Consistency Is A Skill

“Don’t fear the man who knows 1,000 techniques. But fear the man that has practiced one technique 1,000 times.” –Bruce Lee

Consistency.

Everybody knows it’s important. Everybody knows you need it if you want to achieve whatever you set out to achieve.

But we don’t typically look at it as a skill.

We look at like an attribute.

To show up every day is a skill though.

Why is consistency so difficult?

It’s difficult because we are constantly changing.

Often in subtle ways we cannot even comprehend.

Are you the same person today as you were yesterday? You might have done similar tasks but you didn’t do the same tasks at the exact same time. You didn’t speak the same words. You didn’t consume the same foods.

Which means you changed.

This is clearer the longer we extrapolate life. It’s hard to see how you were different five days ago. But if you compare yourself to five years ago, you can probably notice a stark contrast. Time gives us perspective.

Each subtle change to ourselves makes it harder for us to be consistent. Because we are changing every day, our priorities change as well.

This is a scary reality because it makes consistency hard to accomplish.

How To Cultivate The Skill

If we know we are going to change, are we completely helpless?

Of course not.

People have remained consistent for long periods of their lives and reaped tremendous rewards. Companies have remained consistent while growing and changing.

Here are some ways you can make sure you’re using consistency throughout the changes: 

Have purpose

My purpose is to make the world happier, healthier, and wiser. It helps me get out of bed in the morning. It is more important to me than money. It is something that lights me up.

Having a purpose can keep you consistent because it reminds you why you’re doing it.

Commit to what you can control

You can’t control the weather. You can’t control the feedback. But you can control your own effort. Set a specific amount of time.

For example, for this website, I am committing to posting twice a week (Monday and Thursday) for one year straight and then judging the results.

Use a routine

Routines help. They make it easy for us to do the desired actions over and over again. They help make sure we’re acting the same way day after day. Throw someone’s routine off, they’ll often be a completely different person. You can use this to your advantage. Set yourself up for success by using routines.

Linking

Similar to routines is linking. This is when you do something and link it to something else. This is a helpful way to stay on track because it does not require you to think.

For example, if you linked putting on your sneakers to working out, it would take the thinking out of the situation.

“Should I work out or should I not?”

It doesn’t matter. Since you put your sneakers on you will do your workout.

The Ten Minute Rule

Decide to do an activity for ten minutes. Then, if you want to quit… go for it. Oftentimes the hardest part was just getting yourself to start.

Stay in motion

You’re either pushing forward and building momentum… or you’re not.

By staying in motion, it leads you to tackle more, achieve more, and be better than you were yesterday. 

Just like an object, staying in motion will help you do more than you ever thought when you started. You’re building on your energy, efforts, and achievements from yesterday to build more energy, efforts, and achievements. A beautiful, never-ending cycle.

Get right back up when you fall

You might not be able to stay in motion forever.

One key insight from a study on habits was that: “Missing one opportunity to perform the behaviour did not materially affect the habit formation process.”

Meaning if you do mess up once, it’s okay. Just get right back on track. The one slipup won’t effect you if you don’t let it ruin tomorrow’s results.

In Summary

If you want to be successful, start viewing consistency as a skill.

Life will change. You will be pushed in new directions. You will be a different person a year from now than you are today.

But using the tactics in this post, you can successfully form whatever habits you want to form to remain consistent.

Jim Collins’ Quirky Rules To Optimize Life

Jim Collins has been experimenting on himself before it was cool.

Jim is a world-renowned author – author of Good to Great and Built to Last.

But perhaps less known is a life-optimizer. Not only is he an avid rock climber and hiker, he has also conducted decades worth of investigations on… himself.

Today, there’s no shortage of people experimenting on themselves.

Trying to be the best version of themselves.

Trying to find out the ways they can optimize their performance.

Jim Collins has been doing it forever.

Jim Collins - Video/Audio

Jim has a few quirky habits.

Before he introduces these principles, he lets people know… “well, you know, I’m is not quite normal.” For anyone in pursuit of becoming the highest version, this makes sense.

Those of us who are obsessed with improvement? We’re not exactly normal. We’re making the decision to make the most out of our one life.

So here are some of Jim Collins’ quirky habits.

The 50/30/20 Rule

He carries three stop watches with him at all times.

