Morning, funksters. I’m trusting your weekend was extraordinary. If not, why not? You know where the comments are and I’m excited to find out.
What’s been happening?
As it turns out, quite a lot.
And it’s mum’s birthday today so I baked a Guinness cake.
That’s supposed to be the head of a pint of stout. In cake and icing form.
I’d make an awful bartender.
I’ve been thinking for a while how I can add my voice to the cacophony around storytelling. I had this half-baked idea a while ago called Storyselling. It didn’t go further than my brain. I’m relieved.
But while I have some time to myself, I’ve decided to start an audacious project to help anyone seize story and transform their own narrative. To support colleagues, customers and their companies.
It’s called #Storytelling100. 100 weekdays from 2 August 2021.
It’s all safely stored in Obsidian. That’s my new notetaking app of choice. I probably mentioned it before. Now it’s also available on mobile, it’s complete. Everything I need. I just need to be more organised around using it every day.
But all the stuff I need to tell you is there. And I’ll outpour in days and weeks to come.
Right now, you need a break from me.
Thank you for all that you do and are. And as always, I’m here when you need me.
Because information. Simply, there’s way too much of it.
We need a break (beat - that’s a seamless segue to what’s coming a little later on).
Curation is in our hands. As much as we can consume, so we can cleave our way through the noise. To find a signal. And to bask in what it is we need. What we need to succeed.
If you don't find immense joy in everything you read and watch, and the people you call friends, you're dancing to the wrong tune.
📚 Read if it's making your mind moist. 📽 Watch if it's making you think. 🤼 Hang around people making you smile.
💝 None of us have enough breaths and heartbeats left. 💰 Invest them in the delightful.
Can’t break this beat
I’ve always been fascinated learning directly from those at the top of their game. Somewhat serendipitously during a trawl into a throwaway line in Brad Horowitz’s What You Do Is Who You Are, a literary study of modern corporate culture, I discovered hip hop visionary Lenny Roberts and through that name, his producer partner Breakbeat Lou.
This video gives you a glimpse into the great man’s work and his approach to getting on his A game.
Sometimes you come across someone who takes great delight in their mastery. Without even considering their gift to the world, of simply being who they are. That’s why I relish Breakbeat Lou. And why you, too, can be an unassuming master. Just by focusing on deliberate practice…
I didn't do Art GCSE, so I could justify diagrams like this.
When you start learning anything, typically you'll be aspiring to autonomy. That stage where what you're doing feels instinctive - invisible, even. You do it without a second thought.
But the true masters aspire to deliberate practice beyond that third stage of learning.
Once you've got cognitive and associative learning out the way - the basics, and layering up with some experience in the form - you need to always focus on technique, constant feedback, and longer-term goals.
This is why some people aspire to be advanced motorists. Why javelinists don't just stop when people start oohing them on the school sports field. And why Gareth Southgate is the best coach England ever had.
The more you know, the less you know. Keep a beginner's mind and you'll keep improving. Forever.
Unsurprisingly, I'm at the cognitive stage of my Google Drawings learning.
Remote working - where do you stand?
In March 2020 when Boris told the nation to stay at home, terror and panic was in the air at my last workplace.
This loss of control. Not having colleagues within earshot. Senior management simply couldn’t take it. Here was a huge trust issue that had been simmering for years. Now the pot was boiling over, and it was all too evident that there were a multitude of issues way beyond instituting a remote working policy.
I’ve always believed that when you hire people with the right mindset, you can put them anywhere and they’ll thrive.
I also understand that young colleagues need the most mentoring, and therefore remote working is not their perfect environment to thrive.
What the pandemic has taught us is that there needs to be a better way to work than being sat in a distant office when you could do a perfectly good - probably better - job closer to, or in, your home.
Commuting is abhorrent. Aside from the environmental impact, it’s two hours of our day stolen away.
I’ve seen some illusions in my time but I don’t feel like I’ve properly seen this one. Genuinely, how are these cubes not moving? This isn’t illusion. This is MAGIC.
Need for speed
I hate buying a book then discovering it’s trash. Not only because I loathe the wasting of money. But because often the author has tried quite hard and you feel some empathy with them for the time invested in it.
So I’ve decided to learn how to read with speed.
I’ve tried a few of those lousy courses. And then I hit upon a great book - Speed Reading with the Right Brain. I heartily recommend it simply because this endorses a comprehension-first approach to quickening your devouring of books.
I can’t be arsed with affiliate links - so here’s an entirely unmasked link to the buying of this great book on Amazon:
We’re having a bit of a switchabout here on the newsletter.
I’ve been pondering for a while how I can toy with the format and give you what you deserve.
Which is way more than I can give. So we’re in a rut. But it’s a good rut. I’m climbing out now, all soggy but determined to give you my best. And hope that you’ll be content settling for 90% of what you deserve.
