075: Leveraging Thinking Tools

In This Episode: A profound bit of advice isn’t necessarily usable just for the situation it’s created for. In fact, that may be what makes it profound, because sometimes you end up with a nice tool for leveraging your Uncommon Sense. This episode offers a great example of that.

075: Leveraging Thinking Tools

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Show Notes

  • Help support Uncommon Sense: — yes, $5 really helps!
  • This is one of several “Thinking Toolbox” items discussed in various episodes. Others include episode 27, Think… or React?; episode 34, I Have a Scenario For You; and episode 49, Mind Triggers.
  • My friend Aaron Dragushan is a serial entrepreneur: his most recent startup is the human resources site Happy Monday.


Welcome to Uncommon Sense. I’m Randy Cassingham.

My mastermind group — a group of successful online entrepreneurs who support each other, share expertise, etc. — has several different online discussion lists. One of those is about investing. By definition after all, members are successful entrepreneurs, so how to save for the future is an obvious topic.

One of the members asked how we decide when to get out of a stock — when do you sell?

Well, a bunch of us weighed in with how we decide when to sell, including Aaron, who I’ve known since 1999. His answer to the question was not only very succinct, unlike mine, it disrupted the conversation with its simplicity. “A thought I’ve found both useful and rationally undeniable,” he posted, “is: If you wouldn’t buy that stock now, you should sell immediately.”

Now, that’s not something Aaron came up with himself: it’s a fairly well known investing maxim, and posting that isn’t a demonstration of Aaron’s Uncommon Sense, even if it is short, easy to remember, and, really, fairly profound.

So, that’s not why it’s worth discussing here.

I’ve talked about “Thinking Toolbox” techniques in several episodes — I’ll link to them on the Show Page. The thing about tools is, they’re usually good for more than one situation, and this one is too, even if you don’t own any stocks.

What takes this maxim from pithy advice to Uncommon Sense is how Aaron used it way away from the realm of the stock market.

After another member gave thumbs up on Aaron’s advice, Aaron — almost as an aside — told a quick story about how he used this idea in a situation that had nothing to do with stocks.

“I convinced my friends to put in a pool gate this way,” he said. “They have a beautiful 1-year-old. Life’s busy, and they just never quite got around to doing it. But — money and hassle aside — them not putting in a pool gate is like saying, ‘OK, we have a toddler now, REMOVE THE POOL GATE!”

075: Leveraging Thinking Tools
Attractive nuisance: it’s too easy for kids to drown.

Him telling his friends this was enough to shock those parents into getting right on it. Way too many kids drown every year, and Aaron, who has children of his own, made sure his friends didn’t let their child be one of those kids — at least not this time, and not in that way. And which, if it happened, they’d kick themselves over it for the rest of their lives.

Common sense says to put in a barrier between a toddler and an attractive danger that could kill them. It’s something else entirely — what I call Uncommon Sense — to adapt on the fly to frame an idea in such a way to make effective use of that idea elsewhere, in this case to wake up parents who didn’t do something vitally important as soon as their child started to walk (at the latest!)

Reframing common-sensical things into completely new ideas is one of the hallmarks of Uncommon Sense. It’s also where we get great new business ideas from entrepreneurs like Aaron.

The “Thinking Toolbox” concepts that I’ve discussed in previous episodes aren’t concepts that can only be used once in specific situations. Thinking, rather than reacting. Using scenarios to think in advance. And mind triggers. All of these examples discussed earlier are concepts that can be applied widely …if you think about it. So, the rest is up to you.

The Show Page for this episode is thisistrue.com/podcast75, and I’d love to hear your comments, which you can make right on that page.

I’m Randy Cassingham … and I’ll talk at you later.

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075: Leveraging Thinking Tools
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