The first stopwatch is to track the time he spends on creative work.

The second stopwatch is to track the time he spends on teaching.

The third stopwatch is to track the time he spends on “other stuff that he just has to get done.”

The 50/30/20 Rule states that 50% of his time should be spent on creative work, 30% of his time should be spent on teaching, and 20% of his time should be spent on everything else. Oddly enough, this is similar to the Pareto Principle (80/20).

For many years, Jim actually kept track of the time he spent on these activities.

Today, Jim carries three stopwatches with him, but he doesn’t actually use them. He merely uses them as reminders.

The reason why?

He figured out the 1,000 Hour Rule.

The 1,000 Hour Rule

At some point, Jim stopped tracking these stopwatches and instead realized the creative work portion was the most important. And he figured that for every 365-day cycle, his creatives hours must exceed 1,000 (averages out to around 2 hours, 45 minutes per day)… “no matter what.” That means February 26 to February 26. Or August 2 to August 2.

So what counts when he’s calculating these creative hours, exactly?

Any activity that has a reasonably direct link to the creation of something that is new or potentially durable. If he was an artist, he would count getting the paintbrushes ready. Sometimes, he counts activities that he doesn’t expect, like conversations.

But in general, he errs on the side of caution. It’s better to be a hard counter in your long march.

This rule also bears an interesting similarity to Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 Hour Rule (highlighted in Outliers). It’s likely Jim has spent more than 10 years applying this 1,000 Hour Rule. Which would mean he has spent way more than 10,000 hours doing creative work… and would help explain why he’s become such a prolific author.

Day Ratings

Humans have awful memories.

Ask someone what they had for dinner two weeks ago and they will have no idea.

So, at the end of each day, Jim rates the day on a scale from -2 to +2.

  • +2 = great day
  • +1 = good day
  • 0 = average
  • -1 = bad day
  • -2 = really bad day

Here’s the common theme of +2 days: Jim spends them alone working on a difficult problem and/or with people he loves.

Of course, just because these are the conditions that optimize Jim’s life doesn’t mean you will be the same. You need to figure out when you are having +2 days.

Everyone has good days and bad days. Because Jim tracks them, he is aware how to make more good ones and have less bad ones.

Tracking takes less than 5 seconds and probably gives Jim great data on how to optimize his own life.

Think of this as an easier form of journaling.

Sleep Monitoring

Jim went to a sleep specialist in order to optimize his sleep.

Similar to the 1,000 Hour Rule, he has found that for his body, he needs to average 70 hours of sleep every 10 days (average seven hours per night).

Jim believes you can function on no sleep. People pull all-nighters and are able to operate.

But can you function on no sleep for two or three days in a row? Probably not. Jim believes this is because he is dipping too far below the 70-hour average mark.

With that said, he knows people are different. He cautions that this is just what’s worked for him.

The 20 Minute Rule

If Jim wakes up in the middle of the night and can’t fall back to sleep within 20 minutes, he gets up and starts his day. Then, he ideally takes a nap from 7am until 10am, where he can begin work again.

Jim finds mornings are the best time to work for him. His mind is free of distractions, people don’t need him to do anything, and he can simply focus on work.

He loves days where he wakes up in the middle of the night because it means he gets two mornings.

This is a great way to take advantage of the time you would be up anyway and put it to good use.

Because Jim loves his work, this is easy for him.

Bug Book

Jim kept a Bug Book in college. It was basically a journal.

Except slightly different.

The premise was that he would observe himself in third person.

For example, in college he wrote:

“The bug Jim really loves to make sense of something difficult, breaking it down into understandable pieces, and teaching it to others.”

This is a pretty astonishing realization to be made as a college student, especially when taken in the context of his career. This is exactly what Jim ended up doing!

The Bug Book was doing experiments on himself to figure out what he liked to do and how he reacted to specific situations. By keeping a Bug Book, Jim was able to view his tendencies as a neutral observer.

Then, he would review his entries and come up with conclusions.

You can do the same by keeping a journal or Bug Book. Make sure to review your entries every week or month to really get the most out of it.

In Summary

  1. Spend at least 1,000 hours yearly doing creative work.
  2. Rate your days.
  3. Make sure you are averaging more than seven hours per night.
  4. If you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, get to work.
  5. Keep a journal where you look at yourself in the third person.

