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Smartcuts Summary

Here’s the Smartcuts summary. Learn how a few people accelerate success. They achieved massive success within a short time by following a different set of rules.


Smartcuts author Shane Snow explains how icons, hackers, and innovators accelerate success. He explains how people and companies accomplish great things in a short time.

You will learn how some startups go from zero to billion in just mere months. You will also learn how some people managed to climb to the top without spending decades in the field.

About the Author

Shane Snow is an award-winning journalist and co-founder of Contently. His work has appeared in WIRED, Fast Company, The New Yorker, and other top media publications.

He studied journalism at Columbia University. He co-founded Contently in 2010 to help creative people and companies tell great stories together. You can read more of his works by clicking here.

Main takeaways: Smartcuts Summary

Let’s discuss the key takeaways from his book:

  1. Use lateral thinking if you want new ideas and solutions.
  2. The more you win, the more likely you are to win again.
  3. Use deliberate analysis to your own advantage.

Use lateral thinking if you want new ideas and solutions

Instead of thinking OR, start thinking of AND. For example you’re thinking whether or not you should quit your job so you can start your business.

Successful people think differently. They’ll explore options on how to do both. They’ll start a business while staying at their job. They might quit the job if the business gets successful. But they keep their choices open. They might choose one depending on each one’s success.

That’s an exercise in lateral thinking. Elegant solutions and new ideas only emerge if you attack the problems sideways. You’ll start questioning the assumptions. Most people don’t do that. That’s why they’re stuck with the conventional solutions.

People who achieved massive success in a short time exercised lateral thinking. They came up with elegant solutions that got rid of unnecessary cycles. They actually shortened their path and looked for ways on how to get the most out of their effort.

The more you win, the more likely you are to win again

That’s because you’ll know what works. Then you can keep on repeating that to achieve more success. You also win again because you gain the momentum. It’s motivating that you won last time. You have the fuel to keep on going because of that.

Winning builds your self-confidence. Success also attracts more success. How? For example you became a bestselling author. You can use that to all your profiles. You can build your credibility. More people will be attracted to you. More opportunities also come to you because of your initial success.

You learn things from winning and achieving success. You can apply what you’ve learned again and again to get more success. You can also learn from failures. But those failures will be useless if you didn’t reflect on them.

Those failures contain valuable lessons on them. You can learn from failures that you did yourself and from others’. You’ll know for yourself “I shouldn’t do that.” That will be a reminder for you. You can avoid things that lead to failure.

Use deliberate analysis to your own advantage

Several hours of practicing a skill benefit all of us. But what if you can bypass all that? What if you can learn much just by observing a skillful person?

You can do that by deliberate analysis. You carefully observe people on what makes them great. You will notice the patterns. You will copy them. You took a smartcut on how to become better because of that.

Deliberate analysis can compensate for experience. You can benefit from other people’s thousands of hours of practice. You can spot the patterns that make them stand out.

Take note of the word “deliberate.” It means you do it consciously and intently. If possible you watch the person repeatedly. You take note of the small moves that possibly made the difference.

For most people they won’t notice those small differences. But those things actually make the people great. If you fail to notice them, it’s not a deliberate analysis.

Working hard is not enough to achieve massive success in a short time. The key is to notice the patterns. Take advantage of them. Then you ride the wave to success. You don’t have to do it all yourself. You can learn more things from other people who have more experience.

You’ve learned the use of lateral thinking, winning, and deliberate analysis. Aside from those, you’ll also learn the following from the Smartcuts book:

  • The secret to harnessing momentum
  • Why you should choose informal mentoring instead of the formal one
  • How to do smart testing to optimize sales and performance
  • The importance of learning the tool first before the discipline
  • How to develop your pattern recognition skills

My personal takeaways

Smartcuts tells stories of how a few people achieved massive success in a short time. They removed unnecessary effort so they can achieve more. They also followed different practices than the most of us.

If there’s an easier way on how to accomplish something, why don’t we do it? Maybe we don’t just exercise lateral thinking. We’re stuck with conventional solutions that deliver only average results.

What should we do then? Exercise lateral thinking more. Explore other options. Study the patterns. Do things differently. That’s how some people achieved massive success without the long hours and decades of hard work.

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