Listener #1

I listen to a bunch of stuff at 2X and don't remember much. This is my attempt to remember more.

Writing this on a Sunday night with Ocean’s 11 on in the background. Current drink: water. Update: It took me much longer to write this than planned. And there was a grocery trip in between. Danny Ocean and friends completed their heist a couple hours ago. Finishing this post with Gladiator on in the background.

Some steps for myself—in this newsletter I’ll…

  • … write a quick update with corrections, housekeeping, etc.

  • … share books I read this week with a few sentences about each book

  • … share 3 podcast links with a few sentences about each episode

I have some ideas for content other than the weekly newsletter, but it’s all secondary to being consistent with the newsletter.

Enough with the intro navel gazing. Let’s move to the post-intro navel gazing.

Cleaning up the podcast playlists (Quick update)

Opening "All podcasts" in Overcast was giving me a bit too much of a dopamine hit in the morning. I had playlists to keep things organized but made enough (30-ish) to get disorganized again. Anyway, I exported my playlists in Overcast then spent a couple hours over the weekend trying (and mostly failing) to get things out of the OPML file nicely into a spreadsheet.

It sort of works. It’s enough to make me feel better about deleting all the playlist clutter I had. Will it make me better at writing this newsletter? Almost certainly not.

Reading log

I’ll write more about this as the weeks go on, but I’m trying to move toward listening to (even more) audiobooks and sharing notes so that it’s close to, you know, actually reading the book. (Then I’ll sell a “7 SECRETS TO LEARNING BY LISTENING” PDF.)

If you’ve read any of the Heath brothers’ other books (Made to Stick, Decisive, The Power of Moments) then you’ll be familiar with the format—a central theme explained through different stories (make it stick!) from different walks of life through history. In this case, the themes are about solving problems instead of symptoms. It pairs well with Simon Sinek’s Start With Why for considering how different things in life align. It also pairs well with books about systems and leverage. Current problems are sometimes second or third order effects of things. You can get better at tracing things to the sources of problems and figure out where in the chain you might be able to make a change.

Someone stopped me on the street once and asked what one source of inspiration was for me. I mentioned Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit. (And then I realized that this was a weird question to ask someone randomly on the street and then I realized they were about to ask me to sign up for something.) I didn’t realize that she released another book recently until I saw it while walking around on a Barnes & Noble. I picked it up shortly after.

There’s so much good stuff in The Creative Habit but I the passage I see excerpted most often is the part where she talks about hailing a taxi cab first thing in the morning. It’s used to talk about rituals, to talk about habits, to talk about preparation, to talk about the importance of physical health.

I’ve just started it but if you found that taxi cab story motivating, you’ll probably like what’s in Keep it Moving. Early on, she talks about having a pledge. It’s different from a goal because you can never check off your pledge as “Done.” If your pledge is to live a creative life, you aim to do that day in and day out. You might miss a day here and there, but there’s no end. And that’s a good thing.

Podcasts

I enjoy podcasters talking about podcasting, especially when they’ve had careers as writers. In this episode, Simmons and Dubner talk about podcasting (podcasting is far less lonely than writing in cafes), writing routines (Simmons mentions that he wrote most of The Book of Basketball in a Le Pain Quotidien), and Freakonomics.

I really enjoyed the phrase Dubner uses to define the genre he doesn’t want to be in—success porn/how to be awesome.

“I enjoy doing what we do as journalism that kind of helps people figure out the world, so that they can figure out their corner of the world. But I'm not really in it to be a life coach."

I wasn’t very familiar with Tyler Cowen’s work before listening to this podcast. Ryan Holiday also mention Cowen’s blog Marginal Revolution in a newsletter a few weeks back. (“There is nobody who has exposed me to more books and ideas than Tyler Cowen”). I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. In any case, I’m always interested in hearing the routines of people who still blog every day. Part of it reminded me of Seth Godin (another daily blogger) talking about writing directly into the editor. Seth uses Typepad. Cowen uses WordPress.

“If it's a blog post. I type it into WordPress and I do find if I type into WordPress I write different things than if I write on an open Word document.”

The bullet journal started with a very popular video showing a minimalistic journaling system. If you search for bullet journal images now, though, you’ll see a lot of colorful artistic notebooks. Matt Ragland has been able to differentiate by sticking closer to the original, less colorful process. He was recently on Focused in an episode about journaling—he talks about the evolution of his notebook system (he has a few different kinds for different purposes).

Also check out Ragland’s interview on Copyblogger—he talks about trying different mediums out to see which you enjoy most. Similar to journaling, some things work better than others. Trying things out is the only way to find what you should stick to or remove. One thing that doesn’t change between text, audio, or video content is that consistency is really important. Enjoying the creation process in a certain medium means you’ll be more likely to stick to it.