These rules were all taken from Jim Collins’ interview with Tim Ferriss. To access all notes on the podcast, click here.

Naval Ravikant & Shane Parrish [The Knowledge Project] Notes

Naval Ravikant: The Angel Philosopher

YouTube | Spotify

On A “Typical Day”

  • Naval doesn’t have a typical day nor does he want a typical day. He’s trying to get rid of the concept of having to be at a specific place at a specific time. All he cares about is: Am I doing what I want to do? Am I being productive? Am I happy?
  • Wants to break away from the concept of 40-hour weeks or 80-hour weeks or 9 to 5s. Antiquated concepts for the modern world.

On Reading

  • Nobody forced Naval to read anything. Which made him love it more. Tendency to force children to read X or Y, which naturally makes them hate the process.
  • Does most of his reading on Kindle but books that he really likes he buys a physical copy.
  • A book isn’t an expense, it’s an investment.
  • A really good book can change your life.
  • “I don’t want to read everything; I just want to read the 100 great books over and over again”
  • What are the great books to you? Find the books that speak to you.
  • Books he’s reading (or rereading): 7 Brief Lessons in Physics, Sapiens, Jiddu Krishnamurthi or Osho (favorite philosophers), Rene Girard’s Mimetic Theories, Tools of Titans, Pre-suasion, The Lessons of History by William Durant, Story of Philosophy by William Durant, Emerson, Chesterfield, Leo Tolstoy, Alan Watts, God’s Debris by Scott Adams, Feynman, Evolution of Everything by Matt Ridley, Man’s Search for Meaning
  • Naval reads when he’s bored of everything else. He’s not a disciplined person, so he doesn’t set hard and fast rules for reading. He loves it so he does it often.
  • Least favorite books: one good idea surrounded by hundreds or thousands of anecdotes. This is why he avoids business/self-help.
  • Treats books like he treats blogs. He doesn’t fill guilty about not finishing a book because he treats each chapter as a blog post.
  • Reads 1-2 hours a day, which means he’s in the top 0.0001% of readers. Real people don’t read an hour a day.
  • Make it an actionable habit. How you make it a habit doesn’t matter.
  • Just like the best workout for you is the one you’re most excited to do every day, the best book/blogs/Twitter to read is the one you’re excited to read every day
  • If you read what everyone else is reading, you’re going to think what everyone else is thinking
  • Everything people read these days are made for social approval.
  • On taking notes: he’s both lazy and believes in living in the present moment so he doesn’t take notes.
  • If he finds early on in the book he notices author making statements he believes to be factually untrue (or contradictions), then he puts book down because he doesn’t know what’s true and what’s false

On Habits

  • Human beings are creatures of habit. Young children are born with no habit looks then they find patterns to help get them through everyday life.
  • Habits are good. Allows you background process certain things so that you can solve creative problems.
  • The downside: we unconsciously pick up habits and we may not realize they’re bad for us. Our attitude in life, our happiness levels, our depression levels = habits. Do we judge people? Do we move? Do we exercise? Do we read? These are all habits.
  • You need habits to function, but we have a tendency to get attached to the identity these habits and then characterize yourself by then “I am depressed,” “I am shame,” etc.
  • Naval’s been through many habits and “failed” many habits.
  • Believes its BS “that you can’t break habits, you can only replace them.” You can un-condition yourself. You can untrain yourself. It’s just hard.
  • Usually the big habit changes come when there is strong desire to do the behavior
  • How/why he stopped drinking (or drinking, as much)
    • Availability – He realized “If I’m out at night where alcohol is being served, so stay in” …so he started a daily workout regime in the morning because you can’t workout in the mornings if you stay out late at night
    • Desire – Realized he was drinking because he was trying to survive longer in a social environment, he wasn’t particularly happy in.
    • Substitution Effect – Switched from hard alcohol to red wine
  • Doesn’t believe in “never” and “always”
  • Most positive habit that impacts his life: morning workout
  • Whenever you throw a good habit at someone, they’ll tell you “I don’t have time” which is a way of saying “It’s not a priority”
  • Made his #1 priority his health. Starts with physical health. Then mental health. Then spiritual health. Then family’s health.

