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This book was recommended to me by Pam Kobryn at the Air Force Research Lab. I expected this book to be simply about knowing when to quit your job, but it ended up containing useful information about all types of quitting based on the position of making better decisions.

There were a few ideas and sections that really spoke to me:


The author discusses the concept of tying your identity to an endeavor. If you do this it can become really difficult to make good decisions or to know when to quit. If you see yourself as connected to that project or effort, quitting can feel like giving up on yourself or your identity. This hit home really hard as my internal start-up within Rolls-Royce is in a bit of a transition stage. It's become sort of my baby and deciding to change or quit it has felt like giving up on myself. This book came at a great time to help me separate those things.

Monkeys & Pedestals

monkey singing on a pedestal

Another key point was when Annie discussed the concept of Monkeys and Pedestals. This is apparently a well-known concept formalized at X, the accelerator which is part of Alphabet, Google's parent company. In short, each project can be likened to teaching a monkey to sing while standing on a pedestal. Parts of the project are well-understood work (like building a pedestal) and parts of the project are not well understood (like teaching a monkey to sing).

It can be tempting to go build pedestals because they're easy, success is mostly guaranteed, and the progress feels comfortable. At the end of the day, however, it's false progress. You should start with the monkey, and if you can't solve that problem you should stop the effort. By recognizing, for your project, what is a monkey and what is a pedestal you can understand what tasks to go after.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and thought it did a good job covering the material. The concepts are powerful without being too wordy, and I feel like I'll benefit from the thoughts in the book. I particularly liked the sections discussing the sunk costs fallacy. I'm pretty familiar with this concept having spent a long time in big enterprise companies… but she gave some great examples to drive home the logical problems and some new ways to frame the problem.

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