I am ambitious, talented and intelligent, but I lack willpower, discipline, and organization. I am an impulsive procrastinator of the hig…

Be careful about advice—which includes the currently-top-rated answer—telling you “you have to want it.” Desire and motivation are NOT your problem, nor were they mine when I was in the same boat. Your issue is your subconscious mind and current habits. You need new habits.

Motivational advice makes you feel good, but it’s not consistent.

To Shana, who asked you “how much do you want it?”, I would ask you both if you’ve ever not wanted to pursue your goals. In my years, I’ve always wanted to be in good shape— 24/7/365. That desire has never changed. What has happened is my motivation to pursue that goal and do the work in particular moments has always been volatile. And because motivation is based on how you feel about an activity in any given moment, it’s unreliable. The “get motivated” strategy is all about trying to get into that motivated mindset, where taking action is easy, but it incorrectly assumes that when you’re unmotivated, that you’ll even want to “get motivated.” It’s a strategy full of holes, yet spewed out by all the self-help parrots.

The other lever of action is willpower—doing things even when you don’t feel like doing them (i.e. are not motivated). Because your subconscious is used to doing things a certain way, anytime you intentionally veer off that path, you lose willpower energy. Studies have found that willpower is limited, and generally speaking, typical goals will burn you out and put you on the couch to watch TV (or waste time in however you’re accustomed to doing it). It’s too much change.

So anyway, long story short, I changed my life by doing the following:

  • At least 1 push-up a day = best shape of my life
  • Write 50 words a day = write 4x as much
  • Read 2 pages in a book a day = read 10x more books

I call the strategy “Mini Habits,” and the book I wrote on it has sold 20k+ copies and is rated 4.7 stars (the highest of any habit book)—the simple reason being that it works. It doesn’t require motivation to do one push-up, it requires a TINY amount of willpower. And once you start, the dynamic changes, your motivation increases, etc. And by doing it consistently, you’ll gradually change your brain’s neural pathways so that your subconscious prefers the same things as your conscious mind.

Can Shana’s advice work? Kind of. That’s how I made mediocre progress for 10 years. Aiming for increased motivation is better than nothing and it works sometimes. She says she’s the same person, and that’s what you’ll get with the short-term nature of motivational techniques. Though, from the sound of it, I think she’s begun to develop better habits too, which is great.

I’m a different person because my brain has changed: I like exercise; Writing is easy; Reading is bearable too, which is an upgrade.

Consistency matters more than quantity, because consistency can permanently change your brain. Mini habits are habitual behaviors so small that you won’t fail to do them every single day, and the results tend to blow people’s minds (including mine, when I had to admit that doing one push-up a day changed my life).

Don’t believe me? Read the reviews of Mini Habits (They’re all unsolicited, honest reviews): Amazon.com: Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results eBook: Stephen Guise: Kindle Store

I recommend that whatever it is you’re aiming for, shrink your target into something you can do every day without fail. If you can do it on your worst day, what can stop you? Nothing!

As for the meaningfulness of doing one push-up a day, etc. There are two reasons:

  1. It allows for remarkable consistency to change the brain
  2. Bonus reps (you can always do more)

I am ambitious, talented and intelligent, but I lack willpower, discipline, and organization. I am an impulsive procrastinator of the hig…

How do IITians get a package of almost 1 crore?

How do IITians get a package of almost 1 crore? by Aman Goel

Answer by Aman Goel:

They don’t.

  1. The Facebook package you’ve heard of includes 4 years of stocks that are ‘one time’
  2. The base packages are low. In the range of 60–90 lakhs per annum
  3. The purchasing power parity is way different in India. If you are saving all of the money and sending back to India, then the story is different. However, this isn’t generally the case. For instance, a pizza in the US costs around $20. That’d be about Rs. 1,350. With Rs. 500 or so, you will get the best pizza in India. The $20 pizza in US will be just okayish. Typically, the real value of $1 is Rs 30. So, the $20 pizza above will cost Rs. 600 in India.
  4. Tax rates are high. In the US for instance, you need to pay 35% on your salary in California. If you are in San Francisco city, then you got to pay 5% additional city tax.

