34 Matching Annotations
  1. May 2022
    1. Character is not measured by a person’s beliefs but by the ability to see the full humanity of others. It is not automatic. It’s a skill acquired slowly. It’s about being able to focus on what’s going on in your own mind and simultaneously focus on what’s going on in another mind. It’s about learning how to minutely observe, absorb and resonate with other people’s emotions.

      Wow.

    2. Those leaders’ stated beliefs and sacred creeds had zero effect on their actual behavior, just as similar creeds and beliefs had zero effect on the Catholic bishops who behaved in much the same way when they learned of abuses years ago.How can there be such a chasm between what people “believe” and what they do? Don’t our beliefs matter?The fact is, moral behavior doesn’t start with having the right beliefs. Moral behavior starts with an act — the act of seeing the full humanity of other people. Moral behavior is not about having the right intellectual concepts in your head. It’s about seeing other people with the eyes of the heart, seeing them in their full experience, suffering with their full suffering, walking with them on their path. Morality starts with the quality of attention we cast upon another.

      This is sublime.

    1. THE MADMAN----Have you not heard of that madman who lit a lantern in the bright morning hours, ran to the market place, and cried incessantly: "I seek God! I seek God!"---As many of those who did not believe in God were standing around just then, he provoked much laughter. Has he got lost? asked one. Did he lose his way like a child? asked another. Or is he hiding? Is he afraid of us? Has he gone on a voyage? emigrated?---Thus they yelled and laughed The madman jumped into their midst and pierced them with his eyes. "Whither is God?" he cried; "I will tell you. We have killed him---you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. "How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it? There has never been a greater deed; and whoever is born after us---for the sake of this deed he will belong to a higher history than all history hitherto." Here the madman fell silent and looked again at his listeners; and they, too, were silent and stared at him in astonishment. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, and it broke into pieces and went out. "I have come too early," he said then; "my time is not yet. This tremendous event is still on its way, still wandering; it has not yet reached the ears of men. Lightning and thunder require time; the light of the stars requires time; deeds, though done, still require time to be seen and heard. This deed is still more distant from them than most distant stars---and yet they have done it themselves. It has been related further that on the same day the madman forced his way into several churches and there struck up his requiem aeternam deo. Led out and called to account, he is said always to have replied nothing but: "What after all are these churches now if they are not the tombs and sepulchers of God?" Source: Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science (1882, 1887) para. 125; Walter Kaufmann ed. (New York: Vintage, 1974), pp.181-82.]

      Famous snippet from Nietzsche.

    1. During an evening swim through big, slow swells, I floated on my back and peered across at San Francisco; the sun was sink­ing directly behind the city. All I could see was the water — dark, nearly black, the way it gets at that time of day — and the scal­loped top of the city’s sil­hou­ette, like a float­ing citadel. Atlantean, in that light. I had the thought, sim­ply: I’ve never looked at San Fran­cisco this way!

      Beautiful, lush description. Love this imagery.

