Seth Godin: 'Dance With Fear'

Everyone has genius, it's just that some people prefer to keep it caged.

What holds people back is the fear that something might not work. Fear is in our DNA, literally in our amygdala or lizard brain.

But most fears are false. So instead of fighting with fear, dance with it!

What might not work is worth risking because it just might be remarkable and help other people.

The good news is that our attempts are unlimited. The only guarantee is sitting on the sidelines and doing nothing about it.

News, Fresh and Direct

The only constant is fresh content. But as an avid Twitter user and RSS reader, I see publications covering the same topics. The headlines may be different but the intention is the same: take a trending topic and create a post around it to get a click. More site traffic, more ad sales, more ad revenue, etc.

The only differentiator seems to to speed. Can the Washington Post get tweet out their article before the New York Times? Can Pitchfork beat out the music blogs to announce a new Radiohead single? Who gets viral with breaking news first? BTW, did you know that Twitter now categorizes itself as a news app?

When everything's jammed into a Facebook feed, no one really cares where it comes from. They just click, linking inside Facebook. We might as well not even have a site; everything starts and ends in the Facebook feed.

So if all the stories are the same, the headlines similar, and they're on Facebook's property what's it going to take to stand out from the pack?

Snapchat offers a unique and fun way to report the news. No outlet is going to tell the same story because real and raw is hard to replicate, unless of course you publish on a polished Snapchat channel. But that's a different strategy.

It also helps to get more niche. The New York Times started a running newsletter. Newsletters are the new magazines.

At the end of the day, attention wins but good content stands the test of time. So why compete with the rest of them for a faster timestamp when you the best shouting you can do is to publish and deliver something completely different.

Radiohead, Misfits Once Again, This Time 'Burn the Witch'

Radiohead deleted their online presence. Go to their site, Twitter, Instagram, etc - all you'll see are two of their latest posts.

Radiohead understands how to make the biggest noise: do the opposite of what everyone else is doing.

Instead of offering their album on digital services, Radiohead allowed listeners to pay what they wanted for its 2007 album In Rainbows. This tip jar approach wasn't new but hadn't used by a large band/brand like Radiohead.

Before that, Radiohead had offered their music as downloadable stems for their fans to mash up and recreate. Radiohead is perhaps the only band that's been able to thrive off their anti-establishment status while maintaining their mainstream flair. As I wrote in one of my newsletters:

Radiohead is the Apple of bands, an outsider group that retains its creativity and sells to the masses without selling out its brand. It's all about taking music to the next level.

Don't just think different. Be different. This difference starts with unique sounding music and manifests itself in marketing and distribution. Deleting their online presence has already given Radiohead the awareness they need. Now they just have to ship the tunes.

How to Write Well (or something like that)

Write short sentences like this. You will be better understood. Repetition gets boring though. Simple writing works best for business emails but not for creative literature or opinion pieces.

If you're supposed to write like you talk, then writing should be more like playing music. It ebbs and flows, as does the way you speak.

If there was one right way to do things, there wouldn't be poems, graffiti, or alternative music.

The only prescription is your own intention, to be expressive or lean in (dangerously) to what you're told.

“Language is not constant. Change is—and anxiety about change is constant too.” - Johnson: Language Anxieties

To sum it up:


Hello, World 🙋

"Sorry, I'm in my own world."

That's what she told me as she moved over to the window seat. Her head was so buried into her phone that she had no idea she was taking up both seats.

She was busy watching DJ Khaled's latest Snapchat story. Khaled is notorious for his giving his followers a front row seat into his life.

Even worse, her volume was on. So distracted in her own world, she didn't even consider that other people have ears. The smartphone was her boombox, as she transitioned to a Nicki Minaj Youtube video.

For all the benefits of technology flattening the world and giving us a second brain accessible at our fingertips, it's also making people callous. The outside world still exists and people still have feelings!

It's easier to live virtually through a screen than deal with what's right in front us. People want control and entertainment, lest they become bored. Given nothing to do, studies show that people will go so far as shocking or pinching themselves to stay entertained.

We're all living in our own phones, our world. But our heads are down in text-neck position. We're may be in public but we exist online.

