Greetings from Charlotte, NC!
Welcome to the first Monday Morning Edge of 2021! As I wrote on Friday, you played a big role in making 2020 the best year of my life. I appreciate you being here.
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Today’s newsletter is a little different.
I’ve always been an avid reader, but my reading habit really took off in 2020. So today, in the first newsletter of 2021, I want to do a review of all of the best things I read in 2020.
Ready? Let’s go 👇
🗞 My Best Articles
We all know communication for coaches is important, but few people have any sort of framework they can communicate from. This piece offered a solution.
- Related: I coined Reklaitis’ Law this year. On the surface, it’s simple. But its implications are far-reaching.
Sparked by a Twitter thread, this piece takes a look at my least favorite part of coaching: the lack of scale & leverage. If you’ve ever grown tired of having to do the same thing over-and-over, this article’s for you.
A more philosophical look into the importance of solitude. Written a few weeks before the election, this one resonated with a lot of people.
As I’ve explored the technology industry, I’ve adopted a new mindset about what my coaching career should look like. This article explains a big piece of my coaching philosophy — that “competition is for losers.”
While far from my most popular article of the year, this is my personal favorite. I had some insanely cool serendipity happen to me after publishing it, which is the number one reason you should write online.
Tiago Forte teaches an absolutely brilliant course called Building a Second Brain. Now, there’s just one thing. I’ve never actually taken the course.
But I did put in the time to reverse engineer his note-taking system using free / cheaply available information online. If you spend a lot of time consuming information and want to give your note-taking system a facelift, look no further. This article’s for you.
🚀 On Wealth Creation
One of the major themes of my 2020 reading was the idea of wealth creation. Growing up, “wealth” was a very mystical, unattainable thing. It seemed like there were a few people who had the wealth creation gene and everyone else didn’t.
While wealth does have an uneven, power-law distribution, these articles taught me that wealth creation is a mindset and a set of skills you can develop. And I’ve already started putting these lessons into action.
If you’ve never read this thread, stop reading this email and go read it now. It’s that good.
The most transformative tweet for me is the one that started it all:
Seek wealth, not money or status. Wealth is having assets that earn while you sleep. Money is how we transfer time and wealth. Status is your place in the social hierarchy.
2. How to Make Wealth by Paul Graham
This is an all-time essay for me. Graham explains what wealth is (“Stuff people want”) and how the way to get what you want is to create something that other people want. You don’t need a job to do that.
It sounds so simple and obvious, but I had never been taught this before. Shoutout to you, Paul Graham.
3. Zero to One by Peter Thiel
I first read this in 2019, but re-read it in 2020. It’s the most personally-influential book I’ve ever read. I’ve written multiple articles based on what I learned from Peter Thiel, which you can read right here.
4. Jack Butcher
I have to say — without Jack Butcher, every single idea I just shared would have remained too complex for me to put into action.
Jack is the best I’ve found at distilling theoretical-sounding ideas and turning them into actionable nuggets. There are so many places you could start with his content, but if you’re not sure where to go, start here.
🥇 Career / Life Advice
I recently commented to my wife that it feels like I’ve had to unlearn just about everything I thought I knew over the last 2 years. I literally feel like an entirely different person, which is both exciting and strange.
As part of this unlearning, I’ve gotten a lot from these writings and videos:
1. What You’ll Wish You’d Known by Paul Graham
A Paul Graham graduation speech that he was never able to give. It’s true, you truly will wish you had known this earlier. Here’s one of my favorite sections:
The best protection is always to be working on hard problems. Writing novels is hard. Reading novels isn’t. Hard means worry: if you’re not worrying that something you’re making will come out badly, or that you won’t be able to understand something you’re studying, then it isn’t hard enough. There has to be suspense.
2. The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius by Paul Graham
Everyone knows that to do great work you need both natural ability and determination. But there’s a third ingredient that’s not as well understood: an obsessive interest in a particular topic…
…So what matters? You can never be sure. It’s precisely because no one can tell in advance which paths are promising that you can discover new ideas by working on what you’re interested in.
3. Earnestness by Paul Graham
Maybe I should’ve just named this section “What would Paul Graham do?”.
A recent Graham essay. This one goes well with The Bus Ticket Theory of Genius.
I’ve included this in multiple MME’s for good reason. As the author points out, we have a crisis of leadership in this country, and the only solution is a return to solitude.
5. Nassim Taleb’s Commencement Address at the American University in Beirut (YouTube Video)
This is the first commencement I have ever attended (I did not attend my own graduation). Further, I have to figure out how to lecture you on success when I do not feel successful yet – and it is not false modesty.
For I have a single definition of success: you look in the mirror every evening and wonder if you disappoint the person you were at 18, right before the age when people start getting corrupted by life. Let him or her be the only judge; not your reputation, not your wealth, not your standing in the community, not the decorations on your lapel. If you do not feel ashamed, you are successful. All other definitions of success are modern constructions; fragile modern constructions.
If you’re more of a reader, you can read the full transcript here.
✅ On Productivity
My definition of productivity went through a massive overhaul this year, and this article has been the one that has most stuck with me.
1. From Multitasking to Multiplexing: 5 Steps to Building a Personal Productivity Network by Tiago Forte
Specifically, this quote:
Elon Musk doesn’t lock himself away to work through problems in isolation, even with his considerable intellect. He embeds himself in multiple company networks, where information can flow through him and around him at maximum speed and density. He links these companies together to form an even bigger network, applying lessons learned in one business to another...
…With ourselves at the nexus of this personal productivity network, we gain immense leverage...You’re immune to competition, because no one can replace you at the center of your network. You can use the network as a platform for the ideas and projects of others, giving them exposure in exchange for yet more value creation.
🎧 My Favorite Podcasts
This year wasn’t only reading and writing. There were also a whole bunch of podcast episodes that I listened — and then re-listened to. All part of my belief that most podcasts stink, but the good ones should be listened to many times over.
I listen to podcasts a little differently than most. Instead of subscribing to shows, I follow certain people around to their various appearances. This year, my two must-listen guests were Rory Sutherland and Sam Hinkie.
1. Rory Sutherland
The author of my favorite book of 2020, Alchemy, is also a phenomenal podcast guest. He is dually insightful and hilarious, which makes his podcast appearances an absolute joy to listen to.
Two of my favorites:
- Human to Human Alchemy In The Digital World — Risky Conversations
- Moonshots and Marketing — Invest Like the Best
2. Sam Hinkie
I feel like I suggest something of Hinkie’s every other week on here. Sorry, not sorry 🤷🏼♂️.
The thing I admire so much about him is how he balances high levels of ambition with a people-first approach. There are very few like him, and I’m glad he’s let us simpletons into his thinking with these podcast appearances.
- Data, Decisions, and Basketball — Invest Like the Best
- Find Your People — Invest Like the Best
- Bonus Episode: A Rare Conversation with Former Philadelphia 76ers GM Sam Hinkie — ESPN Daily
That’s all for this week. Thanks for hanging out!
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Hope you have a great week,