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Why You Need to Start Writing ASAP, Inciteful versus Insightful, Passing the Cold Turkey Test, Reading the Room Before Giving Advice, Not Putting Surveys First, Revolutionary Technologies, & Making Sense of Life (Reading/Study Notes 5.21.18)

Resource: The Ridiculous Writing Myth You Need to Stop Believing to Be a Better Writer


Perfectionism is the enemy:

“I’ve said it before, I wrote for 6 months without publishing a single word because I thought my work wasn’t good enough and no one would read it. I thought my writing needed to be perfect, but it doesn’t. Seeking to produce perfect writing will only stall your progress. Perfect lets you do more reviews, ask more questions, tell yourself it’s not good enough and never hit publish. That’s not a place you want to be. The solution then is simple: Begin.

Perfection isn’t the reason people read:

“If you think about why people read, no one will tell you they read for perfection. No — most people will say they read for peoples ideas and connection.”

Real world incentives differ from school incentives:

“In school, you get graded better for having perfect grammar, punctuation, and spelling. But those rules don’t apply in the real world.”

“Don’t alter your message to make it “safe” or “More likable.””

“As long as you’re watering down your true, potent message for the sake of avoiding criticism, you’ll never be able to connect with that group of people that would become your most loyal fans.” -Anthony Moore


it’s better to write something than to write nothing. Perfectionism makes you write nothing. And when you write nothing, you only get better in your imagination. If you want to get better in the real world, you have stop settling for thinking of yourself as a writer and you have to just start writing.

Motion and momentum is what makes us better. Practicing your craft in a constructive and visible way is what helps you develop your skills. I always say that if the risks involved in the learning process are not real, then the rewards won’t be real either.

Being a good writer is not the same as being a good editor. Don’t let editing mistakes or grammatical imperfection be the thing that stops you.

People don’t read things because they have perfect grammar. They read things because they resonate with the stories, ideas, and convictions.

Above all else, begin. And after that, keep going.

Resource: Inciteful


“The right answer might not be the best thing you can say. Perhaps it would be better if you could help your friend take action instead. The acts of finding and doing are almost always more useful than getting good advice. Inciting action is often better than contributing insight. Better to move forward and figure it out than to stand still and believe you know the right answer.”


When coaching or advising, it’s easy to fool ourselves about the quality of our help. Hearing a client say “Ah, that’s an interesting thought” can feel soothing to the ego, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we’re helping them move forward. One of my alumnus from AltMBA likes to say “Don’t just call people out, call them in.” That is, do more than give them insight. Incite them to action.

It’s good to ask yourself — and the person you’re helping where appropriate — if what they’re looking for is a way up or out of a situation or if the real need is for empathy or perspective. Sometimes people don’t want or need an action plan, but it’s always good to confirm that with them rather than go for the “easy win” of impressing them with wise sayings.

Question to ask yourself as an advisor: Are you helping people improve or are you helping them be impressed with how deep or inspiring you are. The former is great. Both are fine. The latter alone will not suffice.

Resource: How cold is the turkey?


“If your customers had to stop using your product or service tomorrow, how much would they miss it? How easy are you to replace? How deep are the habits, how essential are the interactions? Being missed when you’re gone is a worthy objective.”


Make yourself indispensable. Some questions to consider: Am I measuring the value of my work by how productive is makes *me* feel or by the observable outcomes I’m abale to measure in the lives of my customers? Am I jumping at every opportunity to help them or am I making sure that I’m focusing on the things where I provide unique value? How do I know if my work is truly the kind that will be missed? What are some clues I can look for that will tell me that something is valuable or dispensable? What’s the biggest thing that would change if your customers stopped using your product right now?

Resource: Unrequested advice, insufficient data, unexplored objectives


“Your ideas and your feedback are worth more than you know. But you might not be heard if you haven’t been invited to chime in. And you’ll waste everyone’s time if you base your advice on your assumptions, instead of what’s actually happening. Mostly, it’s entirely possible that the person you’re eager to help doesn’t believe what you believe and doesn’t want what you want. Enrollment is the secret to education and change.”


Have great insights to offer isn’t the same thing as having an audience that’s eager to listen. Education does’t begin with what the teacher wants to teach. It begins with what the learner wants to learn. If you want to be heard, you have to negotiate for the learner’s attention. Until you do that, you’ll only end up frustrating yourself and others. Before you make a suggestion, pay attention to the context of the conversation you’re diving into. Make sure the people you’re advising actually want your advice, make sure you understand what’s going on, and make sure you’ve properly signaled your appreciation of the problems.

Resource: The trap of listening to feedback


“If you begin and end with surveys and focus groups, all you’re going to do is what’s been done before. We’re counting on you to trust yourself enough to speak your own version of our future. Yes, you’ll need the empathy to put yourself in our shoes, and the generosity to care enough to make it worth our time and trust. But no, don’t outsource the hard work of insight and creation to the rest of us. That’s on you.”