    1. • About 99% of the time, the right time is right now. • No one is as impressed with your possessions as you are. • Dont ever work for someone you dont want to become. • Cultivate 12 people who love you, because they are worth more than 12 million people who like you. • Dont keep making the same mistakes; try to make new mistakes. • If you stop to listen to a musician or street performer for more than a minute, you owe them a dollar. • Anything you say before the word “but” does not count. • When you forgive others, they may not notice, but you will heal. Forgiveness is not something we do for others; it is a gift to ourselves. • Courtesy costs nothing. Lower the toilet seat after use. Let the people in the elevator exit before you enter. Return shopping carts to their designated areas. When you borrow something, return it better shape (filled up, cleaned) than when you got it. • Whenever there is an argument between two sides, find the third side. • Efficiency is highly overrated; Goofing off is highly underrated. Regularly scheduled sabbaths, sabbaticals, vacations, breaks, aimless walks and time off are essential for top performance of any kind. The best work ethic requires a good rest ethic. • When you lead, your real job is to create more leaders, not more followers. • Criticize in private, praise in public. • Life lessons will be presented to you in the order they are needed. Everything you need to master the lesson is within you. Once you have truly learned a lesson, you will be presented with the next one. If you are alive, that means you still have lessons to learn. • It is the duty of a student to get everything out of a teacher, and the duty of a teacher to get everything out of a student. • If winning becomes too important in a game, change the rules to make it more fun. Changing rules can become the new game. • Ask funders for money, and they’ll give you advice; but ask for advice and they’ll give you money. • Productivity is often a distraction. Don’t aim for better ways to get through your tasks as quickly as possible, rather aim for better tasks that you never want to stop doing. • Immediately pay what you owe to vendors, workers, contractors. They will go out of their way to work with you first next time. • The biggest lie we tell ourselves is “I dont need to write this down because I will remember it.” • Your growth as a conscious being is measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations you are willing to have. • Speak confidently as if you are right, but listen carefully as if you are wrong. • Handy measure: the distance between your fingertips of your outstretched arms at shoulder level is your height. • The consistency of your endeavors (exercise, companionship, work) is more important than the quantity. Nothing beats small things done every day, which is way more important than what you do occasionally. • Making art is not selfish; it’s for the rest of us. If you don’t do your thing, you are cheating us. • Never ask a woman if she is pregnant. Let her tell you if she is. • Three things you need: The ability to not give up something till it works, the ability to give up something that does not work, and the trust in other people to help you distinguish between the two. • When public speaking, pause frequently. Pause before you say something in a new way, pause after you have said something you believe is important, and pause as a relief to let listeners absorb details. • There is no such thing as being “on time.” You are either late or you are early. Your choice. • Ask anyone you admire: Their lucky breaks happened on a detour from their main goal. So embrace detours. Life is not a straight line for anyone. • The best way to get a correct answer on the internet is to post an obviously wrong answer and wait for someone to correct you. • You’ll get 10x better results by elevating good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior, especially in children and animals. • Spend as much time crafting the subject line of an email as the message itself because the subject line is often the only thing people read. • Don’t wait for the storm to pass; dance in the rain. • When checking references for a job applicant, employers may be reluctant or prohibited from saying anything negative, so leave or send a message that says, “Get back to me if you highly recommend this applicant as super great.” If they don’t reply take that as a negative. • Use a password manager: Safer, easier, better. • Half the skill of being educated is learning what you can ignore. • The advantage of a ridiculously ambitious goal is that it sets the bar very high so even in failure it may be a success measured by the ordinary. • A great way to understand yourself is to seriously reflect on everything you find irritating in others. • Keep all your things visible in a hotel room, not in drawers, and all gathered into one spot. That way you’ll never leave anything behind. If you need to have something like a charger off to the side, place a couple of other large items next to it, because you are less likely to leave 3 items behind than just one. • Denying or deflecting a compliment is rude. Accept it with thanks, even if you believe it is not deserved. • Always read the plaque next to the monument. • When you have some success, the feeling of being an imposter can be real. Who am I fooling? But when you create things that only you — with your unique talents and experience — can do, then you are absolutely not an imposter. You are the ordained. It is your duty to work on things that only you can do. • What you do on your bad days matters more than what you do on your good days. • Make stuff that is good for people to have. • When you open paint, even a tiny bit, it will always find its way to your clothes no matter how careful you are. Dress accordingly. • To keep young kids behaving on a car road trip, have a bag of their favorite candy and throw a piece out the window each time they misbehave. • You cannot get smart people to work extremely hard just for money. • When you don’t know how much to pay someone for a particular task, ask them “what would be fair” and their answer usually is. • 90% of everything is crap. If you think you don’t like opera, romance novels, TikTok, country music, vegan food, NFTs, keep trying to see if you can find the 10% that is not crap. • You will be judged on how well you treat those who can do nothing for you. • We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, and underestimate what we can achieve in a decade. Miraculous things can be accomplished if you give it ten years. A long game will compound small gains to overcome even big mistakes. • Thank a teacher who changed your life. • You cant reason someone out of a notion that they didn’t reason themselves into. • Your best job will be one that you were unqualified for because it stretches you. In fact only apply to jobs you are unqualified for. • Buy used books. They have the same words as the new ones. Also libraries. • You can be whatever you want, so be the person who ends meetings early. • A wise man said, “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?” At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?” At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?” • Take the stairs. • What you actually pay for something is at least twice the listed price because of the energy, time, money needed to set it up, learn, maintain, repair, and dispose of at the end. Not all prices appear on labels. Actual costs are 2x listed prices. • When you arrive at your room in a hotel, locate the emergency exits. It only takes a minute. • The only productive way to answer “what should I do now?” is to first tackle the question of “who should I become?” • Average returns sustained over an above-average period of time yield extraordinary results. Buy and hold. • It’s thrilling to be extremely polite to rude strangers. • It’s possible that a not-so smart person, who can communicate well, can do much better than a super smart person who can’t communicate well. That is good news because it is much easier to improve your communication skills than your intelligence. • Getting cheated occasionally is the small price for trusting the best of everyone, because when you trust the best in others, they generally treat you best. • Art is whatever you can get away with. • For the best results with your children, spend only half the money you think you should, but double the time with them. • Purchase the most recent tourist guidebook to your home town or region. You’ll learn a lot by playing the tourist once a year. • Dont wait in line to eat something famous. It is rarely worth the wait. • To rapidly reveal the true character of a person you just met, move them onto an abysmally slow internet connection. Observe. • Prescription for popular success: do something strange. Make a habit of your weird. • Be a pro. Back up your back up. Have at least one physical backup and one backup in the cloud. Have more than one of each. How much would you pay to retrieve all your data, photos, notes, if you lost them? Backups are cheap compared to regrets. • Dont believe everything you think you believe. • To signal an emergency, use the rule of three; 3 shouts, 3 horn blasts, or 3 whistles. • At a restaurant do you order what you know is great, or do you try something new? Do you make what you know will sell or try something new? Do you keep dating new folks or try to commit to someone you already met? The optimal balance for exploring new things vs exploiting them once found is: 1/3. Spend 1/3 of your time on exploring and 2/3 time on deepening. It is harder to devote time to exploring as you age because it seems unproductive, but aim for 1/3. • Actual great opportunities do not have “Great Opportunities” in the subject line. • When introduced to someone make eye contact and count to 4. You’ll both remember each other. • Take note if you find yourself wondering “Where is my good knife? Or, where is my good pen?” That means you have bad ones. Get rid of those. • When you are stuck, explain your problem to others. Often simply laying out a problem will present a solution. Make “explaining the problem” part of your troubleshooting process. • When buying a garden hose, an extension cord, or a ladder, get one substantially longer than you think you need. It’ll be the right size. • Dont bother fighting the old; just build the new. • Your group can achieve great things way beyond your means simply by showing people that they are appreciated. • When someone tells you about the peak year of human history, the period of time when things were good before things went downhill, it will always be the years of when they were 10 years old — which is the peak of any human’s existence. • You are as big as the things that make you angry. • When speaking to an audience it’s better to fix your gaze on a few people than to “spray” your gaze across the room. Your eyes telegraph to others whether you really believe what you are saying. • Habit is far more dependable than inspiration. Make progress by making habits. Dont focus on getting into shape. Focus on becoming the kind of person who never misses a workout. • When negotiating, dont aim for a bigger piece of the pie; aim to create a bigger pie. • If you repeated what you did today 365 more times will you be where you want to be next year? • You see only 2% of another person, and they see only 2% of you. Attune yourselves to the hidden 98%. • Your time and space are limited. Remove, give away, throw out things in your life that dont spark joy any longer in order to make room for those that do. • Our descendants will achieve things that will amaze us, yet a portion of what they will create could have been made with today’s materials and tools if we had had the imagination. Think bigger. • For a great payoff be especially curious about the things you are not interested in. • Focus on directions rather than destinations. Who knows their destiny? But maintain the right direction and you’ll arrive at where you want to go. • Every breakthrough is at first laughable and ridiculous. In fact if it did not start out laughable and ridiculous, it is not a breakthrough. • If you loan someone $20 and you never see them again because they are avoiding paying you back, that makes it worth $20. • Copying others is a good way to start. Copying yourself is a disappointing way to end. • The best time to negotiate your salary for a new job is the moment AFTER they say they want you, and not before. Then it becomes a game of chicken for each side to name an amount first, but it is to your advantage to get them to give a number before you do. • Rather than steering your life to avoid surprises, aim directly for them. • Dont purchase extra insurance if you are renting a car with a credit card. • If your opinions on one subject can be predicted from your opinions on another, you may be in the grip of an ideology. When you truly think for yourself your conclusions will not be predictable. • Aim to die broke. Give to your beneficiaries before you die; it’s more fun and useful. Spend it all. Your last check should go to the funeral home and it should bounce. • The chief prevention against getting old is to remain astonished.

