'bout a week ago, I had a great conversation with Sam Snyder. Sam is really, really, really smart. If you haven't been to his site, you should click over there and at least skim until you find something personally fascinating to you (and you will), and then you'll probably be a fan of his for life.
We covered a lot of ground talking. The first thing I made a note of was on reference points for exercise. We were talking why fitness is so enjoyable, such a good thing, but people often don't do it?
Sam said something really insightful - he said people's reference points for fitness are probably thinking about the hard part of starting, when you're getting going it, when you're not into the flow of it. When someone thinks exercise, they don't think about being engaged mind and body, feeling strong, feeling alive. They think about the beginning part where the body and bones and muscles feel creaky and it's hard to do.
I'm paraphrasing - I'm not even capturing the sentiment of it really well, it was a very sharp insight. The takeaway for me was, when thinking about exercise think about the height of enjoyable moments from it. Not the hassle, not the details, not the admin, not the pain. But the most enjoyable moments. Make that your reference point.
"Everything that goes on in the world can be reduced to cause and effect." We talked about tracing ways through cause and effect, and how you could have more predictive power if you did. Economic events, social events, wealth, and so on. We talked about some ways on how you model what was going to happen and make predictions. Fascinating stuff - Sam's playing on a really high mental level.
Two weeks ago, I wrote "Damn Inbox - I'm Not Doing Anything Until It's Empty" - and then I cleared it out.
Now the sucker is back up to 45 messages. How'd that happen?
I think here's what happened -
1. My email volume has been going up, and I haven't adjusted to a new routine for it. Before I'd go into my inbox, clear a third of it when I had free time waiting for something, and then do that twice more in the day, and it'd be empty at the end of the day. Now, I'm going to need to set aside more time for it.
2. I'm answering/replying/writing a lot more emails, so it feels like it should be empty - but then I'm leaving one or two messages there that weren't there at the end of the day. This is like spending more money than you've got coming in - it's going to catch up with you sooner or later.
Ah, this is so awesome. Christophe Ducamp has translated my newest daily tracking template into French.
The full Habit/Life tracking in French is in available in plain text here. - very cool and exciting stuff, cheers to Christophe.
He's on Twitter, too. Christophe Ducamp is @xtof_fr.
This makes my day :) :) :) Thought apparently in France you're supposed to smoke a cigarette before exercising ;)
When you come across some era of history you've never heard before that might be fascinating, or an obscure but highly recommended book on conflict management, or you come across some primary source papers that are largely unread any more about an important event - jump on it right away.
You'll never really be motivated to read Baldissare Castiglione by Julia Cartwright. It's an obscure-ish book, cited not particularly often, about the 17th most interesting guy in the Renaissance. He hung out with da Vinci, and Borgia, and met all the Popes of his lifetime, but you'd have to either really love the Renaissance, or come across Il Cortegiano in research to read him.
Baldis-who? If you don't look him up now, it likely won't come up later.
A lot of good strategy and being a successful generalist is about picking up obscure skills. Steve Jobs talked in his famous Stanford address about how the class he took on calligraphy in his late teens became one of the drivers behind the Mac being the first computer with beautiful typeface.
There's plenty of calligraphers in the world, but how many calligrapher-entrepreneur-designers? A good mix and synergy of skills gives you the ability to make a contribution. A good mix and synergy that includes something obscure can help you make an original contribution.
This had me cracking up laughing. I added the bold for emphasis.
Avoiding Standard Error: Being a sloth and unreliable create such an asymmetrical negative payoff for what little upsides they bring you. So does fostering addiction or dependency, letting impulsions go unchecked, or being envious or resentful. So does not studying or taking seriously your susceptibility to the natural cognitive biases we have. If you set out to eliminate standard error, or things that can inherently cloud your judgement, you may realize the low-hanging fruit thats occasionally up for grabs.
Whole post is pretty good and insightful, there's examples of looking at non-mainstream ways people have broken into finance and Hollywood -
"Trailblazing" over at Sami Baqai's site
I just posted a new article at Less Wrong - "Steps to Achievement: The Pitfalls, Costs, Requirements, and Timelines." This is a little bit longer and more dry than I write for my blog, but I think there's some very important things in here.
If you're interested in goals and achievement, there's quite a lot of meat here. I'm putting the full version up here and please feel very welcome to comment here on this topic, but also consider heading over to Less Wrong, grab a free account, and start participating there. As I described in "You Should Probably Study Rationality," it's a wonderful community.
