"It is often what is immutable that ends up defining us."
- Andrew Solomon
Better in the context of the radio interview… but wanted to get it down before I forgot. Most famous for The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, he also wrote a book on Soviet artists during glasnost. Just my kind of writer… happy discovery for the day
In 1978, Soviet geologists prospecting in the wilds of Siberia discovered a family of six, lost in the taiga
Read it read it read it. This article is so beautiful.
Recently, Mark Zuckerberg addressed a large auditorium of young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. He shared lessons from his journey and his perspective on the state of the internet industry. Every seat was taken, and the 20-somethings who aspired to entrepreneurial greatness were listening with rapt attention.
According to my friend who relayed this story, there were two older folks in the front row who stood out: John Doerr and Ron Conway. They are both legendary investors in Silicon Valley.
They stood out not just because their gray hair shimmered in the sea of youth around them, but because they were the only people in the audience taking notes.
Isn’t it funny, my friend told me, that arguably the two most successful people in the room after Zuckerberg were also the only two people taking notes?
As I wrote in the excerpts from the Five Elements of Effective Thinking, experts understand simple things deeply. They return to the basics, over and over again. eBay CEO John Donahoe is widely regarded as one of the premier execs in the Valley right now and I’m told is an avid note-taker to boot. He recently said on LinkedIn, “Great leaders are never too proud to learn.”
You could argue people have different approaches to capturing nuggets of wisdom and committing those nuggets to memory. Sure. But I’m skeptical of passive learning. If you don’t write down what you’re hearing and learning, what the odds you remember it? I take lots of notes in paper mole skin notebooks; every week or so I go back with a different color pen and circle the key sentences; I then transfer these ideas to Evernote files on my computer; and finally, I blog/tweet/publish/email out the crispest, most important ideas or quotes. And this is nothing compared to Tim Ferriss’s extreme “take notes like an alpha geek” system, which is worth learning about.
You might argue people like John Doerr and Ron Conway are old school. Most young folks today, you’d say, aren’t going to be using pen and paper in the first place. Fine. The actual technology/process is not as important as having a repository, and preferably having a system that reinforces retention.
I thought about this broader idea the other month when I visited the University of Washington business school the other month. I was giving the keynote talk in the afternoon, but I set my alarm clock early to catch the morning keynote from my friend Charlie Songhurst. I know from personal experiences that Charlie is unusually insightful. As he delivered his keynote to the MBAs in the audience I noticed something peculiar: almost no one was taking notes–on paper or on tablet or computer. Well, I was. A few other people were. But most weren’t. There was plenty to write down, to be sure. It was an insightful talk. What gives? My theory: The audience was mostly students. Experts — or those who have deconstructed what experts do — take notes. Novices don’t see the point.
I read a lot of articles every day. Most of the time it’s weird fluff pieces that stick with me (eg. this three-year-old nytimes article on the “caveman diet” that I still bring up in conversations - don’t ask me why), but on rare occasions I’ll read something that actually changes my behavior or the way I look at the world. I’ve been avidly taking notes on almost everything I’ve read or watched for the last two months, and it has been incredibly helpful for organizing my thoughts and for information retention. Note-taking forces a sort of “conscious consumption” of the barrage of information available.
Known for his words of constant affirmation, Issa had seen his mother die when he was 2, his first son die, his father contract typhoid fever, his next son and a beloved daughter die.
He knew that suffering was a fact of life, he might have been saying in his short verse; he knew that impermanence is our home and loss the law of the world. But how could he not wish, when his 1-year-old daughter contracted smallpox, and expired, that it be otherwise?
[…] you could be strong enough to witness suffering, and yet human enough not to pretend to be master of it. Sometimes it’s those things we least understand that deserve our deepest trust. Isn’t that what love and wonder tell us, too?
I am not a big fan of quotes (a brief ding of “oh that’s so true” goes off in your head, you click the like button and then you forget and go on about your day) but it was interesting that this quote came up in a discussion about entrepreneurship.
We spend so much of adolescence trying to fit it, trying not to be too different and then we spend most of adulthood trying to find ourselves and not be other people. Hm.
Astrophysicist Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson was asked by a reader of TIME magazine, “What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe?” This is his answer.