      So much wisdom and stuff to think about here.

    1. Keller was the right man for a moment. To many, like me, it appears that moment has passed. That does not diminish my admiration for the important service Keller provided to the church in America for many years. My family and I wouldn’t be the same without him.

      This is really pathetic.

    2. Keller was extremely effective as a minister and public theologian in the neutral world. At the beginning of his time in New York, he spent years conducting sociological research by not only reading the best literature of the day, but also surveying residents in the city and hosting Q&A sessions after his sermons. The insights he gleaned from this work were foundational to his ministry. And partly as a result, he enjoyed years of extremely fruitful parish ministry and public writing. Is it too much to expect someone to conduct that same sort of research to adjust to a new moment at a late stage in life—especially when one has experienced as much success as Keller has?

      The past tense here is some brutal shade-throwing. Keller's model is still effective, present tense, and his legacy still holds healthy models on how to approach modern evangelism and ministry.

    3. And I started to recognize another danger to this approach: If we assume that winsomeness will gain a favorable hearing, when Christians consistently receive heated pushback, we will be tempted to think our convictions are the problem. If winsomeness is met with hostility, it is easy to wonder, “Are we in the wrong?” Thus the slide toward secular culture’s reasoning is greased. A “secular-friendly” politics has problems similar to “seeker-friendly” worship. An excessive concern to appeal to the unchurched is plagued by the accommodationist temptation. This is all the more a problem in the “negative world.”

      Here is abstracting "winsomeness" as an approach, instead of a core piece of our character. If we instead view ourselves as image-bearers of Christ with a whole character that is marked by grace and love, then we approach truth-telling and all disciplines with this approach. James is being much too pragmatic in his abstractions.

    4. During the 2016 election cycle, I still approached politics through the winsome model, and I realized that it was hardening me toward fellow believers. I was too concerned with how one’s vote might harm the “public witness” of the church, and I looked down upon those who voted differently than me—usually in a rightward direction. “Public witness” most often translates into appeasing those to one’s left, and distancing oneself from the deplorables. I didn’t like what this was doing to my heart and felt that it was clouding my political judgment. 

      This sounds like a personal problem.

    5. Keller’s apologetic model for politics was perfectly suited for the “neutral world.” But the “negative world” is a different place. Tough choices are increasingly before us, offense is unavoidable, and sides will need to be taken on very important issues. Recent events have proven that being winsome in this moment will not guarantee a favorable hearing. One important example came in 2017. When the Kuyper Center for Public Theology selected Keller as the recipient of the “Kuyper Prize for Excellence in Reformed Theology and Public Witness,” many students, faculty, and alumni of Princeton Theological Seminary (which is where the Kuyper Center holds its annual conference) protested. Though Keller had spent decades cultivating a thoughtful and compassionate approach to public witness, many simply could not abide Princeton honoring someone who transgresses progressive orthodoxies on sex and gender. The award was rescinded.

      The past 20 years were not really the "neutral" world.

    6. At that point, I began to observe that our politics and culture had changed. I began to feel differently about our surrounding secular culture, and noticed that its attitude toward Christianity was not what it once had been. Aaron Renn’s account represents well my thinking and the thinking of many: There was a “neutral world” roughly between 1994–2014 in which traditional Christianity was neither broadly supported nor opposed by the surrounding culture, but rather was viewed as an eccentric lifestyle option among many. However, that time is over. Now we live in the “negative world,” in which, according to Renn, Christian morality is expressly repudiated and traditional Christian views are perceived as undermining the social good. As I observed the attitude of our surrounding culture change, I was no longer so confident that the evangelistic framework I had gleaned from Keller would provide sufficient guidance for the cultural and political moment. A lot of former fanboys like me are coming to similar conclusions. The evangelistic desire to minimize offense to gain a hearing for the gospel can obscure what our political moment requires.

      There are so many assumptions baked into his model for if and how our country and politics have changed.

    1. The Sydney researchers were able to confirm this theory by analyzing dried blood samples taken from newborns who died from SIDS and other unknown causes. Each SIDS sample was then compared with blood taken from healthy babies. They found the activity of the enzyme butyrylcholinesterase (BChE) was significantly lower in babies who died of SIDS compared to living infants and other non-SIDS infant deaths. BChE plays a major role in the brain’s arousal pathway, explaining why SIDS typically occurs during sleep.

      Fascinating to learn what specifically is targeting SIDS.