Some edits based on feedback from comments:

  • 60–90 lakhs IS low. 60–90 lakhs is NOT 60–90 lakhs. It is $100k – $120k. Don’t convert the money to INR when you won’t be spending it in INR.
  • Some have talked about the ‘real’ value of $1 in INR. I have used a value of Rs. 30 for $1. Some have suggested that the value is actually Rs. 15. That in fact makes matters worse because that means, Rs. 500 pizza will not cost $20, but will cost $30+. That’s expensive man!
  • There is a big opportunity cost of staying away from family. This holds particularly for Indians because we Indians tend to have a collectivistic society. This certainly won’t count in the ‘package’, but it does count overall.
  • Definitely the work life and the amount of cutting edge research going on is more in the US. But that won’t mean that nothing is going on in India.

Overall, there are pros and there are cons. An advantage factor for someone might be a disadvantage factor for someone else. Make your own call 🙂

Finally, if it adds credibility to the answer, then I would like to mention that it isn’t the case that grapes are sour for me and that is why I am writing this answer. I am one of those who has a 1+ crore package in my hand. I am writing this just to enlighten people who are obsessed with ‘1 cr’.

How do IITians get a package of almost 1 crore?

Did your child ever hear you say a word that they now repeat?

Answer by Justin Franco:

Poodle.

My wife and I use the word poodle as a sort of safe word when we’re discussing issues that might force one of us to lie just to make the other happy (we stole it from a Chuck Palahniuk novel). It’s a standalone question, “Poodle?” Or a confident statement, “Poodle.” Basically, it means I’m being completely truthful.

For example, my wife might want me to accompany her to a dance costume expo in Atlanta on a Saturday morning. She really wants company because her dance teacher friend had to cancel at the last minute, so she asks me. I reluctantly agree.

She asks, “Are you sure you’re ok going to this dance costume expo?”

I answer, “Yes.”

She replies with, “Poodle?”

Ugh. If I reply with “Poodle,” it means I’m being completely truthful about wanting to go, but I’m not really, so it forces me to admit that I’d really just rather lie around in my jammies playing videogames.

When one person invokes poodle, you’re not allowed to lie in response. It’s a staunch rule. That means it also has to be used sparingly.

We have never explained this rule or our reasoning for the word poodle to our three-year-old daughter, and yet one evening as we’re cuddling on the couch, I squeeze my daughter and say, “I love you.”

She looks lovingly up at me and asks, “Poodle?”

I smile.

“Poodle.”


Did your child ever hear you say a word that they now repeat?

What’s the worst thing about Elon Musk?

What's the worst thing about Elon Musk?

Answer by Nishanth Salinamakki:

It’s true that Elon Musk is seen as nearly perfect (especially in the Quora community). It’s because a very few percentage of people can start one successful company, and he’s founded three (Zip2, SpaceX, PayPal) and been involved in others (Tesla, SolarCity, OpenAI). He’s now leading two companies in two completely different industries that have long-term goals that resemble science fiction. His companies are striving to change the way we live, not consume goods. That kind of success and drive is unprecedented; that’s why Musk is hailed as one of the greatest entrepreneurs and the reason why everyone is obsessed with him. Everyone wants to be like him.

However, no one is perfect, and everyone has a dark side, especially insanely successful men like Elon Musk (often because of the traits that make them successful). Musk’s flaws are highlighted in Ashlee Vance’s comprehensive biography on Musk: Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future: Ashlee Vance: 9780062301239: Amazon.com: Books.

Elon Musk is not the best with relationships. He even whispered to his first wife during the wedding, “I am the alpha in this relationship”.

He never took no for an answer, and he rode his employees hard, right out of their minds, and sometimes right out of the company. Mary Beth Brown was a devoted assistant to Musk, who was there from the beginning of SpaceX (when it was viewed as a joke) and worked the same hours he did. However, when she asked for a raise, Musk still questioned her value to the company and after telling her to take two weeks off, decided that SpaceX could operate fine without her.

