Focusing on a few essentials dramatically increases your probability of success. The One Minute Entrepreneur, by Ken Blanchard, Don Hutson and Ethan Willis, talks about the importance of distilling life’s lessons into “one-minute insights" that you can revisit from time to time. Through a story of two aspiring entrepreneurs, the book takes you through the initial stages of their youth, the importance of lessons at a formative stage, and other tips they picked up along the way. Here are some examples:

The One Minute Entrepreneur: By Ken Blanchard, Don Hutson and Ethan Willis, Headline Business Plus, 135 pages, Rs 195.

The officer opened the door and took out a vinyl bag. “Sure looks like marijuana to me."

Jud’s ears pounded with the beating of his heart. How could this be happening? He’d never done drugs! What would his parents say?

After their long drive to the police station, Jud and Jerry made their one phone call and were put in a cell. Jud’s father showed up early next morning. “When I was your age, my uncle taught me that at any given time, we are becoming the average of the five people with whom we are most closely associated. Don’t ever underestimate the importance of whom you choose to be with. And remember, you have an opportunity to learn from someone who is exceptionally smart or successful."

After football practice on Monday afternoon, Coach Knapp asked Jud to come into his office. Jud had an idea what the visit would be about, and approached Coach Knapp’s office with trepidation. “I hear you had a rough weekend," the coach said, “Jud, you’re popular, you’re a decent student, and you’re a pretty good football player. But every teacher you have is convinced you could do better. When are you going to make something of yourself, instead of jerking around drinking beer at that gravel pit?"

Jud felt he’d been kicked in the stomach. He swallowed hard. Coach Knapp continued, “You want to enjoy a successful life, right?" “Yes, sir," Jud said. “Then make this a turning point. You found out this weekend that you’re not bulletproof. Now, I want to show you something."

The coach opened a drawer and pulled out a worn, blue linen book. “My mother gave me this when I went away to college. She told me to take a minute every now and then to write down the important things that happened, and to put a star by the major lessons I learned, so that I could share them with her when I went home. I resisted at first, but before long I got into it, not only to keep the promise to my mother but to keep quotes I liked, things I learned, and thoughts about important decisions I made. To remember them better, I distil them down to their essence so that they take no longer than about a minute to read. It’s a habit that has changed my life." The coach pulled out a clean, new notebook and handed it to Jud.

Before he turned off his lights that night, Jud pulled out his new notebook and took a minute to write down the advice he’d gotten that week from his dad and his coach.

The following weekend, Jud joined the family for a Sunday dinner with his grandparents. The family had given a heads-up to his grandmother about his “incident". Since she’d been a schoolteacher and a personnel director, nothing surprised her. While the others were visiting in the living room, Jud’s grandmother took him into the kitchen for a chat.

“You’re going off to college soon, Jud. You’ll be exposed to many people and ideas. You’ll encounter crossroads—points where you’ll need to make choices. Try your best to make good, well-thought-out decisions. Often the decisions you make when you are young are more important than those made later in life, because they have more years in front of them." “I’ll do my best," said Jud.

That night he headed straight for his notebook and added the gems his father, grandmother, coach had sent his way to his list of One Minute Insights.

• Associate with people you admire and can learn from.

• Keep a notebook of the wisdom you read, hear, and learn and distil that learning into One Minute Insights.

• A good life is built on strong, solid values such as integrity, love, honesty and purposeful work.

• You never need to cheat to win.

• What is right is more important than who is right.

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