10 Ideas Worth Sharing This Week

“Sometimes we stare so long at a door that is closing that we see too late the one that is open.” — Alexander Graham Bell

An open door is meaningless if you don’t go through it.

We spend so much energy trying to generate new opportunities for ourselves.

But too often our obsession with getting that big break leads us to miss the opportunities already available to us.

It feels safe to chase opportunities we don’t have because as long as we don’t have them, we don’t have to actually take them.

But there’s more than one door we can go through to get where we want to go.

So sometimes you have to stop knocking on new doors and instead go through the one already open. You might be surprised where it leads.

Now, on to this week’s ideas…

1. HOW WELL YOU DEFINE A PROBLEM DETERMINES HOW WELL YOU SOLVE IT

“If I had an hour to solve a problem I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”

That’s a quote from Albert Einstein, a guy who knows a thing or two about how to solve problems.

In my latest post, I explore Einstein’s beliefs about problem solving and share a breakdown of eight ways to better define a problem including to consider broader/narrower versions of the problem and to assume there’s more than one possible solution.

2. THE BUTTONS WE PUSH ARE MEANINGLESS

“Some buttons we regularly rely on to get results are mere artifices — placebos that promote an illusion of control but that in reality do not work.”

The next time you go to push an elevator button, crosswalk signal, or adjust the office thermostat, don’t bother. Because it turns out pressing those buttons doesn’t do anything.

This New York Times article reveals most of those buttons are only there to give us a perceived sense of control, which in turn diminishes stress and promotes well-being.

I’m sure that works…until you read articles like this one and realize we control nothing.

3. TRY TO DIE EVERY DAY

“The artist experiments to find what works, then lets it die and moves on. She must display as much detachment to her work in the world as she does emotion to it in her mind.”

A businessman experiments to find what works and then milks its success forever. An artist experiments to find what works, lets it die, and moves on to another experiment.

This Todd Brison post explains why artists must be willing to let their work die every day in order to continue creating.

4. HOW TO PLAN YOUR DAY BASED ON WHAT TYPE OF SLEEPER YOU ARE

“About 10% of the population are dolphins: light sleepers, who frequently get diagnosed with insomnia. Another 15 to 20% are lions: classic morning people. Still another 15 to 20% are wolves, who prefer staying up late.”

Dr. Michael Breus is a sleep doctor who believes the best way to structure your daily routine is to do so based on your biological predisposition to be a morning person, evening person or somewhere in between.

In this Business Insider article, he explains how to figure out what kind of sleeper you are and how to structure your daily routine accordingly.

5. 40 THINGS YOU CAN STOP DOING NOW

“Nobody in the history of the world washed their hair as much as we do. Daily washing is thought to be unnecessary.”

If you’re looking to free up some time by cutting back on some of the things you do, this Guardian article gives you plenty of suggestions.

It includes a list of 40 things you can stop doing including such things as taking vitamin C supplements, peeling vegetables, napping, stretching before exercise, and ordering anything from the top right hand corner of a menu.

6. CONTENT AIN’T KING UNLESS IT’S FUNNY

“You can either annoy people to sell products or you can entertain them to sell products.”

As content marketing has exploded with the rise of social media, so too has the need for higher quality content. And often, the best of that content is the funniest of that content.

This article from The Hustle explains why the key to successful advertising and branding is humor and points out that the less funny your industry is, the more you’ll stand out when you make people laugh.

7. THE BEST WAY TO PERSUADE PEOPLE

“Optimal persuasion is achieved through optimal pre-suasion: the practice of arranging for people to agree with a message before they know what’s in it.”

It’s not only what you do that influences people, it’s what you do right before the thing you do that’s just as important.

This Los Angeles Times article outlines the concept of “pre-suasion,” which is the process of focusing people’s attention on a selected concept which then leads them to overvalue related opportunities that immediately follow.

For example, if a sofa store shows you images of clouds you’re more likely to buy a soft sofa.

8. WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GIVE UP NEWS FOR A WEEK

“Your brain creates mental models or assumptions of the world based on the information you take in. Thus when you are inundated with news, it triggers an instinctive survival response.”

If you feel like consuming the news is making you anxious and depressed, you’re probably right. But what would happen if you avoided the news all together?

This Fast Company article details an experiment where a writer gave up the news for a week and discovered doing so made him happier, more creative, and more focused without putting himself at any kind of competitive disadvantage.

9. 23 BOOKS MARK ZUCKERBERG THINKS YOU SHOULD READ

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently launched his own book club and has recommended 23 books to his followers so far.

This Shane Parrish post offers an overview of the selections which include such books as Creativity, Inc., Rational Ritual, The Idea Factory, and The End of Power.

10. COMEDY IN THE OUTRAGE ERA

“Human beings are way more complex than some tweet you sent in 2010.”

In this video, comedians Bill Burr and Larry Wilmore join Bill Simmons for an interesting conversation about how outrage culture is impacting the art and business of comedy.

I ASKED, YOU ANSWERED

Last week I asked what website or social media account do you love that more people should know about?

Here are some answers that stood out:

Vox.com (Frank Scutaro)

Adam Kurtz on Instagram (Lis Hatfield)

The Do Lectures (Liam Williams)

Karl the Fog on Twitter (Ina Herlihy)