  2. Apr 2022
    1. Design is hope made visible. You can live your life as the result of history and what came before, or you can live your life as the cause of what’s to come. You choose. When talent doesn’t hustle, hustle beats talent. But when talent hustles, watch out. When you work only for money, without any love for what you do in and of itself, your work will lack energy. People will feel that. So give every project everything you’ve got, at every moment, every time. A good philosopher will say: “Know thyself.” A good shopkeeper will say: “Know thy customer.” A good designer will say: “Know both.” Listen for when someone is dismissing your ambitions. Only the petty do that. Avoid them. Instead, seek out those much better than you; they’ll make you feel that you can achieve your dreams, as theirs are probably even larger. They’ll wave you on to the finish line. A brand is always answering two questions. The first one internally facing: What do we believe? The second, externally: How do we behave? You must remain authentic to yourself, your core values, and what you stand for. If you’re not, people will sniff you out. But your brand must maintain cultural congruence — remaining relevant to the times, always evolving to inspire people at large. The answers to these two curiosities must always be aligned. Find a way to connect every project to something much bigger: a higher order value, a truth, a courageous goal, or a larger question. Then, if your efforts start to lag or feel mundane, return to that larger ideal that inspired you in the first place. It works. Put this over your desk: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” Buckminster Fuller knew stuff. A good designer will help a company get to where they want to go. A great designer will push a company to where they should go. Are you going to tell a story? Then tell a big story. An enormous story. An epic story. Or tell no story at all. The role of creative leadership is to create more leaders — not more followers. This view is more uncommon than I’d like. I’ve learned that there are only two kinds of people: 1.) People who do exactly what they say they’ll do. 2.) People who are full of shit. Form follows fantasy. Every good idea comes from a spark of imagination, not pragmatism. Facts are important. But possibility creates futures. Never take an unpaid internship. Ever. It is unethical to be offered one, and in many places, it is illegal. But more importantly, what kind of people would refuse to pay you? Oh yeah, really shitty people. If you lose the desire to be silly, the power to laugh, and the ability to poke fun at yourself, you will lose the power to think. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy for one reason: It kills off his imagination. Stuck on a problem you can’t solve? Go bigger. Expand it. Make it giant. Do not try to contain it, or simplify it, or reduce it. Make it so large that you can begin to see a new pattern. Solve the larger problem and the smaller one will get solved along the way. Always begin in mythology. It’s good fuel. Fables and fantasy don’t age or grow stale for one reason: They are a step into a dimension beyond the reach of time itself. Build with them. When I turned 35, I shifted my desire to be happy to a desire to be useful. It made all the difference. There are only two kinds of leaders: 1.) Those in the engine room helping the crew shovel the coal. 2.) Those who sit on top of the train and wave at the crowds as they pass by. Learn from ad agencies. They say yes to everything, even when they can’t do it. But they try. Designers say no all too often: “Oh, no. We don’t do that!” That’s shortsighted. Instead, say yes to everything. But always add “yes…if.” Then define your terms. I was on a board with the esteemed educator Sir Ken Robinson. At one meeting where a pompous guest was droning on, he turned to me and whispered, “What we do for ourselves dies with us when we leave this planet. What we do for other people can live on forever.” The opposite of courage is not cowardice. The opposite of courage is conformity. Ubiquity = Invisibility. What we’re overly familiar with, what becomes common, we stop seeing. One function of design is to restore our perception, renew our understanding, and invite us to be more alert. Seek simplicity only on the far side of complexity. Do the work, the research, the understanding, and discover the unseen, surprising, unanticipated insight before you start crafting your solution. A celebrated designer I admire once said “Style = Fart.” I disagree. I believe “Style = Accuracy.” It gives focus and timely relevance to ideas. If you want to make people like things, work in advertising. If you want to make things people like, work in design. Both are valid ways to build a brand, but the second way pays off better in the long run. You can always pull a good story out of a successful product or service. You can’t always pull a good product out of a story. Hire gifted people your clients would never let in their front door. Give them influence. Clear the runway. Provide sandwiches. And stand back. When designers get overwhelmed we can retreat into passivity. We pull back. This gives us an illusion of control. The less we try, the less our chances to fail. We make it look like we’re not responsible for what happens to us. But never give up. Move in closer, instead. Try. Make a mistake. Apologize quickly. And keep trying. Never be boring. Be ridiculous. Absurd. But never be boring. (Yes, this rule will get you in trouble.) Push. Push harder. The goal is to make the complicated simple — not the other way around. The best ideas are often expressed as simple ideas. They’ll have power because they’ll feel inevitable. Looking backward from the end of a project, it will have the appearance of inevitability. But when you began, you had no idea you’d end up there. What dullards suggest at this point is dangerous: “This creative process is too messy and too complicated. It needs efficiency since this solution was so logical. We should apply more logic throughout the process!” That’s the beginning of the end of creativity. Resist this urge. It destroys spontaneity, originality, serendipity, and unintentionality, which is where the biggest ideas are waiting for you. Do you find yourself surrounded by people who whine that “clients don’t understand what we do”? Those people will never have good clients. A designer’s first job is to articulate the tangible value we bring to every situation. It’s not the clients’ job to try to guess it. Average designers hit the brakes when they feel fear. But when the talented get frightened, they hit the pedal, accelerate, and drive headlong into the unknown. I’ve taught students for 20 years. In that time I’ve seen self-confidence, persistence, and desire play a much larger role in growth and achievement than talent. Passive? Whining? Waiting for orders? You won’t get off the ground. Energized? Enthused? Curious? The sky’s your limit. If you want to teach design, first read “Teaching to Transgress” by bell hooks. Your whole mindset will change. If it doesn’t, please do not teach. Seeking mastery in design means being comfortable with making your own path. Forge the new road. Others will question it and doubt it. But that path will eventually come to fit your soul. It will not only lead you into deeper parts of your craft, but to hidden parts of yourself. There may come a time when someone publicly attacks you or your work. If that happens, remember this: Those who attack are the ones who fear you the most. They’ll suspect that your talents might be greater than theirs. They, in fact, become your most sincere believers. It’s a proof point when they start showing up. Watch for them. Then thank them when they arrive. “Always think with your stick forward.” Amelia Earhart painted that on her plane. She meant, I imagine, to seize the moment when it arrives. Refuel as necessary. Don’t wait for any damn kind of “inspiration.” Punch the throttle. Get back in the air. Keep flying. Are you at an agency that habitually recruits outside industry hotshots to lead instead of promoting potential hotshots from the ranks? Run. Now. It will never become what it wants to become. Separate talkers from doers. For someone to score an interview, I suggest a good book — on anything — to read in advance. “After you finish it, call me, and we’ll schedule some time.” 90% drop off. There are exceptions, but I hire from the remaining 10%. Be careful of doing too much work that copies the people you admire. Start out that way to see what feels right. But aim to seek what they were seeking instead of doing what they were doing. Stay away from people who confuse pomposity for profundity. Articulate incompetency is contagious. When you’re out-gunned, out-staffed, and out-equipped in a competition, what are the things you’ve got left to use? Kindness and imagination. When someone disagrees with you, do not defend yourself. Instead, listen. Ask them to explain, validate their concern, expand on it, and affirm their point of view. Only then will anyone listen to anything you have to say. I wish someone had told