Friday Finds (Parties, Horses, Christianity, Music, Lies)


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Hi friends,

The enrollment window for Write of Passage opens in 10 days. This cohort, we've made three promises to students. You'll (1) publish quality ideas, (2) find your people, and (3) 2x your potential. If you want to become a better writer and build an online audience – we'll show you the way.

Click here and I'll send you information about the upcoming cohort.

Here's what I want to share this week:

  1. The Ultimate Guide to Writing Online: At 17,000 words, my newest article is by far the most comprehensive thing I've written about online writing.
  2. I'm Hiring a Chief of Staff: If you want to start your own company someday, this role is the best training you can get. We have multiple years of financial runway, and by the end of the month, we'll have a full-time team of 15 people. You'll work directly with me to scale the business and launch our next product: an online writing program for high schoolers. Apply here.
  3. Pick a Theme and Stick to It: When you write, it helps to center your piece around a core theme. Writers often add complexity in an effort to make ideas more dynamic when they should simplify ideas to make them more memorable instead. My favorite example is "Snakes on a Plane." It tells the viewer so much about what they’re going to watch, and it adds suspense without spoiling the plot.

Today's Finds

Mr. Beast's Obsession: Mr. Beast was so obsessed with YouTube that he talked growth strategy with friends on Skype every day for more than 1,000 days. By the end, everybody in the group had more than 1 million subscribers. Nobody thought Mr. Beast would be a standout success. Growing up, he skipped class, got bad grades, and didn't do his homework. That group was his priority: “We were very religious about it… they say 10,000 hours to master something, but we probably put in 40,000-50,000 hours." If there's a North Star for my work, it's to identify people like Mr. Beast (10 years ago) who are obsessive, but lack direction. They feel nobody shares their obsessions, so they keep them private to avoid being teased. I want to show them the path to success.

Parties for People Who Don't Throw Parties: Making new friends gets significantly harder after college, especially if you work remotely. Sharing ideas in public has always been my go-to strategy for meeting people, but Nick Gray has another idea: host a small party or happy hour. Socially, he's one of the most creative people I know. He founded and sold a company called Museum Hack, which brought hilarious tours to stuffy museums. His parties are always well-run, simple, and structured. We don't even drink much alcohol (Nick doesn't drink). Nick is the party master, and this book is his playbook for hosting one. It's written for people who don't throw parties, and provides a step-by-step playbook for inviting guests, welcoming them, and ensuring they have a good time.

Predicting Horse Races: When it comes to predicting the future, too much information can be a bad thing. This transcript tells the story of a world-class psychologist named Paul Slovic, who showed in 1974 how horse gamblers can deceive themselves as information increases. Substitute horse gamblers with investors, and this article becomes even more interesting. (If interested in further predictions, check out Dominic Cummings’ review of Superforecasters).

Preference Falsification: One of my favorite ideas from Timur Kuran. It comes from a book called Public Truths, Private Lies (here’s a written summary and a podcast about it), where Kuran shows how people lie about their beliefs to look good in social situations. As Martin Luther King once said: “Many people fear nothing more terribly than to take a position which stands out sharply and clearly from the prevailing opinion. The tendency of most is to adopt a view that is so ambiguous that it will include everything and so popular that it will include everybody. Not a few men who cherish lofty and noble ideas hide them under a bushel for fear of being called different.” Once you learn about preference falsification, you’ll start seeing it everywhere. For more ideas like this, here’s a list of 50 that shaped my worldview.

Richard Wagner: I’ve always been familiar with Richard Wagner’s music, but only recently did I begin to understand its tense history. At once, Wagner’s work set the stage for the kinds of dramatic movie scores you see in movies like Interstellar. His music wasn’t just sound. It was theater. But at the same time, his work has always been associated with antisemitism, in part because he was Hitler’s favorite composer. But that’s what makes him such a fascinating person to study. As the music critic Alex Ross said: “With Wagner, you never leave reality, and everything sublime and magnificent and moving in Wagner is inseparable from this corruption, this darkness, this evil. And I think that makes him a very human, unfortunately, exemplary human phenomenon, where the greatness and the darkness are all mixed together because that’s who we are as a species. And Wagner really exemplifies our species, in some ways, in terms of this mixing together of creative and destructive energies all at once, and you can never separate them — if that’s not too drastic.” Damn, that’s good. To learn about Wagner, I recommend Alex Ross’ interview with Tyler Cowen and this one on Open Source.

Have a creative week,

David Perell Logo 2x

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