The Listen #8: Work friends (and other things)

The Connect, Finding Mastery, My First Million, College Info Geek → Inforium, Tim Ferriss

Currently: Sitting at the bedroom desk with iced coffee (made from those Grady's bean bags)

It’s been a few months since I sent this out but I'm going to aim to send this out weekly. And to make it the highest priority thing to make each week.

Daily can be good for a number of reasons. But I tend to get streaky with things where I'll go for a week sharing a bunch of stuff, followed by weeks or months without making anything.

One method to make daily sharing easier: share snippets of work from a larger project. My larger project: this newsletter. Which is underwhelming compared to, like, making the Lord of the Rings trilogy and sharing dispatches from that. But I'm only a man.

Oh yah, I also wrote out an outline for what this newsletter will look like.

  • A personal dispatch (~ 250 words) — That's this part

  • 5 podcast episodes + blurbs (~150 words each) — I might drop this down to 3 depending on how things go

  • Personal closing + any stray links that come to mind

I can write the episode blurbs throughout the week. I've been overthinking whether I should try to pick episodes each week that connect around a theme.

That sounds hard. I'll start with easy.

On to the episodes!

5 podcasts episodes (that don't connect to each other)

  1. The Connect: "I thought this computer was my friend" (The Ringer, Apple Podcasts, Spotify)

Jason Concepcion and Shea Serrano talk about connections between 'Scarface' and 'Office Space'. It's the debut episode of their new podcast where they talk about two movies and the connections between them. The first theme is work friends, breaking down Tony & Manny alongside Peter & Samir & Michael (Bolton but not that one).

In the past few months, I've been thinking about Steve Kerr's effort to reflect the team value of Joy—something he picked up watching Pete Carroll as a coach. Jason and Shea always seem to bring joy to their work. Maybe there are dark, dark hours thinking deeply and planning and writing, etc. But it doesn't show. This is a very fun podcast.

I wrote this notecard about The Connect and Shea retweeted it and that was a very cool thing.

Alright so I thought it'd be good to share an episode with Steve Kerr since I mentioned him. In this interview, Kerr talks about how he arrived at Joy as a value.

“The value that means the most to our team is joy, and it’s reflected in the way we play."

I'm writing this on the Sunday of the NBA returning. I'll watch all the playoff games but will watch pretty much zero regular season games. Except for these, because we've been deprived of sports for so long. And with some teams left out, the matchups are all pretty good. (Especially this opening weekend.)

Anyway, I mention that because the last time I actually did follow the regular season closely was in 2012 when I hopped on the Lob City bandwagon. I got a 12-ticket package with one of my best friends.

We also happened to be work friends. Once a week, we'd leave the office early and drive from San Diego to LA to watch the Clippers against whoever Blake Griffin would dunk on. They were an incredibly fun team but over the years there were signs that they hated each other.

I always wish those Clippers teams had joy as one of their values. 

  • 3. My First Million: "Andrew Wilkinson: The Warren Buffett of the Internet Returns" (The Hustle, Apple, Spotify)

Okay so there is a small connection with My First Million and The Connect. On this episode of My First Million, they discuss what works and what doesn't on their podcast. Andrew tells Shaan and Sam that he just enjoys hearing them brainstorm with each other. Even if they have guests on, it's more fun to hear them brainstorm with the guests—you can get the guest's life story on other podcasts.

While writing this week's newsletter, I realized my favorite podcasts through the years (Half-Baked ideas, My First Million, Binge Mode, Pat Flynn's episodes with Dan John) have been two-host podcasts rather than interview or narrative shows. And that I should really prioritize finding time with Wally for us to bring back Active Recall!

'College Info Geek' is changing the name of their podcast (to 'Inforium') so Thomas and Martin reflect on their journey to 300 episodes. 

Alright so I know I said this week's episodes wouldn't connect but then this episode came to mind when thinking about work friends. Thomas and Martin are best friends and have been since way before the podcast and before they also became work friends. With 300 episodes, Thomas has done different types of episodes and different podcasts altogether. These included interview shows where he'd do a ton of research to prep.

Conclusion? Interviewing is hard.

Interviewing is a skill. It takes practice to improve. Having interviews on the schedule adds pressure to the week. While it's valuable, interviewing isn't as fun as turning the mic on and having a conversation with a friend.

  • 5. Tim Ferriss: "Brad Feld — The Art of Unplugging, Carving Your Own Path, and Riding the Entrepreneurial Rollercoaster (#448)" (Tim's blog, Apple Podcasts, Spotify)

With the creation of this newsletter, I thought it'd be good to use my platform to bring some attention to less well-known podcasters like Tim Ferriss. 

I experimented with writing notes while listening. Here's the result of the experiment:

A different result: I didn't finish listening to the episode. Because I had to do something else in the middle and wanted to finish the notes while listening. So it's cool to have these notes but it also removes one of the best things about podcasts: that you can do other stuff while listening to them.

Oh yeah, the episode itself—if you've become very rich and aren't happy, this is a good one to listen to. Feld had lots of career success but at the cost of, well, the usual cost of being a workaholic: destroyed relationships, poor health, etc.

So he started taking vacations. 1 week trips, 4 times a year. Disconnected. 

Money solves money problems. Beyond that: laugh with your friends and family. This also reminded me of something I wrote in my notebook:

(Note for the future: Write a newsletter issue with episodes where [very] rich, successful people talk about realizing they weren't happy and what they did, and continue to do, about it—David Choe, Justin Kan, David Chang, etc.)

(I wrote this note at Central Park with no socks on. Just to give you a sense of my mindset at the time. That's supposed to be a drawing of a shoe, btw. )

The note says "Good metrics!" and it's a reference to a different episode or book where Tim Ferriss describes a metric for happiness. 

  • Tim's metric: Number of group meals with people you love

  • My metric: Time spent reading outdoors

Reading outdoors makes the day feel completely unrushed. Weekends feel much longer. (If you're with other people, even better.)

Until next week: A list of things that definitely don't count as writing while trying to write this issue

Here's a timelapse of me with a timer, working desperately to very much not finish this newsletter.

Shout out to Red Hot Timer

Things I did instead:

  • Picked a different subdomain for the newsletter. (Definitely one of those things that doesn't matter but it feels like it does. In this case, it really really doesn't matter because I switched it from Listener to The Listen.)

  • Checked to see if was available. (It's not. I apparently am not the first person to realize "it is what it is" has a fun looking abbreviation.)

  • Looked up old blog posts about Project 365 (Sharing something online daily used to be this incredibly challenging thing and now people do it for years straight with Stories.)

  • Made and edited time lapse videos and turned them into GIFs

  • Poured coffee for myself

  • Cut and paste things back and forth deciding if I should share 3 podcast episodes or 5 episodes and ultimately went with 5 since it would be just a little bit more writing but that little bit took a couple hours more time instead of just a little bit more time

Until next week, thanks for checking this out!