On the Monkey Mind

  • A big habit he’s trying to cultivate – turning off the monkey mind.
  • Born a blank slate and living in the moment as a child. Once puberty hits, we desire for the first time. Because we desire, we form an ego/identity to get what we want. This is normal and healthy. But at some point, it gets out of control.
  • We are walking down the street talking to ourselves in our heads. If you were voicing these thoughts in your head, you’d be a madman and they’d lock you up. People are judging everything they see, living in fantasy worlds about what they desire tomorrow to look like, and they’re just pulled out of base reality.
  • What’s the monkey mind good for? Long range planning, problem solving, survival and replication machines that we are, but bad for our happiness.
  • Mind should be a tool/servant not the master. Not something that should control you.
  • People do this naturally. The people chasing thrills or flow states or orgasms are trying to get out of your own head.
  • Wants sense of self to be weaker and more muted so he can live more present in every day reality.
  • Allows him to seek happiness based on internal not external
  • When Naval was brushing his teeth in morning of podcast, he caught his mind playing a fantasy of Shane asking him questions and answering them.
  • Be completely lost in the present moment.
  • We don’t live enough in Awareness. We live in our heads. But this is programmed into you by your society and environment.
  • The mind is a muscle. You can train it to be fully focused on the present moment.
  • Goal of meditation is not to control your mental state. It’s to recognize how out of control your mind really is. From that awareness comes liberation.
  • We know intuitively we can control our mental state. That’s why people take drugs, psychedelics, smoke weed. The problem with these is external. You can control your mental state internally, but our tendency is to go to some thing or substance.
  • If you’re angry about an email or message, don’t respond for 24 hours. This is because you’re in a better mental state in 24 hours.
  • All the real scorecards are internal.
  • There is only the present moment.
  • The monkey mind will always respond with a regurgitated emotional response to what it thinks the world should be and that clouds reality. Happens a lot when people mix business and politics.

On Happiness

  • There are no answers that apply to everyone when it comes to happiness.
  • Naval’s definition keeps evolving (one year ago was different than it is today)
  • Happiness is a default state that happens when you remove the sense that something is missing in your life.
  • Happiness is the state when nothing is missing. Internal silence = content and happiness
  • People believe happiness is about positive thoughts. It’s not about positive thoughts because every positive thought holds within it a negative thought.
    • Every positive thought holds within it a seed of a negative thought (for example, if you “he’s attractive,” you’re implying that someone else is unattractive)
  • The more Naval accepts the current state of things, the less his mind is moving, the more happier and content he will be.
  • The happiness is found in the present moment.
  • Nature has no concept of happiness.
  • The complete and utter insignificance of the self. No expectation for life so you has no cause for happy/unhappy. Neutral state is perfection state. What you’re left with is not boring. It’s perfection.

On Foundational Values

  • Values = a set of things you will not compromise on.
    • Honesty. Anyone who he can’t be honest around, he doesn’t want to be around because he is forced to be past thinking or future thinking. It leads him to be less present in moment.
    • No short term thinking or dealing. Anyone who is around him who even deals with someone else in short term thinking, Naval doesn’t want to be around. All the benefits in life come from compound interest (money, fitness, relationships, etc.).
    • Peer relationships, not hierarchical relationships. Not above anyone or below anyone. If I can’t treat someone like a peer or they can’t treat me like a peer, then I don’t want to interact with anyone.
    • No anger. Good when he was young but doesn’t serve him anymore. “Anger is a hot coal you hold in your hand waiting to throw at someone.” Cut angry people out of his life.
    • Freedom. Old definition for Naval: “freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want.” New definition: “freedom from reaction, freedom from being angry”
    • Everything that I did, everything that was done to me brought me to this exact moment.
  • If people are fighting or quarrelling, it’s because their values don’t line up.
  • “Praise specifically, criticize generally.”
  • Find a partner whose values line up with yours.
  • Marriage has changed his values a little but not a lot.
  • Having a child answers the question of what’s the meaning of life. Your values inherently become less selfish

On Mistakes

  • Mistakes are only obvious in hindsight.
  • Found he made the same series of mistakes by reviewing what he was doing year after year. Ask yourself: “2008, what was I doing/how I was feeling? 2009, what was I doing/how I was feeling?”
    • For Naval, everything he was doing… he should’ve been doing… but with less emotion and anger.
  • “You’re born, you have a set of sensory experiences, and then you die.” Life is going to play out the way it’s going to play out. Some good, some bad. How you interpret the experiences is up to you.

