Listener #3: Day trading in emotion, using mental models for illustration, and working remotely

Seth Godin, Maggie Appleton, and DHH & Jason Fried

A sketch of one of my last meals out and about before things got real: Porterhouse for 3 at Peter Luger. It’s been a little over a week but it feels like months ago.

I’ve been adjusting the listening routine…

  • Instead of listening while at the gym… I’ve been listening while doing kettlebell workouts in the living room.

  • Instead of listening while commuting on the subway… I’ve been popping headphones in while cleaning (which happens more frequently from some combination of being home all day and just wanting a distraction)

  • Instead of listening on walks around the park… I’ve been listening while walking on our (brand spankin’ new) treadmill

The 5 Ms and staying in.

That’s a screenshot of some playlists I have set up in Overcast. They’re based on a post I wrote last year, based on Brian Koppelman’s answer to a podcast listener question:

  • “How do you keep nourishing yourself to keep the spark alive?”

Brian Koppelman: That’s related and it’s also back to those things I said earlier: the meditation, morning pages, long walks, cardio, listening to music, reading, watching movies. I want to keep stoking the flame by taking in great work. I want to engage with that great work and ask myself questions about it and let myself get stirred up. As you get older it gets harder to allow yourself to get stirred up emotionally by art. But it remains really worth it.

I took each of those things and have collections of podcasts on those topics:

  • M #1 — Morning Pages

  • M #2 — Meditation

  • M #3 — Move fast (cardio)

  • M #4 — Move slow (long walks)

  • M #5 — Movies, music, and books

I mixed things around and added M #0 (podcasts I listen to just for fun). Anyway, I’ve been returning to that idea and figuring out how I can keep my own spark alive while isolating at home.

I’ll write about some of my favorite shows for each M in a future issue. In the meantime…

Five things from this week

  1. 🎧 Seth Godin: stop day trading in emotions (“The Moment” with Brian Koppelman)

Koppelman also offered to appear on a podcast every day while we’re all staying home. One of the most generous things I’ve seen. Time is the most valuable thing on earth. And it’s probably hard not to give full attention while being on a podcast. (Much easier to tune out during a Zoom call with a dozen people than it is when it’s a 1-on-1 conversation.)

  1. 🏃🏻‍♂️We bought the cheap treadmill you might have been looking at on Amazon

I didn’t want to draw a treadmill to represent walking.

We bought the treadmill that you may have seen on Amazon. It’s $350 and has been great for staying moving. My goal’s been to walk for an hour a day, split up as 30 minutes in the morning and 30 at night or just the full hour in the morning.

  1. 🎧 Maggie Appleton, egghead.io illustrator (“Turning Technical Concepts into Approachable Illustrated Metaphors with Maggie Appleton”)

egghead.io’s illustrations make learning web development that much more fun. Maggie Appleton leads that effort. In this interview, she talks about her process for coming up with the right mental models for front-end programming concepts. It’s not easy to come up with metaphors for the courses, because programming concepts aren't always the most concrete things.

She’ll start thinking about industrial connections but also looks to finance and nature. (She points out that React has a tree metaphor, but a potato would be better. Data flows down like a potato. Trees grows up.)

She also mentions “Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas by Natasha Dow Schüll. I need to pick it up (no audiobook!), but it’s about all the things that make slot machines and other casino games addicting. Apps and social media are addicting for similar reasons.

(That said, I’ve FaceTimed people socially more this week than I have in the past year, so I’m grateful for that. I like the phrase Cal Newport uses: analog conversation. So not text, chat, or email.)

  1. Jason Fried & David Heinemeier Hansson do a remote work Q&A (The Rework Podcast)

They’ve been working remotely since the early 2000s. (I wish I had the link handy, but I think Jason Fried or DHH mentioned that they didn’t even talk on a phone for the first 6 months that they knew each other and worked together.)

My main takeaway: You can’t just translate in-person things to online versions. Lean more toward asynchronous communication to help reduce distraction. Practice writing. (Check out Basecamp’s online book, Shape Up, for a ton of info about how they write their pitches.)

  1. Go listen to After Hours.

My fiance says this doesn’t look like The Weeknd and it also doesn’t look like it says After Hours and I’m pretty sure she’s right.