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Tag / work

Lines of excellence

In a press conference just weeks before his death, President Kennedy was asked by a reporter if he liked his job. Kennedy’s response: “Well, I find the work rewarding. Whether I am going to stay and what my intentions are and all the rest, it seems to me it is still a good many, many […]

Louis CK, the Carlin strategy, and inviting the awful

Plateaus happen. Regularly. Years ago, in the midst of what was at that point an unremarkable career in stand-up comedy, Louis CK was frustrated with the creative rut he found himself in. And then he learned the Carlin strategy, and everything changed. It turns out that George Carlin would record a comedy special every year and […]

Cal Newport on the power of “deep work”

I read this Cal Newport post today and was inspired to lock in for a session of what he calls “deep work”. He suggests that when most of us think we are truly focused at work, we actually are far from it. We tend to work in tiny bursts that are regularly interrupted by distractions—checking […]

Make something you like

Today was my first day back at work after a week off for the holidays.  I had a long meeting in the middle of the day and, of course, spent some time catching up with colleagues. I wasn’t very productive.  But I did make this one slide for a keynote I’m giving on Friday night.  […]

Paul Graham on good procrastination

“Unless you’re working on the biggest thing you could be working on, you’re procrastinating.” –Paul Graham via Mikael Cho Damn. But, right on. That quote is from a Paul Graham essay from ten years ago—Good and Bad Procrastination. Graham makes a solid and sobering case that most people occupy their time with “small stuff” at the […]

Consume good stuff to make good stuff

Austin Kleon on what he does if he’s feeling blocked creatively: “When I stall out, it’s time to start taking things in again: read more, re-read, watch movies, listen to music, go to art museums, travel, take people to lunch, etc. Just being open and alert and on the lookout for That Thing that will […]

Don’t wait

True. The best way to know something is to try to express it. I’ve heard people say they don’t want to pursue a relationship until they figure themselves out first. There’s nothing like being in a relationship, though, to reveal yourself to yourself. And don’t wait till you feel inspired to start creating. It’s the […]

Showing my work: Analog color

I’m leading an educational session at a conference this week. It’s a first for this topic for me, and I don’t feel I’ve found my framework yet. It just hasn’t clicked. I’ve floundered around with digital tools — Keynote, Mindnode, text editors — but the flow hasn’t come yet. So, today I turned around to […]

Be obsessed

Justine Musk (Elon Musk’s wife) had this as part of her response to a question on Quora about how to be as successful as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, and Richard Branson: Be obsessed. Be obsessed. Be obsessed. If you’re not obsessed, then stop what you’re doing and find whatever does obsess you. […] […]

Warren Buffett and the “avoid at all cost list”

Cal Newport shared this Warren Buffett story, which was passed on by someone else and may be only apocryphal. But the point of the story certainly seems in line with what we know of Buffett’s philosophy: Buffett wanted to help his employee get ahead in his working life, so he suggested that the employee list […]

Ordinary laziness

From the @AlanWattsDaily Twitter stream: A certain amount of ordinary laziness would lend our culture the pleasant mellowness which it singularly lacks. — Alan Watts (@AlanWattsDaily) April 12, 2015 I’m torn between the desire to get big things done and make a dent in the universe and the inclination to chill out a lot more […]

Elle Luna: The crossroads of should and must

This epic essay by Elle Luna was posted almost a year ago. I discovered it only today when Seth Godin linked to her new book that came from that essay. The book looks beautiful. Purchased. In this essay (and now in her book) Elle tells her story of finding her calling by resisting the path of Should […]

Walt Disney and the long, long game

I’ve referred to the long game previously, the perspective of considering the long arc of your story and a patient pursuit of an awesome life. In the two Walt Disney biographies I’ve been reading, I keep coming across an even longer perspective. Disney was driven by a vision of a future he knew he would never […]

Walt Disney, Steve Jobs, and plussing your life

I’ve been immersed in Walt Disney recently. I’m reading a biography which is giving me a better appreciation of the impact one dynamic person can have on an organization and ultimately on society. And then today I found this article linked from It’s a piece by Rolly Crump, a former Disney Imagineer who worked […]

Art & Fear: The ceramics class and quantity before quality

This story from the book Art & Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland popped up in a favorite technology blog yesterday: The ceramics teacher announced on opening day that he was dividing the class into two groups. All those on the left side of the studio, he said, would be graded solely on the quantity […]

Walt Disney’s vision and defying his father

I’m reading a biography of Walt Disney. Interestingly, Walt’s father did not exactly encourage his dreams. The author describes a conversation between father and son when Walt was in his late teens and just getting started on his career: “That evening after dinner, Walt’s father called him into the living room for a serious discussion. […]

The value of sharing your thinking

From Seth Godin today: There’s a lot to admire about the common-sense advice, “If you don’t have anything worth saying, don’t say anything.” On the other hand, one reason we often find ourselves with nothing much to say is that we’ve already decided that it’s safer and easier to say nothing. If you’ve fallen into […]

The sacred status of design at Apple

The New Yorker profile on Jony Ive I posted about yesterday is rich with detail about the primacy of design at the world’s most valuable company. It’s such a long feature it took reading it over two days for me to finish it. I’m struck by the near sacred status of design at Apple. The […]

The hardest thing

“The hardest thing is spending the most time on the most important things.” –Matt Mullenweg Mullenweg is the very young founder of WordPress (the home of this web site and many more). He said this in the most recent episode of The Tim Ferriss Show podcast when talking about his work and his company’s focus. […]

Balancing stock and flow

I just stumbled on this remarkable insight from the writer Robin Sloan who explains the economic terms “stock and flow” and relates them to the kinds of content we produce in this information age: “Flow is the feed. It’s the posts and the tweets. It’s the stream of daily and sub-daily updates that remind people that […]

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