Three Pieces for A Wise Life

To ponder: What do you do when you have nothing to do? And other questions taken from a mini-course for college students designed to help them decide their majors and the lives they want to lead. But really they’re good questions to consider at any age.

To hear: The RobCast

My uncle once told me that you have to have something to look forward to each day because if you don’t, it’s going to be a crappy day.

Happily for all of us, the RobCast is released every Monday morning.

Rob Bell, creator and host of RobCast, is a pastor, and I am not in the habit of listening to pastors in my free time (or, really, my church time). But I dig Rob Bell. His stories are often straight from the Bible but though you may have heard them a thousand times, you may as well have never heard them before.

#14 You Are Always With Me And Everything I Have Is Yours
This iteration of the Prodigal Son isn’t about sin and repentance, but transactional faith, inherent worth, and the stories we believe about ourselves.

#45 Grief Loss Joy
This is an interview with an expert on grief but, in a year of loss, I found this interview comforting and insightful.

Putting the Fun in Funding

putting the fun in funding happy baby in air

This American Life AND Serial on Pandora!

Not only is this uncharacteristically awesome news for a Monday afternoon, but this is also what makes This American Life (TAL) so compelling: it is constantly pushing the boundaries of radio.

Ira Glass pretty much invented the sound of modern radio; early last year they announced they’d be parting with their long-time distributor PRI to distribute it themselves! They taught us all how to listen to podcasts, a tutorial which we’ve no doubt to thank for the wild success of their spinoff show Serial (they launched a spinoff show! ) which went on to set the record for first podcast to reach 5m downloads  and, according to the above-linked NYT article has been downloaded over 100 million times(!) making it the Most Popular Podcast Of All Time.

The most interesting part of all this though is the business behind it. TAL has been innovative in funding practically since their inception. Ira Glass tells in this interview with The Public that in the program’s first year, they made these funny little radio spots for stations to play during their pledge drives–but if the station accepted the spot, they had to accept the show. He says about half of the stations that carried them the first year did it because of those spots.  So, TAL doesn’t do pledge drives. Once a year (if necessary, which it wasn’t last year) they take a minute of air time to ask their listeners to contribute to the show. That’s it! Just once! And it works incredibly well. Serial came into being because of a surplus of TAL money, and is able to continue thanks to its listeners.

So I’m really pleased with the announcement that these two amazing, creative, innovative, thought-provoking, compelling, interesting shows are going to be widely available. I’m even more pleased that those geniuses at TAL have devised yet another way to make public radio not just sustainable but profitable. It means they can devote more resources to producing more amazing work.

There’s a greater application here, and it’s one I hope we see more and more of: creative people getting paid their worth. We’ve seen it over and over again with This American Life. I’ve seen it with vloggers like Hank Green and his numerous spinoffs. I love seeing people in industries–especially creative, but also philanthropic–coming up with clever ways to make their work profitable. Maybe one day we’ll figure it out with education.

How To No

It’s Monday! Again!


Well as we do around here, let’s start off with some Mondayspiration to start your week off right.

How To Say No When It Matters Most by Tim Ferriss 

Tim Ferriss is one of those people that you either love or hate. I fall into the love camp. Not for his podcast, which I only sometimes listen to, nor for his books which I’ve never read, nor his TV show, nor for any of his investing.

I love him  for his terribly brilliant, fascinating blog. It’s just so interesting. Where I just like to live and enjoy life, he deconstructs his life, analyzes the data, then optimizes it for efficiency. The closest I’ve ever come to that is sleeping with my fitbit.

So this may be the most analytical piece of writing on the subject of saying No that you’ll ever read, and it might be the longest. But at least skim the whole piece.


All of my biggest wins have come from leveraging strengths instead of fixing weaknesses.

-The marginal minute now matters more to me than the marginal dollar.

-Are you squandering your unique abilities? Or the chance to find them in the first place?

“From 2007-2009 and again from 2012-2013, I said yes to way too many “cool” things. Would I like to go to a conference in South America? Write a time-consuming guest article for a well-known magazine? Invest in a start-up that five of my friends were in? “Sure, that sounds kinda cool,” I’d say, dropping it in the calendar. Later, I’d pay the price of massive distraction and overwhelm. My agenda became a list of everyone else’s agendas.

“Saying yes to too much “cool” will bury you alive and render you a B-player, even if you have A-player skills. To develop your edge initially, you learn to set priorities; to maintain your edge, you need to defend against the priorities of others.”

See what I mean? Smart guy.

Related Recommends: I really love his posts on language acquisition. Super interesting and helpful!
I’ve been on his email list for a while and it’s fine–just blog posts, mostly–but. You sign up because the signing bonus freebies are awesome. Excerpts from his book, 4-hr Chef audiobook, and lots of really cool links.
Speaking of his email list: I look forward 5-bullet Fridays.


BONUS: Sh*t nobody says

Because I think we need a post-Halloween Monday pick-me-up. And I am still not tired of this video.

We should move to Oakland!
Hey, does anyone know how I can make papyrus my default font?
I’m hoping he asks me to help him move .

Be vulnerable. Be terrified. Beyonce.

“I feel very vulnerable when I perform a song for the first time. I may not say it, but I am terrified. Oh my God what am I doing? Why am I here? What am I doing? Why did I do this?
I like that nervousness. I don’t like it in the moment. But I know that it just means that I want it and it means that it’s challenging to me and I’m doing the right job.
You can’t be too comfortable and too confident.”

I think that all of Beyonce’s success comes down to that quote. She can sing and dance and go platinum with no hype, but it is her ability to create in the face of fear (alongside fear?) that makes her Queen.

Also of note:
The bit at 5:00 when he says, What’s your name? And she says, Beyonce. Bet she hasn’t had that experience in a while.

Did you watch to the end? That moment made me cry too.

Insight: She couldn’t get the look, the dance she wanted so she had her people find the dancers in the video. Which took four months. And then she flew them in from Africa, for a routine that lasts less than a minute. A routine in which not only is Beyonce the focal point, the center stage, the only dancer you can see with any clarity, but in which the dancers heads–the ones that took months to find and then were flown halfway around the world– are not fully visible(!).

And yet, the video would not have been the same without them. They brought something that no one else could bring. It’s subtle, and it’s the kind of attention to detail that has put her at the top.

That, and the real live lion she brought on to set for a four-second shot.