is and isn’t.

The Snowball: Warren Buffet and the Business of Life by Amy Schroeder *

This is the first biography I’ve read since I was very little, and I am so glad that I picked it up.  Warren Buffett has always been a hero of mine, and lives a really interesting life.  His behavior and approach to both life and business has a lot of teachings to learn from.  Another book that I have tons of earmarks and highlights on.

As an aside, biographies are awesome!  I went in expecting to get some lessons, but I quickly found that I could get to know who Buffet is, and actually look up to him as a hero and mentor.  I am definitely going to look out for more biographies to read from now on.

Tools of the Titans by Tim Ferriss

To anyone who is a listener of his podcast, I would say this is a must-purchase.  Anyone who doesn’t listen to his podcast, I can’t see it as having near the same value.  The book is written as notes and excerpts from his podcasts, and highlight 5-10% of each interview.  It has been great for me as I’ve listened to 30+ of his podcasts.  However, regardless, I pretty much read, watch, and listen to every thing single thing that Tim Ferriss produces.

There are a few additional books that I read this year that were not interesting, or I have chosen not to share.  However, I am proud to say that I read 25 or so books this year.  Considering I was expecting to only read 6-8, I am really proud of myself, and realize that I have to set the bar much higher!

However, more than anything, it is not the quantity of books that one reads, but the lessons that one learns from them.  I can say that I certainly am not the same at the beginning of 2017, then I was at the beginning of 2016, and my life is richer because of the books I’ve read.

Giving Money as Part of a Rich Life

Over the 12 months I have been giving thought towards lifestyle optimization, and how charity and donation are a vital part of a meaningful and purposeful life.  I was introduced to the giving movement of Effective Altruism, which is a philosophy in giving to the charities that are most effective at making impact in the world.  This concept immediately captured my attention, as it would seem to be the most productive way towards building a better world.  Charities that fit in this category at the time of this writing fall into categories such as giving malaria nets, mass deworming medication for parasites, access to clean water, and other such causes.

In my journey of giving this past year, I’ve found four things that I’ve experimented with and experienced, some to greater success than others, that are new and quite profound in my life.  It’s my joy to share these with the world and I hope you gain something out of it!

Giving Builds a Meaningful Career

I’ve read lots around “waking up with a purpose”, or “tap dancing to work”, and “do what you love” as mantras and philosophies around choosing work and a career that you love and is meaningful.  However I have not found this to be very practical advice, for a variety of reasons. So maybe rather than looking towards yourself for the source of enjoyable work, you can look at others.

Rather than looking at loving work, maybe we can look at it from a perspective of meaningful work.  In fact, it seems as though parents don’t love the job of parenting, but it is deeply meaningful.  Perhaps the prospect of going to a far away land with the chance of dying from gunshots or mines doesn’t sound pleasant to you or I, but thousands of people enlist in the army to fight for their country.

I’ve been able to begin to transform my mind to see it as meaningful work.  Not because of the work itself, but because of the output that I gain.  You see, I am reasonably skilled in business, I have good commercial ideas and I have the ability to execute which the market rewards me financially for.  I also think that I am only in the beginnings of my career earnings potential.  So as I put in the practice of giving to charities as a certain percentage of my income, let’s use the number 5%, then as I grow in my income, the more I am able to give and impact people.  So I know that it is the direct fruits of my labor as I go to work, that I am making an impact in someone else’s life.

It actually starts going in the direction of thought, that it is actually my moral obligation to do well, to stay motivated, to do good work, gain and improve my skills, in order to attain a larger pay cheque, in order that I can support my brothers and sisters around the world.

I Write Victories on the Wall

I have a chalkboard that hangs on the wall in the kitchen, and can be seen as soon as I walk into my home, as well as from the living room.  It says “X,XXX PPL AFFECTED”, where X,XXX is the number of people that my giving has affected.  I calculate this using impact calculator, which follows the effective altruism movement and has a selection of organizations that generally fall into the movement.

What the sign does is that it gives me a reminder, everyday, whenever I need it.  When I start my day in the kitchen getting ready for work, I immediately know why my work makes a difference.  I begin to connect my ambitions and financial goals with knowing that my work affects the world, affects people’s livelihood, and that I have the ability to save a life with the decision to work hard and do good work.

I Recognize I am the 1%

Now, not to take away from the Occupy Wall Street movement, but I realize that I am part of the 1% in the world. With hard work, I am at a level of income that I can live comfortably, where I can eat everyday, know that I have a roof over my head at night, know that I have a steady stream of income, and that if anything were to happen I have the experience and know how to create income if my current source runs out.

Knowing that I am the 1% allows me to get the focus on what I don’t have, and focus on being thankful for what I do have.  Obviously in this day in age, it’s so easy to get caught up on feeling like trash about your own life, particularly when seeing some of your old friends’ or classmates’ Instagram profiles.  But even as I live in my basement suite, drive my 2003 CR-V, and wear clothes that I would have laughed at while I was in university, I know that I am unbelievably rich already.

I Make the Decision Once

Success is having a set of good habits.  In the same way that I just make one decision to decide how much to save for long term goals, medium term goals, and short term finances, I make one decision to decide how much money to give.  I make automated monthly contributions to a charity that I have selected that aligns with what I want to give to, and I know makes a huge impact because it is vetted by organizations such as Without consistently giving, none of what I said above will matter or make a difference.  You need to continually give, remind yourself of the difference you are making, remind yourself that you are already rich, and chase the number on your wall and grow it bigger.

Rounding into the new year, maybe it’s a good idea to consider giving a portion of your income to charitable organizations.  If you don’t know which one to give to, check out the effective altruism movement at sites such as or  Or if you’re Canadian, make sure to give through to get a canadian tax receipt. In fact, consistent giving through effective altruism, you will most definitely save a human life through your giving.