Influence

If you could take a look inside my brain, this is what you’d find:

Books

Some books I’ve read or am reading.

2020

Up next

Reading lists I reference:

Why I read

One of my favorite quotes is, “If I have seen farther than others, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants” by Sir Issac Newton.

Books allow me to stand “on the shoulders of giants.”

How I read

I started to love reading once I found books I couldn’t put down. My goal is not to finish a book, it is to simply read. When I get bored I move to something else. Eventually, I finish a book. Sometimes, I don’t.


Blogs

The following blogs produce the highest quality content consistently. 


Podcasts

The following podcasts produce the highest quality content consistently. I learn best by listening, connecting ideas, then teaching. 

…see the rest on Breaker


People

Some people I learn from.

…see the rest on Twitter


Questions I like to ask myself

I ask myself these questions to recalibrate in times of high or low emotion.

  • “If I love myself truly and deeply, would I let myself experience this?” – From Love Yourself by Kamal Ravikant
  • “How have I been complicit in creating the conditions I say I don’t want?” – From Jerry Colonna
  • Will I care about this tomorrow? In 5 years? In 10 years?
  • What am I not seeing? Why can’t I see it?
  • What conversation am I avoiding?
  • Why?

Note to self

Guiding principles. Adopted from a multitude of sources.

  • Be present.
  • Be grateful.
  • All conflict is internal conflict.
  • Communication is hard.
  • Life is a single-player game.
  • Happiness is the moment when you feel nothing is missing.
  • Do things with less emotion.
  • Independent thinking starts with independent learning.
  • Being busy isn’t the same as being productive.
  • Do things you love with people you enjoy being around.

Career Advice

Most applicable to ambitious young people interested in technology.


Quotes

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

by Howard Thurman

Motivation is at least as important as method for the serious thinker, Shockley believed…the essential element for successful work in any field was “the will to think”. This was a phrase he learned from the nuclear physicist Enrico Fermi and never forgot. “In these four words,” Shockley wrote later, “[Fermi] distilled the essence of a very significant insight: A competent thinker will be reluctant to commit himself to the effort that tedious and precise thinking demands — he will lack ‘the will to think’ — unless he has the conviction that something worthwhile will be done with the results of his efforts.” The discipline of competent thinking is important throughout life…

by William Shockley

“People don’t want to do new things if they think they’re going to be bad at them or people are going to laugh at them. You have to be willing to subject yourself to failure, to be bad, to fall on your head and do it again, and try stuff that you’ve never done in order to be the best you can be.”

by Laird Hamilton

“But what a path it has been! I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. But it was right that it should be so; my eyes and heart acclaim it. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace, to hear Om again, to sleep deeply again and to awaken refreshed again. I had to become a fool again in order to find Atman in myself. I had to sin in order to live again. Whither will my path lead me? This path is stupid, it goes in spirals, perhaps in circles, but whichever way it goes, I will follow it.”

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

“I would beg of you to listen to what I have to say, freeing yourself for this hour at least from the background in which you have been brought up, with its traditions and prejudices, and think simply and directly about the many human problems. “

“To have this profound revolution, you must become fully conscious of the structure which you have created about yourself and in which you are now caught. That is, we have now certain values, ideals, beliefs, which act as a net to hold the mind, and by questioning and understanding all their significance, we shall realize how they have come into existence. Before you can act fully and truly, you must know the prison in which you are living, how it has been created; and in examining it without any self-defense you will find out for yourself its true significance, which no other can convey to you. Through your own awakening of intelligence, through your own suffering, you will discover the manner of true fulfillment.

by Jiddu Krishnamurthi

“We’re born alone, we live alone, we die alone. Only through our love and friendship can we create the illusion for the moment that we’re not alone.”

by Orson Welles

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

by Ira Glass

“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his commitment to excellence regardless of what he is doing and leaves it to others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both.”

by Lawrence Pearsall Jacks

The dynamic of friendship is almost always underestimated as a constant force in human life: a diminishing circle of friends is the first terrible diagnostic of a life in deep trouble: of overwork, of too much emphasis on a professional identity, of forgetting who will be there when our armored personalities run into the inevitable natural disasters and vulnerabilities found in even the most average existence.

[…]

But no matter the medicinal virtues of being a true friend or sustaining a long close relationship with another, the ultimate touchstone of friendship is not improvement, neither of the other nor of the self; the ultimate touchstone is witness, the privilege of having been seen by someone and the equal privilege of being granted the sight of the essence of another, to have walked with them and to have believed in them, and sometimes just to have accompanied them for however brief a span, on a journey impossible to accomplish alone.”

by David Whyte

Loneliness is essential to being human. Each of us comes into the world and eventually realizes that we are a separate person, alone. We travel through life alone and ultimately we die alone. Acknowledging and accepting this on a conscious level, and learning how to live our lives with some degree of grace and satisfaction is the human condition. Thus we all have some degree of existential loneliness. In this respect it is a ‘natural state’.

The Happy Philospher

Videos

These videos impacted me.

On artificial consciousness and the nature of reality


On belief

On mental models

On the science of success

On design

On the link between emotions and decisions

On the craft of writing

On the Art of Doing Science & Engineering, Learning How to Learn by Richard Hamming

This is Water by David Foster Wallace

On getting out of the ‘rat race’

On “Data Handlers” by Richard Feynman

On grit

On learning how to learn with Josh Waitzkin, Adam Robinson and Dr. Leah Lagos

On marketing by Steve Jobs

On careers by Bill Gurley

On product design by Jack Dorsey

Conor McGregor: How I used the law of attraction to visualize my success into reality

On enjoying the craft by Jack Dorsey

On design by Virgil Abloh

On ideas by Alex Cornell

On thinking in systems by Bret Victor

Inventing on principle by Bret Victor

On Dr. Dre’s belief in Eminem

On Pharell’s belief in Kanye

“I’m a product guy” — Kanye West

The evolution of teaching art by Sadie Valeri

On Climate Change by Jeremy Grantham

The relationship between: technology, truth, deception, detection by Josh Wolfe

If by Rudyard Kipling

On the worthlessness of degrees

A short film made by friends