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International Generalist #5: Anti-Library, Personal Finance, and Athletic Ability.
Your bi-weekly dose of actionable insights.
Welcome to the 5th issue of International Generalist, especially to the 8 smart people that joined since the last one!
Today, we’ll cover anti-libraries, spending habits, leadership advice for managers and parents alike, and the most important athletic ability.
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Let’s dive in.
 The Anti-Library
My father has a beautiful library. It’s custom-made for his office space and provides a wonderful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
In his library, he has a ton of books. As someone who reads books for a living, he’s read almost every book in his library (which I consider quite impressive).
I don’t have a library yet. I also don’t read books for a living. But there’s another striking difference to my father’s library:
I actually haven’t read most of the books on the shelf.
It’s my „anti-library“.
The biggest obstacle to reading is not having a book to read. By consistently having a wide array of unread books, I never run out of new stuff. Sometimes, books will sit there for months or even years before I pick them up; sometimes, I buy them and read them right away.
But I’m a strong believer that if the book is there, it’ll find you at the right time.
Now - how do the books get there?
 Smart Spending Habits
Ramit Sethi is a bestselling author, finance coach and overall quite entertaining content creator. He also fucking loves appetizers.
In his book, humbly named „I Will Teach You To Be Rich“, he teaches the basics of personal finance: automate your savings, use 50% of your income for recurring expenses, 30% for investing and 20% for fun money, start investing early, etc. It’s a good beginner book.
The best rule from the book is: have one category where you simply don’t look at the amount you spend. You just buy whatever you’d like from that category.
For Ramit, this category is appetizers. Whenever he goes out to eat, he splurges on appetizers, often getting three different ones. He doesn’t care how much money he spends of them because any amount that he could spend is negligible in the grand scheme of things.
What appetizers are for Ramit are books for me.
I fucking love books.
Physical, heavy, paper books.
So whenever I see a book or hear about one that sounds even remotely interesting, I just go ahead and buy it, often several per week.
Given the price point, I’d have to exert considerable effort to drive myself into financial trouble by buying books. So I don’t second-guess the price, I just buy them.
By doing so, I achieve two things:
I always have a STACKED anti-library.
With one decision, I eliminate a thousand decisions: I don’t have to think about whether the price of the book is worth it to me, because I have a predefined rule for this. Book sounds interesting -> buy.
This in turn allows me to read a lot. 30+ books per year, in fact.
What’s your category that you spend on without second-guessing?
Let me know in the comments.
 Don’t Say No Without A Counter-Proposal
Insight from my colleague Bianca.
We all know these moments. You’re making a suggestion, the other party says „no“ - but they don’t have a better idea either.
It’s frustrating. It’s annoying. And it doesn’t get anybody anywhere.
Recently, my colleague Bianca told me that she uses this rule with her children: whenever they say no to something, they have to provide a counter-proposal. Otherwise, they can’t say no.
I LOVE that. You’re teaching children from an early age to think for themselves, to come up with ideas, to communicate their needs and wants.
So we introduced the same rule at the company I work for, Sdui: you can’t say „no“ without a counter-proposal.
Try it. Works with employees, managers, and kids alike.
 The Best Ability Is Availability
Insight from Coach Adam.
Sebastian Deisler was a generational talent in German soccer, the next rising star. Everybody was talking about him. Yet, 15 years later, barely anybody remembers him.
How could that happen?
Deisler had one problem: he usually wasn’t available. He was consistently injured or sick, battling through capsular tears, cartilage damage and depression. His career ended early due to his injury woes and illnesses, and despite being incredibly good at the sport, he flamed out early.
Joe Thomas, former left tackle for the Cleveland Browns, was the opposite: a great player, but most of all - available. Thomas played more than 10,000 offensive snaps in a row. That’s 167 games in 10 seasons without missing a play.
Once he’s eligible for the NFL Hall of Fame, he’ll be inducted instantly I’m sure. His availability is legendary.
You can be the best at what you do.
If you’re not available, it won’t matter.
That’s why I - someone who’s had his own history with sports injuries - spend a lot of time and money simply maintaining my body: working with a personal trainer, getting regular physiotherapy, going to the sauna, sleeping well, planning and cooking my own meals, meditating, journaling, the list goes on and on.
I want to be available.
For my girlfriend, friends, family.
And I can only do that if I take care of myself.
The best ability is availability.
Action Point recap:
Get yourself an anti-library by always stocking unread books.
Identify one area where you can spend shamelessly.
Don’t say no without offering up a counter-proposal.
Make sure you’re available.
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Who’s behind International Generalist?
I’m Dominik, and every day, I try to figure out how to become a tiny bit more effective. Then, I share some of the lessons learned here.
When I’m not writing, I build the international business for Sdui - the Leading European SchoolOS -, play Lacrosse and enjoy draft beers.
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