Deep Work (Cal Newport)

RECOMMENDED READING

Deep Work

by: Cal Newport

Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit.

Every day, distractions, interruptions, and urgent (but relatively unimportant) demands on our time attention pull us toward a state of shallow, near-sighted, and frenetic busyness. If we don’t actively create space and time to think deeply and focus on work that is truly important, the likely outcome is that we will sink into (and remain in) this state of shallowness by default.

In the first half of book, Cal Newport argues that the ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. Mastering the skill of going deep work and making it the core of your working life can help you succeed because it creates new value, improves your skill, and is hard to replicate.  In the second  half, he shows you exactly how to do this.

This is an excellent read for anyone who wants their work to be meaningful, and a must for anyone who is considering graduate school, starting a company, or getting serious about writing/designing/building/creating truly useful and important work.

How to Break Up With Your Phone (Catherine Price)

RECOMMENDED READING

How to Break Up With Your Phone

by: Catherine Price

“I feel like I can’t live without you. That’s why it’s so hard for me to tell you that we need to break up”

Are you in a toxic relationship with a terrible partner? Is that partner your phone?

I read this book as part of my ongoing effort to do meaningful work, build deep relationships, learn to be generous, and cultivate peace and balance in my life. If you want any of these things for yourself OR if you just feel icky about the way your phone makes you act, think, or feel, give this a read.

The Power of Boredom (Mark A. Hawkins)

RECOMMENDED READING

The Power of Boredom

by: Mark A. Hawkins

“A generation that cannot endure boredom will be a generation of little men.”

-Bertrand Russell

It turns out, most of us are repulsed by one thing more than almost any other… boredom. We will do almost anything to avoid the discomfort that comes with having nothing to occupy our attention. We fill every empty moment with distraction that our phones so readily provide. In this provocative book, Mark Hawkins suggests that avoiding boredom prevents introspection, finding meaning in our lives, creativity, and even gets in the way of considering the ethics of our behavior.

Kitchen Brewing (Nielsen, Zetterberg, and Ottoson)

RECOMMENDED READING

Kitchen Brewing

by: Jacob Nielsen, Mikael Zetterberg, and Fredrik Ottoson

This is the latest find in my on ongoing quest to find the easiest path into brewing beer for the first time.

If you’re interested in learning how to brew beer (which I recommend, because it is great fun). This book may be the simplest way to get started and requires almost nothing beyond some basic tools you probably already have in your kitchen.

I still really like Emma Christensen’s book, Brew Better Beer and, of course John Palmer’s How To Brew, but this approach is so simple and so cheap to try, it’s hard not to recommend it as your first brewing book.

Life Advice: Don’t Find Your Passion (Cindi May)

RECOMMENDED READING

Life Advice: Don't Find Your Passion

by: Cindi May

CC Image - オシャレのDays off - Courtesy of Christian Bucad on Flickr

Let’s just round up to 600 billion results to my Google search for “find your passion”. If we split all those up evenly, that’s roughly 80 unique results for every human being on the planet.

A popular topic, to be sure, but there is growing evidence that trying to “find your passion” is, at best, unhelpful life advice, and at worst utter bullshit. (I believe pretty strongly it’s the latter).

This is not to say that passion is bullshit. It is not. True passion for what you do (and why you do it) is amazing and something we should all want in our lives. It’s just that “discovering” it, in my view, is impossible. Passion must be developed (through your development as a person).  Absent that development, passion is just infatuation.

I’ve suggested this before… and this is just another great article articulating why searching for your passion is just stupid… and what you should do instead.

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/life-advice-dont-find-your-passion/

It’s On Us – To end sexual and interpersonal violence.

STUFF YOU SHOULD SUPPORT

To end sexual and interpersonal violence.

Sexual assault happens in your community, on your campus… at your alma mater, regularly. So do other forms of interpersonal violence.