On Singularity

  • If we produce a general-purpose AI, that AI could hack its own code, make itself smarter and out evolve us to the point where we are either immortal or obsolete or something in between.
  • “Religion for nerds”
  • The people who are pushing it mostly the “armchair scientists.” Naval believes he knows enough to know how little we know.
  • There is so much complexity in nature and to believe we are going to go into a world of perfection once AI comes along is delusional.
  • On a long enough timescale, technology will advance to the point you can 3D print atomic bombs.
  • Naval believes Singularity is not going to happen in his lifetime.
  • Singularity gives you hope for the future, so you stop living in the present moment, so you start living for tomorrow.

On Education

  • Education system is completely obsolete.
    • Memorization doesn’t make sense when we have Google
    • Learning speeds are different for everyone.
    • Learning style are different for everyone.
  • Education system was created when there no such thing as self-guided learning.
  • Colleges and school come from a time period when books were rare. Knowledge was rare. Babysitting was rare. Crime was common. Violence was prevalent.
  • The Internet is the greatest web of knowledge ever created completely connected. If you actually desire to learn, everything you desire to learn is on there.
  • Schools create social relationships, but is this really the best way?
  • Other problem with schools is what do you choose to learn?
  • We don’t teach (and maybe we shouldn’t but worth considering):
    • Cooking
    • Nutrition
    • How to have happy, positive relationships
    • How keep your body healthy and fit
    • Meditation
    • Practical construction of technology
  • Kids are learning machines, they just need the tools.

On Decision Making

  • Someone who makes correct decisions 80% of the time rather than 70% of the time will be valued by the market 100x more.
    • Similar how a great baseball player might hit .300 and be worth 100x more than a .200 hitter.
  • If you can be more rational, then you’re going to non-linear returns on your life.
  • The best mental models Naval has come across have come from evolution, game theory, Charlie Munger, Nassim Taleb, Benjamin Franklin. Different models apply to different situations
  • We’re very bad at predicting the future.
  • Being successful is about not making mistakes (a Charlie Munger mental model).
  • Set up systems, not goals (Scott Adams)
  • Naval doesn’t use a checklist
  • In an ideal world, he would let no reaction pass without it being stripped, searched, examined and then let go. But the reality is that would take a lot of time. His goal is to unlearn habituated learned responses so he can make better decisions

On Money

  • Huge diminishing returns on money. When a billionaire gives away X amount of dollars, it means they “overshot.”
  • Money is a boat anchor around his neck. Because it is something you are then fearful of losing.
  • Instead of looking for money, he asks: “can I do something interesting and new? Can I create something brand new that the world needs that is congruent with my morals?” He’ll never have problems sleeping at night. He’ll never have to sell something he wouldn’t buy.

On Evaluating Integrity

  • Ways to figure out if someone has integrity:
    • Do they use long term thinking?
    • How do they treat other people?
    • Do they go around talking about how honest they are? Signal for dishonesty.
  • Negotiations with high integrity people is usually very easy.
  • Further Reading: The Art of Manipulation
  • First time, he warns them. Then, he just distances himself from them. Cuts them out of his life.
  • “The closer you get to me, the better your values have to be.”
  • To find a worthy mate, be worthy of a worthy mate (Charlie Munger)
  • If being ethical were profitable, everybody would do it
  • “Easy choices, hard life; hard choices, easy life” (Jerzy Gregorek)

On Evaluating Intelligence

  • Real knowledge is intrinsic
  • Fancy words + big concepts mean they probably don’t know what they’re talking about
  • The smartest people can explain things to a child (if you can’t explain it to a child, then you don’t know it)
  • If you are using words that your audience doesn’t know, you’re being dishonest and trying to pull one over their eyes
  • Further Reading: Thing Explainer by Randall Munroe, Thinking Physics by Lewis Carroll Epstein
  • The really smart thinkers are clear thinkers.