He is uncompromising and demanding, forcing employees to work long hours (if any other CEO did this, no one would work for him/her but since Musk’s companies’ goals are so exciting and meaningful, everyone agrees to pour their heart and soul into the company’s mission).

He had laser-like focus; if there was something he wanted, he would stop at nothing to get it, often sacrificing other personal aspects of his life and leaving behind casualties.

Although he’s extremely humble in interviews, he doesn’t truly see anyone else on the same level as him, and will assert his superiority to remind others of that. His second wife explained to Ashlee Vance that “Elon doesn't have to listen to anyone in life. No one. He doesn't have to listen to anything that doesn't fit into his worldview. But he proved he would take s**t from me.” That makes it difficult for him to relate to others and develop meaningful relationships. But his immense confidence and inability to conceive of himself failing allowed him to establish three successful companies in the first place.

As you start to realize, many successful people have flaws that are not independent. That is, they aren’t separate from all their good traits (work ethic, focus, confidence). In fact, the flaws originate from the very traits that make them successful. Michael Jordan was a ruthless competitor, which made him so great in high-pressure situations and in the game of basketball. However, his gambling problem and intense leadership style stemmed from this incessant competitiveness. Steve Jobs could be vicious to his employees not because he was simply a mean guy, but because of his immense passion for the company, and he demanded utmost perfection from his employees. Nikola Tesla made outlandish claims that he could never live up to. It wasn’t that he was simply a liar and wanted the publicity; he was an engineering visionary and because of this, his mind constantly wandered to these incredible possibilities and visions he dreamt up and as a result, he never focused on one invention.

The point is, even people who are worshipped and idolized are not perfect and can sometime have even more glaring flaws than ordinary people. Many incredibly successful people have an extremity (whether it be immense confidence or insane work ethic or incessant drive), and often, these extremities cause them other problems in life. But these extremities are what ultimately help them attain that level of success.

Moreover, it’s these flaws that humanize them and give us a unique and renewed perspective of who they are. Although most of their imperfections are the result of extremities many people don’t have, it still inspires confidence and helps young generations realize, “Hey, they’re not perfect. They’re humans, just like me. If they’ve come this far and achieved this much, then why can’t I?”

Sources:

Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future: Ashlee Vance: 9780062301239: Amazon.com: Books

Jim Cantrell's answer to How did Elon Musk learn enough about rockets to run SpaceX?

Justine Musk's answer to How can I be as great as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk or Sir Richard Branson?

What's the worst thing about Elon Musk?

What is the most ridiculous thing that you have ever convinced someone to believe?

What is the most ridiculous thing that you have ever convinced someone to believe? by @tellmeyourgoal

Answer by Steven Matt:

This is a true story that involves Donald Trump, the Dalai Lama, and a doorman.

It was September 2003. I had just arrived in NYC from Arizona to start college. I packed a backpack, shipped some boxes out and didn't look back. I was on a mission.

It was one of those late summer, early autumn nights in NYC where anything was possible. The streets were alive and people had plans. The air was complex and misty. It smelled like the aftermath of a concert. There was an orange glow to everything. Perhaps it was from the streetlights. Or maybe it was the omnipresent charge of NYC energizing everyone and everything through its sheer presence. At least that's how it seemed to me after having just arrived here the night before.

It was about 2am and I was wandering the streets of Brooklyn with two girls I had just met at college. We still had energy and wanted to keep exploring. We decided we would walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to Manhattan. By 4am we were in Times Square. NYC was still alive as ever at that time. No one seemed to sleep. So we didn't either.

We were handed a flyer that announced the Dalai Lama's event in Central Park that morning. That was it. Our destination was set. We had somewhere to be. We started uptown. By then, we had probably walked 15 miles.

When we finally arrived at the south west entrance of Central Park, we quickly realized that the park was closed until the Dalai Lama arrived and we couldn't get in. Police were everywhere and the barricades were up.

The sun was about to rise.

We had been on the streets all night.

We were sweaty and needed some place to sit down.

