🦊 Quick Brown Fox #1

Hey there!

Welcome to the first edition of Quick Brown Fox — a newsletter by me, Salman Ansari. I’ll be sharing my latest posts, books I’m reading, as well as other interesting resources I think you’ll love. I recently joined a course on writing online led by David Perell, and it has really helped me kick-start the writing habit again (including launching this newsletter!). My primary goal with writing is to improve my own thinking — I firmly believe that writing (regardless of audience) helps us organize our thoughts and process information better.

That said, I also want to learn through interacting with you. As you read this edition (and hopefully future ones!), I’d love to hear your thoughts and reactions, related resources you’ve found inspiring, as well as any feedback around how I can make these letters even better — just reply directly to this email.

P.S. You might have been a subscriber of my past newsletter, Laugh & Learn. If that’s the case, hello again old friend! I’m really excited to share lots of new insights and learnings with you. If it’s not your cup of tea, no worries — you can unsubscribe at any time. That said, since you’re here already, take a gander at today’s edition!

As I started putting this first edition together, I ran into this incredible quote:

“It's a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you're ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” —Hugh Laurie

It really hit home with me. There’s never a perfect time to share a thought, write a post, or (gasp!) send a newsletter. All I can do is share what I know now, and hope to learn from others and grow in the process.

I wrote three new posts I want to share today — on Tokyo, traffic, and transitions:

1. Tokyo

I visited Tokyo for the first time a couple months ago. Even though I’d been eagerly looking forward to visiting Japan for many years, it still somehow exceeded my expectations. I can’t wait to go back! The public transportation alone would have been enough, but the unique personality of every neighborhood and the incredible food left me in awe. I wrote about some of my takeaways from the visit, as well as some recommendations on neighborhoods. Read The Post →

2. American Traffic Crisis: The Cost of Cars

For many months now, I’ve been studying the urban transit space. It began with a fascination with the NYC subway (back when I lived there), but quickly evolved into an urgency to understand mass transit solutions given the impending dangers of climate change. This post is the first in a series of posts I plan to write on the topic, and it focuses on understanding the current state of traffic congestion in America. The short version is that we have a serious traffic problem, and I plan to address some of the solutions (such as public mass transit, and newer alternative transportation options that have emerged) in future posts. Read The Post →

3. The Mountain of Transition

I’ve worn a lot of different hats over the years — engineer, manager, teacher, founder, coach, and others in between. I’m often asked why I don’t just settle into a role and stick with it. It’s a good question. Switching roles can be overwhelming, challenging, and even depressing at times. Still, it is a practice I can’t recommend highly enough. Read The Post →

A couple of books I read that stood out recently:

  • The Courage To Be Disliked: This book has had a profound impact on me, and is easily my favorite book of the year. The book discusses teachings from an Austrian psychotherapist named Alfred Adler (he worked during the time of Freud and Jung, but is much lesser known). It touches on a lot of different topics around individual psychology, but the biggest one is about how relationships are the foundation of meaning and happiness. It really challenges traditional mindsets and worldviews, and is delivered in an entertaining format of a philosopher debating with a young student who pushes him and questions virtually everything he teaches. I’m planning to write a book summary post on why it was so impactful to me personally, so if you’re interested, stay tuned for the next newsletter!

  • The War of Art: This is an incredible (and short) book on creativity, and it touches on some of the hardest aspects of writing (as well as other creative pursuits). A key concept it introduces is the idea of Resistance, which is a force that works against your long term goals (progress, output, productivity) by pushing you into short term relief activities. I’ve found it helpful to keep this in mind whenever I start to feel discouraged / intimidated by the task at hand — it really helps to put a name to that force.

The end of the year is coming up (and the end of the decade!) — I’ll be doing another post in January about my favorite books of 2019. If you haven’t seen my past lists, check them out for some reading inspiration:

I’ll leave you with something incredible I ran into this week:

The Deep Sea by Neal Agarwal

It is truly magical, and reminds me of what many of us imagined the internet could be when we first encountered it. It also reminds me that I need to re-watch BBC’s Planet Earth — the sheer depth and beauty of the ocean is still beyond comprehension.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this first edition of Quick Brown Fox, and hope to see you at the next one! What did you think? Anything that stood out, or sparked your curiosity? Let me know by replying to this email. I’d love to hear from you!