Weekly Update – #1 – January 6th, 2019

Happy New Year! This is the first week of 2019.

Travel

This week we visited Palm Springs Aerial tramway. It was snowing! And it was very crowded. The twins didn’t mind the cold, had fun with snow.

Rotating tram car descends from Mt. San Jacinto station.

Writing

On Wednesday I finally published Torrey’s Annual Report (2018).

Running

On Friday I ran my 11ish miles commute to work. It went exactly as planned, I arrived 2.5 hours after setting foot on the road. I’m feeling confident, prepared for the upcoming Pasadena half marathon on 1/20.

Strava stats for commute run.

Reading while Running

During these long runs I listen to audiobooks. Right now I’m enjoying James A. Corey’s Caliban’s War. Its the second book in the series which was turned into Sci-fi TV Show The Expanse.

One part of the book that struck me was a description of future society on Earth. After most jobs disappeared, government offered basic support for citizens. The population divided itself into two large groups: the engaged and the apathetic. The engaged choose to work even they don’t have to. The apathetic don’t care and live out their lives on basic support.

It struck me because this divide is already happening. For example, there is an epidemic of unemployment in millennial men (the apathetic). What do the engaged people do? I think they vote, give blood, and go to work.

New Reading Habit

After reading James Clear’s article “How to read more”, I’ve been enjoying a new habit. My watch alarm goes off at 6am and I read 20 pages from a book. Reading beyond 20 pages is bonus points. Thanks to this habit, I read two books this week.

Let My People Go Surfing by Yvon Chouinard shares the amazing origin and growth story of outdoor equipment company Patagonia, Inc. Patagonia offers an unconventional model for sustainable, eco-friendly, and responsible business. Chouinard shows how the human race is not doing nearly enough to prevent and reverse ecological harm.

Bored and Brilliant by Manoush Zomorodi delves into a wide variety of topics: the psychology of daydreaming, introversion, technology and social media addiction, creative work, mindfulness and meditation. It offers practical steps for becoming more aware of distractions and habits, and taking back (some) control. The most powerful nugget I found in the book is “Tan’s Ten-Second Meditation Practice” from Chade-Meng Tan.

1. Bring a person into your mind, preferably someone you care about.
2. Think I wish for this person to be happy.
3. Maintain the thought for three breaths, in and out.
4. Do this every day to turn your wish for other people’s happiness into a habit … that will bring you happiness, too.

After the morning reading habit sinks in, I’m looking to stack a writing habit on top.

Reviewing daily and weekly routines is a useful productivity tool. If you’re not making enough progress in a specific area, think about related routines. If there are no routines there, create one, and set reminders. Over time routines become habit, automatic, and reminders become unnecessary.


The idea of publishing weekly updates is inspired by Troy Hunt.

What I learned about Curiosity from Speed of Trust by Stephen MR Covey

This is a story told by Marion D. Hanks of an obscure woman in London who insisted that she never had a chance. She muttered these words to Dr. Louis Agassiz, distinguished naturalist, after one of his lectures. In response to her complaint, he replied:

“Do you say, madam, you never had a chance? What do you do?”

“I am single and help my sister run a boardinghouse.”

“What do you do?” he asked.

“I skin potatoes and chop onions.”

He said, “Madam, where do you sit during these interesting but homely duties?”

“On the bottom step of the kitchen stairs.”

“Where do your feet rest?”

“On the glazed brick.”

“What is glazed brick?”

“I don’t know, sir.”

He said, “How long have you been sitting there?”

She said, “Fifteen years.”

“Madam, here is my personal card,” said Dr. Agassiz. “Would you kindly write me a letter concerning the nature of a glazed brick?”

She took him seriously. She went home and explored the dictionary and discovered that a brick was a piece of baked clay. That definition seemed too simple to send to Dr. Agassiz, so after the dishes were washed, she went to the library and in an encyclopedia read that a glazed brick is vitrified kaolin and hydrous aluminum silicate. She didn’t know what that meant, but she was curious and found out. She took the word vitrified and read all she could find about it. Then she visited museums. She moved out of the basement of her life and into a new world on the wings of vitrified.And having started, she took the word hydrous, studied geology, and went back in her studies to the time when God started the world and laid the clay beds. One afternoon she went to a brickyard, where she found the history of more than 120 kinds of bricks and tiles, and why there have to be so many. Then she sat down and wrote thirty-six pages on the subject of glazed brick and tile.

Back came the letter from Dr. Agassiz: “Dear Madam, this is the best article I have ever seen on the subject. If you will kindly change the three words marked with asterisks, I will have it published and pay you for it.”

A short time later there came a letter that brought $250, and penciled on the bottom of this letter was this query: “What was under those bricks?” She had learned the value of time and answered with a single word: “Ants.” He wrote back and said, “Tell me about the ants.”

She began to study ants. She found there were between eighteen hundred and twenty-five hundred different kinds. There are ants so tiny you could put three head-to-head on a pin and have standing room left over for other ants; ants an inch long that march in solid armies half a mile wide, driving everything ahead of them; ants that are blind; ants that get wings on the afternoon of the day they die; ants that build anthills so tiny that you can cover one with a lady’s silver thimble; peasant ants that keep cows to milk, and then deliver the fresh milk to the apartment house of the aristocrat ants of the neighborhood.