The girls decided they wanted to watch the sunrise.

Above us rose what seemed to be the tallest building we had seen all night: Trump International Hotel & Tower at 1 Central Park West.

I had to get us to the top. How could we waste a morning like this on the streets without watching the sunrise?

What followed could have been an outtake form Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

You can't just walk into the Trump International Hotel & Tower, but that's exactly what we attempted to do.

There was a doorman on duty. But how could we get by him?

I couldn't believe it but he was asleep. We took the opportunity and quietly walked right by him and into the elevator across the lobby.

We couldn't press a button without a key.

Plan foiled.

Or so we thought.

As we nervously huddled in the elevator, I explained to the girls the plan: we would start making a bunch of noise so we would wake him up as we came out of the elevator seemingly from upstairs. We would then walk out the elevator and approach the doorman as we angrily accuse him of sleeping on the job. He will assume we live in the building and we will take that opportunity to make our demands, which he will be expected to fulfill so as not to lose his job.

It worked just as planned.

We busted out of the elevator screaming about some made up conversation. We were talking about ballet or some pretentious nonsense to add to our wealthy, Trump resident persona.

We stopped and just starred at him as he was waking up rubbing his eyes. He was clearly embarrassed and ashamed. Perfect. Just where I wanted him.

I walked up to him and quietly explained that I didn't want to get him in trouble. I explained that he could avoid any trouble if he sent for a couple of bottles of champagne and breakfast for me and girls on the roof.

He didn't hesitate. He got on his phone and called the kitchen immediately. We asked him to escort us to the roof and set a place for us to dine and enjoy the sunrise.

This whole time he believed we were residents of the Trump International Hotel & Tower on Central Park West. One of the most expensive residences in NYC. Three sweaty, underage college students dressed like scallywags.

When we arrived on the roof, we were surprised to see a beautiful setup. Lounge chairs, tables with umbrellas, and a view of Central Park that was out of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous.

The champagne and breakfast quickly arrived. Along with a bouquet of flowers.

The three of us were alone on the rooftop of the Trump Tower with two bottles of champagne, a full breakfast, comfortable chairs, and a view that very few people get to see.

The sun was rising.

The Dalai Lama's monks were drumming in the park announcing his arrival and practicing for the main event.

We felt it.

It was NYC's way of welcoming us and showing us what was possible.

It was a taste of the good life.

But it was based on deception and it wasn't our reality.

We knew that if we wanted that reality we would have to earn it.

I don't know what happened to the two girls after that night. I never saw them again.

But I'm positive that they still remember it.

I'm still trying to find a way back to that metaphorical rooftop.

What is the most ridiculous thing that you have ever convinced someone to believe?

What are some interesting experiences you’ve had as a teen?

What are some interesting experiences you've had as a teen? by Dana Fletcher

Answer by Dana Fletcher:

A few years ago, I was at my friend Kristina's house, and after a few hours of fun, I was ready to go home. This was before I could drive, so I relied on my dad to pick me up. The only problem was my dad had a few more beers and couldn't come get me.

This also happened to be the night of prom at the local high school. Because of this, every taxi service was booked. So my dad had to arrange a ride for me with the only thing available:

A 33 foot stretch limousine.

My family is not rich by any means. But my dad is always doing something weirdly creative, and when the chauffer came to my friends front door and said “I'm here to pick up Dana”, I knew my dad had struck again.

What are some interesting experiences you've had as a teen?

What is the best strategy to improve my skills in competitive programming in 2-3 months?

Answer by Sachin Gupta:

This post has been taken from the blog post  Learn to Code by Competitive Programming written by MV Kaushik when he was interning at HackerEarth

Here are some steps to get started and be good at it.