me this in my teens. We don’t create fantasy worlds to escape reality. We create them so we can better see, understand, and reshape reality. Seek ambition. Hire character. Train talent. When I hear the word “iterate” more than three times in three minutes, I fear there will be a Post-It® fiesta within three minutes. Fair warning. A story is not just a tale of conflict. It can be a well of shared values. If you shift the story people tell about themselves and their communities, you can not only shift those people, you can shift an entire culture. Build a library for yourself, and read John Milton. He had profound respect for books and human thought. “For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.” A better definition about the sanctity of books was never written. Notice someone doing something cruel for the first time? Never wait for a second time. Address it fast, or cut them out. Either way, do not “wait and see.” It leaves you and your team vulnerable. What they showed you is who they are. Move fast. Mastery is not gained from intellect. Mastery is not gained from talent. Mastery is not gained from ambition. Mastery is only gained from time and focus applied to your craft over many, many years. Do not conflate it with fame. Try absolutely everything. Then try it all again. And then, one more time. Accept compliments gracefully. Treat flatterers with suspicion. Listen to your complainers and cynics — not because you might learn from them, but because they secretly care. Design ain’t what the thing looks like. Design is what the thing does. Smartphoning has supplanted daydreaming. Fixated on our little, lit-up screens, dusty old thoughts no longer slip out of our brains as easily, so no new, silly, absurd thoughts slip back in. And all good ideas start out as silly, absurd thoughts. Turn off your phone. Daydream. Fart around. Ponder. Let something odd fly in that’s floating around, hoping for an open mind to land in. If an idea doesn’t scare you in some way, it’s not really a good idea. A strong, sincere voice is like a clear bell—when rung, it travels far, across fields, mountains, and rivers. Ring it. And teach others to. Ignore those who tell you to “only focus on your strengths.” Nonsense. Your strengths never go. Build them, hone them, and add muscle to them. But also focus on what you need to move into new and larger worlds. Become a shocking triple threat, not just a shiny, one-trick pony. Failures are not always mistakes. It just might have been the best you could do at that point. Okay, fine. Apologize quickly. The real failure is to beat yourself up and not take the opportunity to learn. Never hire people for “cultural fit.” What a pernicious term. Instead, hire insanely talented people for their “cultural contribution.” For how unique they are. For why they are different from you. For what they will add that you do not have. People who use the word “lifestyle” don’t have one. Big agency order of importance: Clients –> Work –> People. Ours: People –> Work –> The client’s customers –> Clients. It’s easy. Good people do good work that customers love so clients succeed. T’was ever thus. Don’t work with clients to help them become the best. Work with clients to help them become the only. Hire Tigger. Never Eeyore. Surround yourself with optimists. They will build futures into existence. Read a good book every week. After a year your brain will be fueled like a rocket and your mind will naturally start going to new places, connecting new ideas, and thinking in ways you never have before. Never create and edit at the same time. Get all the sloppy, ugly roughs and first drafts out. Quantity is more important than quality at the start. Mess is more. All ideas are bad ideas. They only become good through craft and love. Clients want you to succeed like crazy. That’s why they hired you. Show them how. That’s your damn job. Do it. We perceive through images. We think in metaphors. We learn by stories. We create with fantasy. When you find yourself on the horns of a dilemma, always do the honest thing. This will shock people. And you’ll come out better, anyway. Perhaps. Maybe. Possibly. Someday. These are among the most damaging words a creative person can use. Lose them. Everybody starts out with good intentions. Not everybody finishes with them. This has been the most painful thing I’ve ever learned. People already know what advice they need to hear. They just need to hear it told to them by someone else. There is no such thing as “The Future.” There is only and always “The Futures“—and they are all in competition with each other, fighting for dominance. Which future will you feed? When asked for a definition of “brand,” I use this: A brand is a promise performed consistently over time. It’s held up for a while now. Brands are mentors of things to come. The best ones anticipate, create, and move us into tomorrow. Companies are no longer in competition with each other. They are—we all are—in competition with the future itself. The era of human-centered design is now gone. Our existence was never human-centered, anyway. Covid-19 proved that to be nonsense. It’s time for environment-centered. Not sustainability. Regeneration Design where we create not apart from Nature but as a part of Nature. It is never about winning. It is never about losing. It is only about contributing. It is only about learning. I’m tired of talks from “designers” who never design anything beyond their keynotes. I’m tired of talks from “entrepreneurs” who never build anything beyond themselves. I’m tired of talks from “thought leaders” who lead nothing but the perpetuation of their own fame. When you submit a fee for your work, someone will always ask, “Is this negotiable?” Answer with this: “Yes. Up.” In the end, it’ll not be what you took. It’ll be what you gave away. Do not worry about your competition. You’re not in competition with them anymore. You’re only in competition with the future itself. So don’t look over your shoulder. Look two, three, five years down the road and invent backward from there. Design is the bridge that gets us from where we are to where we should be. It is future-making. And it’s our job to get our clients into the best futures for themselves as quickly and effectively as possible. Skip the whole “Minimal Viable Product” thing. It leads to incrementalism. Try “Maximum Fucking Love.” It leads to something that someone else might actually care about. Be aware that every choice you make comes down to two options: Feeding grievance or creating hope. In the end, it is that simple. The era of problem-solving is gone. It’s too reactive in a world where the future arrives too fast. Designers must now be problem seekers, finding and anticipating problems before they arrive on our desks, because at that point, it’s already too late. We must now all build bridges, not walls. The rest is detail. Design Thinking gives a definition of romantic expression as found in timely historical contexts. Design says: “I’ll be upstairs.” In first creative presentations, to ensure your creative work has time and space to land, ban all of the devil’s advocates from the room before you show a thing. Then say this: “We are here to create something new. New ideas can be fragile because they are unfamiliar. You may not like something you see here, but you are not allowed to say that for now. We’ll have to edit and remove some of this work later, but for now, everything will be in play. So find something, anything, you like in every idea. A color. A word. An image. A sentence. Anything. In the end, we find what we look for. And today we are going to look for the new.” In the end, there are only two key questions the world asks of us: 1.) Who are you? 2.) Where are you going? These questions are the same ones we ask our clients. The first is about authenticity; the second is about relevance. Asking them will keep the world wide open in front of you. Whether you like it or not, your brand’s story already exists, so you should manage it as you would any other powerful company asset. After your product, your means to deliver it, and your audience, your story will be the most potent tool you have to build with. Be very. For a very long time, it took a very long time for anything to change. If you found an answer that worked, you could count on it being the answer for ages. But those days are over. Being an answer is not the answer. Or even an option. Unless, of course, you’re very curious. Or very focused. Very gay. Very straight. Very caring. Very prickly. Very visual. Very verbal. Very brash. Very funny. Very heady. Very anything. Everyone at COLLINS is very something. If I took any lessons from Ogilvy, it was these two: 1) Think bigger. And then, think bigger still. 2) Take every chance while you can. Grab them. And go all in. You never know if they’ll ever come again. Experience. Don’t observe. Inhale. Don’t read. Transfigure. Don’t shift. Advocate. Don’t ponder. Prove. Don’t promise. Encourage. Don’t cut. Imagine. Don’t worry. Do. Don’t analyze. Hear. Don’t listen. Show. Don’t tell. Give. Don’t take. Design is not what we make. Design is what we make possible.