Reply to: Humans Are Not Automatically Strategic
In "Humans Are Not Automatically Strategic," Anna Salamon outlined some ways that people could take action to be more successful and achieve goals, but do not:
Has it only been a few months since we started? It feels like much longer, there's already a strong and vibrant and insightful group of people communicating here at SebastianMarshall.com - I'm really pleased and happy to have a good crew reading, commenting, emailing me, getting into good discussions and thinking.
A tricky thing for most people building a website is to nail down these questions - "Who is this website for? What do I want to do with this?"
It's easy for me. The site is for people like me who wish to do a lot of important things, to communicate, to think more clearly, to become prolific, to grow in strength and virtue. I create on the topics that are important to doing important things.
The people who this resonates with are always welcome to come visit and gain in strength and knowledge here, to build, to hopefully be inspired, to communicate, to do good things. The people who the site appeals to are its audience, and I won't be trying to persuade anyone to join us who these topics do not appeal to at the current stage in their life.
I've got a number of good comments I'd like to share. This was the second half of a comment from yesterday's post, me wondering about technology.
Today I wanted to follow the instructions on "How to Make a Video Blog and Screencast" to learn to make a quick video blog or screencast. Only one problem - the guide there describes how to do it on a Mac, not on Windows.
Odio describes and demonstrates his basic process:
1 .PhotoBooth to record video, comes standard on any Mac 2. iShowU by ShinyWhiteBox for screencast capture 3. Vimeo (similar to YouTube) for uploading videos. Especially useful is their desktop uploader tool.
Unfortunately, PhotoBooth and iShowU aren't available on Windows. It took me a couple hours of research, but eventually I found a program that does both: Cyberlink Youcam. It's quite a good program, it's minimalistic and stays out of your way, but has enough power. Fast learning curve. Elegant. Auto-saves when you've hit stop, so you're already ready to go.
Today I announced I'm getting DROdio-ized - technology entrepreneur Daniel Odio has written a number of articles with a great mix of strategy and tactics. His instructions are clear and straightforward, but how often do people look at good and clear advice and do nothing?
I didn't really get Twitter when I signed up. I'm @sebastmarsh over there, but as of this writing nothing is happening so interestingly on my account. The issue is a bit of a chicken and the egg problem - I'm not connected with like-minded people on Twitter, therefore I'm not having interesting conversations, therefore my Twitter feed isn't interesting for like-minded people to sign up for, therefore I'm not connected with like-minded people. How to break this cycle?
Well, this is where Mr. Odio's counsel comes in - he wrote a very clear and straightforward piece: "Massive Twitter Secret: Get 2000+ Followers"
He recommends two services:
Twollo which lets you auto-follow people of shared interests, and Twitter Karma which lets you unfollow people who haven't decided to follow you back.
I'm a big believer in the "Four Birds" philosophy of life - whenever possible, I want to kill four birds with one stone. I want to produce, consume, learn, and connect - all at the same time if possible. And the more I layer on top of that, the better. Can I enjoy, relax, recharge, adventure? Five birds? Six birds? Why not?
While other people are watching a movie passively, can I make a couple interesting notes from the dialog and research what it's inspired by? Can I show the link between a new movie and an old Kurosawa Akira movie? Can I publish that, creating a cool way for people who like cinema to learn, and to connect with people who like great cinema? Can I consume the movie, produce an insightful review and research, learn more about cinema and art, and connect with good people all at the same time? Can I enjoy the process, relax even while working, recharge and feel invigorated, and perhaps it'll lead to an adventure? Seven birds with one stone? Why not? We all get 24 hours per day, if I want to be doing massively important things, I can't be taking it one bird at a time.
I've been working on this lately. When I start consuming something great, how can I also produce something for my friends and colleagues, learn more in the process, and connect with great people?
I've been looking for these opportunities for a while, and I'm starting to see them everywhere. Today, I'm pleased to announce DROdio-izing Day 1.
I came across Daniel Odio a little more than a week ago on Hacker News. He comes across pretty brilliant to me - a rare mix of strategist/tactician/teacher. He's a technology entrepreneur who built high technology into an established business - real estate - before moving into development. When I found Odio's site, I was really impressed. But the article that really pushed me over the top was - "Why Henry Ford Would Love Blogs." I felt like - wow, this guy gets it. A grasp of history, high level strategy, an understanding of how and why to make decisions, and how to turn high level strategy into solid tactics. And he can communicate it clearly and teaches how to think that way. Wow.