Friday Finds (Trader Joe's, School, Crafts, Kanye, Philosophers)

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Hi friends,

Here's what I want to share this week:

Interview with Tropical MBA: I was interviewed about the three pillars of the Write of Passage method: (1) writing from abundance, (2) writing from conversation, and (3) writing in public. I spoke about why, when so many people are trying to make their writing punchier, I'm so bullish on long-form essays. Here's the full transcript.

How Philosophers Think: Philosophers are the best class of thinkers I know. The way they dissect ideas reminds me of something the smartest kid in middle school used to do. He'd take computers apart and put them back together, so he could understand how they work. Philosophers do the same thing for ideas. They aim to think for themselves. But as the story of Socrates reminds us, doing so can be risky.

Today's Finds

Compulsory Schooling: The most popular TED Talk of all time is Do Schools Kill Creativity? But here, Brett Hall argues that the talk's core thesis doesn't go far enough. The problem with education isn't the Common Core curriculum or the fact that we teach to the test. It's compulsory schooling. Hall's pedagogy is simple: Let students learn what they want. Then, get them to guess what's correct and test it. And remember, learning begins with inspiration.

Rick Rubin Documentary: Meet the man behind artists like Kanye West, Jay-Z, Mac Miller, Johnny Cash, Weezer, and the Beastie Boys. I'm not just impressed by the names. I'm impressed by the diversity of genres. Rubin started as a formal music producer and the co-founder of Def Jam, but he's grown into a creative psychologist who provides a space where artists can be vulnerable and emotionally naked. He's intuitive instead of technical, and in the studio, he aims for invisibility. Instead of putting his stamp on the music, he tries to recede into the background. The more excess he can remove, the better. As Kanye once said: "Rick's not a producer. He's a reducer."

Trader Joe's: A primer on my favorite supermarket, which sells more food per square foot than any other grocery store. They don't just have customers. They have fans. Visiting the store is a little bit like thrift shopping because you always find something unexpected. It seems like every other week somebody swells with pride as they recommend some new Trader Joe's product to me. It's far more curated than other grocery stores too. Where typical grocery stores carry ~35,000 SKUs (stock-keeping units), Trader Joe's only has ~3,000. Roughly 80% of those products have the Trader Joe's name on the label too. Unlike other grocery stores, there are employees everywhere, no social media, no self-checkout lines, no customer loyalty programs, and no online ordering.

Richard Hanania: The Internet has created a new class of "citizen journalists" who own their audiences and produce better writing than many of the major media publications. When it comes to politics, Richard Hanania comes to mind. I recommend two posts in particular: Liberals Read, Conservatives Watch TV and Why is Everything Liberal?

Shop Class as Soulcraft: One of the best ways to find good things to read is to look for the essays that were so good that they eventually became books. To date, I haven’t seen a list of such essays, but I’ll share it here if I find one. This essay reveals the downsides in the transition from physical labor to knowledge work. Manual trades have lost their honor, and the material world has lost its mystique.

Have a creative week,

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