Book Review: Smartcuts

1 minute read


Smartcuts by Shane Snow teaches you how to leverage the power of lateral thinking for success. Replete with case studies of figures like Skrillex, Jimmy Fallon, and Elon Musk, Snow synthesizing principles for accomplishing more in less time.

Here’s the paperback.

Utility: ⭐⭐⭐ (3/5)

Smartcuts is a solid “okay” book. Of course, I don’t like the case-study-style of reasoning, and it even endorses Jim Collins work, which I distrust after reading The Halo Effect. I also suspect that the book will be much less helpful for people outside of entreprenuership.

Writing: ⭐⭐⭐ (3/5)

The book is entertaining. The stories are narrated well and but occasionally overstay their welcome. It’s not particularly idea-dense.


  • Hack the ladder. Moving straight up the ladder often isn’t the best path to the top. Constantly explore other ways to get where you want to be, like all the U.S. presidents that didn’t sludge through a political career.
  • Find a mentor. Almost every success story involves a mentor. Find an informal mentor - formal mentors don’t work.
  • Seek criticism. Experts value negative feedback more than positive feedback. Everyday people fear negative feedback, so you need to learn to set aside your ego.
  • Use platforms. Sometimes, what you need a better tool to start with. Studies suggest that learning math with a calculator is more effective.
  • Move early. But not that early. Early leaders tend to have more success then first-movers, since first-movers have to do the heavy lifting of setting up infrastructure.
  • Leverage superconnectors. A well-connected friend and social media can both be superconnectors. They can jumpstart network effects, supercharging your influence.
  • Ride momentum. If you find your lucky break, make sure you have enough capacity and the right timing so you can catapult yourself forward.
  • Simplify. Disruptive innovators know how to simplify products, such as stripping an incubator to bare essentials to make it affordable, or Steve Job’s simple turtleneck.
  • Think 10x. Don’t aim for incremental chain. Space X only succeeded because SpaceX aimed high (literally).