It happens here at Miami University… at Ohio’s “public ivy“… in the #1 Best College Town in America. And, assuming Oxford is similar to the national average, reported cases only account for 26% of the total that occur.

Miami launched a chapter of the It’s On Us initiative in 2015 (check out the video below). But, to be honest, I’m disappointed about how little we really talk about this problem or what each of us can do to help stop it.

I highly recommend you support this organization and other efforts to stop violence and assault (no matter where it happens).  But don’t stop there. Facebook campaigns and awareness efforts can help, but maybe the most meaningful thing we can do is take action, as members of the campus community.  That means talking about these issues together and taking responsibility for the safety of others around us day-in and day-out.

STUDENTS – Are you alert and aware of what’s happening around you with respect to your own safety AND the safety of others (especially in situations where the risk is higher)?  Are there people around you that are at risk and are you ready to step in and intervene to help keep them safe? Are you calling out people who say and do things that make assault seem justified or normal? Are you willing to sacrifice your own comfort and convenience to help protect someone else?

FACULTY & STAFF – Are we accepting that, as members of this community and ones in whom our students put their trust, their safety and welfare are our concern even when they’re not with us in the classroom? Are we willing to proactively address this problem and talk about it with our students? Are we willing to hold ourselves and our administration accountable to addressing this problem in a real and meaningful way, not just assume that our tacit support of official campus initiatives is enough?

It’s On Us Miami

Learn to Play the Ukelele

STUFF YOU SHOULD DO

Learn to Play the Ukelele

I took up playing the ukelele just a few years ago – My kids gave me a uke for Christmas, and it’s still the greatest gift I have ever received.  I can’t recommend it enough. The return in fun and relaxation compared to the investment in time and (virtually no) money is sky-high.  Here are just a few reasons why you should consider it.

  • It’s really fun – Ukelele pairs well with all the best things in life: campfires, beaches, boats, hammocks, beer, sappy songs.
  • People will sing with you – The uke makes people feel happy and comfortable.  It’s as unintimidating as you can get, and people really love to sing along. And, if you didn’t already know… singing together is just about the best thing people can do.
  • It is intensely chill – Takes me from a 10 to about a 3 in no time and drops my blood pressure by about 100 points… without fail.
  • It’s easy to get started – You can play a serviceable “You Are My Sunshine” with about 5 minutes of practice (seriously).
  • You can play some seriously cool tunes – Any Beatles song will automatically work, same with Willie Nelson and the Police. Standards all work too, of course (Stardust has some tough chord progressions but it is immensely satisfying and romantic to play). And, pulling out a Pixies song or two during an impromptu sing-a-long is about as rad as it gets.
  • It’s a great way to experience the benefits of dedicated practice – When you spend time playing and working at getting that really hard song down, you’ll really feel (and hear) the difference;  Very satisfying.
  • They’re cheap – You can get a uke for $20 that’s good enough to plunk around on and a really solid one for between $50-75.
  • They’re super portable – A uke will easily fit in any backpack, lap, or overhead bin.
  • It’s easy to find the chords for pretty much any song you want to play – Google has got the uke covered.
  • Over the Rainbow – 🙂

Unsplash – For High Quality Stock Photos

CC- Unsplash - Courtesy of Alex Holyoake on Unsplash

STUFF YOU SHOULD USE

UNSPLASH

For high quality stock photos

 

This recommendation is a no-brainer.  Unsplash is a huge collection of well-organized, searchable, very high quality photos of every subject you can think of.

And here’s the kicker… all of the photos (ALL OF THEM) are licensed under Creative Commons Zero. This means you can use them (and alter them) in any way you like, for any purpose (including commercial use), no questions asked, FREE.

This is a great resource for any kind of media for your startup (presentations, printed materials, websites, social media, etc.) AND, Unsplash just released a new API today that allows anyone with a modicum of coding experience to integrate their library directly into any app or other software you might be building.  Fantastic.

https://www.unsplash.com