Separate

According to a 2009 study, people are apparently less motivated to execute on plans that they announce to others. 

This finding applies to people whose intentions have a direct contribution to how they want to be perceived and the identity they’ve associated themselves with. 

For example, a writer may say that she wants to write a novel and after announcing it, may feel less motivated to actually complete it. 

The paper concludes that: “When other people take notice of one’s identity-relevant behavioral intentions, one’s performance of the intended behaviors is compromised”.

I’ve experienced this as a writer.

I have a couple of novels sitting unfinished. One that’s finished but unedited. These are the ones I’ve told people about. 

Then there are other things that I don’t talk about until I’ve finished — like the short story that I finished in a night. It was a submission for an anthology that I didn’t think I’d have time to submit to because of a tight deadline. Somehow, I found the energy after midnight to finish it. 

But there are other things I work on that seem to progress faster when I tell people about them. Now that I’ve said it, I have to do it, I think to myself. 

Is it because I don’t think of these as tied in to my personal identity? Could this perhaps be the trick to motivating oneself? To be separate?

Tomorrow

In yesterday’s Daily Stoic email, I read a beautiful story about an old man called Ken Watson who  bought 14 years of presents for his two-year-old neighbour. 

You see, he’d told her that he would die at 100 but when it looked like he wasn’t going to, he bought the gifts so that she’d still get a present every year. He died at 87. 

This particular issue of the newsletter calls for us to think about what we are doing today to make the world a better place in the years to come, for those that will come after us. 

It highlights an old Greek proverb: “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” 

“While Marcus Aurelius and Seneca took pains to discourage chasing legacy or posthumous fame, they did believe it was the philosopher’s duty to serve the common good—to contribute to the Roman Empire in a way that would allow it to stand for future generations,” goes the newsletter. 

It goes on to remind us that while we can only live in the present, we must do so in a way that doesn’t bring about detrimental results for our children and their children.

Music

I’ve been doing the activities in Learning Music by Ableton since last night. What a fun way to learn about music and how to create it digitally. 

It’s my current replacement for Piano Genie for in-between work breaks. 

After playing around with the Learning Music course, I decided to find out more about Ableton. Turns out, their core business is software for creating music. 

What a great content marketing idea. There are some things I think good content should have, things that make them shareable. 

#1 It provides value. 

I’ve never actually tried to make music digitally and although I play the piano, there are other areas of music that I’ve never explored eg. drum parts. It gave me a simple way to learn more about something that I’m already interested in.  

#2 It’s fun. 

I’ve already spent more time on it than I intended to. I’ve always been a fan of sound and being able to create my own sounds was a joy. At one point, I was even listening to the beats I’d created while working. 

#3 It has a takeaway option.

Throughout the lessons, you’re given the chance to create your own music and you’re given a very convenient option to download the piece you’ve made. 

However, if you want to open the file, you need to download Ableton’s software. 

The great thing about this is that you don’t have to buy straightaway; you’re given a 30-day trial. As a business, this trial is another chance to show even more value, prevent churn and promote retention. 

I don’t work in music, but I’m already a fan. 

Listen

I’m socially awkward and thus, find myself reading quite a bit on how to have and hold engaging conversations.

In a recent article I read, titled “3 counterintuitive ways to excel in conversation”, Ozan Varol provides three tips for having better conversations. 

Although you’d think that excelling at conversation might mean talking better, telling stories etc, in the article, all three points boil down to one thing — listening. 

“The best conversationalists listen,” writes Varol. And they don’t just listen. They practice listening with “the goal of summarising and highlighting what the other person said”. 

In other words, they practice active listening. They make their conversation partner “feel heard”. 

They say “these three magic words” — tell me more. And they are unafraid to look ignorant; they ask questions that may “seem dumb”. 

“The secret of the best conversationalists isn’t conviction. It’s curiosity,” writes Varol. 

Many of the articles I’ve read say similar things in different words. And whenever I have conversations in which I feel I’ve said too much, I always come away feeling like I could have done better. 

(Does that mean that the other person wasn’t really listening either?)

I’ve also realised that the best conversations I’ve had are ones where I feel like I’ve delivered value, either by listening or providing opinions informed by what the other person has said. 

Everything boils down to listening. 

Purpose

For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about building a separate website to act as my personal homepage. (I’ll probably have to add this to my In Progress website.) 

Considering the fact that I’m unemployable, and constantly working on a range of projects, keeping my CV updated has been a struggle. 

On the other hand, I’m a fan of keeping most of my projects under wraps.

However, Chris Shiftlett — in an article on 99u — argues that having a personal website is “good for you”. 

“The best time to make a personal website is 20 years ago. The second best time to make a personal website is now,” he writes at the start of the article. 

He adds that “longevity matters”. 

“Those who have had a personal website for many years are more likely to have a strong reputation, a large audience, and a trustworthy identity (not to mention strong search results for their name),” he says. 

His article also goes into the how of setting up one’s personal website and the first point is: Define the purpose of your site

This is one thing that I always come back to — even when creating content. 

Whether it’s coming up with a design or setting up a social media channel or writing a blog post, I usually recommend my clients to think about audience and purpose, before even starting work (they don’t always listen). 

I guess it’s a question I need to be asking myself as well. 

Noshings #1

I read quite a lot of articles on a daily basis (usually getting them straight in my email inbox). 

While I sometimes write blog posts about the ones that have really spoken to me, there are others that leave me with thoughts that I haven’t fully formulated or verbalised yet. 

Besides these, there are other articles that I find interesting, that I might want to share, but don’t have much commentary on. 

So I thought I’d try to do a bit of a round-up (maybe a regular one) of interesting things that I’ve read that I may want to come back to at a later point. 

For example, this 2018 post on how “most software engineering is plumbing” is a thought-provoking one. 

This Poynter article on how to pitch your podcast successfully in a newsroom, is also a great guide for pitching a podcast to any kind of business that wants to produce content. It can also be used when planning out your own podcast. 

Here’s another article on how to say no, which I’ll definitely need to come back to. As well as one about how to be your own business coach

This one in The Hustle about how computer programming is so yesterday, and the new in is genetic programming. 

So each of these round-up posts will be an eclectic mix of articles, but I’ll try to cap it at five links, as well as find some way to organise them. 

Personality

I’ve just discovered a tool that lets you generate a face. Called 100,000 Faces, I can already see myself using this for alter ego profile photos. 

I read about this from a newsletter that I’ve subscribed to for years — Kyle Chayka Industries — and in this same issue of his newsletter, he writes about the “algocult” and about how some of us may have developed a digitised version of ourselves. 

I think it’s safe to say that most of what we post online is a version of ourselves, and doesn’t give a full picture of who we really are in real life. But what a fascinating way to put it! 

From his newsletter, I also discovered Descript — another tool for podcasting. Like Sound Trap, it allows you to edit audio by editing text. 

They also have a feature called Overdub, which lets you create a voice for the words you’ve typed out. 

With tools like these, one would be able to create a “person” that only exists digitally, that can be used for a host of purposes. 

This is one of the reasons I love newsletters. 

I’ve learned that if I subscribe to the right ones, they are an amazing way to stay up-to-date, gain new ideas and figure out solutions to problems that I may be grappling with.