Pareto Distribution And What It Means For Your Success

Understanding of Pareto distribution can be a key to unlocking your potential for success. It is such powerful knowledge!

If you work in a corporation then you have likely heard the term Pareto distribution or Pareto principle. The term is often used to explain how 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people in the company or a department.

Yes, in any group activity where the output is dependent on human effort, it is observed that about 80% of the work is produced by about 20% of the people.

That’s Pareto distribution. It’s also known as 80/20 rule.

It is called Pareto principle because this phenomenon was first observed by a man named Pareto, Vilfredo.

Another variant of Pareto distribution that is more nuanced states that in any productive endeavor, half of the work is produced by square root of the number of people involved in the activity. That means in a group of 10 people, half the work is done by 3 people. But in a group of 100 people, half the work is done by only 10 people!

As you increase the group’s population the ratio becomes worse. In a group of 1000 people, half the work is done by only 30 people! For 10,000, it is 100!

You get the idea.

It is to be understood that the larger the span, the more accurately Pareto distribution ratio plays out. Smaller groups are relatively easy to control, and as such large disparity of output becomes quickly evident and corrections can be applied. But for a very large group where controls are difficult to apply, the ratio plays out better.

And in the nature where there is no human intervention, it must play out perfectly.

Pareto distribution is not limited to corporations. It is widespread across all domains of human creativity and talent. And even beyond human endeavors, it is observed at the scale of nature and the universe as well.

Most wealth is owned by a tiny number of rich people. In the game of football, out of the total number of goals scored, most are scored by a tiny number of star players. Vast number of musical hits come from a tiny number of musicians. Highest grossing films are concentrated among a tiny number of film-makers. Most expansive paintings are form a tiny number of artists.

Not only that… In the universe, out of the total mass of all planets and stars, the tiny number of giant bodies comprise most of the mass. That’s Pareto distribution in the universe!

It’s like an underlying law. Like, we are living inside some kind of a computer simulation and Pareto principle is embedded in the coding of the simulation that is the universe.

Pareto principle is the cause of inequality. And since it’s a law that is so prevalent, inequality is inevitable. It creates inequality by propelling a tiny minority of people to the top while thrashing the majority towards the bottom. That is why world’s 8 richest people have the wealth equivalent to combined wealth of the bottom 50% of the human population.

Is that kind of inequality bad? It seems so, yes! But it’s not the fault of capitalism, or because those people are evil exploiters. That kind of inequality emerges because of Pareto distribution.

No matter what political and moral system is followed, the distribution of wealth will end up in accordance with Pareto principle. As said earlier, not only in distribution of wealth, Pareto principle plays out across all domains, and beyond human endeavors.

What does Pareto distribution mean for your success?

If you think about it carefully, for a tiny number of people so shoot to huge success their effort-reward ratio must improve gigantically over time. For example, with the same amount of effort that Bill Gates expended to earn his first dollar he must be earning tens of thousands of dollars at his peak. What that means is, as you grow rich, you attract more riches.

If you’re into pick-up artistry… The effort it takes to pick up every additional woman will go down. Your first approach will demand huge effort. But your fiftieth approach will be a lot easier and with higher probability of success with the women.

Over multiple iterations of the same process, the requirement of efforts goes down and the probability of success goes up. Success rate increases.

The point I am trying to drive home is: Once you to hit success in one thing, another success just gets more likely.

We often hear that rich grow richer, and poor grow poorer. That’s due to Pareto principle. Success breeds more success. And failure breeds more failure.

This phenomenon is also described as Matthew principle. Because Matthew 13:12, the Bible: Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.

Here’s the crux of it for your success: In order for you to achieve massive success, you have to start to succeed. Don’t look at the mountain and think you can’t climb it. Because you can’t. Start with tiny goals that you can achieve. Get the taste of success, if by achieving relatively easily achieved goals.

Because it’s a law that success breeds more success.

You don’t get women. You are fat. You are a laughing stock in your social circle. You are addicted to smoking. You are a massive failure. You need to fix your life in a big way. But you can’t. You are at the bottom rung of life. You are the victim of Pareto distribution.

But it’s a law that success breeds more success.

You can’t fix everything. It seems impossible. But you can fix 1% of one of the things. And if you set that as your goal, you can succeed at it.

Once you taste that success, you would feel motivated to take the next tiny step and succeed again.

With patience and consistency, you can lose fat and start looking good. It would fuel your motivation further and before you know it you will be able to take bigger steps.

You will start working out in the gym. Working out is a keystone habit; meaning it forces other good habits. You will feel compelled to reduce smoking for it hinders your workouts. You will start eating better because it will help gains from your workout. That’s the power of keystone habit.

