With all the noise overwhelming our lives and our social streams it’s easy to miss the good stuff. Content like tweets, in particular, are especially perishable. That’s why I’ve always been a fan of highlighting some of my favorite posts at the end of each month.
This is my effort to provide a little signal by curating some of the best/most interesting posts (of the 100’s I read) during the month of August 2014. I recommend identifying and diving into 2-3 that resonate with you. Focus less on the dopamine rush you get from hopping from article to article and more on how you apply the wisdom in these posts to your own life.
Please use the comments section to recommend and share other posts you found useful and/or your best post from August.
The commentary below the link is typically the author’s own words that I’ve extracted as a key takeaway; however, sometimes I add my own commentary and make connections as well.
[Blog Posts/News Articles]:
Last Call: The End of Printed Newspaper – Clay Shirky
The future of print remains what? Try to imagine a world where the future of print is unclear: Maybe 25 year olds will start demanding news from yesterday, delivered in an unshareable format once a day. Perhaps advertisers will decide “Click to buy” is for wimps. Mobile phones: could be a fad. After all, anything could happen with print. Hard to tell, really.
The other objection is that advice to get skilled at data, social media, and teamwork is pitifully obvious. This is also true. All of this advice is obvious, and has been obvious for some time now. What’s astonishing — and disheartening — is how long it’s taken to act on that obvious advice, in part because there are still people committed to the fiction that the future of print is unclear.
The Price of Modern Life is Depression and Loneliness? – Hugh Mackay
But the surest way to increase the risk of loneliness and depression (or at least disappointment) is to fall for those twin seducers of modern life: materialism and the promise of personal happiness. If you think your possessions are an index of your worth, think again. If you think personal happiness is a worthwhile goal, the evidence is against you. Our deepest satisfactions come from a sense of meaning in our lives, usually connected to the nature of our work and the quality of our relationships, and that’s as true for ‘modern’ people as it’s ever been.
10 Positive Consequences of NOT Improving Yourself – Danielle LaPorte
- When you get off of your own case, you tend to ease up on everyone else around you. Which makes you way more fun to be around.
- You will have significantly, substantially, epically less guilt – which drives so much self-improvement neuroses.
- You will stop saying yes when you mean no.
Why I Am Leaving the Best Job I Ever Had – Max Schireson
I love the bravery and self awareness required to make this decision. Especially given how long hours, isolation, and stress are contributing to tech’s depression problem.
I recognize that by writing this I may be disqualifying myself from some future CEO role. Will that cost me tens of millions of dollars someday? Maybe. Life is about choices. Right now, I choose to spend more time with my family and am confident that I can continue to have an meaningful and rewarding work life while doing so. At first, it seemed like a hard choice, but the more I have sat with the choice the more certain I am that it is the right choice.
- Growth is nothing without a ‘must-have’ product experience.
- Growth is not marketing. Marketing is not growth.
- Do things that don’t scale, build things that do.
- There are analytics and then there are insights.
Motion is when you’re busy doing something, but that task will never produce an outcome by itself. Action, on the other hand, is the type of behavior that will get you a result.
Why do you slip into motion rather than take action? Because motion allows us to feel like we’re making progress without running the risk of failure.
Letter to the Millennials: A Boomer Professor Talks to His Students – Jonathan Taplin
Learn to improvise. Improvisation means sometimes throwing away your notes and just responding from your gut to the ideas being presented. It takes both courage and intelligence, but I’m pretty sure you have deep stores of both qualities, which will help you show leadership both in class and throughout the rest of your life. Leadership is more than just bravery and intellect, however; it also requires vulnerability and compassion.
Schedule a 15 Minute Break Before You Burn Out – Ron Friedman
Studies show we have a limited capacity for concentrating over extended time periods, and though we may not be practiced at recognizing the symptoms of fatigue, they unavoidably derail our work. While tiring over the course of the workday can’t be prevented, it can be mitigated. Studies show that sporadic breaks replenish our energy, improve self-control and decision-making, and fuel productivity.
Depending on how we spend them, breaks can also heighten our attention and make us more creative. Remind yourself that the human brain was not built for extended focus. Through much of our evolutionary history, heightened concentration was needed in short bursts, not daylong marathons
Adderall Has a Tech Industry Problem – Cori Johnson
Workaholism, the hero hacker narrative, and fast turnarounds should be scrutinized instead of celebrated.
The temptation to use Adderall as performance enhancement in tech is understandable. The monetary and cultural incentives are compelling. But I bristle at the practice of faking the superficial symptoms, of the handwaving directed at a biological abnormality most people barely understand, in order to access the drugs. What’s more distressing is that, due to performance expectations so high they verge on parody, many people will mistakenly believe they have ADHD, describing their falling short of these expectations as symptomatic of a disorder instead of environmental stress.
Kobe Bryant’s Twilight Saga – Chris Ballard
Here was the truth behind the Mamba Mythology. The message behind the message. That in reality it’s never easy. That sometimes you gotta challenge some punk teenager to a double-or-nothing game. And then you have to elbow him in the post, and cheat on the out-of-bounds play, and impose your will on the poor sap, because when it comes down to it, sometimes that’s what it takes to win, son.
Human 1.0: If You Want to be Healthy, Go Wild – John Ratey & Richard Manning
Fascinating article, supported by science, on what makes us human: running, how we fuel, language and perhaps most interesting, empathy (i.e. why people take care of our “helpless young” — a defining fact of the human condition).
Not only are we adapted to run, but running defines us. This is evidence by our ancestors via persistence hunting. (You’ll be familiar if you’ve read Chris McDougal’s wonderful book, “Born to Run“.)
There is a paradox at the center of human nutrition. All the other parts of our body seem very good at what they do, are standouts in the animal kingdom, but we are truly lousy at digestion, which is limited and puny. Our primary method for overcoming our inability to digest is to outsource the job. Humans are hunters and meat eaters. There is no such thing as a vegetarian society in all the record. Eating meat is a fundamental and defining fact of the human condition, at the gut level and bred in the bones.
Humans have many more of them (spindle neurons) in very specific areas of the brain, and they are involved in complex reactions like trust, empathy, and guilt, but also in practical matters like planning. This consciousness of another’s point of view is exactly what enables the more elegant and refined form of lying so valuable to all humans: storytelling. It allows abstraction and conceptualization, which in turn allows language. It allows a concept of the future, which in turn opens the door to planning and scheming and is why planning is related to empathy.
Essentially, this excerpt from “Go Wild” explains why all other primate relatives are extinct and Homo sapiens are not.
[Thoughts I’m Chewing On]:
“Acknowledging that your employees might leave is how you build the relationships that convinces great people to stay.” — @reidhoffman
“Leadership is more than just bravery and intellect. It also requires vulnerability and compassion.” – Jonathan Taplin
If you made it this far and found this post valuable in any way, please let me know in the comments which of these reads caught your attention. Better yet, why don’t you share something you’ve read recently that you think I’d find interesting.
If you like this post, you might also like this year’s previous installments: