Around 2003, I published a small site sharing short views of culture, technology, and society by minds who were all smarter than me. The site had a short life, but the persistently curious reader and observer in me, now much older but just as hungry, wants to revive it and continue sharing.
Contact me to share your own ideas and comments.
“Being immersed in the commercial world constrains the mind, limiting it to conventional, acceptable thought; it is hard to close a sale if we pause in the proceedings to meditate at length about a man’s relation to the cosmos.” Terrific book on aging well and gracefully with purpose, through the ruminations of an old man dawdling through the timeless philosophy of the wise.
“Of all ridiculous things, the most ridiculous seems to me, to be busy – to be a man who is brisk about his food and his work.” Busy, in other words, is a decision … you don’t find the time to do things, you make the time to do things.
“Intelligence analysts should be self-conscious about their reasoning processes. They should think about how they make judgments and reach conclusions, not just about the judgments and conclusions themselves…” more >>
“The best remedy to anger is delay. For men are no beasts, who know no more how to be angry than they know how to pardon.”
Like these two brothers and many visitors to the Plum Village, I came, in 2016, with no expectations and no prior knowledge of the place, the people, or its practice. I did come armed with questions and brought a couple of books by Thich Nhat Hanh, renowned Zen master and Buddhist. After a month practicing silent meditation, I came away transformed … more >>
Charles Dickens, Henri Poincaré, Ingmar Bergman and Charles Darwin working in disparate fields in different times, all shared a high passion, ambition and capacity to focus, yet only worked a few hours a day. How did they manage to be so accomplished? more >>
Napoleon Bonaparte was said to have studied all the great wars before his time, those of Hannibal, Alexander the Great and others, so completely and intently that he was able to intuit coup d’oeil – the right strategy at the right opportunity – to earn his many victories in the battlefield. more >>
“Any type of change is hard, but institutional change – with the need to overcome tradition and bureaucracy – is the most difficult.” How father of modern oceanography Matthew Fontaine Maury mastered geographical, wind and sea data, and transformed maritime exploration… more >>
“You’ll have to work twice as hard to get half as much. So get busy,” says a mom to a 10 year-old Marty Chavez after complaining that he was the only Hispanic kid in a private school in New Mexico. Chavez is now Goldman Sach’s incoming CFO after years at the firm and as a serial tech entrepreneur… more >>
“The deep learning and AI sector have heated up in labor markets to relatively unprecedented levels. Large companies are recently paying $6–10 million per engineer for talent acquisitions, and $4–5M per head for pre-product startups still in academia …” more >>
“Our family lives in over-scheduled [team-sports] suburbia. Sometimes it feels downright dystopian. If you live in the suburbs [in the US], participation in team sports seems to be all the social activity on offer…” more >>
“The study of law can be disappointing at times, a matter of applying narrow rules and arcane procedure to an uncooperative reality. But the law is also a memory; the law records a long-running conversation, a nation arguing with its conscience.”
-Barack Obama in Dreams from My Father. You can get the book on Amazon.
“Choosing whom to commit ourselves to [or stay married with] is merely a case of identifying which particular variety of suffering we would most like to sacrifice ourselves for.” A short pep talk attempting to help modern couples live with the dilemma of needing closeness and freedom at the same time – from one of my favorite contemporary philosophers Alain de Botton.
“This world is made out of sugar. It can crumble so easily, but don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.” Sarah Kay writes, reads, and performs poetry for diverse audiences. I love her body of work.
Azeem Azhar talks with Professor Jeff Zachs, an authority on economic development and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. Good conversation covering a wide range of topics: AI, wealth inequality, automation and ethics by Aristotle, who is one of my favorite philosophers. Soundcloud link (46 minutes)
“Paying attention is the only thing that guarantees insight. It is the only real weapon we have against power.” Michelle Dean, a writer in the New Yorker and New York Times, on why paying attention is a moral obligation.
“Social media has also effectively turned us all into publishers. Each time you like a Facebook post, your connections become a new audience. And it has your implicit signature of approval.” We’re all collectively responsible for the fake news phenomenon – Twitter, Facebook and Google can’t solve it alone; restrictive regulation, censorship or “AI-directed safe spaces” may result – so let us all think before we click.
Taylor’s Gift is a story of hope and courage in the face of tragedy. My dearest sister, who knows I love reading, gave it to me as a holiday gift to console me over the recent losses of our brother and our beloved dog. Thirteen-year old Taylor Storch lost her life in a skiing accident and the book tells the harrowing journey her surviving parents and family went afterwards. Taylor’s foundation now functions to preserve her legacy. You can get the book on Amazon.
The art of any deal is really the art of its next deal. “When we fail to consider the future consequences of mistreating our counter-parties in a current ‘deal’ or first phase, it can wind up leaving our “reputational cue ball” ill-positioned for the next shot—the next deal or phase to come down the pike.” Via Charles Munger, Poor Charlie’s Almanack, and Shane Parrish on the four types of relationships.