On Rational Buddhism

  • Try everything, test it, be skeptical, keep what’s useful, discard what’s not.
  • Buddhism + science/evolution
  • People will say, “Past lives you did this” or “chakra opening” …Naval chooses not to believe this because he hasn’t been able to verify it on his own. It may be true, it may be false… but it’s not falsifiable
  • You can map the tenets of Buddhism into a virtual reality simulation

On the Meaning of Life

  • Three options:
    • It’s personal. You have to figure out your own meaning.
    • There is no meaning/purpose of life. Nobody will remember you, so you have to create your own meaning. You have to decide if this is a play you’re just watching or is there a self-actualization dance I’m doing? Is there a specific thing I desire?
    • We’re headed towards a heat death of the universe where there’s no concentrated energy. Where everything is one. Entropy goes up. Disorder of the universe only goes up. We’re pushing towards all becoming one thing. As living systems, what we’re doing is accelerating getting to that state. “Unsatisfying if you’re looking for personal meaning in your life.”

Misc.

  • On friendship: Use Buffet’s guide – “energy, intelligence, integrity”
  • On jealousy: Naval was cherry picking different traits… “I want his body, I want her money, his personality” …but you can’t pick and choose traits.
  • When you’re working on your internal stuff, people don’t get anything out of that. Because it doesn’t benefit anybody else but yourself. Only the individual transcends.
  • Big thing Naval stopped believing in: macroeconomics. It doesn’t make falsifiable predictions, so it goes against the essence of science. But he believes microeconomics and game theory are fundamental. He extends this beyond economics. Micro > Macro. Change yourself before changing your family, your neighbor, the world.
  • Identities and labels keep you locked away from the truth. If all your beliefs are able to be explained into neat little bundles, you should be highly suspicious because they are prepackaged.
  • One of the biggest ones to consider: how should society be organized? Everyone has certain beliefs. Capitalist, socialist, etc. But is there a single “right” culture? Hard to say.
  • If you’re taking information from this podcast and scribbling down notes to do other things… remember, you don’t need to do anything. All you should do is what you want to do.
  • No one is going to beat you at being you. Listen, absorb, but don’t try to emulate.
  • Each person is uniquely qualified in something. Find the business that needs you the most, find the project that needs you the most, the art that needs you the most (follow your life’s gifts). There’s something out there just for you.
  • The worst outcome in the world is not having self-esteem. If you don’t love yourself, who will?
  • There are no new ideas, but it’s the combination of Idea + Execution + Passion that makes a winner.
  • If you’re in startups… Go find the thing you can commit to for 10 years because that’s how long it will take to get a good outcome.
  • Great people have great outcomes. Follow them.
  • If he could change something about himself: Less timebound. Less greedy about signing up for things.
  • Science is the study of truth. Applied science becomes technology. Technology is what separates us from the animals. Mathematics is the language of science/nature.
  • Most common mistake: The idea or belief that you are going to be made happy by some external circumstance. We’re addicted to the desiring. We’re addicted that this external thing will bring us some happiness and joy.

The Age of the Micro

We have more information in our pocket than ever before.

This information can be broken down into two categories:

  • Longform content – Books, academic papers, podcasts, lectures, speeches
  • Micro content – Summaries, quick clips, quotes, tweets

In this past, everyone would consume the longform content. (That was the only way to consume.)

But today, we consume primarily bite-sized micro content. (This is the easiest way to consume.)

This leaves a gap in the market. There are many people who would consume the longform content, but there isn’t enough time to possibly consume it all.

Welcome to Age of Micro.


Why does the Age of Micro exist in the first place?

The Age of the Micro exists because there is:

  • More content than ever. There was a lot of information before the Internet.
  • More accessibility than ever. People were making content about content before the Internet. Remember, the news? But the Internet allows anyone to do it.
  • More platforms than ever. Social media networks now own a form of expression. If you want to appeal to aesthetics, go to Instagram. If you want to share your resume, go to LinkedIn. If you want to check on your neighbor, go to Facebook.
  • Shorter attention spans. This leads us to check different platforms constantly. We constantly want to know the latest information, specifically as it relates to us. So people are checking these apps more than ever before.

In the Age of Micro, those who win will be the ones who not only produce great longer form content and ideas (think books, podcasts, academic papers), but those who distill those ideas into shorter forms (summaries, quick clips, quotes).

