Archives For August 2013

 

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With August at a close, here’s a look back at the ideas I permitted a brief interlude with that squishy matter between my ears.

A few years ago I was routinely knocking out ten books a month. And while I was getting good at parroting back the thoughts of so many authors, I wasn’t creating many of my own. So I’ve cut back, raising the bar on what material gets access to this impressionable brain of mine. The quantity has dropped dramatically, but those books that make the cut tend to be there to help me learn something from someone that understands it much better than I. Yeah, it’s kind of an attempt at a learning hack…I stack several books on similar topics over a matter of weeks, then step back and try to digest them.

This month it was:

Start Something That Matters by Blake Mycoskie the founder and CEO of TOMS shoes. These stories are absolute brain candy, and I can’t get enough of them. I love the feel-good narratives of dude getting a brilliant insight, leaning hard into his idea, and sitting on the top of the corporate world as a result. I suspend disbelief about all the hairy details they leave out, happy to get lost in the flow of a well-spun tale! Continue Reading…

My Nagging Pile

My Nagging Pile

We gave up our subscription to the NY Times Sunday paper a couple years ago when our second daughter came around. To be honest, we should have canceled after having our first child. But we clung tight to the nostalgia of lounging decadent in bed deep into the weekend morning, sipping coffee to the crinkly rhythms of bending, folding, and straightening the newsprint. Even with one child our mornings began much earlier and never offered the leisure of settling into idle pleasures.

And so, as we chased little Clara around the house on Sunday mornings, those fat volumes of newspaper accumulated in an unread tower of information gathering dust in the corner of our bedroom. We wanted to read them. We yearned to read them! But the delight of lazy reading was turning into a nagging sense of obligation, seeming ever-taller each time we shuffled across our bedroom carpet. We might pound through a section late at night after putting our daughter to bed, but by then it felt like more of a clean-up chore than an act of relaxation. And the pile inevitably grew faster than we could shrink it.

So we canceled our subscription and tossed out all the back issues.

When my friend Josh offered me a complimentary copy of the NY Times Magazine this week, I shared it with my wife and we both confessed an immediate swell of envy. He has two kids like us, we thought, how does he keep up with the Sunday Times?! The universe seemed unjust. Continue Reading…

Genius Vonnegut Heller

Flickr Photo by midniteboom. Used under creative commons license.

Joe Heller  

True story, Word of Honor:
Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer
now dead,
and I were at a party given by a billionaire
on Shelter Island.

I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel
to know that our host only yesterday
may have made more money
than your novel ‘Catch-22’
has earned in its entire history?”
And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”
And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”
And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”
Not bad! Rest in peace!”

–Kurt Vonnegut

The New Yorker, May 16th, 2005 (1)

I heard that poem last week listening to an audio book on my drive home from the Pennsylvania mountains. How liberating, I thought, to have a sense of enough. There is freedom in being content.

The quote knocked on my mind’s door once again this morning. I’ve begun a book by Muhammad Yunnus, the nobel laureate founder of Grameen Bank and self-labeled “banker to the poor.” He describes microcredit – the practice he pioneered, offering collateral-free loans as little as 30 or 40 bucks a piece – as a force for lifting people out of poverty; for giving them the means to sustain themselves with a livelihood. This brief line stuck with me:

“Access to capital, even on a tiny scale, can have transforming effect on human lives.” (2)

Continue Reading…