the 80/20 principle

i just finished reading richard koch’s “living the 80/20 way”. it’s one of the better self improvement books i have read.

i’m going to spend the second half of 2008 applying the principles to my life and see how my life will improve from here.

i’m quite excited about it. haha.

one of my favourite stories from the book:


Ann’s a close friend. In her twenties, she was a successful account executive in advertising. At 29, she made an abrupt shift. She quit her job and has never had another. For 10 years she’s simplified her life down to the things she wants to do, creative activities of one kind or another.

“I was having fun in advertising,” she told me, “and making good money. One day I sat down and asked myself what I really wanted to do with my life. The answer was clear. I wanted to paint, sculpt, to write music and play the piano. Learn how to play other instruments. Pursue my own projects.”

“I didn’t want to climb the corporate ladder, get stuck in traffic to and from the office, work for a boss, run the rat race. Better to work at home, control my time, be free to walk in the sunshine, see a friend. Above all, develop my creative side, see where that took me.”

“I moved out of my big house. Bought a one room, pretty studio, with a great mezzanine floor beneath a skylight. Parents went nuts, especially Dad. They’d made sacrifices so I could go to university, were very proud of my progress, my lifestyle. Didn’t understand I had to follow my own path, didn’t want to die rich with the music still inside me. Kept asking me where the money was going to come from.”

“A good question. When I’d earned good money, I spent a lot. Had some savings but they went for the deposit on my studio. But I soon found that I didn’t need to spend much. No expenses going to work, didn’t need my flash sports car, expensive clothes to impress clients. No need to eat in fancy restaurants. the first year after I quit regular work, I made only a third of what I had before. But I paid very little tax, found I could live by selling portraits and sculptures of individuals and families. The point was – I only did the things I wanted to do, I was very much happier.”

“I tried various ways of making money, but on one condition – that I had to enjoy it and express myself at the same time. The weird thing is that in the past 5 years I have begun to make good money again too, while self employed and doing precisely what I choose.”

and my 2nd favourite:

Thinking about lunch, the vacationing businessman stared at the calm, blue sea. A small boat, laden with large yellow-fin tuna, docked near the pretty Mexican village. A lone fisherman jumped ashore.

“That’s a great catch,” said the tourist. “How long did it take you?”

“Not so long,” replied the Mexican.

“Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”

“That’s enough to keep the family provided for.”

“What do you do with the rest of your time?”

“Sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, have lunch, take a siesta with Maria, my wife. Stroll into the village each morning, sip wine, play guitar and cards with my amigos – a full and rich life, senor.”

“I think I could help you,” the visitor said, wrinkling his nose. “I’m a Harvard MBA and this is the advice you’d get at business school. Spend more time fishing, buy a bigger boat, make more money, then several boats until you’ve got a fleet. Don’t sell the catch to a middleman, sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You’d control the product, production and distribution. You could then leave this small town behind, move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles, perhaps eventually to New York City to run your expanding firm.”

“But senor, how long would this take?”

“15 – 20 years.”

“But what then, senor?”

“That’s the best part,” the businessman laughed. “When the time is right, you could float on the stock market and make millions of dollars.”

“Hmmm…millions you say. What then, senor?”

“Then you could retire and go home. Move to a pretty village by the sea, sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll to the village evenings, sip wine and play guitar and cards with your friends.”


 “the ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary, so that the necessary may speak.” artist hans hofmann.”


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