🦊 Quick Brown Fox #32

Hey friends,

This week I ventured into new territory: creating monologue videos! I’d been meaning to try this video format out for a while. The idea behind them is to think out loud and explore topics without too much structure.

In an effort to build some accountability, I posted a tweet announcing that I would publish a video by the end of the week. The tweet was buried inside a thread, so there wasn’t much visibility. But it was still public, and I felt accountable to the few folks that engaged with it. Most of all, I felt a sense of accountability to myself. The thought of letting down my own ‘public commitment’ spurred me into action. I ended up recording two videos in a row on Sunday afternoon!

My takeaway from the experience is that when it comes to public accountability, I don’t have to go big and make a huge announcement. I can leverage my platforms to provide some accountability even for the small things. With all that said, I have two shiny new monologue-style videos to share with you, both of which are just under ten minutes long:

  • Manage Your EnergyWe often think about how to optimize for time, and how to make the most of every minute of our day. What we don’t account for is our energy levels. Even with all the time in the world, we can’t get much done if we aren’t energized to do it. I talk about ways to observe yourself and build awareness of what energizes you (versus what drains you). I like to imagine my own internal ‘energy bottle’ — I often socialize heavily (extroverted) until my bottle runs low, at which point I need to isolate and recuperate (introverted).

  • Momentum ResiliencePersonal project management is often more difficult than managing projects for a company. We have to figure out how to motivate ourselves, and this can be really tricky to do consistently. I tend to work on multiple projects at once as a way to ensure I don’t get bored. This also means I’ll always have some project to work on that excites me. So even if I can’t motivate myself on one project, I can keep my momentum going on others. (e.g. I was supposed to write this newsletter Sunday morning, but didn’t feel like it… so I published two videos instead!)

If you enjoyed these videos, be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel! I hope to make many more of these 🙂


Burden of Expectation

Last week, I shared some thoughts on the heavy weight of expectations. I’ve adapted those ideas into a new post on my blog.

On a related note, it was pretty neat to see the comic I drew for this shared in a newsletter yesterday. One advantage to drawing comics is that they convey the core idea I’m trying to express in a very concise way. This makes them more easily remixable — folks can integrate them into their own writing and riff on them. When you try to remix writing, the best you can do is share a quote, which is often only a glimpse into the original post. With a comic, you can embed the whole thing. I’m excited to see how all the newer formats I’m exploring will enable more ‘idea remixing’!


Susan Sontag on Writing

I really enjoyed this article from Brain Pickings on Susan Sontag’s advice for writers. A few that really stood out to me:

In ‘life,’ I don’t want to be reduced to my work. In ‘work,’ I don’t want to be reduced to my life. (3/15/73)

I think about this a lot in terms of how I’ve sought to separate my identity from my work. At the same time, as I’ve embraced creative projects and pursuing my own vision for my work, that line has started to blur once again. Balancing these two is likely a lifelong initiative.

The only story that seems worth writing is a cry, a shot, a scream. A story should break the reader’s heart. The story must strike a nerve — in me. My heart should start pounding when I hear the first line in my head. I start trembling at the risk.
(6/27/73)

This one really hit me. I’m not sure I want to hold everything I write in my newsletter to this standard, but I definitely feel this way about writing essays. I feel like a good essay should rip something out of me to give to the reader.

One can never be alone enough to write. To see better.
(7/19/77)

I really enjoy conversations to fuel my writing, but if I’m not careful they can end up dominating my mental space. There’s a balance to play between getting feedback and sinking into an echo chamber. I have to remind myself that my best thinking will come from within. I have to give myself the space to let my own ideas grow.

Don’t be afraid to be concise!
(3/10/79)

When I wrote about expectations last week, I expanded on related ideas including ‘mindless’ work. I sensed there was an essay somewhere in there, but I couldn’t find a way to cohesively connect all of those ideas into a single thesis. So, I picked one and cut the rest. What resulted was a short post solely focused on the burden of expectations. In the past, I would have hesitated to publish it. I would have worried it’s too short. I’m glad I’ve moved beyond that. The world needs more concise writing.


Quick Links

  • Effective 1-on-1s — A post I wrote a few years back on 1-on-1 meetings was recently published on The Next Web. It’s not just useful to managers — I think it can be really useful for everyone to learn how to make the most of 1on1s with their own manager. In particular, when everyone is working remotely, these meetings are absolutely crucial to build a strong connection and maintain solid communication. Use these tips to ensure your own 1-on-1s are effective for you.

  • Les Twins — If you’ve never heard of this incredible dance duo, brace yourself. These guys are incredible. Besides their unique dance ability and combinational creativity, the thing I love most about them is how they don’t take themselves too seriously. You’ll see a lot of silly and outlandish moves from them, and it’s what makes them stand out as performance artists. Their personalities become the performance. I’ve probably watched their WOD 2014 performance a hundred times (2:30 is my fav moment, and the move at 3:20 is so good it’s almost inhuman). Another old favorite is their WOD 2010 performance — the ‘scratching’ bit from 3:35 is so freaking cool.

  • Cuphead — I’ve talked about how much I love the 1930s-style animation in the side-scrolling game Cuphead. I finally picked it up again to try and beat it once and for all. When I say it is absurdly difficult, I’m not exaggerating. Watch this stream recording of me taking on the Djimmi the Great level. It’s intense! A large majority of my commentary during the video is frustrated screams 😅 I’m pretty darn proud I managed to beat this!

I’ll leave you with a few stills from one of my favorite Studio Ghibli films, Spirited Away. The studio recently posted a collection of HD stills from their movies on their website. Note that the site is in Japanese, but you can just click on the poster for a given movie to browse it. Unfortunately, not all their movies have stills, but hopefully they’ll add them soon. Can’t wait to see the stills from Nausicaa!


Until next time,

—Salman

🌎 salman.io | 🐦 @daretorant