    • Get comfortable writing code in either of one of these languages C, C++ or Java. Why only C, C++ or Java? Because these are the standard languages allowed in any programming competition.
    • If you are already good at C, it is suggested to learn C++. It is the most popular language among competitive programmers because of its speed and an excellent library in the form of STL (Standard Template Library).
    • Pick an online judge. Recommended ones are Topcoder and Codeforces. These sites have high quality of problems and also allow you to see other’s code post contest completion. These also categorize problems based on the topic. Some other popular judges include SPOJ, CodeChef (powered by SPOJ) andHackerEarth.
    • To begin with, start with simple problems that typically require transformingEnglish to code and does not require any knowledge on algorithms. Solving Div 2 250 (Division 2, 250 points) in Topcoder or Div 2 Problem A in Codeforces is a good start.
    • At the early stages of programming one tends to write long pieces of code, which is actually not required. Try to keep codes short and simple.
    • Practice these problems until you become comfortable that you can submit it for 240 odd points on any day.
    • Start implementing basic(or standard) algorithms. It is suggested to read them from Topcoder tutorials or Introduction to algorithms.

      1) Graph algorithms: Breadth first search(BFS), Depth first search(DFS), Strongly connected components(SCC), Dijkstra, Floyd-Warshall, Minimum spanning tree(MST), Topological sort.

      2) Dynamic programming: Standard dynamic programming problems such as Rod Cutting, Knapsack, Matrix chain multiplication etc.

      3) Number theory: Modular arithmetic, Fermat’s theorem, Chinese remainder theorem(CRT), Euclidian method for GCD, Logarithmic
      Exponentiation, Sieve of Eratosthenes, Euler’s totient function.

      3) Greedy:  Standard problems such as Activity selection.

      4) Search techniques: Binary search, Ternary search and Meet in the middle.

      5) Data structures (Basic): Stacks, Queues, Trees and Heaps.

      6) Data structures (Advanced): Trie, Segment trees, Fenwick tree or Binary indexed tree(BIT), Disjoint data structures.

      7) Strings: Knuth Morris Pratt(KMP), Z algorithm, Suffix arrays/Suffix trees. These are bit advanced algorithms.

      8) Computational geometry: Graham-Scan for convex hull, Line sweep.

      9) Game theory: Basic principles of Nim game, Grundy numbers, Sprague-Grundy theorem.

      The list is not complete but these are the ones that you encounter very frequently in the contests. There are other algorithms but are required very rarely in the contests.

    • You can find description and implementation of standard algorithms here
    • Once you have sufficient knowledge of popular algorithms, you can start solving the medium level problems. That is Div 2 all problems in Topcoder and Codeforces. It is advisable not to go for Div 1 500 at this point.
    • Learning to code is all about practicing. Participate regularly in the programming contests. Solve the ones that you cannot solve in the contest, after the contest. Apart from Topcoder and Codeforces you can also look at HackerEarth Challengesor Codechef contests.
    • Read the codes of high rated programmers. Compare your solution with them. You can observe that it is simple and shorter than your solution. Analyse how they have approached and improve your implementation skills.
    • Read the editorials after the contest. You can learn how to solve the problems that you were not able to solve in the contest and learn alternative ways to solve the problems which you could solve.
    • Always practice the problems that you could solve in the contest. Suppose if you are able to solve Div 2 250 and 500 in the contest but not Div 2 1000 then practice as many Div 2 1000 problems as as you can.
    • Do not spend too much time if you are not getting the solution or are stuck somewhere.
    • After you feel that you have spent enough time, look at the editorials. Understand the algorithm and code it. Do not look at the actual solution before you have attempted to write the code on your own.
    • Programming is a very practical and hands on skill. You have to continuously do it to be good at it. It’s not enough to solve the problem theoretically, you have to code it and get the solution accepted. Knowing which algorithm/logic to use and implementing it are two different things. It takes both to be good at programming.
    • Programming learning phase is going to take a lot of time and the key is practicing regularly. It takes some time before you can attempt Div 1 500 and other tough problems. Do not give up on reading the editorials and implementing them, even if it takes many hours/days. Remember everything requires practice to master it.

It takes considerable amount of time before you get good at it. You have to keep yourself motivated throughout. Forming a team and practicing is a good choice. Not giving up is the key here.

What is the best strategy to improve my skills in competitive programming in 2-3 months?