10 Ideas Worth Sharing This Week

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” — Steve Jobs

The only way to get value out of this newsletter is to read it.

Subscribing to it and ignoring it in your inbox doesn’t do you any good.

Just like books we buy but don’t read, classes we sign up for but don’t attend, or organizations we claim to support but do nothing for.

It’s easy to trick ourselves into thinking we’re doing things to improve ourselves and our world without actually doing so.

Sometimes, it’s more than the thought that counts.

Now, on to this week’s ideas…

1. WHY I’M DONE USING THE WORD “SHOULD”

“When we think we should do something it’s because our family, friends, or society has convinced us it’s the right thing to do. But it’s often not something we actually want to do. If it was, we’d refer to it as something we want to do instead of as something we should do.”

No good comes from the word “should.” That’s why I’ve tried to stop using it in reference to my own actions or my expectations of others.

In this post I lay out the four reasons I’m done using the word “should,”including that should is based on the expectations of others and doesn’t actually exist.

2. THE ONE PIECE OF STEVE JOBS’ ADVICE THAT SAVED APPLE AND NIKE

“Nike makes some of the best products in the world. Products that you lust after. But you also make a lot of crap. Just get rid of the crappy stuff and focus on the good stuff.”

When Mark Parker was named CEO of Nike in 2006, the first thing he did was call Steve Jobs for advice. Jobs offered him a simple guiding principle he had used to revitalize Apple — to focus.

This Crew article shares that story and offers a deeper look at why Jobs believed it’s important to avoid being distracted by opportunities.

By the way, if you want to tap into even more of Jobs’ wisdom, I highly recommend checking out Inside Steve’s Brain.

3. FOUR SECRETS OF PEOPLE WHO WORK FOUR-DAY WORK WEEKS

“Most of us spend too much time on what is urgent, and not enough time on what is important.”

Believe it or not, it’s possible to limit yourself to a four-day work week and do so without a drop in your productivity. In fact, some studies have found a four-day work week can actually make you more productive.

Fast Company shares some suggestions for how to create a four-day work week for yourself including to schedule intentionally, limit distractions, and develop shortcuts like canned email responses that can be re-used.

4. SEVEN BITS OF ADVICE WORTH EMAILING TO YOURSELF

“I fundamentally believe that we know what we need to do to get to where we want. The real question is whether we’ll do it.”

Edward Lando is the co-founder of the Horizons School of Technology and an investor who developed a habit of emailing himself any interesting observations of thoughts that pop into his head.

He sends himself about 100 emails a day, and in reviewing them noticed a few trends which he turned into this post featuring 7 bits of advice.

His tips include to notice what makes you feel energized and do more of that, to become who you want to be today instead of tomorrow, and to be more proactive than reactive.

5. HOW WARREN BUFFET MAKES DECISIONS

“An important aspect to improving the odds of making good choices is to recognize when the odds are in our favor.”

There’s a lot of interesting stuff to be learned in the recent HBO documentary Becoming Warren Buffet, but one of the bits that stuck with me was Buffet’s explanation of how he adapted Ted Williams’ approach to batting into his approach to decision making.

Shane Parrish does a nice job of summarizing it in this post which details how Buffet makes decisions by focusing on his circle of competence — an area in which he’s capable of understanding with a high degree of probability the relevant variables and likely outcome.

It’s similar to how Williams recognized he was most likely to get a hit if he swung at pitches in a certain area of the strike zone, so he waited for those pitches to swing. Williams first explained that philosophy in The Science of Hitting.

6. MEASURE WORK-LIFE BALANCE IN YEARS, NOT DAYS

“Assuming that we can and should build our careers and families at exactly the same times underestimates both how challenging each of those roles can be, and how rewarding and enriching they can be if we focus on them.”

Every bit of advice I’ve seen about achieving work-life balance seems to focus on how to do so on a daily or weekly basis. But Alex Soojung-Kim Pang PhD, author of Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less, offers a different take.

He suggests we may be better served to measure work-life balance in yearsand points to several examples of people who found they were more productive and successful when they focused on one aspect of their life at a time and switched focus after several years.

7. HOW TO REDUCE YOUR ANXIETY ABOUT THE NEWS

“The danger of digesting the news purely via social media — where you can like, repost/retweet, and comment on everything — is that it gives you the feeling of doing something with little actual impact.”

The news has certainly become addictive these days, so this Jocelyn K. Gleipost is likely a must-read for many of you.

It offers three ways to reduce your anxiety and addiction to the newsincluding to adopt a media diet that’s focused on news with perspective, to spend less time consuming and more time creating, and to not let Likes be a substitute for action.

8. WHAT LOUIS CK CAN TEACH YOU ABOUT WEB DESIGN

“Things like your website represent you. You aren’t a corporate robot so sounding like one defeats the point of having a website.”

It turns out you can learn a lot from Louis CK even if you’re not a comedian. A few weeks ago I shared a video that broke down how Louis tells a joke and now I’ve come across a post that breaks down how he uses his website.

Robert Williams explains why Louis CK is a better web designer than you and points out several simple things Louis does that you can adopt to improve the effectiveness of your own site.

This includes to write every word on the site yourself, to not be afraid to ask for what you want, and to to find ways to to make typically boring copy stand out.

9. HOW TO HIRE THE RIGHT PERSON

“You’ll have a much better sense of your candidate if you get them out from behind a desk and watch how they behave.”

Most standard job interviews aren’t very good and that’s why it’s so easy to make a mistake and hire the wrong person.

But the New York Times has compiled a series of three suggestions to improve the hiring process and ensure you hire the right person for the job.

Those suggestions include to take candidates on a tour of your office to gauge how they interact with their potential co-workers and to ask them curveball questions like which of their qualities their parents like best about them.

10. BILL GATES THINKS THE ROBOT THAT TAKES YOUR JOB SHOULD PAY TAXES

“The technology and business cases for replacing humans in a wide range of jobs are arriving simultaneously, and it’s important to be able to manage that displacement.”

The robots are coming and they’re going to take our jobs — well, at least a lot of them.

Bill Gates suggests a plan to adapt to this inevitability in this Quartz article where he suggests companies should pay taxes on robots that displace human jobs.

He believes these taxes could help us manage the transition, replace lost income tax from employees who lose their jobs, and fund training for those employees to transition into new career paths.