Podcast SOS: Three sure things

I got a text today from a student on a road trip out west with some of his friends:

“EJ! Currently on a road trip across the US and wanted to know if you had any podcast suggestions while we are driving!”

I get this kind of request for podcast recommendations regularly.

I sent him these three podcast episodes:

Malcom Gladwell’s Revisionist History – The Big Man Can’t Shoot

The Art of Manliness – Becoming a Digital Minimalist

The Knowledge Project with Shane Parrish – The Angel Philosopher

Gladwell’s podcast is excellent throughout—provocative and compellingly counterintuitive. But that episode about free-throw shooting in basketball is the one that first got me hooked.

The Art of Manliness’s interview with the author Cal Newport is a solid introduction to his call for culling out the digital distractions currently overwhelming most of us.

And Shane Parrish’s interview with Naval Ravikant is full of nuggets of deep wisdom and practical life advice.

My podcast listening usually takes place while I’m driving or while walking my dog. I just don’t listen to the radio unless my kids take over in the car. Dad problems.

(Lately, though, podcasts have been shelved while I’ve listened to the audiobook versions of Robert Caro’s third and fourth volumes on LBJ: Master of the Senate and The Passage of Power. I’ve never read/listened to any book quite like these. This is the pinnacle of biography, at least from what I’ve read. The level of detail is extraordinary, but it’s not at the expense of truly riveting storytelling. Highly recommend.)

Excellent links

Some of the best things I found on the internet this week:

  • The Dirty Secret of Public Speaking – and What to Do About It – Nick Morgan regularly offers the most effective insight on what makes for a good presentation. This post highlights the reality that most audiences rarely remember much of anything a speaker says. Morgan offers some good tips on overcoming that along with this challenge: “make sure that your speech is about only one idea.” I struggle with this, too often relying on a quantity of ideas in the hope that it will be more likely for everyone in the audience to find something of value.
  • How the Rams Built a Laboratory for Millennials – WSJ – In addition to shorter meetings and later wake up calls, this NFL team is adjusting to a different generational mindset by regularly drilling down to one key question, a question everyone should ask no matter your generation:

They also need to know “why” to everything: If you explain a concept to them on the field, they need to know the reason behind it. Millennial players questioning everything is something that’s helped the Rams, the team says, because it forces coaches and executives to examine their own methods (Why are we doing this?).

“I don’t agree that you, when you become students at colleges, have to be coddled and protected from different points of view. I think you should be able to — anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with ‘em. But you shouldn’t silence them by saying, ‘You can’t come because I’m too sensitive to hear what you have to say.’ That’s not the way we learn either.”

Goals are individual experiences and accomplishments you strive for. A vision is the bigger picture. Your life’s vision defines who you want to be, what you want to be known for and the set of experiences and accomplishments you aim for. Your vision helps define the goals by giving you a framework to evaluate those goals.

Your vision becomes your why.

Excellent links

Some of the best things I found on the internet this week:

  • Why former 49er Chris Borland is the most dangerous man in football – Borland quit the NFL after one year out of concern for how the violence of the sport would damage his brain. He is bright and thoughtful and talented, but walking away from a lucrative, high-profile athletic career was a no-brainer (pun intended) to him in light of the possible consequences over the long-term. Is football our watered down, but still violent, version of the Roman Colosseum?

Excellent Saturday morning links

Here are some of the best things I found on the internet this week:

  • How is the Apple Watch doing? – Benedict Evans gives a thoughtful assessment of Apple’s latest creation and where it fits in our gadget lineup. It has me browsing the Apple Watch page again, wondering if I can see myself wearing one.
  • Vertical Video on the Small Screen? Not a CrimeThe New York Times‘s Farhad Manjoo argues the case that vertical video is not just okay but has some aesthetic merits over standard landscape/horizontal presentation of video. I am not convinced. The screen I look at most days is a big 27-inch iMac, so vertical video just looks wrong and amateurish on it. However, if your primary screen is your phone, as is becoming the case for so many now, I can see where this is headed. Snapchat and Periscope and other such apps are defaulting to vertical and going with the flow of how most people use their devices. But I don’t have to like it. If you ever want to show your videos on a big screen—your TV or your computer—it’s worth the tiny little effort to rotate your phone before pressing record.
  • I asked atheists how they find meaning in a purposeless universe – This BuzzFeed piece is filled with thoughtful and interesting responses to living in a seemingly indifferent universe. It’s long, so if you only read one response, scroll to the bottom and read the last one by Jan Doig. Her story is bittersweet and heartbreaking and, yet, I found it profoundly hopeful.

Saturday morning links

Here are some articles I found online this week that are worth reading:

And don’t miss the beautiful video he created: We Call This Home – 3 Years Around the World Travel.

  • The Confession of Arian Foster – This ESPN The Magazine feature tells the story of NFL star running back Arian Foster and his openness about not believing in any supernatural power. It seems odd that this is a story, but he is considered the first American professional athlete, at least the first high profile one, who is openly skeptical about religion. Foster comes across as remarkably thoughtful, as one who is truly discontent with the unexamined life.

See also this excellent post by Foster from two years ago: 6 Things I’ll Try to Teach My Daughter.

  • Inviting Mara to Tea – Psychologist and meditation teacher Tara Brach was featured on Tim Ferriss’s podcast recently. This post by Brach tells the story of how the Buddha welcomed and made peace with heartache and worry. Accept what comes with gentleness. Resistance is futile. 
  • And this TED Talk about Google’s self-driving car project is remarkable: How a Driverless Car Sees the Road. (via @FarnamStreet) Twenty-five years from now driving your own car may be the exception, and you might need special permission to do it, kind of like a hunting license or a gun permit.