10 Ideas For The Interested This Week

“The best things are achieved in a state of surprise.” — Brian Eno

When was the last time something surprised you?

I’m watching the new Amazon series Forever and won’t spoil it for you, but it’s not what you expect it to be.

Watching it made me realize how rarely we’re surprised by anything any more.

We check Yelp before we go to a restaurant, stalk people on social media before meeting them, and use Google to do our homework on just about everyone and everything.

Those tools are great, but they also deprive us of the excitement that can come from allowing life to surprise us.

It’s great to know what we’re getting into, but sometimes it’s more fun not to.

Now, on to this week’s ideas…

1. HOW TO BUILD THE CREATIVE CAREER OF YOUR DREAMS

“You don’t have to start a company to act like one. One of the best ways to build a successful creative career is to study the way startup companies operate and adapt their tactics to fit your goals.”

It takes more than talent to have a successful creative career.

In this post I break down how to build the creative career of your dreams by adapting seven strategies startup companies employ in the business world to fit your needs.

The strategies include to figure out your initial investment, choose a “Board of Directors,” and do market research.

RELATED: A collection of my best career advice for The Interested.

2. HOW TO CONFIGURE YOUR IPHONE TO WORK FOR YOU

“Practically every iPhone setup decision has tradeoffs. I will give you optimal defaults and then trust you to make an adult decision about whether that default is right for you.”

There are epic posts…and then there’s this 73-minute read (seriously, that’s not a typo).

Before you head for the hills, don’t worry — it’s skimmable and packed with value.

Coach Tony explains how to configure your iPhone to work for you including a step-by-step breakdown of everything from how to adjust the default settings on your phone, to which apps to download, to advice about the best wallpaper to use.

It’s impossible not to find at least a couple things in here that will help you.

RELATED: Your smartphone makes you dumber even when you’re not using it.

3. THE SCIENTIFIC BENEFITS OF BOREDOM

“The paradox of boredom is that it makes you feel tired, sluggish, and just disinterested. But it may actually spur you to action. It may get you to make changes that would be positive for your life.”

As we continue to invent new ways to avoid boredom, we overlook one important detail: Boredom is good for us.

This 7-minute Veritasium video explains the scientific benefits of boredom including that it makes you more creative, altruistic, and introspective.

RELATED: How boredom leads to brilliant ideas.

4. PRIORITIZATION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN HARD WORK

“Successful people focus on only a few priorities — they go all in working on those. So if you’re a salesperson, for example, you shouldn’t just cold call everyone in the book. You should focus on a few great prospects and work obsessively hard on those.”

There are traits most successful people have in common, but putting in crazy hours isn’t one of them.

Morten Hansen, author of the book Great at Work, explains why prioritization is more important than hard work and shares seven common characteristics he found among high achievers.

Those characteristics include that they focus on a few tasks, are always trying to learn, and champion their ideas.

RELATED: Seven ways to prioritize your work.

5. HOW TO PARE DOWN YOUR LIFE

“It’s understandable that we overfill our lives — we are usually acting on desires, and not giving full contemplation to what we want in our lives and what we don’t want.”

Anybody who feels like they have a tendency to overfill their lives with stuff (read: everybody) will find this one helpful.

Leo Babauta suggests how to pare down your life including how to cut back on your possessions, commitments, online activity, and how much you do in a day.

I feel more relaxed just thinking about it.

RELATED: 12 ways to become happier by simplifying your life.

6. WHY SILENT MEETINGS ARE EFFECTIVE

“Picture this: a room full of senior Square leads, gathered for an important review meeting. Everyone is looking at their computer, in complete silence, interrupted by bursts of clickety clack. 30 minutes later, the conversation starts.”

Most meetings are a colossal waste of time, but the same may not be true for silent meetings.

Quartz examines the rise of silent meetings at companies like Amazon and Square and offers examples of how they can increase productivity, minimize distraction, and (ironically) ensure more voices are heard.

RELATED: Stop going to meetings that don’t have agendas.

7. THE ART OF MAKING DIFFICULT THINGS LOOK SIMPLE

“There’s a very thin line between talent and skill. It’s difficult — if not impossible — to distinguish the two.”

You know the people who make the things look easy? Don’t be fooled — they’re not easy.

Louis Chew breaks down the art of making difficult things look simple and points out we too often overlook the work, practice, and effort that goes into making something look effortless.

He also shares a fun peek at how Martin Short prepares for talk show interviews and the reason he’s great at them.

RELATED: The curse of being talented.

8. HOW TO UPGRADE YOUR INNER CIRCLE

“The people with whom we surround ourselves greatly affect how we view our reality: what we believe is possible for ourselves, and what we give ourselves permission to be, do and have.”

Your friends and peers impact your career extends beyond just providing you the occasional support or advice.

Jen Sincero explains how to upgrade your inner circle and why doing so can have a huge impact on your perception of work, motivation to work toward your goals, and even the amount of money you wind up earning.

RELATED: The eight friends you need in your life.

9. IT’S NEVER TOO LATE TO HIT YOUR CAREER PEAK

“A study published in Nature found that about 90 percent of people will experience a ‘hot streak’ in their career, which is that span of a few years when a person’s greatest, most effective work is produced. And — here’s the good part — your hot streak can appear at any point in your working life, meaning that it’s never too late (or too early) to hit your peak.”

You know those times when it feels like everything in your career or creative work is falling into place? Well, that’s not an illusion — it actually is.

The New York Times shares research that suggests 90% of people experience a hot streak in their career that often lasts for a few years.

The research also found that each person’s career peak comes at a different time in their life and doesn’t necessarily happen in the middle of your career.

RELATED: What creative pros wish they knew during previous decades of their career.

10. THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION CREATORS HAVE ABOUT BUILDING AN AUDIENCE

“Your audience isn’t the number of people who consume your creations — it’s the number of people you can count on to consume your NEXT creation.”

In my work with creators one of the biggest things I’ve found holds them back from growing an audience is a misunderstanding of what an audience actually is.

In this post I discuss how to measure your audience and explain why it’s more important to develop a connection to your audience than it is simply to focus on getting people to consume your work.

RELATED: How to use a one-action strategy to activate your audience.

WHERE I FOUND THIS STUFF

I got some of this week’s ideas from DO Lectures, Creative Mornings, Grant Gurewitz, Greg Roth, and Alex Barnett — they’re awesome and worth checking out.

Image via Sunyu.