The manifesto for the future of this newsletter is thus:
How to human
I’m gonna let the rest unfurl below. Practicing what I’m preaching.
What’s below is a melange of what I’d proposed to put out this weekend, with a few accoutrements for good measure.
Including Mondaze - the new production bringing motivation to your Monday.
On the show we talked about a dissolving pacemaker, solar panelled cycleway in the middle of a frickin South Korean motorway (and a rubbish version in the Netherlands, where typically everything is gilded and perfect), and why - yup, you got the hint - we should just get on with being ourselves because everyone is winging it.
The Saturday sermon
We've all struggled to find answers to some of life's biggest challenges.
It's not enough that we have the world of information in our hand.
More than often what we need isn't out there. It's in here.
My greatest lesson is teaching.
Talking out what I think I know.
Finding out that I didn't. Which helps me figure out what needs more work to form a more abundant, clear picture of the world.
Staying curious. Reading widely. Meeting people who are your complete opposite.
Bringing your best self is how you thrive and progress. Doesn't even have to be completing the task in hand. You'll be ready for that. We all work at a different cadence and when we do our best work differs. This is why it's so hard for knowledge workers to fit into a 9-5 rhythm.
Find your inner charisma. Whether or not that means you're the naturally silent type, or someone more gregarious. What's important is that you're the most authentic you. The rest is easy.
I've been doing a lot of charity work lately - plenty of capacity in the schedule. Volunteering is great. Especially in the great outdoors. But you can do it anytime, anywhere. I'm a massive fan of the Media Trust. Go check them out if you're in the creative sector and want to do your bit for a good cause.
Nielsen Norman have just published some super useful social media research. Post 5 to 8 times per week, experiment with interactive features like carousels and that. And be explicit with your contextually-relevant CTAs. Also, not related to NN - use the word 'abysmal' more if you want people to get the message that something is truly lousy.
Easy on the eyes
I've been reading some great books lately. One is a relic - The Timeless Way of Building. I'm using Obsidian as ever to pull together my notes on that. Essentially it's a philosophical approach to creating purposeful and meaningful spaces. Hunt it down. It has loads of amazing lessons in it for everyone, not just architects.
I'm also hearting Worst Idea Ever, a funny chicklit book from Jane Fallon. Definitely on the recommend list. Haven't enjoyed a fiction book this much since The Silent Patient.
Rice, rice, baby
My last suggestion is to get your fried rice game on. I’ve been struggling the longest time to separate the grains. Now I have the secret.
Cook in boiling water for 3 minutes
put in strainer. Cover with foil. Pop over boiling water, lid, and steam for 10 minutes.
Wait 5 minutes then spread out on plate for fried rice.
The full MO is here. Alex is a fab French cook - do him a solid and get scouring his back catalogue.
You’ll remember him from the jungle
I’m just getting ready to check out the all-new livestream from Iain Lee and Katherine Boyle. They’re the YouTube saviours no one knew they needed.
But somehow we do. And I recommend you at least subscribe to them, if not join the Patreon gang and their games.
You are immense
I also want you to give yourself a huge pat on the back. For being amazing. Whatever you do. It's recognised. Appreciated. So go, you!
Greetings! It’s so good having you here. Smell that bread? Glorious. I’d like to get to know you and your fantasies a little better. So if you’re just stopping by and haven’t yet become a fully-fledged member of the club, subscribe. It costs nowt and the benefits are staggering*.
Humpday’s here. From nowhere. Woke up this morning convinced it was Monday and won’t you just look at that - it’s already halfway to the weekend.
You must have been working hard. Only the good get the great. And now we’re all sharing the spoils. There’s no better feeling than coursing towards another couple of days’ freedom. And a couple days closer to the end of Euro 2020. Yup, not a fan. And it does tend to disrupt schedules. Still, look on the bright side - it’s Love Island next week!
Although if Japan gets its way, you could be looking at an even better break. Fancy a three-day weekend? It could be on the cards.
With accelerating time comes an abbreviation of output. Rumours for decades we’re living in a simulation. I can’t think of any other way it’s now, at about 11am on Monday.
How do we grab time as it flies by? We need to adjust our schedules. Four-day workweeks are just one way. Just Walk Out is another. Imagine being able to open your store 24/7 without staffing it. It’s already happening in the US’ Midwest. Pay $50 a year - similar to Costco - and you get a key. Let yourself in, do your shopping - at 3am. A bit like staying at a B&B and using the honesty bar, except walking out with soapy suds, veg for the chilli, and a hollow sense of missing the chance to talk to people in a world that’s missing human touch more than ever.
Ready, steady… bake! I tried my hand again this week at shokupan. I’ve been looking for a loaf sitting between a regular sandwich and a full-on, greedy brioche. Shokupan is a Japanese bread that floats on air but provides a pretty decent steed for fillings. I asked my friend Nigella Lawson for her favourite shokupan recipe and it delivered on all counts. Second time around I decided - accidentally - to add in the tangzhong (flour and water slurry) midway through the mixing process, rather than the beginning when it should be infused. Cue a rather exciting Something About Mary moment as the roux brew flew everywhere…
What can you do with a kilobyte? Play a mean game of chess. Kilobyte Gambit packs quite the punch on the chequered board. Tried beating it a dozen times. Lost - 12 times.
Brouhaha over Amazon’s ‘destroy’ policy for many of its returned items. The etailer denies it sends goods to landfill sites. ITV trailed its trucks and disputed the claim. Wonder how long it’ll be until Amazon completely denies anything happens outside its distribution centres, blaming robots for taking over.
The magnificent Dave Trott told a great tale about a racing driver able to win a race after his engine malfunctioned - by knowing everyone else’s job.
As you know, in my other life I rather enjoy helping people and their companies to ace content strategy and copywriting.
I was delighed to finally be accepted by LinkedIn as a Live broadcaster. So I quickly set about producing some workshops.
If you run a business or work in a marketing team and struggle with creating content that converts customers, or need someone to review your website or apps to make them work harder, you know where I am.
Thack of the bus
From hereonin this newsletter has a new identity. It reflects the rowdy, rebellious nature of our creator-driven world - and my place in it.
I’m happy to be persuaded that’s not a good name. It won’t take much.
One more thing…
Anyone got experience applying to register a trade mark?
Love you. See you soon. And don’t forget to tell me whether you like this stuff or whether like that oven with the shokupan inside, I should have turned it off earlier…
Also, if you want to jump on my podcast and share a story or tell a tale - I’m always up for that. I want you.
Non-parents don’t get maternity or paternity leave. Or child benefit. Or the benefit of friends cooing over stuff we made. I know this to be true after building a Billy bookcase and urging my pals to do some oohing and aahing over the metallic precision of my screwing action. Crickets.
Us single-tone puritans don’t even get an awareness day recognising our non-compliance with convention. Which I think is an outright disgrace.
So I set one up.
You have to tread carefully with anything that’s a little delicate, when you’re renowned for having the indelicacy of a recently-castrated bull in a ball pond full of #FathersDay celebrants.
There are always outliers. Unfortunates who couldn’t play their part in conception, for example. Who ironically are the ones who typically don’t demur when real talk is on of fatherhood. There’s a rentamob for everything.
But I firmly believe that like me there are millions of adult boys who made a conscientious decision not to play their part in kidding up. In much the same way as people are increasingly choosing to get married later, so when they inevitably get divorced it doesn’t look as bad as if it had happened at 23 if they’d followed antiquated government guidelines for when to get hitched.
The reasons for not half-arsedly getting into parenthood are abundantly clear.
World population is already at a terrifying rate without your help.
China has now essentially said EVERYONE PLEASE GO GUNG-HO IN THE SACK BECAUSE WE’RE A DYING NATION OF PEOPLE AND WE NEED TO CRUSH BIDEN.
And I don’t know if you’ve noticed lately but we have exactly the same fields - probably less, because of housing needs (don’t get me revved up) and people setting fire to shit either purposefully or accidentally. We can only genetically modify crops so fast, so inevitably we ain’t gonna have an oversupply of foodstuffs anytime soon and millions and MILLIONS of people are still going hungry.
Being magnanimous by not continuing your family tree should be championed. But childless couples are often ostracised by deluded, never dry-eyed mummies at every social occasion and through their now termly photo of little Lucinda stood by the front door in her jumper that positively sparkles with ambition and the hint of imminent social media torture for its owner’s snaggletooth which should be adorable but is seen as a vehicle for bullying opportunity for thickheaded teens.
I’m not bemoaning mums and dads. I have it on good authority that you wouldn’t be reading this newsletter without the existence of such a babymaking kit.
But cut the rest of us a bit of slack. You’ll thank us one day. #NotFathersDay would be a start, trumpeting our selflessness by rubbering up.
Talking about safety nets…
On today’s show at the top of this newsletter I went on a bit about not shying away from experimentation and opportunity because the only bad idea is no idea and if you work somewhere that’s punitive towards innovation you should get on LinkedIn and mine your connections for new opportunities PDQ.
If you have staff suggestion boxes at your employer - and better yet, they’re not used as a disposal area for crisp and sweet wrappers and people actually read their contents - then ask them to set up a skunkworks where you can safely and with authority test things to support company growth and customer satisfaction.
If you get ignored, move on. If you get berated, move on.
But it’s likely you won’t. Having a safety net to strive for better is what we all seek. And deserve.