Super Hearing

Right now I'm listening to the Hear App on the train. Here's what the "Super Hearing" mic is picking up and distorting:

  • The old man coughing a few seats down
  • A father and son talking about the fastest route to the museum
  • The sounds of a millennial folding a newspaper, no less
  • My own breathing/yawning
  • The train conductor's announcement(s)
  • The squinching of the seat when someone sits down
  • The beeps of the train doors opening and closing

Listening to the Hear App is like being in an iMax theater.

But then I step outside for a walk...🚶

My sneezes sound like explosions, echoing between left and right eardrums. A coin drop ripples. Human voices chirp and crows talk. Bus wheels make beats. The fire trucks blast like a rave.

But this is not dubstep.

With Hear, the discreet becomes audible. Hear brings us closer to life's subtle sounds.

Augmented reality may be the future but it'll feel incomplete without augmented sound.

Bonus vibes: keep the app on while listening to music.

Single-Tasking Is a Challenge

Too many apps. Too many emails. Too many projects. Too much to care about and not enough time to get them done.

Technology was supposed to save us time. Instead, it made us available 24/7 like a doctor. It also made us slaves to the excess of content. No matter how many music or articles you get to, there's always more. The feeds never end. The Internet never ends, despite the effort of magical algorithms to save us time.

All this newness is a distraction, one that needs to be controlled and prioritized. Google created Alphabet to distinguish its focus between search and moon shots.

We need to set non-negotiables for our attention. To solely focus on anything is a luxury.

Or is it?

Unknown Future

"The challenge of our unknown future is so much more exciting than the stories of our accomplished past." - Simon Sinek

Don't confuse apprehension with excitement.

It's exciting to venture into the unknown. It's exciting to reset the career button, to reevaluate what you're good at and what you really enjoy doing. And if you still can't figure it out, travel!

"When in doubt, travel." - Expa

But don't forget to come back and face the reality of life. Nothing good ever came that easy.

Does Tweeting Make Us Happier?

This may sound weird but when I'm happier, I share more online. It's as if Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram are barometers of my happiness. Hell, I even did a Periscope last weekend.

When I'm not sharing, I blame social media for creating continuous partial attention. I created to remind myself and others that we can't live through our mobile screens, even if it presents a better world.

Social media is the new TV. Snapchat is cable. Social is where we go now to waste time, which competes with everything else that we do.

Social is too good. It's a dopamine hitter. Just reading through tweets is not enough. We want to participate, and we should, even if it goes out to the ether.

But if I'm not sharing, it doesn't mean I'm depressed. I get busy and exhausted just like everybody else, especially as someone who works in social media. It's just that sharing makes me feel a little better.

Creativity Debunks the 10,000 Rule of Deliberate Practice

10,000 hours of practice works for excelling your golf game or your accounting skills. It's less meaningful though when it comes to creativity.

Creativity is an evolution. If you're doing the same stuff as you did on the last project or even yesterday it might get stale. Creators strive for originality. That's why Beyonce's "Lemonade" release it a smash. It's like nothing she's done before. She's inspiring others by showing both vulnerability and strength against the husband/mogul (Tidal tyrant) that is Jay Z, whether you like her music or not.

Note: I’m not a fan of Beyonce. I’m not a fan of anything popular, really. But I do admire her consistent originality, to go places where others don’t. Of course, you might say she can do that because she’s Beyonce. True, but she could also just wear another weird dress like Lady Gaga and expect it to create conversation. It doesn’t. People get bored of the same concept. Even Instagram is boring, but that's another read.

Creativity is a life practice, not just a 10,000-hour rule of thumb. The stringent execution of doing something the same way again and again is mind-numbing for those that dare to think different.

Read this.

Everything we can’t describe in music, Vans legacy, Taking notes by hand, new tunes, and more

Arts & Culture

Everything We Can’t Describe in Music

Timbre isn’t just the sound of music. It’s the guts, the unique frequencies. No two instruments will ever sound the same. The differences in timbre are subtle like the diversity of grapes that make wine. It’s a term that has no precise definition.

In fact, he pointed out that there were a lot of similarities between the way we describe the taste and smell of wine and the way we describe the timbre of an instrument.