      Some great design principles and wisdom.

    1. The importance of this sequence can not be overstated: In living systems the whole generates the parts. The parts do not exist a priori. In each step of this process we can see that both wholes and parts come from existing wholes. They are not constructed in the usual sense—they are not manufactured. They are synthesized via an unbroken chain of wholes, extending back to the beginning.

      When you consider this chain of wholes creating wholes, it really is interesting when overlayed with Christian theology of Creation in Genesis 1:1, God being the first and prime Whole; Trinitarian completeness.

    2. We are very used to thinking of wholes as composed by parts. That is, a whole is generated by gathering the necessary parts (which, crucially, already exist) and putting them together in some way such that a thing is made from the parts. This is the essence of manufacturing. In this view, wholes are “built up” from parts. The logic is recursive: the parts are themselves manufactured in an analogous way. But the modern mind misses that in the organic and living unfolding of the world, wholes are generated by and out of other wholes, and the parts we observe are very often descended from the elaboration and internal differentiation of a whole whose existence precedes them. Consider the embryonic development of a multicellular organism. It proceeds first by an existing whole (a “parent”) generating another whole (a “child”), then by the growth of that whole and concomitant internal differentiation into parts—sub-wholes that descend from and are synthesized by the whole.

      This is a mind-blown consideration when it comes to the relationships between parts and wholes.

    1. Whatever else Christianity is, it is an assertion of historic fact. The New Testament invites us to examine the evidence. Its claim of a bodily resurrection was as strange and impossible — as Updike says, “monstrous” — when it was first made 2,000 years ago as it is now.It would be so much more acceptable if Easter were merely a ritual communicating religious ideals, teaching us to cultivate the better angels of our nature. But if Easter is only an abstraction, it doesn’t mean much to me. I’m with the Apostle Paul who wrote and the billions of Christians around the world who profess, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile.” If Jesus wasn’t actually resurrected, then Easter is less real than the budding buzz of spring, less real than a dying breath, less real than my own hands, feet and skin. I have no interest in a Christianity that isn’t deeply, profoundly, irreducibly material.

      The materiality of the Christian doctrine of resurrection is powerful in ways that we haven't even begun to comprehend.

    2. Updike is pushing back on an idea that became ascendant among mainline Protestant churches around the turn of the 20th century and still exists in some places: that belief in a bodily resurrection is incompatible with modern science, technology and medicine. But many who rejected the literal Resurrection of Jesus wanted to maintain some kind of Christian identity, so the story of Christ rising from the dead was recast as a purely spiritual event or a metaphor, not strictly, materially true. In contrast, Updike almost roars: “Let us not mock God with metaphor.”

      There is a duality in this thinking, it forces us to reckon with reality and not try to explain it away.

    3. Updike’s poem, which he wrote in 1960 for an arts contest at his church (he won), is beloved by many, myself included. It tells the reader that the Resurrection is not a parable, not an event to mark the rebirth of spring. Easter is no tamed observance that respectable modern people can fit neatly into our sensibilities. The force of its claims must be reckoned with, yet their content can never be accepted in a purely philosophical materialist view of the world.

      Love the push against philosophical materialism.

    1. A paradox: People are more connected now than ever — through phones, social media, Zoom and such — yet loneliness continues to rise. Among the most digitally connected, teenagers and young adults, loneliness nearly doubled in prevalence between 2012 and 2018, coinciding with the explosion in social media use.AdvertisementContinue reading the main storyFour years ago, the British government appointed a minister of loneliness to address growing concerns among the public. One town set up “Happy to Chat” benches, with signs reading “Sit here if you don’t mind someone stopping to say hello.” The model has proved popular and spread around England and to Canada and Poland. In the United States, the health care system has focused on social isolation in older adults but been slower to address loneliness as a broad public health problem.Yet there are interventions that can help, Dr. Cacioppo said.“For years people thought the best thing you could do for a lonely person is to give them support,” she said. “Actually, we found that it’s about receiving and also giving back. So the best thing you can do for someone who is lonely is not to give them help but ask them for help. So you give them a sense of worth and a chance to be altruistic. Even if we’re getting the best care, we still feel lonely if we can’t give something back. The care is extremely valuable but it’s not enough.”She also suggested a regular practice of gratitude and altruism, both of which counter a mind-set of seeing others as threats.But real remedies to the problem of loneliness, Dr. Murthy stressed, must address not just the lonely people but the culture making them lonely.“We ask people to exercise and eat a healthy diet and take their medications,” he said. “But if we truly want to be healthy, happy and fulfilled as a society, we have to restructure our lives around people. Right now our lives are centered around work.”From the surgeon general of the United States, this is a moonshot call, to reverse cultural patterns that are decades in the making and that profit some of the nation’s biggest businesses.AdvertisementContinue reading the main storyRobert Putnam, in his 2000 book “Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community,” charted a steady erosion of social ties dating back to 1950.