Caterina Fake writes about literature, poetry, social justice and the arts on her site at caterina.net. I’ve been following her work and writings since 2000, around the time she launched her site and years before she became more well-known for founding Flickr (acquired by Yahoo), and Hunch (acquired and shut down by eBay). Over 118 thousand followers on Twitter and a Fast Company’s Fast 50 awardee.
Avinash Kaushik at Occam’s Razor is a main go-to resource for me on analytics and the data sciences. His blog is (and books are) written in very simple, plain English, and are easy to read, in honor of the former Franciscan friar William of Occam who above all valued principles of economy and simplicity.
Gary Vaynerchuk may hate me if I described him as my main go-to “motivational speaker” because in reality who he is, what he’s done with his work and Vayner Media defy one singularly apt description. Entrepreneur, social media expert, digital media baron, businessman, mentor, hyper-energetic speaker, the list could be endless #AskGaryVee. Over 1,400,000 followers on Twitter. Here’s a sample video of one motivating talk.
Azeem Azhar covers Exponential View gives a weekly “tour” of how technology is changing business models, society, politics and the economy. I make room in my schedule once a week to at least listen to and reflect on his podcasts on Soundcloud. He has over 15,000 subscribers and 17,000 followers on Twitter.
Perhaps Nouriel “Dr. Doom” Roubini does not deserve his nom de guerre, but he correctly predicted many of the events in the last Great Recession in 2008. I am one of his over 425,000 followers on Twitter and a subscriber to his Economonitor site.
Robert Solomon’s “Building Trust in Business, Relationships and Life” often makes for dense, philosophical reading but is worth the effort once you get through it. Trust is a big deal – wars in history were often rooted in mistrust, and today our most important economic resource is credit, which is a form of trust in the future. You can get the book on Amazon.
Albert Meige on why in 2033, you will be “transferring,” i.e. selling your services to the highest bidder, unless you’re among the unlucky 90% who will not possess the right skills or education to be working. Mr. Meige runs Presans, an “open innovation” crowdsourced platform linking 5 million industry experts in business and strategy. 18-minute video.
Yuval Harari’s “Sapiens – A Brief History of Humankind“ is the singular best book I’ve read in years. It’s a sweeping meditation and analysis of the Cognitive, Agricultural and Scientific revolutions that continue to shape humanity, questioning along the way our notions of human exceptionalism. Barack Obama and Bill Gates also like the book. You can get it on Amazon.
Wikistrat crowdsourced consulting’s analytic community of over 2,200 diverse and interdisciplinary subject matter experts on geopolitics, strategy and economics is the future of management consulting. Its roster of over 500 PhDs and 125 former military officers, and simulation-driven methodology offer a compelling alternative to McKinsey or Deloitte.
Daniel Kahneman’s book on Thinking Fast and Slow is a very readable, non-technical purview of our mind’s often systematic thinking errors and how they are mainly due to “errors in the machinery of cognition (ie. biases, heuristics) rather than to the corruption of thought by emotion.” Terrific book on understanding your own mental systems, as well as a “must-read” at the CIA. You can get it on Amazon.
Bill Gates’ list of books is on my virtual book shelf. I am often either consuming or planning to read one of the books he has read and recommends. Mr. Gates, founder of Microsoft and the Gates Foundation, has over 30 million followers on Twitter and is perennially on the Forbes list of billionaires.
John Brockman’s The Edge is my go-to resource for answers to “questions on the edge of knowledge,” a never-ending source of stimulating discourse from brilliant minds. Mr. Brockman, the son of a former flower seller, has nearly 50,000 followers on Twitter and many contributors to his annual questions, such as this one posted in 2008 on what have you changed your mind about and why?
James Clear writes about “behavioral psychology, habit formation, and performance improvement.” I’m one of over 350,000 subscribers to his weekly newsletter and consumer of his simple but good content on mental systems. His article on four burners theory is a favorite of mine.
Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings ,”a subjective lens on what matters in the world and why,” is my go-to resource for meditations on design, philosophy, and psychology. Ms. Popova was a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree and in Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative in Business list.
Benedict Evans at Andreessen Horowitz is my main resource for “what’s going on and what will happen next” in artificial intelligence, mobile and technology. He has over 70,000 subscribers and 190,000 followers on Twitter.
Shane Parrish’s Farnam Street blog is my go-to resource for “making better decisions, creating new ideas, and avoiding stupid errors.” He has over 500,000 subscribers and is a big fan of Buffett and Munger as I am.
“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers,” former Harvard president and educator Charles William Elliot once said. If you like history, biographies or philosophy, thanks to Anubhab Tyagi’s work, you can read over 950 books for free.