What I learned last week (#105)

Sam holding a hand warmer while sitting on my shoulders.

Quote I enjoyed:

The most treasured gifts in the world are kind words spontaneously tendered.

Jim Collins

Book excerpt that I was thinking about:

“To the European, it is a characteristic of the American culture that, again and again, one is commanded and ordered to “be happy.” But happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue. One must have a reason to “be happy.” Once the reason is found, however, one becomes happy automatically.” (Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning)

A fugitive in Montana:

Stunning story of a kid sent away for rehab in the Montana wilderness. I can’t imagine what I would have thought if I was sent to a camp where I would have had to dig my own latrine and make my own fire and go hiking for seven hours a day. Kind of sounds awesome at the moment to be honest.

Seth Godin on the most important blog post:

It is on the most important blog.


Even if no one but you reads it. The blog you write each day is the blog you need the most. It’s a compass and a mirror, a chance to put a stake in the ground and refine your thoughts.

And the most important post? The one you’ll write tomorrow.

The most important blog post

A template for most any emails you may need to write:

Dear Person I am Writing To,

This is an optional sentence introducing who I am and work for, included if the addressee has never corresponded with me before. The second optional sentence reminds the person where we met, if relevant. This sentence states the purpose of the email.

This optional paragraph describes in more detail what’s needed. This sentence discusses relevant information like how soon an answer is needed, what kind of answer is needed, and any information that the other person might find useful. If there’s a lot of information, it’s a good idea to separate this paragraph into two or three paragraphs to avoid having a Wall of Text.

If a description paragraph was used, close with a restatement of the initial request, in case the addressee ignored the opening paragraph.

This sentence is just a platitude (usually thanking them for their time) because people think I am standoffish, unreasonably demanding, or cold if it’s not included.

Closing salutation, Signature

(I lost the link for where I found the above, it was somewhere on Reddit ¯_(ツ)_/¯)

On running and the need to escape:

This was both reassuring and a bit haunting to read.

If all it could take to satisfy me was a pair of shoes and a good road! Reading Murakami on running makes me feel entirely too needy – too volatile, too susceptible. In a 2005 interview, when asked about his long runs, he answered: ‘I try not to think about anything special while running. As a matter of fact, I usually run with my mind empty.’ That’s the part about Murakami’s relationship to running that I can connect with, that doesn’t feel just aspirational. That emptiness – the running makes the nothing possible, taking one away from one’s self. But I wonder which comes first: the empty head or the sole striking pavement? When I ran, I ran frenetically, panicky, as if trying to lose my mind; I wonder if Murakami runs the way he does because he’s already learned how to clear his.

Beer Mode and Coffee Mode:

Standard tropes like turn off the Internet, tune out distractions, and turn towards your goals are all examples of coffee mode thinking. The productivity world is oriented around coffee mode because it’s easy to define, easy to measure, and therefore, easier to write about.

Meanwhile, beer mode is filled with surprises that are impossible to predict. On most days, you feel like you wasted time because you don’t make a breakthrough discovery. But once in a while, beer mode leads to an intellectual breakthrough that you would’ve never discovered in coffee mode. In turn, they improve how you allocate your coffee mode time.

Last but not least, check out what I’m up to now.

Comments welcome!