      This paradox needs to be addressed head-on if we want to make progress toward eroding loneliness.

    2. Loneliness, as defined by mental health professionals, is a gap between the level of connectedness that you want and what you have. It is not the same as social isolation, which is codified in the social sciences as a measure of a person’s contacts. Loneliness is a subjective feeling. People can have a lot of contact and still be lonely, or be perfectly content by themselves.

      This definition makes lots of sense but also makes loneliness hard to explain or quantify.

    1. This is the "existentialism" that Kierkegaard is considered the founder of

      This is interesting! I wonder how existentialism morphed over time.

    2. The only way to live in this painful existence is through faith. But to Kierkegaard, faith is not a mental conviction about doctrine, nor positive religious feelings, but a passionate commitment to God in the face of uncertainty. Faith is a risk (the "leap of faith"), an adventure that requires the denial of oneself. To choose faith is what brings authentic human existence.

      This feels like the core tension of Kierkegaard: it acknowledges the pain of existence, denies rationalism's ability to "get us there" and ends with the conclusion that "commitment to God in the face of uncertainty" is the honest truth that we must all face.

    1. It made me wonder: as a futurist/futures researcher, what could my morning routine be like to prepare me for the day? Thinking through my meetings and working sessions and preparing whatever I can, which would mostly be writing notes?Reading trend stuff on the topics, I’m currently working on?Doing a theory session to advance the methods and approaches I plan to use throughout the day?Doing a classic braindump/750 words kinda session to empty out my brain and make space for fresh thinking?Go for a run or a workout because it helps most with energy and focus?

      These questions are great framing for how to think about approach early work every day.

    1. People frequently1 think that I'm very stupid. I don't find this surprising, since I don't mind if other people think I'm stupid, which means that I don't adjust my behavior to avoid seeming stupid, which results in people thinking that I'm stupid. Although there are some downsides to people thinking that I'm stupid, e.g., failing interviews where the interviewer very clearly thought I was stupid, I think that, overall, the upsides of being willing to look stupid have greatly outweighed the downsides. I don't know why this one example sticks in my head but, for me, the most memorable example of other people thinking that I'm stupid was from college. I've had numerous instances where more people thought I was stupid and also where people thought the depths of my stupidity was greater, but this one was really memorable for me. Back in college, there was one group of folks that, for whatever reason, stood out to me as people who really didn't understand the class material. When they talked, they said things that didn't make any sense, they were struggling in the classes and barely passing, etc. I don't remember any direct interactions but, one day, a friend of mine who also knew them remarked to me, "did you know [that group] thinks you're really dumb?". I found that interesting and asked why. It turned out the reason was that I asked really stupid sounding questions. In particular, it's often the case that there's a seemingly obvious but actually incorrect reason something is true, a slightly less obvious reason the thing seems untrue, and then a subtle and complex reason that the thing is actually true2. I would regularly figure out that the seemingly obvious reason was wrong and then ask a question to try to understand the subtler reason, which sounded stupid to someone who thought the seemingly obvious reason was correct or thought that the refutation to the obvious but incorrect reason meant that the thing was untrue. The benefit from asking a stupid sounding question is small in most particular instances, but the compounding benefit over time is quite large and I've observed that people who are willing to ask dumb questions and think "stupid thoughts" end up understanding things much more deeply over time. Conversely, when I look at people who have a very deep understanding of topics, many of them frequently ask naive sounding questions and continue to apply one of the techniques that got them a deep understanding in the first place.

      I love this unexpected insight from annoyingly asking questions that might make us look stupid.

    1. America, too, needs a redemption narrative, a shared story for the America being born in our time. Perhaps the Exodus from Egypt, once deemed so dangerous that it had to be excised from some Bibles, will awaken our moral imagination as we strive to write a new story for this nation. I still believe that together we can build a redeemed society. A multiracial democracy, rooted in equal justice that defends the dignity of every person and strives to embody the great, age-old vision of collective liberation.

      Powerful.

    2. This version of the text, gutted of that central narrative, was designed to fulfill a two-part objective: to introduce enslaved people to Christianity and to preserve the system of slavery. The problem was that the Exodus story — bearing the promise of freedom over slavery, dignity over degradation — is powerful and dangerous. The slaveholders were surely concerned that enslaved people would see themselves in the Israelite struggle for liberation, that they would find strength in God’s identification with the oppressed and be inspired by the triumph of faith over even one of the strongest regimes of the ancient world. They may have feared that this story would plant the seeds of possibility, if not the seeds of rebellion.

      This is awful and heartless.

    1. Type 2 fun is miserable while it’s happening, but fun in retrospect. It usually begins with the best intentions, and then things get carried away. Riding your bicycle across the country. Doing an ultramarathon. Working out till you puke, and, usually, ice and alpine climbing. Also surely familiar to mothers, at least during childbirth and the dreaded teenage years. I remember that very trip to Alaska, just a week before learning about the Fun Scale, when Scott and I climbed Mt. Huntington. Huntington might be the most beautiful mountain in the Alaska Range, but the final thousand feet was horrifying—steep sugar snow that collapsed beneath our feet as we battled upward, unable to down-climb, and unable to find protection or anchors. On the summit, with the immaculate expanse of the range unfolding in every direction, Scott turned to me and said, in complete seriousness, “I want my mom so bad right now.” By the time we reached Talkeetna his tune changed: “Ya know, that wasn’t so bad. What should we try next year?”

      This deeply resonates with me. Love the classification of Type II fun.

