A data dump of some cheap thoughts and bon mots…
1. People buy products they’ll never use because they like the idea of potentially using the product when they want. People who thrive in solitude usually can only thrive if they know they could be social and chat with friends, but are choosing not to. Those miserable in solitude suffer because they have no choice — they do not enjoy the benefits of social potentiality. People want to feel like they can do certain things, even if they never will. The pleasure of expecting it — or knowing you could have it — is as good as actually having it. This is a half-baked theory but I have a sense that this attitude toward potentiality — and our capacity to realize “future tense” value from something never used — affects our decision making process in an important way.
2. When soliciting feedback from someone you don’t know very well, you have to ask specific questions. What’s neat about soliciting feedback from someone you do know well is you can throw a bunch of statements against the wall and say, basically, “react.” It allows the person to pick something from your mishmash — something on which they have a specific thought — and be helpful.
3. It’s funny how “hat tips” work in the blogosphere. If I come across something, and a friend also sees it and blogs it before me, but I came across it independent of him, he’s going to think I got it from him, and expect a hat tip, but I’m not going to give him a hat tip, and so I will have to email him and say, “Hey, I know you’re probably expecting a hat tip, but I found that link without first seeing you blogged it.” Oh the consequential lives of bloggers!
4. Be careful not to over-squeeze juice out of a joke’s punch line. After doing the punch line, people often say the punch line again to really milk it. Fine, but don’t say it a third time. I see people repeating the punch line a third time and blowing it. True comic masters, after delivering the killer line the first time, walk out. Walk out, shut up, you’re done for the night. You’re going out on top.
5. I hate when people say: Why would I read your blog? Let’s just talk on the phone or meet up in person. Face to face is so much better. Obviously face-to-face is better and richer, but how often are we really going to see each other? How often do we talk on the phone? Like, never? Electronic communication doesn’t replace other forms of communication; it supplements it.
6. People who start off a sentence with “Do you realize…” almost always come off as snooty. It’s like saying “let me give you some advice” before giving advice.
7. When asked a question for which there are a handful of possible answers, the most intelligent responders recap the three most common other answers to the question, before offering their own answer / perspective. They offer broader context.
8. In an attempt to focus ourselves to make an important decision we often overrate the stakes, causing unnecessary stress and additional paralysis.
9. Good interview question: Explain to me something you know well but I know nothing about. It’s interesting to see what they pick, and how they explain it.
10. Suppose you got a call one day at 8 PM where the guy on the other line said, “Hey – I have a favor to ask. My car broke down and I’m stuck in this small town. I’m wondering if you can come pick me up.” That small town was four hours away from you. Would you go pick him up? How many people do you have in your life for whom you would answer this question in the affirmative? Be honest. That’s four fucking hours and you’d have no Ben Casnocha podcasts to listen to on the way over! This is another way to think about the idea of personal circles and the closeness of your friendships.
11. A friend told me the following, paraphrased: A woman in a relationship is regularly discussing / analyzing / getting feedback on the relationship from her ladyfriends. A man in a relationship is not doing this nearly as much. Men can forget about this vast imbalance of inbound feedback. It behooves them, then, to ask Her what her friends are saying, especially since outsiders’ feedback (especially if the outsiders are single) is frequently disconnected from the dynamics of the particular relationship.
12. It’s remarkable how physical pain, even if it’s localized, can be a total stop measure on your ability to do much of anything else. Last fall I woke up one morning and out of the blue had sharp back pain. For two weeks I could hardly bend over. Though I could sit still and do small tasks, the pain really dominated my overall mentality. First I tried to ignore it, then fight it, but it always won. After one experiences all-consuming pain, one gains new sympathy for those who endure it regularly.
13. Intelligent people care about definitions. They frequently will interrupt a sentence and ask what the other person means by word X. Heck, they’d challenge what I mean by “intelligent people”! But, I also know many unintelligent people who too frequently resort to this technique, thinking they’re smart. “It all depends what you mean by ‘religion.'” Annoying.