Idea Almanac

“If my family was a square, then Barack’s was a more elaborate piece of geometry, one that reached across oceans. He’d spent years trying to make sense of its lines. His mother, Ann Dunham, had been a seventeen-year-old college student in Hawaii in 1960, when she fell for a Kenyan student named Barack Obama. Their marriage was brief and confusing—especially given that her new husband, it turned out, already had a wife in Nairobi. After their divorce, Ann went on to marry a Javanese geologist named Lolo Soetoro and moved to Jakarta, bringing along the junior Barack Obama—my Barack Obama—who was then six years old.”

Excerpt From: Michelle Obama. “Becoming.”

Idea Almanac

“The concept of the digital application You Only Need One (YONO), devised by SBI, started off as a germ of an idea, emerging from the bank’s decision to create an ‘Online Marketplace’ in order to attract the millennial generation. It was widely felt that SBI, while successfully projecting itself as the ‘banker to every Indian’, was actually lagging behind in its ability to acquire the younger generation of customers. It was felt that this gap could be bridged by creating an e-commerce marketplace which would attract young and new customers into the SBI fold. In its original form, therefore, YONO (or ‘Project Lotus’, as it was initially called) was a finite concept with a limited shelf life—it would help the bank attract new customers through the marketplace with the hope of converting some of them into SBI customers; and this would entail an added benefit of embellishing the digital credentials of SBI.”

Excerpt From: Rajnish Kumar. “The Custodian of Trust.”

Idea Almanac

“Like most young kids emulating their hip-hop idols, I had been writing verses full of curse words and slick, slangy vulgarities, and I had accidentally left my book out in the kitchen.
Gigi found it and read it. She never said anything to me, but she wrote me a note on the inside front cover.

Dear Willard,

Truly intelligent people do not have to use language like this to express themselves. God has blessed you with the gift of words. Be sure you are using your gifts to uplift others. Please show the world that you are as intelligent as we think you are.

Excerpt From: Will Smith. “Will.”

Book Review

Relatively, we are livin. Life is our résumé. It is our story to tell, and the choices we make write the chapters. Can we live in a way where we look forward to looking back? Inevitably, we are going to die. Our eulogy, our story, will be told by others and forever introduce us when we are gone.

Idea Almanac

“We are not here to tolerate our differences,
we are here to accept them.
We are not here to celebrate our sameness,
we are here to salute our distinctions.
We are not born into equal circumstances,
or with equal abilities,
but we should have equal opportunity.
As individuals, we unite in our values. Celebrate that.”


Excerpt From: Matthew McConaughey. “Greenlights.”

Idea Almanac

“From childhood I was compelled to concentrate attention upon myself. This caused me much suffering but, to my present view, it was a blessing in disguise for it has taught me to appreciate the inestimable value of introspection in the preservation of life, as well as a means of achievement. The pressure of occupation and the incessant stream of impressions pouring into our consciousness thru all the gateways of knowledge make modern existence hazardous in many ways. Most persons are so absorbed in the contemplation of the outside world that they are wholly oblivious to what is passing on within themselves.”

Excerpt From: Nikola Tesla. “My Inventions: The Autobiography of Nikola Tesla.

Idea Almanac

“From that mountainside, the enemy could almost roll rocks down onto us. I wondered why the base had been established in such a vulnerable spot.
“Very important outpost,” Hieu assured me.
“What’s its mission?” I asked.
“Very important outpost,” Hieu repeated.
“But why is it here?”
“Outpost is here to protect airfield,” he said, pointing in the direction of our departing Marine helo.
“What’s the airfield here for?” I asked.
“Airfield here to resupply outpost.”

Excerpt From: Colin L. Powell. “My American Journey.”

Idea Almanac

“We were trained from day one to focus on addressing the client’s real challenges with data and clear, objective thinking, not just telling them what they wanted to hear. We revealed uncomfortable truths and would then sit down with company leadership, go through our analysis, and figure out a path forward. I felt this process had an intellectual honesty that sidelined politics, although, of course, there was plenty of corporate politics to wade through, too. The consulting business really suited me. I loved zooming in, digging deep into a business, learning growth and profit levers, then zooming out to determine how best to reposition a business or a company. Every project felt very personal, and I was busy all the time. I don’t sleep much, and I easily put in the long hours needed when I was wrapped up in the analysis.”

Excerpt From: Indra Nooyi. “My Life in Full.”

Idea Almanac

“In collecting such a medley of ideas, Leonardo was following a practice that had become popular in Renaissance Italy of keeping a commonplace and sketch book, known as a zibaldone. But in their content, Leonardo’s were like nothing the world had ever, or has ever, seen. His notebooks have been rightly called “the most astonishing testament to the powers of human observation and imagination ever set down on paper.” The more than 7,200 pages now extant probably represent about one-quarter of what Leonardo actually wrote,4 but that is a higher percentage after five hundred years than the percentage of Steve Jobs’s emails and digital documents from the 1990s that he and I were able to retrieve. Leonardo’s notebooks are nothing less than an astonishing windfall that provides the documentary record of applied creativity.”

Excerpt From: Walter Isaacson. “Leonardo da Vinci.