    1. An experiment that could confirm the fifth state of matter in the universe—and change physics as we know it—has been published in a new paper from the University of Portsmouth. googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display('div-gpt-ad-1449240174198-2'); }); Physicist Dr. Melvin Vopson has already published research suggesting that information has mass and that all elementary particles, the smallest known building blocks of the universe, store information about themselves, similar to the way humans have DNA. Now, he has designed an experiment—which if proved correct—means he will have discovered that information is the fifth form of matter, alongside solid, liquid, gas and plasma. Dr. Vopson said: "This would be a eureka moment because it would change physics as we know it and expand our understanding of the universe. But it wouldn't conflict with any of the existing laws of physics. "It doesn't contradict quantum mechanics, electrodynamics, thermodynamics or classical mechanics. All it does is complement physics with something new and incredibly exciting." Dr. Vopson's previous research suggests that information is the fundamental building block of the universe and has physical mass. He even claims that information could be the elusive dark matter that makes up almost a third of the universe. He said: "If we assume that information is physical and has mass, and that elementary particles have a DNA of information about themselves, how can we prove it? My latest paper is about putting these theories to the test so they can be taken seriously by the scientific community." Dr. Vopson's experiment proposes how to detect and measure the information in an elementary particle by using particle-antiparticle collision. He said: "The information in an electron is 22 million times smaller than the mass of it, but we can measure the information content by erasing it. "We know that when you collide a particle of matter with a particle of antimatter, they annihilate each other. And the information from the particle has to go somewhere when it's annihilated." The annihilation process converts all the remaining mass of the particles into energy, typically gamma photons. Any particles containing information are converted into low-energy infrared photons. In the study Dr. Vopson predicts the exact energy of the infrared photons resulting from erasing the information. Dr. Vopson believes his work could demonstrate that information is a key component of everything in the universe and a new field of physics research could emerge.

      This idea of information having mass and the properties of other elementary principles is fascinating. Also the tie-ins to dark matter is really, really mind-bending.

    1. The Hori key enters a Hori lock in such a way as to affirm your suspicion that every key you’ve ever inserted into every lock throughout your entire life was a sham. A false combination — jittery, sticky, imprecise. You realize how badly cut, forged by shoddy means, all the keys you own currently are. Using this Hori key and lock combination is similar to how you might have felt the first time you ever touched a masterfully finished piece of wood — shock at that glassy smoothness you didn’t think could be brought out from the material. The key enters. Within perfectly milled chambers, the driver pins — attenuated by precisely tensioned springs — push against the key pins as the key slides forward in the keyway. The driver pins align to a dead-straight shear line and you feel the key settle with a satisfaction of a meticulously-measured thing spooning its Platonic opposite. Then you twist. The movement of the bolt away from the frame is so smooth — the door having been hung by some god of carpentry with the accuracy of a proton collision path — that you gasp, actually gasp, at the mechanism.

      I love the visceral way Craig Mod describes these Hori key/lock mechanisms. Makes me want to go out and buy one.

    1. Taking a census every 10 years is better than never taking it, but in the future, say in 100 years, a census should be taken every day. We are perfectly capable of counting all people all the time. Everyone born should have an immovable ID from birth. One based on all the things we base our identity on: from our DNA, to our family ties, to what we look like, to our behavior. Some of those things change a little over time, but together all of them create the web of our identity. We can track this web in real time. We are technically capable of it. Some people will not want to be tracked every day, and that is fine. We don’t need a political census on a daily change. That is to say, we don’t need to count everyone every day. Even if we checked on whether someone was still alive every week, that is all we really need to know, and maybe even more information than we need for political purposes. The important point is we can count people any time we needed to, if we can easily identify them. We know how to do that now. So in 100 years, waiting till every decade to count people will seem very archaic.

      Just because we can doesn't mean we should.

    1. If you want to understand how Tesla can become the most valuable car company in the world without needing to spend a dime on advertising, while its competitors futilely buy Superbowl ads, or why 170,000 people pilgrimage annually to Dreamforce for the opportunity to be sold Salesforce products, the answer is that the founders of these companies have created a movement. Obviously, it couldn’t happen if they didn’t also make great products, but marketing is the amplifier of all their other efforts. If sales is like hand-to-hand combat, great marketing is like having an air force.There is a playbook for this. I call it Movement Marketing. It is also known as “earned marketing” because you can’t just buy it, you have to earn it. Unlike paid campaigns, there is no formula for ROI. Earned marketing is about brand, messaging, press, influencers, content — all the things that define who you are. This is undeniably crucial, but since the metrics are hard to quantify, founders often have trouble with it.

      Fascinating to see how brands have carved out this earned marketing space.

    1. One of the many reasons my wife and I want to plant a church is because it is the very place to foster such virtues and practices! The church gathers to announce that even in the midst of feeling disoriented, demotivated, discouraged, and disembodied, God has not abandoned us. In a season that is marked by so much death and distance, we confess our need for an in-breaking of the Spirit. My hope for the umms is that our love for and wonder of the triune God will not grow stagnant—and that in years to come, we will yet be able to testify, “Great is Thy faithfulness.”

      This is incredibly beautiful.

    2. Each Sunday I awake with a longing to gather around song, Scripture, and sacrament. Most of those mornings my wife and I walk to the nursing home to celebrate the Eucharist with a faithful but forgotten few. This year my wife and I want to plant a church in Chicagoland, but many weeks I am left wondering, Where do we fit in? Recently, I was lamenting this season with a friend. He echoed my sentiment, “I’m also floating without a church—it isn’t ideal, just the way it is.” Our exchange wasn’t significant, just two friends consoling each other through ecclesial purgatory. Later that week, I heard similar thoughts repeated by my neighbors who are new parents. Again, this sentiment was echoed by a friend who works at a large Christian nonprofit. Over text messages and phone calls, my old roommate and my denominational executive repeated a similar status. But what really caught my attention is when I heard my students and colleagues at Northern Seminary describe themselves and their congregants in much the same way. All expressed a strong commitment to Jesus and a desire to be part of the church, but they are not active in a local congregation. This growing segment of believers is what I am labeling the “umms.”

      I'm wondering what underlying issue it at play here that is causing this widespread disconnect.

    1. Allows you to break down ideas into smaller parts, and re-combine them as needed

      A great primer on Intermediate packets