After wide reading, much microscopic work, and deep study, the spinster sat down and wrote Dr. Agassiz 360 pages on the subject. He published the book and sent her the money, and she went to visit all the lands of her dreams on the proceeds of her work.

Now as you hear this story, do you feel acutely that all of us are sitting with a our feet on pieces of vitrified kaolin and hydrous aluminum silicate–with ants under them? Lord Chesterton answers:

There are no uninteresting things; there are only uninterested people.

Keep Learning!

Reference: Hanks, Marion D. “Good Teachers Matter.” Ensign, http://www.lds.org/ensign/1971/07/good-teachers-matter?lang=eng.

Do smart phones make stupid humans?

I like to observe how people act and think about why. Smart phones have become pervasive enough to change human behavior. What are the consequences?


Do smart phones make stupid humans?

Have you ever wondered if smart phones make us stupid? Now we have an answer and we know how stupid they make us. “Even if you’re not using it, just having your smartphone on your desk reduces your working memory capacity by 10% and fluid intelligence by 5%.” Adam Grant shared this study via this LinkedIn post.

The solution is simple: keep it in your pants, out of sight. Leave your phone in another room.


If a smart phone sabotages it’ owner, what do they do to everyone else in the room?

Simon Sinek has something interested to say about this topic. Placing your smartphone on the table at a meeting sends a signal to everyone in the room “you’re just not that important to me.” When the phone is face up, every notification lights up the screen and draws attention. When it’s face down, notification vibrations trigger nearby attendees to check their devices.


Does social media get in the way of social bonding?

You might feel sad when you see a family at dinner staring at jeejahs and not engaged in conversation. Consider an alternate point of view from Gary Vaynerchuck: smartphones didn’t create this problem. The old way to endure failure-to-connect meant drowning in awkward silence. The option to stick the nose in social media means those silences suck a little less.


How can attention spans be lengthened?

There was a time when the hat rack was a symbol of transition from public to private space. When entering the private space, one was expected to hang up their hat. Now, imagine docking smartphones in the charging rack upon entering a pricate space.  This is a great way to remove a huge source of distraction from the meeting and keep everyone engaged.


I think we are all still learning ‘proper’ smartphone etiquette, as we must do for inventions that change the way we live and work. Slowly people settle on unspoken rules of when and where putting it on the table is appropriate or inappropriate.


Thank you for reading!

Together we build a world free of fear.  What would you do if you were not afraid?

Reading Roundup – Second Quarter 2017

In April, May, and June I read some great books. I want to take some time to share what I’ve learned. Enjoy!


Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor Frankl

Dr. Frankl practiced psycho-therapy and miraculously survived Nazi work camps. He studied himself and peers throughout the experience. Being in the camps is described as worse than nightmares. Accounts of atrocities committed in the camps are best not paraphrased. Go read it!

One insight taken away is: man finds meaning in love, work, and suffering. The author pulled himself through hell by frequently thinking about his wife, the love of his life.


Living with a Seal by Jesse Itzler

Jesse Itzler invited a Navy Seal to live with and train him for a month. The ensuing tale is hilarious.

Lessons learned: 

  • Mind over matter. You have more in you than you think (60% more).
  • Make big decisions by considering, after it plays out, how great telling the story will be.
  • Watch out for getting stuck on routines and call in outside help (e.g. Personal trainer) to get unstuck.
  • The human spirit is powerful, and the mind gives up before the body gives up (usually).

I discovered the book via this YouTube video.


Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

Sandberg abruptly lost her husband. She embarked on a journey to deal with own grief and in the process learned how to give better support to others overcoming tragedy.

Many of the stories in the book refer back to the three P’s of tragedy processing.

Personalization – I am the reason this happened. I failed to stop it from happening. It is my fault.

Pervasiveness – Because this happened, every part of my life is ruined.

Permanence – Life is going to be like this forever. It will never get better.

When consoling grief-stricken friends, try not to say things like “let me know if there is anything I can do”. The phrase pushes the burden of asking onto them. Instead, take action, show up at the door with a casserole. Help them through the three P’s: tragedy isn’t their fault, it won’t ruin everything, and the feelings are temporary.


Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson

The focus of Expert Secrets is how to create and sell information products, after becoming a subject matter expert. Expert Secrets has many nuggets, and I’ll share the few most memorable to me.

Status – Why People Buy Things
The reason people buy most things is to increase their status. Status means different things to different people. To some a luxury car is a status symbol, and to others a ten year old junker is a status symbol.

Big Domino Theory
Instead of trying to solve a hundred small problems, look for the biggest domino. The biggest domino, once knocked over, knocks over all the smaller ones.

The Heroes Two Journeys
Most stories follow the format of the heroes two journeys. The hero has an external goal and a more subtle internal struggle. The hero may never achieve the external goal, but while on the journey resolves the inner struggles and completes a transformation.


I also really enjoyed these works by Derek Sivers

To hone your writing, hire a translator 

I think creating less noise is a measure of emotional maturity. Optimize for action instead of talk. Do work, not just press releases.

Parenting: Who is it really for? 

A long attention span is a super power when among highly distractible masses. This reminds me of Cal Newport’s Deep Work which says a blacksmith may work a single blade for seven hours uninterrupted.

Meaningful, quality work requires an above-average attention span.

Long attention span might be a key to success. It could require a decades long focus to turn vision into reality.


Thank you for reading!

Together we build a world free of fear.  What would you do if you were not afraid?


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