Friday Finds (Numbers, Tiger Woods, Augusta National)

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Hi friends,

Greetings from Florida!

Write of Passage wrapped up this week, and I’ve never been so excited about the business. The end of Write of Passage also means that I have time for deep creative work again. First up is a long-form essay called What Should You Do with Your Life? and an in-depth YouTube video with everything I know about what it takes to build a Personal Monopoly.

Quick update on the Girard lectures: We pushed the launch back until mid-May. I just watched the first one from start to finish and can confidently say that my collaborator, Johnathan Bi, offered the go-to introduction to Girard’s core ideas. If you're interested in what we'll cover, I recommend his Twitter thread.

Here’s what I want to share this week:

  1. My Podcast with Auren Hoffman: This was one of the most enjoyable podcasts I’ve ever recorded. We talked about the philosophy of René Girard, building de-correlated friend groups, and the problem with inefficient introductions at a dinner party. (Listen Here: Apple | Spotify)
  2. News in the Age of Abundance: We consume more news than ever because we’re so obsessed with “being informed.” The problem is that modern media environments distort the incentives for news publications who can’t pursue truth as their ultimate goal. This long-form essay explores the effects of information abundance on our minds and information environment.
  3. Writing Online with Ali Abdaal: This is by far the biggest YouTube collaboration I’ve ever done. Ali Abdaal has 2.68 million subscribers and I flew to London to create this video about how to improve as an online writer, identify your Personal Monopoly, and earn a living as a creator.

Today’s Finds

Learn Numbers to Leave Numbers: It’s easy to hate on rote learning because it’s boring, but here, Josh Waitzkin presents an argument for the utility of it. Learning can be fun. There’s no doubt about it. But mastering the boring basics deeply is the price you pay to eventually move onto higher-order creative tasks. The potential for mastery begins when technical information has been studied and practiced so deeply that it comes to feel like natural intelligence. Once you’ve mastered a subject, you should hand the keys of control to your intuition. Waitzkin gives the example of chess. Beginners learn that each piece has a point total. Pawns are worth one point, bishops and knights are worth three, a rook is worth five, and a queen is worth nine. Novices should count these point totals in their head. But once you’re an expert, the point totals disappear and become more fluid. He writes: “The pieces will achieve a more flowing and integrated value system. They will move across the board as fields of force. What was once seen mathematically is now felt intuitively.” Start with rote learning so you can transcend it.

Tiger Woods’ Biography: One of my favorite biographies because it forces you to ask: “When does pain facilitate greatness?” Parts of Tiger’s life are enviable. Between 1997 and 2009, he was the greatest athlete in the world and it wasn’t even close. But he’s also had more than six surgeries and suffered through the most public divorce the world’s ever seen. You can’t understand Tiger’s psychology without learning about his father, Earl Woods, an abusive alcoholic who subjected him to “psychological warfare” tactics he learned in the military. That way, Tiger would be mentally tougher than any of his competitors. It worked. But in Tiger's story, you can’t take the greatness without the pain, which makes his biography so exhilarating.

Augusta National: I love the word Valhalla. In Norse mythology, it describes a majestic place where people live blissfully under the hand of God. Augusta National, the world’s top golf course and the host of the Masters Tournament, is the closest thing I’ve seen to that definition. It’s so immaculate that it almost feels mythical. This article describes all the ends (sometimes dark) that the club goes through to give the course a surreal glow.

Mary Oliver Interview with Krista Tippett: Mary Oliver passed away, but her memory lives on through this rare interview with Krista Tippett. I recommend it as a starting point for the entire On Being podcast. She explores the spiritual life of writers, entrepreneurs, and religious figures with an emotional tenderness you won’t find on any other show. When you listen to one of Krista’s podcasts, you know you’re going to investigate the choir of the soul and the mystery of the universe. The environment she creates is as contemplative as a meditation retreat and as homey as the stuffed animal you used to hug as a kid.

Cross Highway Collection: I’ve never recommended a boutique store in the history of Friday Finds, but it’s time to change that. When I was in college, I spent a lot of time with a fashion aficionado named Andrea Mathewson who is the mother of one of my best buddies. She has one of the best-decorated homes I’ve ever seen. It contains everything from mid-century modern “Mad Men” home décor to Revolutionary War memorabilia. The feel is warm and impressive, but not stuffy. I learned that she developed her taste as a buyer for Pier 1, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Dooney & Bourke. So what’s the news? This month, she launched her own retail brand. On the site, you can find collectibles like old restaurant menus, primitive antiques, rare art, delicate pottery, and vintage designer goods. The site is like a treasure hunt, and though I call dibs on the Alexander Calder print, there’s a bunch of good stuff to be discovered. I'm not getting any kickback for this, but she kindly offered a 15% off discount for Finds readers using the code: PERELL15.

Have a creative week,

David Perell Logo 2x

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