In this post, we’re going to explore a number of examples across the media of people who have successfully navigated the micro waters already. 

They’ve taken larger pieces of content – something that most people don’t have the time for – and created their own place around their specific forms of micro. 

Let’s dive into the examples so you can see how this can relate to something you’re interested in.


George Mack steals shamelessly

George Mack does one thing really well: he steals people’s ideas.

Okay, fine. 

He doesn’t actually steal them.

But what he does is pretty incredible: he synthesizes intelligent people’s ideas into tweets in order to help you gain more knowledge.

Charlie Munger, Eric Weinstein, Joe Rogan.

Many of his threads make me say, “Ohhh” or “I didn’t know that about that person” or “Wow, that really works that way?”

Here’s the best part:

George doesn’t need to find new information. He doesn’t need to come up with something entirely new. He only needs to find what already exists, and deliver it in a way that is interesting and valuable to people.

Some of his threads have thousands of likes. Hundreds of comments. He clearly provides incredible value.

And all he’s doing?

Synthesizing the information he comes across and understandable for the entire world.

For example, his thread features Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke’s six favorite mental models.

George has found a way to duplicate his synthesis. His two twitter bots @navalbot and @nntalebbot both have more than 20,000 followers. These accounts simply tweet insights directly from Naval Ravikant and Nassim-Nicholas Taleb.

Joe Rogan’s short-form sensation

Joe Rogan runs a YouTube account called JRE Clips.

His podcasts run anywhere from one hour (on the short side) to three hours (on the more normal occasion). 

A heavy investment in time in today’s digital age.

So Joe (or someone on his team) decided to micro his own content. It turned out to be a brilliant decision.

As of this writing, the JRE Clips account has over 2.7 billion views. (For reference, Joe’s main account, PowerfulJRE has less – “only” 2.2 billion views.)

The micro account helps people get a taste of Joe’s podcast. It serves as a way to help people consume Joe’s long-form without having to spend hours.

As a result, the account grew at a tremendous pace.

Omar Raja takes over the sports world

Omar Raja has been practicing the art of the micro since July 2014. 

The 20-year-old sophomore started posting sports clips on an Instagram account he originally called The Highlight Factory while a student at the University of Central Florida. A week later, he changed the name to House of Highlights. 

Since then, the account has garnered more than 17.5 million followers.

He started the account as a way to post his favorite highlights after LeBron James left his beloved Miami Heat. 

Within two years, LeBron himself was following Omar’s account.

It was a startling reality.

Omar understood the power of the micro. He was able to break down the best moments from every game. As a result, he gained a massive following, met his idols, and toured the globe.

Omar could have asked these players for interviews. He could have tried for two years to send these players messages. Instead, he acted as a synthesizer for sports information. As a result, the players started coming to him. (He regularly receives messages from players requesting for his account to post certain clips.)

Derek Sivers outlines his books

Derek Sivers posts book notes for all the books he reads. 

It inspired me to do the same (and many others). 

It serves two purposes: 

(1) It allows readers to find out what books they should read next.

(2) It allows new people to find his site.

He uses the micro by taking the best knowledge from all the books he reads and turns it into an ingestible, micro form people can enjoy.


Not Copy+Paste

Any fool can press the copy and paste button. And you can press the copy and paste button and still garner interest in your account.

But the best results come when you synthesize the material from your perspective.

Omar Raja adds captions. George Mack distills wisdom. Derek Sivers produces summaries.

These might appear as small differences. I mean, you might be thinking, “what difference does it make if Omar writes his caption with or without an emoji?” But the emojis are indications of Omar’s voice.

The small changes you make to the content when you splice your content makes a big difference.

Even behind a screen, you still have a voice. An authentic way people know your style. It could be the way you use certain emojis. Or maybe it’s the way you write sentences. Or it could literally be your own voice (if you’re producing videos). People then start associating that content with your voice. 

That’s the ultimate distinction. Adding your own specific spin on something and bringing it down a shorter form.

Where Do You Go From Here?

First, you find the longer form content you would have consumed anyway. The stuff that you enjoy for fun.

Then, you choose your platform (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) and put your own spin on the content. It doesn’t have to be so different but make it your own.

That’s it.

