Scott Adams’s Life Advice in 28 Words — and More Wisdom from the Creator of Dilbert

Think of your life as a system. Think of yourself as the most important part of the system. Be useful. And make yourself more valuable as you go.

The quote above comes from Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip Dilbert, during his recent appearance on Tim Ferriss’s podcast*.

Very much worth listening to.

Here’s more from Adams on goals vs. systems.

Other stuff from Adams’s I’ve linked to in the past:

  • Happiness Engineering
  • How to Get a Real Education
  • And you should definitely check out his extremely simply advice on personal finance:

    — Make a will.
    — Pay off your credit card balance.
    — Get term life insurance if you have a family to support.
    — Fund your company 401K to the maximum.
    — Fund your IRA to the maximum.
    — Buy a house if you want to live in a house and can afford it.
    — Put six months’ expenses in a money market account.
    — Take whatever is left over and invest it 70 percent in a stock index fund and 30 percent in a bond fund through any discount brokerage company and never touch it until retirement
    — If any of this confuses you, or you have something special going on (retirement, college planning, tax issue), hire a fee-based financial planner, not one who charges you a percentage of your portfolio.

    * I am not a regular listener of Ferriss’s podcast, but I see that he has interviewed some interesting folks.


    Everything You Need to Know about Personal Finance in 833 Words

    For his last Sunday WSJ column, Brett Arends provides some simple rules on personal finance:

    Smart money moves aren’t more complicated than you think. They’re simpler.

    Cut through all the jargon and pontificating and technical stuff, and everything you really need to know about personal finance fits into less than 1,000 words—no more than three to four minutes.

    Click through for his 23 tips.


    What I’ve been reading

    Here’s what I’ve been reading lately:

    1. “How the city hurts your brain…And what you can do about it

      The city has always been an engine of intellectual life, from the 18th-century coffeehouses of London, where citizens gathered to discuss chemistry and radical politics, to the Left Bank bars of modern Paris, where Pablo Picasso held forth on modern art. Without the metropolis, we might not have had the great art of Shakespeare or James Joyce; even Einstein was inspired by commuter trains.

      And yet, city life isn’t easy. The same London cafes that stimulated Ben Franklin also helped spread cholera; Picasso eventually bought an estate in quiet Provence. While the modern city might be a haven for playwrights, poets, and physicists, it’s also a deeply unnatural and overwhelming place.

      Now scientists have begun to examine how the city affects the brain, and the results are chastening.

    2. AFP: “Thailand blocks 2,300 websites for insulting monarchy

      Thai authorities have blocked 2,300 websites for allegedly insulting the country’s revered monarchy and are waiting for court approval to restrict another 400, the government said Tuesday.

      The blocking of the websites under harsh lese majeste laws which protect King Bhumibol Adulyadej has been criticised by rights groups and media organisations in recent months.

    3. Suzanne Yada: “Resolutions for journalism students, part I: Become invaluable” and “Resolutions for journalism students, part II: Network like mad

      If I only had two career resolutions for 2009, it would be these:

      1) Become invaluable, and
      2) Network like mad.

    4. Winterspeak: “It ain’t over

      …The US has had a high volatility, but flat 13 years, with the near and medium term outlook decidedly gloomy. Will we have 20 years of flat, but high vol, equity prices?

    5. CJR: “Interview with Clay Shirky, Part I

      “There’s always a new Luddism whenever there’s change.”

    6. Tools for News — a compendium of tools for online and multimedia journalists
    7. Read Write Web: “2009 Web Predictions

      It’s time for our annual predictions post, in which the ReadWriteWeb authors look forward to what 2009 might bring in the world of Web technology and new media.

      Looking back at our 2008 Web predictions, we got some of them right! “The big Internet companies will [embrace] open standards” (Google, Yahoo and others did this); “Mobile web usage will be a big story in 2008” (check!); “Web Services platforms will be a fierce battleground” (Microsoft Azure and Google App Engine were released and AWS grew). We also got some wrong, including most of our acquisition picks! Digg, Twitter, Zoho, Tumblr – all remain independent. Not to be deterred, we’ve made new acquisition predictions for ’09… although the names will be familiar 😉


    Subprime, the Credit Crisis, and Naked Short Selling

    For an in-depth explanation of the subprime crisis — which has now, of course, led to the current chaos involving mortgage-backed securities — look no further than “The Giant Pool of Money.” That’s the name of a special, hour-long episode produced by This American Life and NPR News. The show aired back in May and has been widely praised. From the show notes:

    We explain it all to you. What does the housing crisis have to do with the turmoil on Wall Street? Why did banks make half-million dollar loans to people without jobs or income? And why is everyone talking so much about the 1930s? It all comes back to the Giant Pool of Money.

    I also suggest checking out the Sept. 12 episode of TAL. In the second part of that show, called “Enforcers,” producer Alex Blumberg looks the SEC’s decision to ban naked short selling. (Related: NPR recently launched Planet Money, a new podcast devoted to financial issues.)