How History Helps the Improver - Interview w/Cooper Day

In today's episode, Justin & Cooper discuss how reading and understanding history helps the Improver learn and grow exponentially. 

Topics discussed include: 
  • How and why to incorporate a "thematic reading" plan into your reading routine
  • The "spillover effect" 
  • Using history as a data point from which to draw information and application
  • Incredible stories in history of vision, risk, and overcoming incredible odds 
Resources referenced:
Book: March of Folly by Barbara Tuchman
Book: The Hard Thing About Hard Things and What You Do Is Who You are by Ben Horowitz

Bonus notes from the guest:

This involves what author Shosanna Zuboff terms “surveillance capitalism”.  Cookies on websites, microphones on smart devices, geolocation history, etc.  Companies such as supermarket chains and car insurance providers are now beginning to see themselves as data aggregators due to the lucrative financial results that await entities who can harness and deploy actionable insights that bring in more profit and customers.  But there is a tremendous source that often goes overlooked - the collective sum of human experience and wisdom  over the course of recorded history.
It’s an idea that I’m still fleshing out but a few examples that come to mind:
  1. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur seeking encouragement, look at the story of Toussiant L’Overture.  He was born and raised a slave in modern-day Haiti and led a successful revolt against the most powerful nation in Europe - Napoleon’s France but instilling a vision, focus, discipline and application amongst his followers.  You probably aren’t starting from the point that he did, so take heart in his example and get moving!
  2. If you are a parent of a teenager who is hanging out with the wrong crowd or spending too much in a relationship of questionable caliber, look at what happened with the French in Algeria or the Dutch in Indonesia.  The bottom line is that the fundamental conditions were not conducive to a mutually beneficial arrangement and no matter how much one party gives, it won’t work if the other party is not accepting of the arrangement.
  3. If you are a business leader seeking to instill vision in your team, talk about the example of Mehmed II of the Ottoman Empire.  By the late Middle Ages the old Eastern Roman Empire had shrunk to  shadow of its former self but was still lulled into a false sense of security by the famous Walls of Constantinople, who had brought many would-be conquerors to ruin.  Mehemed amassed a massive army that was both disciplined and well-organized and able to make use of recent technological advancements in cannons.  He was as able to breach the city walls, overrun their meager defenses, established his capital at Constantinople.  The Ottoman Empire sent shivers up the collective spines of Christian Europe for the next several hundred years and to this very day the city, now called Istanbul, is the largest in Europe.
Obviously many more examples exist - David and Goliath, the Battle at Thermopylae with the famous 300 Spartans facing off against tens of thousands of enemy fighters, the Battle at Bannockburn made famous in Mel Gibson’s “Braveheart”.  
How History Helps the Improver - Interview w/Cooper Day
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