PLUS: A YouTube explainer of timbre

Christian Hosoi Reflects on his Incredible Career and Being Part of the Vans Legacy

Vans is turning 50. Skateboard and brand ambassador Christian Hosoi, who famously invented the ‘Christ Air’ and ‘Rocket Air,’ talks about how Vans represents individuality to the people who wear them.

Vans really give the person who buys and wears them their own identity to be whatever they want. An attorney and a lawyer could wear them, and an artist and musician, and a skateboarder; they could be wearing the same pair of vans but on every person they will somehow fit who they are, because they don’t put you in a category. You can wear Vans and be anybody you want and fit in any genre and any subculture.

PLUS: Have you heard the Pack’s excellent song about Vans?

Philosophy & Productivity

Attention, Students: Put Your Laptops Away

If you're struggling to remember it may be because you're trying to type everything down. Studies again and again prove that writing things down by hand than merely transcribing is a more effective way to learn.

"The students who were taking longhand notes in our studies were forced to be more selective — because you can't write as fast as you can type. And that extra processing of the material that they were doing benefited them."

Network Leadership

Most meetings are a waste of time. On top of that, they force group think which essentially stifles any new ideas. But leaders can steal one from the social networks and start rewarding different voices, not just the popular ones. The social networks can also do better job at bubbling up fresh ideas too.

The problem we have is that the majority viewpoints get amplified, while minority opinions get silenced, as Steven Johnson puts it.

Social Media & Tech

Online Media Is Tested When Social Platforms Come to Town

Social platforms are eating publishers for dinner. Facebook and Snapchat ingest media content and then make you stay on their property to consume it. No one clicks out. No wonder site traffic is down major publishers. As a Gawker executive wrote: “We — the freest journalists on the planet — were slaves to the Facebook algorithm.” Not surprisingly, it’s the same model we’ve seen before, a la Amazon.

Amazon found ways to take advantage of Toys “R” Us, using the relationship, and its presence on their platform, to start a toy category on Amazon, to figure out how to sell toys on Amazon, and then to invite a lot of competing companies on the same platform to compete with Toys “R” Us, which made it a lot less attractive for them to be there.

PLUS: According to Gary Vaynerchuk, teens are gravitiating to Twitter as their public Snapchat alternative.

New Music

Episode 85 | Tunes of the Week

  1. Last Japan - Ascend
  2. Andy Stott - Selfish
  3. Feather - Like No Other
  4. Nathan Melja - No No No
  5. U - Easy Prayer

🎵 Listen here

Thought of the Week

I wish I could just favourite emails instead of answering them. - JK Rowling

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Rather Unique

Building the tallest building is a matter of ego. Machismo drives a lot of design and innovation.

But there’s always going to be a taller building, just as there’s always going to be the next innovative car and gadget.

Things can only stand out for so long before something else surpasses them or it becomes a commodity that everyone else can own.

When size and newness fall aside, people only remember what’s unique.

How to be Productive: Turn up the Volume!

As I wrote this week, audio is becoming a popular way to learn new things.

But sound also helps as a working tool, not in the forefront but in the background. Like these:

  • Soccer games on TV make great background noise. It's commercial free and the announcers raise their voice when a play is worthy of looking.
  • Music makes good background noise. If you're writing or coding, they say that listening to the same song on repeat helps build flow.
  • The noise in coffee shops has always been a favorite place for people to work. It turns out that the coffee shop makes just the right type of ambient noise conducive to studying and creativity.

Noise is only intrusive when you can't tune it out. It's the silence that's boring and distracting.

Fresh Thinking

“Instead of highlighting posts with high ratings, the third algorithm should highlight posts that have triggered something new.” - Esko Kilpi

New, as in new ideas, not new news or viral cat videos.

We need algorithms that predict something important and show it to the right people so it can be further discussed, like a Twitter version of quora or Reddit.

Divergent thinking isn't supposed to be right. It intends to spark a conversation about possibilities, to challenge the status quo and poke at groupthink. At the same time, it can also reconfirm traditional thought or old ways of operating, to prove that those things are worth preserving.

Instead of acquiescing, play the game of "so what" or "what if" with the reader/listener. Question and probe new shit, if only to make them think different.

“A viable social system always needs to reward perspectives that deviate from the mainstream in order to fight group-think.”