I’ll start with a story.
Last year my girlfriend and I watched the pilot episode of a new TV show and were immediately hooked. The pilot episode was refreshingly complex and forced us to guess missing plot details continuously: it’s adventurous to make your audience work so hard during a pilot, we surmised.
We later discovered that, due to a technical glitch, we actually missed the first fifteen minutes of the show (about 30%). The ‘complete’ version of the episode was less satisfying.
Last year Steve YeggeÂ wrote about life at Amazon.com and what it’s like working under Jeff Bezos. On the topic of presenting to Bezos, Yegge gave this tip: delete every third paragraph. Â Why?
Bezos is so goddamned smart that you have to turn it into a game for him or he’ll be bored and annoyed with you. That was my first realization about him. [â€¦]
So you have to start tearing out whole paragraphs, or even pages, to make it interesting for him. He will fill in the gaps himself without missing a beat. And his brain will have less time to get annoyed with the slow pace ofÂ yourÂ brain.
Around the same time as Yegge’s posting, a Reddit user known as Wadsworth pointed out thatÂ the first 30% of “nearly every video in the universe” can safely be skipped. As such things go, this soon became a YouTube URL parameter: just add &wadsworth=1 to skip the first third of the video.
This ‘law’ soon became known as the Wadsworth Constant. It works.
The personal pronouns used by couples during “conflictive marital interactions” are reliable indicators of relationship quality and marital satisfaction, according to a study tracking 154 couples over 23 years. The study showed that ‘We-words’ (our, we, etc.) were indicative of a more positive relationship than ‘Me- and You-words’ (I, you, etc.) (doi).
Using We-ness language implies a shared identification between spouses, even when the conversation is focused on an area of conflict. Consistent with this, We-ness was associated with more positive and less negative emotion behaviors and with lower cardiovascular arousal. In contrast, Separateness language implies a greater sense of independence and distance in the relationship. Compared with We-ness, Separateness was associated with a very different set of marital qualities including more negative emotional behavior and greater marital dissatisfaction.
Similarly, the personal pronouns used by CEOs in their annual shareholder letters provide a useful way of predicting future company performance.Â No doubt gleaned from theÂ Rittenhouse Rankings Candor Survey, this is from Geoff Colvin’s book, Talent is Overrated:
Laura Rittenhouse, an unusual type of financial analyst, counts the number of times the word “I” occurs in annual letters to shareholders from corporate CEOs, contending that this and other evidence in the letters helps predict company performance (basic finding: Egomaniacs are bad news).
via Barking Up the Wrong Tree (1 2)
Ryan Holiday asks a very good question: why do we extend patience and tolerance to strangers, while simultaneously treating those closest to us less graciously?
It’s an interesting question with some equally interesting possible answers (is it a subconscious and inefficient way of attempting to ease our daily lives by telling those we spend the most time with how we want to be treated?). I like the conclusory piece of advice:Â we should give everyone “the graciousness of meeting them fresh each time”.
Some weirdo says something to you in the grocery store and you smile and nod your head, “Yup!” Just to avoid a scene right? You have a meeting with a sales rep and indulge the friendly but pointless chitchat even though you hate it. But a friend mispronounces a word and we leap to correct them. Your girlfriend tells a boring story and you’ve got to say something about it, you’ve got to get short with her. What kind of bullshit is this? We give the benefit of courtesy to everybody but the people who earned it.
Think of how much patience we have for total strangers and acquaintances. But what a short fuse we have for the actual people in our life. In the course of our everyday lives, our priorities are so very backwards. We do our best to impress people we’ll never see again and take for granted people we see all the time. We’re respectful in our business lives, casual and careless in our personal. We punish closeness with criticism, reward unfamiliarity with politeness.
This is a great example of why I read Ryan’s work: he’s adept at pointing out the everyday hypocrisies that we rarely notice.
In 2007 Vinicius Vacanti quit his highly-paid job in finance to take on life as an entrepreneur. In a short post describing his reasons for doing so, Vacanti says that most of us haven’t faced the possibility of real failure, and entrepreneurship is a way to test your limits by attempting to create something of real value:
A scary idea started creeping into my thoughts: what if I could build something? Wouldnâ€™t I always wonder? Wouldnâ€™t I regret it? Wouldnâ€™t it eat away at me over the years?
And, thatâ€™s when I realized that I didnâ€™t actually know if I was good enough because I hadnâ€™t really failed in life (at least not professionally). Most people donâ€™t really fail. We tend to take the job that we think weâ€™ll succeed in. We are hesitant to reach. And, if we do reach and succeed, then we donâ€™t reach again.
The only way to know how good you might be at something is to fail trying it.
And, thatâ€™s when I decided it was time to test my limits. It was time to really reach. It was time to quit my safe job and walk straight into almost certain startup failure.
There’s nothing mind-blowing here, admittedly – I just love how Vacanti phrased this.
One constant that connects us all in some way is that–at the end of our day–we lie down and slowly slip into a state of reduced or absent consciousness and become at the mercy of our fellow man. Every day we fall asleep: we have done so for millions of years and will continue to do so.
This humbling thought was inspired by David Cain’s short disquisition on how the act of sleeping is something that unites us together, all around the world. David’s post didn’t quite take the route I was expecting after reading the (wonderful) excerpt below1, but is still definitely worth a read.
Itâ€™s an interesting quirk of Mother Nature â€” that she insists on taking us down to the ground like that, every day, no matter who we are. For all of us, the act of leaving consciousness is the same, itâ€™s just our settings and situations â€” which bookend that unconsciousness â€” where we differ.
via Link Banana
1 I was expecting the post to concentrate on the first sentence (leaving consciousness), rather than the second sentence (sleep as a connector).