10 Ideas For The Interested This Week

“A blank page will humble the hell out of you.” — Barry Jenkins

This newsletter always starts as a blank page.

That’s not intimidating — it’s an opportunity.

While I never know what will ultimately fill this page, I know the act of doing so will transform me in some small way.

The same is true for you.

There are blank pages all around you — even if you’re not a writer.

Fill them with something. It’s worth it.

Now, on to this week’s ideas…

1. HOW TO PREVENT YOUR GOOD HABITS FROM GOING BAD

“If we’re not careful, our habits become places to hide from the things we need to do to get where we want to go.”

Good habits are a key to success, but they can also be dangerous.

In this post I explain how to get the most out of your best habits and suggest four questions to ask yourself to ensure your habits work for you and not the other way around.

2. THE BEST WAY TO NEGOTIATE A JOB SALARY

“If you can get me X, I’ll accept the offer right away.”

It turns out the best negotiating tactic when landing a new job might be as simple as a single sentence.

Karen Catlin shares her favorite salary negotiation tip and reveals how it creates a scenario recruiters and companies tend to love because it demonstrates leadership, decisiveness, and clarity.

Plus, it actually makes their job easier.

3. HOW TO PLAN YOUR MOST PRODUCTIVE WORKDAY EVER

“The best time managers in the world are very self-aware. They understand how long things take for them to do, and how much time is the right amount of time.”

If you’re looking for ways to get more done at work, here are three of them.

Well and Good breaks down three ways to plan a productive workday including to employ a 60-minute work sprint, a 40–20 work dash, and to work in 20–20–20 intervals.

4. HOW BEING VAGUE CAN MAKE YOUR CREATIVE WORK MORE POWERFUL

“When you eliminate a person’s need to infer — when you explain things — you take the mystery out. By doing this, the person experiencing the art uses their mind less; they no longer imagine, no longer question, no longer contemplate. This limits their overall emotional connection.”

Would Bob Dylan be as respected a lyricist if he explained the meaning of his lyrics to everybody? Probably not.

Paul Cantor uses that as an example of how being vague can increase the power of your creative work and suggests creators show the audience just enough to allow them to complete the puzzle without making it too easy on them.

5. WHAT HAPPENED WHEN A COMPANY MADE EVERY WORKDAY A HALF-DAY

“Having less time creates periods of heightened productivity called ‘focus dividends.’ By trimming your workday down to five hours, time management comes baked into the pie, forcing high-value activities to take priority.”

Ever wonder what would happen if your company limited work hours to five hours a day? Tower Paddle Boards did just that and annual revenues grew 40%.

Fast Company details the experiment and shares five ways to make working less work for everyone including to shift to a production mindset and to drop the “always available” attitude.

6. HOW FACEBOOK KNOWS EVERYONE YOU’VE EVER MET

“Behind the Facebook profile you’ve built for yourself is another one, a shadow profile, built from the inboxes and smartphones of other Facebook users. Contact information you’ve never given the network gets associated with your account, making it easier for Facebook to more completely map your social connections.”

I have a hunch if people knew how Facebook actually works, they’d be more concerned about it.

Gizmodo pulls back a bit of the curtain in this explanation of how Facebook figures out everyone you’ve ever met.

It explains how Facebook uses the access people give it to their contacts and address books to map massive amounts of data that reveal connections you may not want revealed.

As one security expert reveals, “Mobile phone numbers are even better than social security numbers for identifying people.”

7. NEVER ASSUME PEOPLE KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING

“Nobody knows what you’re doing. People are not watching your every move. Even now in the age of digital voyeurism where we are broadcasting everything we do from what we ate to the latest trade secrets, we are still far more concerned with ourselves than with the lives of others.”

As a guy who helps clients grow their audiences for a living, this one resonated with me.

Jeff Goins offers an important reminder that nobody knows what you’re doing — no matter how often you’ve messaged it or how great your marketing prowess may be.

He suggests too often artists assume their audience is aware of their work when the truth is they need to push harder to promote it.

As he says, “Creation is a fight. And as soon as you stop pushing, you lose.”

8. ART IS ADVERTISING FOR WHAT WE REALLY NEED

“One way to conceive of what artists do is to think that they are, in their own way, running advertising campaigns. Not for anything expensive or usually even available for purchase, but for the many things that are at once of huge human importance and yet constantly in danger of being forgotten.”

We’re bombarded with advertising campaigns for a million different things every day, but the most things we actually need in life have no such advertising budget behind them.

This School of Life video makes the astute observation that art fills this void and suggests at its core, art is advertising for what we really need.

It’s a five-minute video that will leaving you thinking for a long time about the power of both art and advertising.

9. THE STORY OF A RELUCTANT FATHER

“When you have a child, she becomes your past, present, and future.”

I won’t spoil this one for you with much of a description.

It’s a photo book from Phillip Toledano in which he shares his remarkably honest story of being a reluctant father alongside great photos of his first experiences as a father.

10. HOW TO FIND FOCUS ON YOUR NEXT PROJECT

“Instead of thinking of it as a quality or skill you bring to bear on something, consider focus to be the force you exert to stay in line with your intentions.”

Fidji Simo is a VP of Product at Facebook who manages a team of more than 400 project managers. Needless to say, she knows a lot about how to stay focused on a project.

First Round Review shares her expertise in an article packed with valuable tips about everything from questions to ask when you start a project to the importance of a weekly “clarity meeting” to ensure the project stays on course.