Good morning, ferrets, rise and shine!
Yes, it’s Friday already, which means I’m here with your weekly hit of neuron-stretching ideas.
(and yes, I started last week’s email with pretty much the same introduction – I like it, I think I’m gonna keep it, what do you think? )
It’s been a weird week for me. I’ve set up a high bar for myself and wasn’t able to cross most of those tasks off my list because of an unexpected high fever.
The ‘unexpected’ might sound like a pleonasm, right? Who expects a fever, really? I’m using it to emphasize its uncommon nature. The last time something like this happened was during my high school years (I’m always bragging about how I have such a strong immune system), so it really WAS unexpected.
It was gone just as fast as it hit me, but left casualties nonetheless. My task list, already on the brink of „everything must be aligned perfectly for all these to happen”, was brutally torn apart.
So I did what any other stoicism adopter would do. I was aware that I can’t change the fact that a fever is happening and I’m not able to think or even get out of bed, but I could work on how I interpret it and respond to it.
Instead of stressing myself over all the things that I wasn’t able to do (including my training for this Sunday’s half marathon), I decided to let them go and bury myself under a huge pile of easy to read books.
It’s also made me appreciate my normal healthy days, those that I tend to take for granted. When my biggest day-to-day problem is a dose of procrastination, it’s always good to be reminded that it could have been worse.
Now on to this Friday’s articles:
Cristina’s Friday Read #38
1. Inbox 0
There’s been a recurrent subject in the conversations I’ve had in the past week, about how we’re inclined to seek and read more (or even reread) on things that we personally need at that moment, those skills that we lack or need to reinforce. In my case, I also write about them, as another way to make sure I remember them. Whatsoever, talking or reading about something has nothing to do with putting that into practice.
So that’s why I’m still reading about how to handle emails, 10 years after I stumbled upon David Allen’s ‘Getting Things Done‘. My consumption of time management information should have ended there, but I’m aware I’m still bad at this. I need these articles as a reminder to start applying already (just as I always reread my notes from Cal Newport’s ‘Deep Work’).
I’m aware that constantly checking my email has a negative impact on my workday. It affects my capacity to focus on the life-changing big things and, instead, makes me spend too much time and energy for other people’s agendas and requests of my time. It’s a reactive mode that I want to avoid, otherwise there’s no energy left for my ultramarathon (both metaphorically and literally speaking ).
Just as I keep my phone on silent all day long and only return the missed calls in the evening, while walking around the city, I want to start doing the same with emails. Not the walking around the city part – I’m talking about checking and replying at preset time frames.
2. Peter Thiel explaining Trump
In the past couple of months I’ve been in a Peter Thiel phase, reading (or rereading) everything ever written by or about him, watching every single one of his interviews.
Short detour to explain my context. As you might or might not know, 10+ years ago I founded a music blog only to prove that it’s possible to do quality entertainment journalism and be successful without any hint of gossip or clickbait (or promotional budget), so it’s in my core values to avoid uninteresting distractions. That’s why I never cared about the outrage stirred around Peter Thiel (or anyone else, for that matter – as long as I have something to learn from them).
And from Thiel I’ve been learning a lot about strategic thinking and approaching subjects with an open mind. Take for example the following quotes I highlighted from the above article:
- „Does he really think that? If he really thinks that, how would you influence that? If he really thinks that and you could influence him, what would be the best way to do it?”
- Silicon Valley has not fulfilled the old dreams for bigger things. Cellphones distract us from the fact that the subways are 100 years old.
- „So it’s like there’s a shortcut, which is: ‘I don’t need to explain it. It’s good enough that everybody thinks something. If everybody thinks this is crazy, I don’t even have to explain to you why it’s crazy. You should just change your mind.’”
No Fridays without sharing a Ryan Holiday article, right? This one’s old, but related to what I was saying above, about the media’s fascination to force feed us tired stories on celebrities.
4. Having Your Smartphone Nearby Takes a Toll on Your Thinking
Looks like the mere presence of our smartphones in the same room with us, even when they’re powered off, is affecting our capacity to learn and think – almost at the same level as the effects of lacking sleep.
5. Networking sucks. Because people don’t give a shit.
Business is probably booming in Romania (my home country, that is), otherwise I can’t explain the recent explosion of investments made by big corporations – banks, especially, into the startup scene. However, this only led to a bloated ecosystem – or at least that”s how I see it as a bystander.
I was talking to a friend the other day about all the useless sleazy entrepreneurship „networking” events that have been organized lately. Money seem to be thrown out the window on initiatives that don’t help anyone and are only a waste of time.
Startup founders go there with the sole purpose of promoting themselves and their startup („look at me, look at me!”, without ever crossing their mind to genuinely be interested in what others are doing and naturally help them.
Meanwhile, bold competent entrepreneurs, those that really have accomplishments to be proud of and valuable insights to share, avoid these kind of things, and for a good reason: they’re focused on working on their own business and are aware that most of those founders don’t have a long term perspective. They’re all in a rush to make it overnight. (please feel free to contradict me if you think I’m wrong and there are events that really do bring value to Romanian startup founders)
P.S. I have this crazy seed of an idea that one day I’ll organize small, casual events where nobody knows other people’s surnames or what they do (at least not from the start). No small talk, only debating big ideas with other smart people.
Ok guys, that’s it for this Friday. Hope that you learned at least one new thing from one of these articles – and that you’ll also start applying right away.
Oh, and don’t forget about what I wrote last week: If you know someone who’s underrated and under appreciated, help them today, help them promote their work. Tell your friends about them, write on your social media channels, interview them for your own blog or newsletter, start a podcast to promote them, introduce them to like-minded people. Do whatever you can do to help them.