why you need a project, a phrase I will 100% use, and a great list of the best people in PR
Matt Klein down the child-like awe 🐇🕳️
Welcome to the startupy newsletter, a laid back column about very serious ideas.
Also, wait. What’s startupy? Startupy is where curious humans curate and interconnect the best of the Internet. We're on a mission to build a more human and nourishing Internet.
Cool things curated in our universe
WHY YOU NEED A SERIOUS PROJECT
Henrik Karlsson explores How MrBeast Learns in this fascinating essay. The gist: you can’t just feed your brain information. You also need a serious project.
What we are trying to do influences what becomes salient to us. If you are looking for a friend in a crowd, faces become salient to you, faces that would have otherwise passed you by. If you are making videos, you will notice patterns in the videos you watch. If you’re not, you can watch a thousand videos and have them pass through your head cleanly, without leaving a mark. Your memory will have little use for the information, and so discards it. You can’t just feed your brain information if you want to learn effectively; you also need a serious project.
This totally resonates and aligns with our manifesto 2.0 (a work in progress):
ON LONG-LIVED INSTITUTIONS
In 1950, the average company on the Fortune 500 list had been around for 61 years. By 2019, that figure had fallen to 18 years. This is a fascinating study on how to build institutions that last.
The biggest surprise? 90% of the companies that are over 200 years old have 300 employees or less; they’re not mega companies.
A PHRASE I WILL 100% USE GOING FORWARD
A great insight by Lisa Feldman Barrett: When someone expresses anxiety, the first thing you should do is ask: do you want empathy or do you want a solution?
A FASCINATING INTERVIEW
Separate the processes of creating from improving. You can’t write and edit, or sculpt and polish, or make and analyze at the same time. If you do, the editor stops the creator. While you write the first draft, don’t let the judgy editor get near. At the start, the creator mind must be unleashed from judgment.
To write about something hard to explain, write a detailed letter to a friend about why it is so hard to explain, and then remove the initial “Dear Friend” part and you’ll have a great first draft.
The thing to remember when evaluating new technologies is we have to always ask “compared to what?.” Mercury-based dental fillings statistically caused some harm, but compared to what? Compared to cavities, they were a miracle. We tend to give existing technologies a pass from the degree of scrutiny we give new technologies. Social media can transmit false information at great range at great speed. But compared to what? Social media's influence on elections from transmitting false information was far less than the influence of the existing medias of cable news and talk radio, where false information was rampant.
Since the generative AIs have been trained on the entirety of human work — most of it mediocre — it produces “wisdom of the crowd”-like results. They may hit the mark but only because they are average.
My generic career advice for young people is that if at all possible, you should aim to work on something that no one has a word for. Spend your energies where we don’t have a name for what you are doing, where it takes a while to explain to your mother what it is you do. When you are ahead of language, that means you are in a spot where it is more likely you are working on things that only you can do. It also means you won’t have much competition.
ON SUCCESS AND FAILURE
A quote worth pondering, via Falling Upward:
Failure and suffering are the great equalizers and levelers among humans. Success is just the opposite. Communities and commitment can form around suffering much more than around how wonderfully superior we are.
A GREAT LIST OF THE BEST PEOPLE IN PR
Cultural Theorist & Strategist
Head of Global Foresight at Reddit
DOWN THE CHILD-LIKE AWE 🐇🕳️
Why is child-like awe interesting?
Amidst an overwhelming permacrisis, perception of collapse and resulting sense of just nihilistic dread, I’m fascinated with exploring naive, child-like sensibilities as both a tool for soothing and forward progress. We’ve lost our imagination, practice of play, and innocence. And I think there’s a lot to be gained from looking back in order to look forward. This has always been the case—it’s called becoming an adult—but considering the moment today, this ritual feels increasingly dangerous and unnecessary. Besides sex and sports, what other hobbies are normalized for adults as play for play sake? Why do we feel compelled to call it “adult”-coloring books? And when was the last time you asked “Why” five times? The benefit of thinking like a kid is killed over our lifespan by assumption. We collectively lose our curiosity while “what if’s” become extinct. But why? This doesn’t have to be the case…
A podcast worth listening to on the topic
ABC Australia has an incredible cultural journalism program called, Schmeitgeist. Earlier this year host Ange Lavoipierre, explored the subject of “Age Regression,” a fringe phenomena of adults who “regress” to becoming babies and children—from their dress or speak, to even relationships. It’s an intense representation of “child-like embodiment,” but it shines light on the drivers of this behavior and provokes: how do we feel about the extremes of being a kid again?
Something worth reading and watching on the topic
Rob Walker’s book, The Art of Noticing was incredibly refreshing for me. It’s an easy read—a simple list of ways to rediscover everyday joy and inspiration throughout life. There’s also a great visual presentation and talk on the topic hosted by Walker and The School of Visual Arts.
A project worth following on the topic
If you’re not already onto Recess Therapy, come on! As the launching pad for Corn Kid, Recess Therapy is a YouTube series hosted by Julian Shapiro-Barnum who interviews kids on life’s big questions. It’s become not only my eye-bleach from the day, but inspiration for not taking life so seriously. It’s a tough pill to swallow, reflecting on how we were all once that honest, safe, entertaining, whimsical and wholesome, but the videos have been nice reminders: we’ve got a lot to learn.
Thank you for reading!
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