Creative action starts with conviction, not empathy. Before you can translate something into a language that will be comprehensible to others, you first have to make a decision about what you’re going to say. And that part can’t come from other people. Surveys can help you figure out how to say it or when to say it, but you have to consult your values and ideals if you want to know what’s worth saying. Don’t hide behind research. Use other people’s feedback to help deepen your understanding, but not to define it.

Resource: The Crypto Anarchist Manifesto


How technology is changing the nature of trade and transaction:

“Computer technology is on the verge of providing the ability for individuals and groups to communicate and interact with each other in a totally anonymous manner. Two persons may exchange messages, conduct business, and negotiate electronic contracts without ever knowing the True Name, or legal identity, of the other. Interactions over networks will be untraceable, via extensive re-routing of encrypted packets and tamper-proof boxes which implement cryptographic protocols with nearly perfect assurance against any tampering. Reputations will be of central importance, far more important in dealings than even the credit ratings of today. These developments will alter completely the nature of government regulation, the ability to tax and control economic interactions, the ability to keep information secret, and will even alter the nature of trust and reputation.”

“The technology for this revolution–and it surely will be both a social and economic revolution–has existed in theory for the past decade…And the next ten years will bring enough additional speed to make the ideas economically feasible and essentially unstoppable.”

On how resistance is futile

“The State will of course try to slow or halt the spread of this technology, citing national security concerns, use of the technology by drug dealers and tax evaders, and fears of societal disintegration. Many of these concerns will be valid; crypto anarchy will allow national secrets to be trade freely and will allow illicit and stolen materials to be traded. An anonymous computerized market will even make possible abhorrent markets for assassinations and extortion. Various criminal and foreign elements will be active users of CryptoNet. But this will not halt the spread of crypto anarchy.”

The nature of the forthcoming changes are nothing short of revolutionary:

“Just as the technology of printing altered and reduced the power of medieval guilds and the social power structure, so too will cryptologic methods fundamentally alter the nature of corporations and of government interference in economic transactions.”


The technology that’s going to completely transform the way we make deals, enforce contracts, and interact with each other is already in existence and it’s becoming more and more sophisticated every single day.

As with all technologies (ie. the printing press, the internet, radion/tv, etc), we can fully expect for advances in cryptography to be exploited for various purposes. And these possibilities are precisely what governments will appeal to in their efforts halt the movement towards crypto-anarchy. These efforts, however, will only delay the inevitable.

In the very near future, people will be able to communicate and interact in the marketplace anonymously and with multiple identities. This will result in a social and economic revolution.

Resource: The Continuous Thread of Revelation: Eudora Welty on Writing, Time, and Embracing the Nonlinearity of How We Become Who We Are


“Greater than scene… is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all of these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any frame.”

“To be human is to unfold in time but remain discontinuous. We are living non sequiturs seeking artificial cohesion through the revisions our memory, that capricious seamstress, performs in threading the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. It is, after all, nothing but a supreme feat of storytelling to draw a continuous thread between one’s childhood self and one’s present-day self, since hardly anything makes these two entities “the same person” — not their height, not their social stature, not their beliefs, not their circle of friends, not even the very cells in their bodies. Somewhere in the lacuna between the experiencing self and the remembering self, we create ourselves in what is literally a matter of making sense — of craftsmanship — for, as Oliver Sacks so poignantly observed, it is narrative that holds our identity together. But while this self-composition is native to the human experience, there is a subset of humans who have elected the transmutation of discontinuity into cohesion as their life’s work and have made temporality the raw material of their craft: writers.” -Maria Popova

“The events in our lives happen in a sequence in time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order, a timetable not necessarily — perhaps not possibly — chronological. The time as we know it subjectively is often the chronology that stories and novels follow: it is the continuous thread of revelation.”

“The frame through which I viewed the world changed too, with time. Greater than scene, I came to see, is situation. Greater than situation is implication. Greater than all of these is a single, entire human being, who will never be confined in any frame.”

“Writing a story or a novel is one way of discovering sequence in experience, of stumbling upon cause and effect in the happenings of a writer’s own life. This has been the case with me. Connections slowly emerge. Like distant landmarks you are approaching, cause and effect begin to align themselves, draw closer together. Experiences too indefinite of outline in themselves to be recognized for themselves connect and are identified as a larger shape. And suddenly a light is thrown back, as when your train makes a curve, showing that there has been a mountain of meaning rising behind you on the way you’ve come, is rising there still, proven now through retrospect.”


Our sense of personal identity is based entirely on narrative. The person we are today has almost nothing in common with the person we were a decade ago except for a common story. As human beings we do not merely experience things, but we create stories out of those experiences which give rise to a sense of continuity.

Making sense of things is a creative act. We are at our best as storytellers and inventors when we make sense of things.

Writing a story or a novel is a highly effective way to help you connect the dots and make greater sense of your own life.

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