Speaking personally, I want my films to make money, but money is just fuel for the rocket. What I really want to do is to go somewhere. I don’t want to just collect more fuel.
One font family per presentation, three or five bullet points per slide, never four, and titles 30 percent above the center line. The file size also could not be more than eight megabytes, just enough to show up well on a projection screen. Jobs hated big files.
I have not seen much dignity in the process by which we die. The quest to achieve true dignity fails when our bodies fail.
The dignity we seek in dying must be found in the dignity with which we have lived our lives.
one of the two quotations in the epigraph of The Elements of Typographic Style -
The surest – also the quickest – way to awake the sense of wonder in ourselves is to look intently, undeterred, at a single object. Suddenly, miraculously, it will reveal itself as something we have never seen before.
To see what is in front of one’s nose needs a constant struggle.
Put 10% of the cash in short-term government bonds and 90% in a very low-cost S&P 500 index fund. (I suggest Vanguard’s. (VFINX))
I can understand why a system built on a pattern must try to destroy the free mind, for this is one thing which can by inspection destroy such a system.
It’s that whenever we talk about science and society, it helps to keep two rather humbling premises in mind: very few of us are anywhere near rational. And pretty much all of us are hypocrites.
The Greek root for sarcasm, sarkazein, means to tear flesh like dogs.
We don’t really understand our Selves or what life is. It is a mystery, and this fact is hard to accept. Humankind has developed many theories about you and believes they are facts, but in the end, all we can see is your behavior, your reactions to the world around you, and the world’s reaction to you.
What percent of word of mouth do you think happens online? In other words, what percent of chatter happens over social media, blogs, e-mail, and chat rooms? If you’re like most people you probably guessed something around 50 or 60 percent… Research by the Keller Fay Group finds that only 7 percent of word of mouth happens online. Most people are extremely surprised when they hear that number. “But that’s way too low,” they protest. “People spend a huge amount of time online!” And that’s true. People do spend a good bit of time online. Close to two hours a day by some estimates. But we forget that people also spend a lot of time offline. More than eight times as much, in fact. And that creates a lot more time for offline conversations.
These are the six principles of contagiousness: products or ideas that contain Social Currency and are Triggered, Emotional, Public, Practically Valuable, and wrapped into Stories… Taken together they spell STEPPS. Think of the principles as the six STEPPS to crafting contagious content.
…research finds that more than 40 percent of what people talk about is their personal experiences or personal relationships. Similarly, around half of tweets are “me” focused, covering what people are doing now or something that has happened to them… Harvard neuroscientists Jason Mitchell and Diana Tamir found that disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding. In one study, Mitchell and Tamir hooked subjects up to brain scanners and asked them to share either their own opinions and attitudes (“I like snowboarding”) or the opinions and attitudes of another person (“He likes puppies”). They found that sharing personal opinions activated the same brain circuits that respond to rewards like food and money. So talking about what you did this weekend might feel just as good as taking a delicious bite of double chocolate cake.
most people never cash in the miles they accumulate. In fact, less than 10 percent of miles are redeemed every year. Experts estimate that as many as 10 trillion frequent flier miles are sitting in accounts, unused. Enough to travel to the moon and back 19.4 million times.
A few years ago, students at Harvard University were asked to make a seemingly straightforward choice: which would they prefer, a job where they made $50,000 a year (option A) or one where they made $100,000 a year (option B)? Seems like a no-brainer, right? Everyone should take option B. But there was one catch. In option A, the students would get paid twice as much as others, who would only get $25,000. In option B, they would get paid half as much as others, who would get $200,000. So option B would make the students more money overall, but they would be doing worse than others around them. What did the majority of people choose? Option A. They preferred to do better than others, even if it meant getting less for themselves. They chose the option that was worse in absolute terms but better in relative terms. People don’t just care about how they are doing, they care about their performance in relation to others.
Back in mid-1997, the candy company Mars noticed an unexpected uptick in sales of its Mars bar. The company was surprised because it hadn’t changed its marketing in any way. It wasn’t spending additional money on advertising, it hadn’t changed its pricing, and it hadn’t run any special promotions. Yet sales had gone up. What had happened? NASA had happened. Specifically, NASA’s Pathfinder mission. The mission was designed to collect samples of atmosphere, climate, and soil from a nearby planet. The undertaking took years of preparation and millions of dollars in funding. When the lander finally touched down on the alien landscape, the entire world was rapt, and all news outlets featured NASA’s triumph. Pathfinder’s destination? Mars.
Even a bad review or negative word of mouth can increase sales if it informs or reminds people that the product or idea exists. That’s why a sixty-dollar Tuscan red wine saw sales rise by 5 percent after a prominent wine website described it as “redolent of stinky socks.” It’s also one reason why the Shake Weight, a vibrating dumbbell that was widely ridiculed by the media and consumers, went on to do $50 million in sales. Even negative attention can be useful if it makes products and ideas top of mind.
as Albert Einstein himself noted, “The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the power of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead.”
Sharing emotions also helps us connect. Say I watch a really awe-inspiring video, like Susan Boyle’s performance. If I share that video with a friend, he’s likely to feel similarly inspired. And the fact that we both feel the same way helps deepen our social connection. It highlights our similarities and reminds us how much we have in common. Emotion sharing is thus a bit like social glue, maintaining and strengthening relationships. Even if we’re not in the same place, the fact that we both feel the same way bonds us together.
In their wonderful book Made to Stick, Chip and Dan Heath talk about using the “Three Whys” to find the emotional core of an idea. Write down why you think people are doing something. Then ask “Why is this important?” three times. Each time you do this, note your answer, and you’ll notice that you drill down further and further toward uncovering not only the core of an idea, but the emotion behind it.
If most students were uncomfortable with the drinking culture, then why was it happening in the first place? Why were students drinking so much if they don’t actually like it? Because behavior is public and thoughts are private.
Our basic hypothesis is that the more kids saw these ads, the more they came to believe that lots of other kids were using marijuana. And the more they came to believe that other kids were using marijuana, the more they became interested in using it themselves.
One of the main tenets of prospect theory is that people don’t evaluate things in absolute terms. They evaluate them relative to a comparison standard, or “reference point.”
Every man, wherever he goes, is encompassed by a cloud of comforting convictions, which move with him like flies on a summer day. — Bertrand Russell
Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who has said it, not even if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense. — Buddha
“Believing seems the most mental thing we do,” wrote Bertrand Russell in 1921.
Reason is simply a tool to help the brain get what it cares about (and to feel good about it). And a brain cares, first and foremost, about itself—what’s happening in its environment and why, how it appears (to others and to itself), and whether or not it’s safe and in control. These hardwired biases to see patterns and make meaning, craft an acceptable and consistent personal narrative, and exert control over its environment are the irresistible forces that influence the brain’s creation of beliefs.
While delivering the commencement speech at Yale University in 1962, President John F. Kennedy noted, “We subject all facts to a prefabricated set of interpretations. We enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought. Mythology distracts us everywhere.”
Our minds crave consistency in our beliefs and behaviors. We want to appear logical, to ourselves and to others. And when faced with evidence which contradicts our beliefs, our minds work to eliminate the psychological discomfort.
Emerson once remarked that there is properly no history, only biography. The stories we create about the past aren’t the Truth (with a capital T). They’re a personal fiction, the mind’s meaning-making apparatus at work. But, like most everything the mind creates, it affects us. How we visualize each role in each scene not only shapes how we think about ourselves, but also how we behave. Who we think we are is why we do what we do.
Desire not only focuses our attention on what’s attractive—on what has the potential to make us feel good—but also on information that supports those feelings. If we desire something, we’ll be attentive to the evidence that supports it and inattentive to conflicting evidence. And we update our beliefs based on that biased data.
Aspiring writers, athletes, actors and musicians ignore the mountain of data that point to frustration in their pursuits of fame and fortune. Instead, they persist by focusing on spoonsful of evidence—recognition, signs of progress and emotionally charged hero stories—which support their beliefs.
Our minds abhor a causality vacuum. We have a deep desire to understand and explain everything to ourselves, including the random twist and turns of our own lives. When no explanation is forthcoming, we will instinctively make one up to suit our situation and disposition, to make us feel good about our decisions and our stories.
Effective leaders know that the essential first step to changing people’s behavior is to understand their perspectives and embrace their desires and beliefs. Everything else flows naturally from there.
Dieter Rams said good designers “must have an intuition for the reality in which people live. For their dreams, their desires, their worries, their needs, their living habits.”
But research has repeatedly shown that rational arguments are not very effective, since people’s behavior is overwhelmed by their reasons—their beliefs and desires.
As Henny Youngman reportedly quipped, “When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.”
There’s a well-known quote, or some variation of it, that is often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi, “There go my people. I must follow them, for I am their leader.”
Belief requires focus. It demands that we follow the lead of our feeling mind, of our intuition and assumptions. Distractions and difficulties turn on our thinking mind, which undermines belief by overriding our instincts.
Great leaders simplify the belief process by eliminating difficulties and competing options on our attention. They work really hard to make belief really easy.
As the film director Errol Morris recently made clear, “People despise reality, but love verisimilitude.”
As Lao-Tzu wrote in the “Tao Te Ching”:
Learn from the people
Plan with the people
Begin with what they have
Build on what they know
Of the best leaders
When the task is accomplished
The people will remark
We have done it ourselves.
Carl Jung noted, “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
The great systems theorist and designer Buckminster Fuller put it this way. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Perhaps it’s why I’m so amused by comedian Mitch Hedberg’s absurd declaration: “I’m sick of following my dreams, man. I’m just going to ask where they’re going and hook up with ‘em later.”
G. K. Chesterton wrote, “If you leave a thing alone you leave it to a torrent of change. If you leave a white post alone it will soon be a black post. If you particularly want it to be white you must be always painting it again; that is, you must be always having a revolution.”
Face it: We are either breaking out of our spirit-sucking routines and breaking through to new insights and experiences, or we are breaking down.
J.R.R. Tolkien wrote, “A single dream is more powerful than a thousand realities.”
I believe that the first person is a tool which the writer should think about seriously. In my opinion it’s usually something that you want to use, because it helps to orient the reader. It reminds the reader of this subjectivity, of the fact that you are the filter.
If honesty is the best policy then the best policy is to be honest from conviction.
In 1969 Robert Wilson, director of the National Accelerator Laboratory, was testifying before the US Congress. He sought funding for a particle accelerator (forerunner of the Large Hadron Collider at Cern where the Higgs Boson was discovered in 2012). Asked by Senator John Pastore how his project would help defeat the Russians, he responded: “It only has to do with the respect with which we regard one another . . . are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets . . . new knowledge has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to help make it worth defending.”
It was a small moment, ordinary, easy to miss, but when we stopped to pay enough attention, it belonged.
The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers. – Erich Fromm
Georgetown, Penang, Dec 2013, a set on Flickr.
If someone liked me, I waited until she was off guard, and then I told her I didn’t want to be her friend any more. I watched the confusion and upset. The tears. Then I ran off, triumphantly in control, and very fast the triumph and the control leaked away, and then I cried and cried, because I had put myself on the outside again, on the doorstep again, where I didn’t want to be. – Jeanette Winterson
What art does is to coax us away from the mechanical and towards the miraculous. – Jeanette Winterson