For example, I put all my notes out there for the world to see because I would have consumed this content anyway.

This is the stuff I enjoy reading, learning, listening to regardless if anyone is watching or not.

I assume Omar, George, and Derek didn’t say to themselves, “Hmm, I wonder how I can make a lot of money. I’m going to take longer form content and make it into shorter content.” (And I don’t even know if they make a lot of money from their work.)

They all do it for the love of their own specific content.

Without the Internet:

George Mack would have studied thinkers

Omar Raja would have watched sports.

Derek Sivers would have read books.

Now, we can all benefit from their interests. The world is waiting to benefit from your interests too.


What Should I Do About “Non-Productive” Hobbies?

It’s easy to get trapped on the self-improvement treadmill.

And once you’re on it, it can be hard to get off.

I mean, it makes sense. Naturally, we are a goal-driven species.

But recently a friend asked me… 

With so much emphasis on self-improvement, where do non-productive hobbies and entertainment fit into the picture? Should you quit them entirely? Should you give them up for a time?

In this post, I attempt to answer that very question.

Don’t Dismiss Your Non-Productive Hobbies

First, don’t dismiss your non-productive hobby and throw them away. 

Sometimes your “non-productive hobbies” are really where you should be focused on growing/improving. 

Take the college student who binges Netflix like it’s her job. Like most college students, she really doesn’t know what she wants to do with her life. She starts reading this blog because the author is incredibly handsome and charming.

So, she’s decided to improve herself. She quits Netflix because she thinks to herself, “how could Netflix equal improvement?”

Woah, woah, woah. Let’s slow down there.

Netflix for many people is an unproductive activity. But for her, it could be something she is interested in. Her interest in Netflix may mean she has an underlying desire to (a) work in the entertainment industry in general or (b) around the specific contents of the show.

Maybe she watches murder mysteries. Could she be interested in working for the government as a Special Agent in some capacity? Or as a scary movie writer?

The places where you procrastinate can actually lead you to the places you should invest the most time in.

Maybe You Can’t Utilize Your Non-Productive Hobbies

But not everyone is the Netflix-loving college student. Other people enjoy their job but have non-productive hobbies.

Let’s say you’re studying to become a doctor. And you’re enjoying becoming a doctor too. However, you’ve found video games give you the greatest joy in the world.

You want to improve yourself, but you wonder… Do I have to stop playing video games entirely?

The answer is… no, not if you don’t want to.

If you want to quit, go ahead. Never play a video game again. But if this is really something you love, why not use it as a reward? 

Most people don’t have hobbies they really enjoy. So they tell people, “Don’t do that, it’s bad for you” or “Don’t do that, you won’t like it.”

If you have a hobby you really like, you have a built-in reward. You can then set a rule for yourself: “I will only play video games after I’ve meditated for 10 minutes” or “I will only play video games after I’ve completed my streaks.”

You can then start to link the video games with the completion of a task.

Push this reward (whatever your non-productive hobby is) as a way to push yourself over the edge to do the activities you maybe don’t want to do.

You Can Grow From “Non-Productive Hobbies”

Self-improvement is not a linear path.

Derek Sivers has said: “If knowledge is the answer, we’d all be billionaires with perfect abs.”

We don’t always do what’s best for us. We all have non-productive hobbies.

What’s amazing is you can grow from activities that you might believe have nothing to do with improving yourself.

Here’s what I mean…

Let’s imagine you’re a smoker. Smoking is quite clearly a “non-productive hobby.”

But then one day, you quit. You never smoke again. Well, instead of beating yourself up (a truly non-productive activity), realize you have experiences from quitting that non-smokers have never had.

You know what it feels like to quit something difficult. You have a process in place. You can then use that same system to build yourself up.

Many addicts often channel their addiction for something negative and turn it into something positive.

When you are able to turn your negative habit into something positive, you grow as an individual.

Would I recommend anyone take that path in order to grow? Of course not.

But just because you did something non-productive doesn’t mean you can’t learn from it.

You grow from many things life throws at, even if you might consider it non-productive.

In Summary

  1. Figure out if your non-productive procrastinations are actually telling you what to pursue.
  2. Either quit your non-productive hobby or use it as a reward.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up about your non-productive hobbies. Use it to fuel the process of growth.