You will start looking good. That will develop your interest in style. Earlier with ugly looks there was no point taking interest in style. But now you can improve your style to further enhance your looks. It will get women interested in you. Being good with women will earn respect from your peers…

Do you get the drift?

Your problems may be different. But that is essentially how it works. Success breeds more success. It’s a law.

Pareto principle is a guarantee that once you start putting in work, remain consistent, and achieve small bits of success, over time your success will snowball into bigger success… and there is no limit to how far you can go. Because it is built into the code of the universe!

The key is to remain consistent in your endeavors and self-improvement.

Most people lack motivation and consistency because they aim too high and get disappointed too soon. They haven’t understood the mechanism of success.

Remember this like a mantra: Success breeds more success. Start small and start today.

Combine this knowledge with Scott Adams’ systems approach and you will have the cheatcodes that only a tiny minority of people have.

You have a key to success now.

How To Catch Yourself Rationalizing

We like to think that we are rational, but we are not. Humans are not rational, but rationalizing creatures. We rationalize our descisions and actions after the fact, rather than looking at the reasons first and then deciding or acting.

Few people understand this. Because we are not really designed to understand it. We are more likely designed to believe that we are rational. And so we do.

There is an easy way to catch yourself rationalizing though. Continue reading to find out how.

A few days back my younger brother sent me a link to an article that talked about the benefits of drinking beer. As soon as I saw it I knew that if I searched the internet for an article that talked about the harms of drinking beer, I’ll find plenty of them too. My first instinct was to look up one of them and hit my brother with it. But I instantly realized that it will be a futile exercise. It would not have persuaded my brother one bit.

Reasons don’t persuade those who are in the act of rationalizing.

Internet has made it easier for people to rationalize their beliefs, for there are all sorts of expert opinions available online. You will find an expert to support whatever it is that you believe. This quest, fuelled by confirmation bias, would convince anybody that their beliefs are perfectly rational.

I didn’t respond to my brother then, but when we met I asked him one question that was to prove that he was not being rational (even if that ‘benefits of beer’ acticle was right (which it likely isn’t)).

I asked him: Are you already drinking beer, or you’re considering drinking it after reading about the benefits of it? His answer was that he already drank beer. He had started drinking beer long ago, at a time when he had never heard about its alleged benefits but likely would have heard about the harms of it. He started drinking beer despite it.

That is as clear a case of rationalizing and confirmation bias at play as there can be.

You can catch yourself rationalizing by asking yourself this when you are in possession of a research or “evidence” that supports your belief, descision, or action. Is this after the fact or before?

When I was vegetarian, I used to believe that vegetarianism was the healthiest way. And confirmation bias esured that I found a ton of studies and evidence in support of vegetarian diet.

It is relatively recently that I started seeing positive write-ups about non-vegetarian food, through people I already followed and admired for their various other qualities. Not that such writings didn’t exist before, but earlier I would not have noticed them for I didn’t need them as they didn’t support my food-beliefs then.

As I started reading positive things about non-vegetarian food, by the people I admired for other qualities, slowly and gradually I started doubting my existing beliefs about food. There came a point when I decided that I will have to start eating meat. I stared eating meat with great initial difficulty. Now after year or so I’m comfortable eating chicken.

Now when I recommend meat based diet to people and cite research and evidence of its effectiveness, I know that I am not rationalizing it.

I didn’t start eating meat for its taste. I wasn’t even comfortable eating it at first. I learned about its benefits first, and then started eating it for that reason. That is being rational. Meat may still be harmful (though I don’t think so), but that’s not the point.

On the other hand, when I was vegetarian, I wasn’t rational because I didn’t choose it for good reasons. I found good reasons after the fact. So I was rationalizing it.

Note that the things you are rationalizing may not always be bad. And the things you are being rational about may not always be good. But it is more likely than not to be that way.

However, the point of this technique to catch yourself rationalizing is so that you can keep an open mind, which would be helpful more often then you think. Rather than believing with 100% certainty that you are right about something, because confirmation bias has thrown evidences your way, if you figure it out when you are rationalizing instead of being rational, that’s a higher level of awareness.

It is always good to operate at a higher level of awareness. It will help you more often that it will do harm, if at all.

Related posts:

Responsibility In Friendship – Aphorisms

Best friendships are those that bring out the best in you; making you grow as a person. The same applies to both parties involved in the friendship; something that one seldom considers. Do you bring out the best in your friend?

Worthwhile friendships are predicated on two-way exchange of wisdom, inspiration and motivation.

A good self-improvement advice says that you should be friends with positive people and avoid negative people. Positivity and negativity are contagious. Who needs negativity? And it is a good advice.

