What makes Twitter the world’s most effective communication medium? It’s the constraint of squeezing your thoughts into very few words.
In his book Things a Little Bird Told Me, Biz Stone (co-founder of Twitter) writes —
It was the constraint of the two-week hackathon that led to the creation of Twitter. One of the first decisions we made about Twitter, something that never changed, was that each message would be limited to 140 characters or fewer.
Although Twitter has now relaxed that limit to 280 characters, the idea remains the same – imposing an artificial constraint.
Stone explains —
Constraint inspires creativity. Blank spaces are difficult to fill, but the smallest prompt can send us in fantastic new directions. In business, constraints emerge from the time you have to finish a project, the money you have to invest in it, the people you have to build it, or the space to you have complete it. These limitations, counterintuitively, can actually enhance productivity and creativity.
Many professional soccer players practice with a ball in a small bathroom sized room. The self-imposed constraint of a small space helps them refine their skills. World class poets and writers shrink their field by using restrictive measures to force themselves into a small creative form – such as micro-writing exercise.
Now, for the next few moments, please hold on to that thought on constraints.
Four years back, I started on a quest to learn big ideas that could help me develop a better understanding of the world around me. The idea was to study the big insights from different disciplines which would train my mind to develop a nuanced perspective on any situation or problem. It was inspired by Charlie Munger’s philosophy of building mental models. According to Munger, by creating a mental repository of these big ideas, one can look at things from several different vantage points and develop useful insights which others can’t.
As a way to investigate these big ideas more effectively, I started compiling my thoughts in the form of articles which I published on Safal Niveshak — India’s most popular value investing blog run by my good friend Vishal Khandelwal. Later it was released as a book also.
However, to be able to use these ideas effectively, it’s important to remember them. Which means one has to keep revisiting these ideas until they get registered permanently in the long term memory.
I wanted a way for my brain to recall the details of an idea by looking at very few words. I reasoned it would serve two purposes. First, like Twitter, by trying to squeeze an idea to very few words would force me to be creative. Second, it would be quicker to recall several ideas in the shortest possible time.
So let’s Tweetify these big ideas. In other words, here’s my attempt to explain 20 big ideas in 10 words or less.
If you aren’t familiar with some of these concepts, please click on the associated Read More links to learn more details about them. If you already know them, it would be a great 5-min refresher for you.
What doesn’t kill me makes me stronger. (Read More)
Two kidneys, a spare key, and cash in the bank. (Read More)
It’s the last straw that breaks the Camel’s back. (Read More)
The bad drives out the good. (Read More)
Know what can kill you then don’t do it. (Read More)
For that which lasted a hundred years, a hundred more. (Read More)
Partner with people who have Intelligence, Energy, and Integrity. (Read More)
Mispriced bets. Few bets. Big bets. Infrequent bets. (Read More)
Knowing the name is not the same as knowing. (Read More)
Tough time doesn’t last forever. Neither does good time. (Read More)
Keep things as simple as possible, but no simpler. (Read More)
What gets measured, gets rewarded, gets gamed. (Read More)
Red Queen Effect
Arms race, inflation, and running on the treadmill. (Read More)
It’s better to be approximately right than precisely wrong. (Read More)
It’s easier for wise to get wiser and rich to get richer. (Read More)
Don’t ascribe to malice which can be explained by incompetence. (Read More)
Margin of Safety
Looking both ways before crossing a one-way street. (Read More)
A chess grandmaster isn’t necessarily a good stategist. (Read More)
I hate 2% fat content but love 98% fat free. (Read More)
Too many tails in a row. Head is long due. (Read More)
There are close to 100 such mental models. I’ll continue working on remaining of them and try to frame them into similar “10 words or less” explanation. Meanwhile, if you have a better (shorter, wittier, or more accurate) version of these ideas, please share it in the comments section below.