10 Ideas For The Interested This Week

“Men are what their mothers made them.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Welcome to the 100th issue of For The Interested!

Crazy, right?

I’m going to share what I’ve learned along the way in a moment, but since this edition comes out on Mother’s Day I want to start with something more important.

I want to wish a happy Mother’s Day to all of you who are moms and give a special shoutout to my own Mom.

She’s visiting me this weekend, just came into my office as I type this and said, “So, this is where you do that newsletter thing?”

(My Dad walked in 5 minutes later and said the exact same thing.)

As a little extra Mother’s Day gift for my Mom I’d like to give her a plug for her own blog (that’s right, she’s got a blog — runs in the family I guess).

If you like cooking or just ogling pictures of delicious food, then check out Dinner at Sheila’s and the Dinner at Sheila’s Facebook page.

She’ll love it.

And if you cook any of the things she recommends, it will be delicious. Trust me, I’ve done the research.

Now, on to this week’s ideas…

1. WHAT I LEARNED FROM SHARING 1,000 IDEAS ABOUT SELF-IMPROVEMENT IN 100 WEEKS

“Here’s a universal truth: Creative work will never be easy, but it will always get easier the more you do it. Too often people overrate the difficulty of creative projects because they give up on them so quickly they never reap the benefits of prolonged experience.”

When you do something for 100 weeks, you learn a lot along the way.

In this post I explain seven lessons I’ve learned from sharing 1,000 ideas in this newsletter including that you have to enjoy the creation process more than the results, it get easier and more efficient as you go, and your purpose becomes more clear.

2. WHY YOU SHOULD MAKE USELESS THINGS

“That’s the true beauty of making useless things — it’s this acknowledgment that you don’t always know what the answer is. And it turns off that voice in your head that tells you that you know exactly how the world works.”

If this doesn’t inspire you to get over your fear and make something, I don’t know what will.

It’s a 12-minute TED Talks from Simone Giertz about why you should make useless things that’s racked up almost a million views in a couple days since it was released — and for good reason.

You probably never thought you’d be inspired by a toothbrush helmet or a drone that cuts hair, but you’re about to be.

3. A MODEST GUIDE TO PRODUCTIVITY

“We’re all subject to superiors’ whims and putting out small fires. But usually — mostly — the things left on the list are our fears. There is no pleasant way to face them, but we must.”

Here are some productivity tips that go beyond the usual to do list hacks.

Designer and author Frank Chimero shares his modest guide to productivity which includes tips like buying a $3 pencil to get enthusiasm on the cheap, to label the perceived difficulty of each task you need to do in advance, and to make the last step of every project be to properly document it.

4. HOW TO CULTIVATE YOUR IMAGINATION

“Ideas are, at their root, combinatorial. New ideas are combinations of two or more old ideas.”

In a recent issue of the Weekend Reader newsletter, Maxwell Anderson explains how to cultivate your imagination.

He suggests there are three principles of imagination including that overload is the enemy of imagination, ideas at their root are combinatorial, and ideas happen when you aren’t thinking.

Then, he breaks down how to account for these concepts and use them to bolster your imagination.

5. FIVE LESSONS FROM MEETING A STRANGER EVERY WEEK FOR A YEAR

“At times, it’s easy to feel disenchanted by the routine of catching up with the same people, doing the same thing, and having the same conversations. What I learned in my experiment is it’s important to go out of your way to meet people who are not like you, with different backgrounds, expertise, and experiences.”

Madeleine Dore is a For The Interested reader who runs a great newsletter called Extraordinary Routines in which she interviews creative people about their daily work and life routines.

You should subscribe to it here and when you do, she’ll even give you a free morning routine workbook!

But the post I want to share with you today is about what she learned from forcing herself to meet a stranger every week for a year.

The lessons include that there will be a ripple effect, strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet, and opportunities flow through people.

6. THE IMPORTANCE OF INTENTIONAL HUSTLE

“Most people start working on their logo for the next three months. But in order to make things happen you need to be able to turn your art into a business.”

Everybody hustles to make things happen, but unfortunately too many people hustle at the wrong things.

In this 5-minute video, Matt D’Avella breaks down the importance of intentional hustle, using observations from several of the guests on his Ground Up podcast.

What do they have in common? They all created their own opportunity.

7. HOW TO ACCESS BREAKTHROUGH KNOWLEDGE AND MINIMIZE NOISE

“Identifying potential breakthrough knowledge is actually fairly easy. There is a question that I ask myself before I consume any media that works as an incredible filter. I simply ask: Does this have the potential to fundamentally change my life?”

Not all information is of equal value to you.

Michael Simmons breaks down the difference between incremental knowledge (which confirms what we already know to be true) and breakthrough knowledge (which challenges our fundamental beliefs and sticks with us).

He shares three ways to find the signal within the noise including to ask yourself a simple question, use a new knowledge format, and learn skills that help you systematically find more valuable information.

8. THE ART OF A GREAT QUESTION

“Now, just about any question you have you can put into Google or Quora and you’re going to get an answer. So, if you’re looking at the laws of supply and demand, the supply of answers is filled. We’ve got answers up the kazoo, but how many great questions do we have?”

You know the “What I’ve Learned” column in Esquire magazine?

It’s written by Cal Fussman who has spent decades interviewing the most famous people in the world and getting them to share fascinating bits of their experience.

James Altucher recently interviewed Fussman in a great podcast episode that I highly recommend. Here’s a one-minute video featuring a taste of their conversation.

9. WHY FOOD TASTES BETTER IN BOWLS

“A bowl that we pick up and touch is more likely to set an expectation of a hearty, filling and healthy meal. That weight in the hand is likely to make your brain think the food is more substantial and you’re likely to rate it as more intensely fragranced and aromatic than for exactly the same food sat passively on a plate.”

Here are three things I never thought about before: Americans traditionally looked down on food served in bowls (unlike the rest of the world), recently Americans have started embracing bowls in a big way, and food actually tastes better in bowls.

Quartz explains why food tastes better in bowls and points to how bowls set different expectations in our brains, create a more intimate eating experience and, yes, are more Instagrammable.

10. SIX WAYS TO MAKE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA FEED MORE INTERESTING

“You know the most interesting people you follow? Check out who they follow. This is so simple, but I don’t know anybody who regularly does it.”

Do you ever get bored with your social media feed? Of course you do.

And even though you should just close the app and go do something in real life, let’s be honest — you’re not going to do that.

So, instead try my suggested six ways to make your social media feed more interesting including to follow curators instead of publishers, spend more time on Twitter than Facebook, and interact with posts that provide you value to teach the social platform algorithms what kind of content to serve you.

WHERE I FOUND THIS STUFF

I discovered some of this week’s ideas from the newsletters of Postanly, Khe Hy, Swiss Miss, and Ann Friedman — they’re awesome and worth your time.

Image via Micah Hallahan.