Edition #49 – Dan Levy answers 7 questions

by | Jun 26, 2023

1. Why are you an author?

Interesting question. I never saw myself as a book author. I simply wrote two books because I felt the need to share with others things I thought could be helpful to them.

The book Teaching Effectively with Zoom was born out of seeing how chaotic was the process of trying to learn how to teach well on Zoom in the middle of a pandemic.

The book Maxims for Thinking Analytically was born because I became convinced that people could benefit greatly from the maxims of my dear mentor and Harvard professor Richard Zeckhauser.

2. Who are your literary inspirations?

Not sure. I like books that have helped me think differently about the world.

Some authors include Steven Pinker, Phil Tetlock, Annie Duke, Barbara Oakley and Adam Grant. On the fiction side, Mario Vargas Llosa is one of my favorite writers.

3. What is your writing routine?

I think the most useful advice I received when I started writing was to write every day. This is certainly what I tried to do when writing my books. Some days would be productive; others not.

But even on days that were not productive, the discipline of writing was helpful so that my brain could later process and make progress on what I got stuck on, even while I was doing something completely unrelated to writing (going for a walk, preparing a meal, etc.).

I try to write in the morning before looking at email, news and other distractions.

4. Why did you write this book?

Maxims for Thinking Analytically
By: Dan Levy

I wrote the book “Maxims for Thinking Analytically: The wisdom of legendary Harvard Professor Richard Zeckhauser” because I became convinced that Richard Zeckhauser’s wisdom could be helpful to vast numbers of people in the world, many far removed from Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the academic world. I also wrote it as a tribute to him from me and the many others whose lives he has so positively influenced. I hope that you will be enriched by it.

5. What were the biggest obstacles in writing this book?

In the spring of 2020, I sent current and former colleagues, coauthors, and students of Richard’s a list of his most memorable maxims and asked them to submit an anecdote or story of how they put one of the maxims to good use in their personal or professional lives. I received more than 150 submissions. The book is organized around the maxims, with the submissions bringing the maxims to life.

The biggest challenge was to integrate the submissions into a coherent whole.

I would like to think I accomplished this goal.

6. Who are the key points of this book?

The goal of the book is to help readers think more analytically, which I hope will lead them to better understand the world around them, make smarter decisions, and ultimately live a more fulfilling life.

The book is organized around maxims, one-sentence nuggets of wisdom meant to immortalize an important idea.

Examples of maxims include “When you are having trouble thinking straight, go to an extreme case”, “Good decisions sometimes have poor outcomes” and “Don’t be limited by the options you have in front of you”

7. Where may we find you online?