So then it also means you owe it to your friends to not be negative around them; not to infect them with your negativity.

Try whining about your misfortunes every time you meet your friend and find out how “true” your friendship is. And just so you don’t get it wrong, you will have deserved the desertion.

It is not that you should never talk about your misfortunes to a friend; but if and when you get deserted, instead of adding that to your list of complaints, you should know there was only so much negativity they could afford to accept into their life.

It is said that if your friend doesn’t help you in your bad times, they never were a friend to begin with. A thought like that is a product of selfish and often infantile tendency.

A friend should and would help you in your bad time, sure. But if you are having bad times often, you must ask yourself, what’s in it for them? Hence, to think a friend in need is a friend indeed is selfish and infantile.

Every social interaction can be viewed in terms of give-and-take. Friendship is no exception. Both/all parties must bring value for the friendship to survive. Or else it becomes a drag, and wouldn’t be anymore.

Be the kind of person you would like to be friends with. Everyone wants to be friends with people who are better versions of themselves in one way or another.

Don’t view friendship as something you get for free; that comes without any responsibility on your part. Like any relationship, friendship needs nurturing – in the form of value you bring.

When you meet a non-smoker friend who considers smoking to be unambiguously bad, don’t smoke in their company. That’s not adding value, and would be a disservice to the friendship.

You are an average of 5-10 people you spend most of your active time with. They likely include your best friends. Better friends, better the average, better you. Now consider this: How do you contribute to the average?

Over a period of time, friends’ contribution to the friendship should be net positive for both parties. The otherwise will manifest by way of decreasing frequency of interactions.

I don’t think that friendships break until and unless expressly declared thus. They change forms as the underlying dynamic – the mutual exchange of wisdom, inspiration and motivation – changes. The friends who were once close, and are not-so-close now, may again become close when the dynamic improves.

Worthwhile friendships are predicated on two-way exchange of wisdom, inspiration and motivation. Therefore, positivity and self-improvement is your responsibility not only towards yourself, but also towards your friends if you wish to keep them around.

Being Yourself Without Paying The Cost

From Quora

Q. How can I start to be myself?

A. It is possible that the start of my answer is going to be a detour, or worse, completely detached from the questioner’s motive.

But now since you know I’m aware of that, I believe you’ll understand that maybe the detour is important in some way.

When you say you want to be yourself, the following question needs to be answered first: Who are you?

Is there a specific way to be that you’d regard as being yourself? If so, that would mean a static personality. A person with fixed thoughts and behavioral pattern who is You.

Humans are not static. We evolve as we live. As we have new experiences, we develop, or regress, but we change.

What you regard as being yourself today will change tomorrow.

Today I believe that A is more important than B. So being myself would mean I do more of A and less, or none, of B. Tomorrow I may learn that X and Y are more important than A. And so that will change what it means to be myself. Being myself then would mean not doing A but X and Y.

Self is not a static. It’s fluid.

To understand one’s true self, or true nature, is a big philosophical challenge. You can’t capture your self, it keeps moving. You must constantly be self analytical to be aware of your true self as it is always changing.

Okay, the detour ends here.

It is possible that the question is coming from a simpler mind who just wants to understand how to assert oneself in social situations. How to say ‘no’ to someone, for example.

Living on your own terms. That’s being yourself, right?

Being yourself in that sense involves costs. You can “be yourself” with someone who is lower than you on the social status ladder, but not with those higher up, without paying the costs that is.

And if one has to ask this question, that suggests one is on bottom rungs of social status, at least in one’s circle.

It is about dominance hierarchy. The status game. The higher up you are in the dominance hierarchy, the easier it is to resist social pressures and be yourself.

The steps to climbing up the dominance hierarchy, or attaining higher status, is to improve yourself in whichever ways you can.

Get in shape, improve your health. Work on your communication and social skills. Pactice skills and turn them into talents. Learn to dress well. I could go on.

If you need motivation and help with that, this might be useful: How do I get motivated and stay positive towards life? In answer to the linked question, I talk about systems approach (credit: Scott Adams) to self improvement which has proved enormously helpful to me.

Be what other people desire to be in as many ways as you can be. That is how status arises. When you are as good, or better, at something as the one perceiving you would want to be, you are accorded higher status.

Climb up the dominance hierarchy. It is easier to be yourself then without paying the costs that you can’t afford to.

Self-Motivation, How-To

From Quora

Q. How do I keep myself motivated so as to give my best to achieve my goals?

A. “Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” – Jim Rohn

The best way to stay motivated in life is to keep improving yourself every day, even if it is marginal improvement.

