10 Ideas For The Interested This Week

“Groundless hope, like unconditional love, is the only kind worth having.” — John Perry Barlow

“That’s not the kind of thing I do.”

How many times a week do you say that?

How many times do you think it?

It’s a dangerous phrase.

Because it leads you to limit yourself.

It’s easy to become limited by your own narrative.

Just because something isn’t the kind of thing you do, doesn’t mean it can’t be.

Now, on to this week’s ideas…

1. HOW A CONVERSATION DINNER CAN CHANGE THE WAY YOU COMMUNICATE

“Most conversations nowadays are one-sided, involving one party simply waiting for his or her turn to speak. The Conversation Dinner was something else. It felt like a joint effort to speculate and explore themes shared by all of humanity; understanding each other was an integral part of the process.”

It’s one thing to have a good conversation at dinner, but it’s another to have a Conversation Dinner.

Christina Ling explains how to create a Conversation Dinner, inspired by a series of events organized by the Oxford Muse Foundation to develop new methods to improve personal, professional, and intercultural relationships.

A Conversation Dinner brings together a group of people for dinner, separates them into pairs of people who didn’t know each other previously, and presents them with a menu of conversation topics to discuss throughout the meal.

Sample conversation menu topics include questions like “How have your priorities changed over the years?,” “What are you rebelling against now?,” and “What do you need that money cannot buy?”

2. WHAT NOBODY TELLS YOU ABOUT FINDING MENTORS

“We need to stop telling them, ‘Get a mentor and you will excel,’ Instead we need to tell them, ‘Excel and you will get a mentor.’”

Most people misunderstand what it means to have a mentor and how to acquire one.

Ryan Holiday, whose excellent book Perennial Seller I highly recommend, has compiled a great list of things nobody tells you about finding mentors.

He points out people misunderstand the purpose of internships, use the term mentorship when they shouldn’t, and become overdependent on mentors to solve their problems.

3. WHY THE FOUR BIGGEST TECH COMPANIES SHOULD BE BROKEN UP

“How would we feel if one company controlled 92 percent of the global construction and engineering trade? Or 92 percent of the world’s paper and forest products? Would we worry that their power and influence had breached a reasonable threshold, or would we just think they were awesome innovators, as we do with Google?”

No matter how you feel about Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and government regulation, you should read this Esquire article.

Scott Galloway offers a look at how powerful these companies have become and explains why he believes the four biggest tech companies should be broken up.

Long story short?

“A key part of a healthy economic cycle is pruning firms when they become invasive, cause premature death, and won’t let other firms emerge. The breakup of big tech should and will happen, because we’re capitalists. It’s time.”

4. 25 PRINCIPLES OF ADULT BEHAVIOR

“Never assume the motives of others are, to them, less noble than yours are to you.”

Silicon Valley visionary John Perry Barlow passed away recently and Kottke.org marked the occasion by sharing this list of 25 Principles of Adult Behavior he wrote 40 years ago.

They include to avoid the pursuit of happiness, praise at least as often as you disparage, and expand your sense of the possible.

5. CONVENIENCE IS THE MOST UNDERESTIMATED FORCE IN THE WORLD TODAY

“Convenience seems to make our decisions for us, trumping what we like to imagine are our true preferences.”

How often do you choose the easiest option?

In this The New York Times column, Tim Wu (author of The Master Switch, which I also recommend) explains why convenience is the most underestimated force in the world and what that means for us.

He suggests you make an effort to embrace inconvenience because that’s where individuality is found.

6. 10 STORYTELLING HACKS TO DRIVE WORD-OF-MOUTH

“You’ll get far better results by making one strong point per well-told story. Because it’s not what you say, it’s what gets remembered that matters!”

If you want more people to talk about your product, creation, or service, this is worth a read.

Keri Vandongen shares a collection of 10 storytelling hacks from storytelling experts including to feature your ideal customer as a reluctant hero in your story, include the element of surprise, and focus on one “phrase that pays.”

7. THE 100 RULES OF BEING A WRITER

“The only way to build a sustainable audience is to show up. Over and over again. More often and longer than most people feel comfortable with.”

Don’t be intimidated by the title of this post — it doesn’t actually include 100 rules (you’ll see).

Yann Girard’s observations about being a writer include that attention is limited, you have to build your own platform, and most of your writing will be mediocre.

8. HOW TO GET PEOPLE TO DO THINGS THEY DON’T WANT TO DO

“Providing a sense of progression is a form of feedback and is a key component of making unpleasant tasks more manageable.”

It’s hard enough to get people to develop habits they want to develop, but what about the ones they don’t want to develop?

Nir Eyal breaks down how to get people to do things they don’t want to do and suggests there are three key elements to focus on including to break down tasks into small chunks, reduce people’s pain by showing them their progress, and offer extrinsic rewards.

9. WHY OUR PREOCCUPATION WITH HAPPINESS HAS MADE US LESS HAPPY

“Happiness studies seem to be a way of convincing people they’re happy — or could be happy — even as they’re being dealt increasingly bad hands in terms of things like income inequality, educational affordability, and access to health care.”

In his new book Happier? The History of a Cultural Movement That Aspired to Transform America, cultural historian Daniel Horowitz examines how our rising interest in happiness may actually prevent us from being happy.

He examines the down side of positive psychology and points to research that shows as we’ve become more preoccupied with the idea of happiness, our overall happiness has decreased.

10. WHY SITTING DOWN DESTROYS YOU

“Fitness talks muscles before spine. Gymnasts focus on how they are moving their body — and they also just happen to have awesome posture and a really strong core.”

This 13-minute TEDx Talk might change the way you sit and stand.

Roger Frampton breaks down why chairs are your enemy, explains why the most common exercise metrics are flawed, and suggests you’d be better served to model your posture after what came natural to you as a child.

WHERE I FOUND THIS STUFF

I discovered some of this week’s ideas from the newsletters of Storythings and Jocelyn K. Glei — they’re awesome and worth your time.