Friday Finds (Wright Brothers, Brands, BS, Direct Feedback)

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Hi friends,

Greetings from California!

Having time to read is the best part of the holidays. I do a disproportionate amount of my reading between Thanksgiving and New Year's. As the weather gets colder, there are fewer outdoor activities, which makes it easier to prioritize reading.

This year is a little crazier though. Our beta program for Write of Passage Liftoff (our course for high schoolers) begins on Tuesday, November 29th.

If you want to help your teen start 2023 ahead of the college competition, and with a renewed passion for writing – have them apply to snag one of the last seats in our beta program. If you know a high schooler you'd like to nominate, you can do that here.

If you're a high school parent, check out the video below.

Today's Finds

The Brand Gap: Brands are such amorphous things. You know a brand when you see one... but how exactly do you create one? This book is a fun introduction. The author uses Plato's example of a horse to describe a brand. People associate horses with speed, grace, grandeur, strength, and beauty. Not every horse is majestic, but we think of them as so. Brands create those same instant associations for companies. The author Marty Neumeier writes: "A brand is not what you say it is. It's what they say it is." This book is a breezy guide to brand building. It takes an intuitive, right-brained approach instead of an analytical, left-brained one. Unlike most modern business books, it doesn't try to give you concrete step-by-step plans. It gives you a new way of thinking instead.

The Decline of the Wright Brothers: David McCullough's biography of Orville and Wilbur Wright is one of my favorites. The brothers were the sons of a preacher who built up an impressive library of books even though they didn't have much money. The brothers should be studied not only for their pioneering advancements in flight, but for the challenges they faced late in their careers. After captivating the world with flight, they were forced to fight all kinds of suffocating patent lawsuits. This crushed their innovative spirit. Nine years after his first flight, Wilbur returned to Dayton, worn down from all his business affairs, and died of typhoid fever at the age of 45. For more on the decline, I recommend this piece: The Murder of Wilbur Wright.

On Bullshit: I can't believe there's an essay about this, let alone a good one. But here we are. There is so much BS in the world, and this piece lays out a comprehensive theory as to why. The author (Harry Frankfurt) defines BS as an "attempt to persuade without regard to the truth." One of the biggest contributors to BS is the need people feel to hold an opinion on everything. It's goofy to see how people race to comment on news stories about parts of the world they hadn't even thought about six seconds earlier. They pick a side and begin to parrot articles, podcasts, and television news anchors. Ask a few questions and their knowledge collapses like a sand castle. It reminds me of the Chauffeur Knowledge point I discuss in How Philosophers Think.

Letter to a Young Songwriter: This piece is written for musicians, but it applies to writers too. When you’re new to a creative medium, you want to be prolific. Only after you’ve published many pieces do you know what makes a song great and what you need to do your best creative work. Creation also changes how you consume. All of a sudden, you don’t just absorb the content. You absorb the structure, the rhetorical tricks, and all the ways creators make their work captivating. It’s like X-ray vision. Knowledge of your craft transcends the intellect and enters the body. Eventually, you realize things about the creative medium you couldn’t have possibly anticipated while starting out.

The New One-Minute Manager: Cheesy, but useful if you manage people. This book offers a set of guidelines for managers, sharing insights in the form of a dialogue instead of directives. I know somebody in HR who used to say: "Here, we say to your face what everybody else says behind your back." I like that. But direct feedback must be paired with praise, otherwise your culture will be too harsh. This book advises a 3-to-1 ratio of compliments to constructive criticism. It emphasizes precise compliments. Don't say: "I like your writing" when you can say "Your paragraph transitions were excellent, they really kept the piece flowing." It's also good to praise people as soon as possible, which contrasts with many companies where people only share feedback in quarterly performance reviews.

Have a creative week,

David Perell Logo 2x

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