Pick a habit or two (like playing an instrument, writing, working out,..) and look forward to doing it every day.

Have a SYSTEM.

One of my favorite people, Scott Adams, has this idea of having systems instead of goals.

Don’t set goals, he would say, because then you will soon be demotivated seeing your goal far away while you aren’t making progress fast enough to achieve those goals. Have a system instead, which means you just practice/do certain things daily as a habit.

Doing something every day is bound to bring you marginal improvement in whatever it is you are doing daily. You might not notice the improvement day-on-day, but over a period of time, you will notice it.

Once you believe in this systems approach, it will be easy to get in the mode where you look forward to the routine of doing those things that you have picked to improve yourself on.

When you have things that you can look forward to, it would keep you motivated through the day, and until the next day, and the next day and so on. Plus when you start noticing small improvements in your skills, your motivation will start to multiply.

Momentum is the key here. Once you start the journey of self-improvement and self-motivation with the systems approach, don’t give up too soon. Initially it might take time until you see improvement, but once improvements start happening, with time they will snowball into BIG SUCCESS for you.

If you liked this answer, you may like my blog post: Systems Approach: Be Happy And Successful Everyday

Naval Ravikant’s First Periscope, Plus Podcast Links

I first heard Naval Ravikant via Tim Ferriss’s podcast and found him to be mesmerizing. I wanted to hear more of him so I sought him out on other podcasts he had appeared on, of which the noteworthy one is Farnam Street podcast.

According to Scott Adams, who is one of the smartest people I know, Naval is one of the smartest people around.

I have been a fan of Scott Adams’s, among other things, Periscopes (live streams), and was hoping for a long time Naval did them.

And boom! Naval just did his first Periscope!

He shares with incredible ease wonderful nuggets on various topics such as cryptocurrency and bitcoin, how to make money, happiness, anxiety, God and religion, favorite authors and books, investing and whatnot.

I won’t say this is the best way to get started with Naval (the best way probably is listening to him on Tim Ferriss podcast), but once you know him, his first appearance on live-stream is special.

Naval has appeared on Tim Ferriss’s podcast twice, both of which case be heard on YouTube here and here.

He is @Naval on Twitter.

What Makes Art Art

Art comes in varied forms. Some of them are as follows:

  1. Literary work (poem, short story, essay, novel,..)
  2. Music (singing & instrumental)
  3. Body movement (dance, gymnastics)
  4. Visual (Painting, photograph, movie)
  5. Object (statuette, other physical objects)
  6. Anything that requires deftness

If the above forms were to be grouped, the first five would go into one group and the last one would be another group, albeit, with some overlap between the groups. I will discuss the first group first, and in the end touch on the last one.

For something to be called art, 1) it must arouse an emotion in the observer and 2) it should be human-produced.

The emotion can be any emotion – happiness, sadness, surprise, nostalgia, peace,.. Some of these emotions can be felt looking at a mountain or a forest too, but they are not human-produced, and therefore we don’t call them works of art.

Though the above criteria suffice to define something as art, but it doesn’t solve for the subjectivity that surrounds art.

What is art according to some people may not be art according to other people. It is possible that some people may not feel any emotion looking at a piece which is considered art by others, and therefore it may not be art for them.

That is because in addition to the above criteria there is an important ingredient that goes into making something art. That ingredient is context.

menstrual blood painting
This would not be considered art.. until it is known that the “painting” is made from menstrual blood.

Example #1: Show a group of people a poem without telling them who the author is, and ask them to rate it. Show another group of people the same poem and tell them it is written by Shakespeare, and ask them to rate it. You might find that the latter would rate the poem higher – because the context, the fact that it is written by the great is baked into their experience of the poem.

Example #2: Between a meticulously carved statuette made by a modern-day machine and a thousand-year-old piece of disfigured statuette, which one would you consider better art, a) without knowing the facts about them, and b) with the facts known?

Example #3: Make a group of people listen to a really lousily played instrument and ask them if they are moved and would say it is art. Hardly anyone would consider it art. Now tell them it was played by a four-year-old, and he’s an artist!

It means that the emotional experience that the observer has cannot be credited to the object alone. Context is often, to more or less degree, a part of the equation. It is context that makes art subjective.

If one does not have the context, or the context does not appeal to one, in that case one may not view something as art which others do.

Context may not always be necessary for the observer to experience an emotion from the object, thus for the object to be art; but sometimes (like in Example #3) context may be all-important.

Now touching on the last form: Anything that requires deftness. Examples: Cooking, martial arts, debating, seduction,.. You see, they are completely different fields, and yet are often classified as art. In this sense of the word, art is simply any skill that is achieved through practice.