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Immediately Jump on the Obscure and Fleeting, but Don't Forget the Low Hanging Fruit

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.

Want to read more? Okay, here's a few ways to do so

This follows on from "On Getting More Done – Top-down, or bottom up?" - the basic idea behind that post is you can get a lot more done by either taking on a lot more responsibilities, which forces you to adjust and use your time better - this is the "top down" strategy. Alternatively, you can slowly build and reclaim time from your life, moving your time from less meaningful areas into more meaningful areas.

But let's get more specific. I read a lot of books. Most smart people want to read a lot of books, but don't find the time to do it. So, how to read more?

This is where the bottom-up approach shines. You slowly move time from less meaningful areas to more meaningful areas.

"Sebastian, I just want to read more. I don't care about this tracking stuff."


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