Books

Deep work

Deep work is the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task. It’s a skill that allows you to quickly master complicated information and produce better results in less time. Deep work will make you better at what you do and provide the sense of true fulfillment that comes from craftsmanship. In short, deep work is like a super power in our increasingly competitive twenty-first century economy. And yet, most people have lost the ability to go deep – spending their days instead in a frantic blur of e-mail and social media, not even realizing there’s a better way.

– Cal Newport, Deep Work

Colors do not clash, they vibrate

And if you still don’t feel confident, take heart in the wisdom of legendary interior designer David Hicks, who believed that the idea of colors clashing with one another was a fiction cooked up by “genteel women” in the 1930s. “Colors do not clash,” he said. “They vibrate.”

– Ingrid Fetell Lee, Joyful

Start with a scribble

I love love love the illustrations of Sir Quentin Blake, so you can imagine my joy when I discovered this fun interactive book. Start with a Scribble will banish your inner critic and kick-start your inner genius, as you learn to draw with a little how-to and a lot of just-do.

Clutter

Fighting clutter is like fighting weeds – the writer is always slightly behind. … Writing improves in direct ratio to the number of things we can keep out of it that shouldn’t be there. … Clutter is the laborious phrase that has pushed out the short word that means the same thing. Even before … people and businesses had stopped saying “now.” They were saying “currently” (“all our operators are currently assisting other customers”) … Yet the idea can always be expressed by “now” to mean the immediate moment … or simply by the verb “to be” (“It is raining”). There’s no need to say, “At the present time we are experiencing precipitation.”  

“Experiencing” is one of the worst clutterers. Even your dentist will ask if you are experiencing any pain. If he had his own kid in the chair he would say, “Does it hurt?” He would, in short, be himself. By using a more pompous phrase in his professional role he not only sounds more important; he blunts the painful edge of truth. It’s the language of the flight attendant demonstrating the oxygen mask that will drop down if the plane should run out of air. “In the unlikely possibility that the aircraft should experience such an eventuality,” she begins – a phrase so oxygen-depriving in itself that we are prepared for any disaster. 

– William Zinsser, On Writing Well: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction

The human mind

Because much human behavior is subconscious – that is, it occurs without conscious awareness – we often don’t know what we are about to do, say or think until after we have done it. It’s as if we had two minds: the subconscious and the conscious, which don’t always talk to each other. Not what you’ve been taught? True, nonetheless. More and more evidence is accumulating that we use logic and reason after the fact, to justify our decisions to ourselves (to our conscious minds) and to others. Bizarre? Yes, but don’t protest: enjoy it.

– Don Norman, The Design of Everyday Things

Building friendships

I personally really dislike “business networking” events. At almost every one of these events, it seems like the goal is to walk around and find people to trade business cards with, with the hope of meeting someone who can help you out in business and in exchange you can help that person out somehow. I generally try to avoid those types of events, and I rarely carry any business cards around with me.

Instead, I really prefer to focus on just building relationships and getting to know people as just people, regardless of their position in the business world or even if they’re not from the business world. I believe that there’s something interesting about anyone and everyone – you just have to figure out what that something is. If anything, I’ve found that it’s more interesting to build relationships with people that are not in the business world because they almost always can offer unique perspectives and insights, and also because those relationships tend to be more genuine.

If you are able to figure out how to be truly interested in someone you meet, with the goal of building up a friendship instead of trying to get something out of that person, the funny thing is that almost always, something happens later down the line that ends up benefiting either your business or yourself personally. …

So my advice is to stop trying to “network” in the traditional business sense, and instead just try to build up the number and depth of your friendships, where the friendship itself is its own reward.

– Tony Hsieh, Delivering Happiness

Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince