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JScott’s Monthly Missives

A short monthly summary of my latest discoveries, resources, life hacks, and life lessons. Check out the archives below and signup using this form (Or just send me a note at jscottchristianson@mac.com and I will add you) . Note: When you sign up using the form below, mail chimp will ask you to verify your email. If you don’t get it, check your spam folder!





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JScott Monthly Missive: October Edition

My monthly list of resources, life hacks, and life lessons. Hit reply and tell me what you have been up to and what neat stuff you have discovered lately !
-Scott

Discoveries

  • L2inc Youtube Channel.  This features L2 Founder Scott Galloway with new episodes each Thursday. Galloway is the only person I know who predicted that Amazon would purchase Whole Foods. His videos are short and packed with insight and humor. I first discovered Dr Galloway on the Recode/Decode podcast. But if you don’t have the time for podcasts, I think that you’ll find these short videos will give you lots to ponder.
  • Mushroom Coffee from Four Sigmatic. While I have heard mushroom coffee advertised on numerous podcasts, I didn’t try it until John H gave me a packet to test. Seems to work well. It has 40% less caffeine it helps me wake up in the afternoon and the mushrooms seem to help me concentrate better. It could just be a placebo effect, but as long as it works then it doesn’t matter if it is a placebo or not. I have one of these in the late afternoon when I need a little boost and it doesn’t disturb my sleep at night.

Reading

  • Originals by Adam Grant. Started this book over the summer and recently finished it. Great content, don’t really care for his writing style (doesn’t get to the point fast enough for me, but several other friends like it). Several interesting things about the creative process, including:
    • It is a myth that originality requires extreme risk taking. This parallels a myth about successful founders and business owners–they are actually great at minimizing risk.
    • Creative geniuses aren’t necessarily better in their fields than their peers. “They simple produced a greater volume of work, which gave them more variation and a higher chance of originality.” In other words, the more work you get out the door, the higher likelihood that you’ll produce something great.
    • There is value in procrastination, especially when you are synthesizing new ideas in a creative way.
    • Probably the biggest take away for me: “Conceptual innovators formulate a big idea and set out to execute it. Experimental innovators solve problems through trial and error, learning and evolving as they go along….conceptual innovators are sprinters, and experimental innovators are marathoners…while experimental innovation can require years or decades to accumulate the requisite knowledge and skill, it becomes a more sustainable source or originality.” Hoping I am an experimental innovator and not just slow 😉
    • FYI: Grant gave a good Ted Talk last year.
    • Amazon Link
  • Disrupted by Dan Lyons. A hilarious tale of a 52 year-old laid-off Newsweek writer who goes to work at Hubspot, where he is supervised by someone half his age and clashes harshly with the culture. Great comic relief (I laughed out loud several times), but provided some good insight into how younger folks can get sold into thinking that working at a place with free beer and nerf gun fights (but no PTO or good benefits) is a good idea. Lyons writes for the show Silicon Valley as well. Amazon Link

Must Watch

  • Making Life Multiplanetary, a talk by Elon Musk. Even if you are not into following space “stuff,” you should watch just to see the simplicity and elegance of what he is proposing. This kind of thinking can only really come from being on the other side of complexity. Extra benefit, when you see how bad of a presenter Musk is, it will make you feel better about your presentation skills.
  • A number of talks and interviews with Ray Dalio about Radical Transparency and how this is implemented in his business (Bridgewater). For organizations that are really committed to honest feedback and eliminating biases in decision making, this is a great concept. Unfortunately, a number of organizations just give lip service to transparency and would find this method way too upsetting. I am actually hoping to implement a similar system in an upcoming class, to get feedback from the students about my performance. I don’t think it would work well to have students do peer evals this way, as there is not enough time to build a culture of accepting and giving this type of feedback. I’ll let you know how it works out, in the meantime check out these videos:

Writing

  • Deciding to purchase a service contract on the consumer products we buy is generally a no brainer. Just Say NO! However, for mission critical equipment, it can be a bit a less clear cut decision. In Hardware Service Contracts: Should You Buy or Should You Go? I write about that decision making process. (If you are into videoconferencing you can view these other articles I have been writing for Let’s Do Video )

Experiments

  • I have been experimenting with my body a lot lately, trying different diets (ketogenic), tracking data, getting my DNA sequenced, etc. I’ll type up a full report to share when I get more data. One thing I am seeing is that one’s body can have a large fluctuation due to inflammation from various foods, drinks and injury. Didn’t realize that such swings–four to five pounds over several days–could happen.
  • The world of cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings, or ICOs, is still in the “wild west” stage. Thanks to a former student, Evan B, I have been experimenting with more with this westward expansion of the currency world. I recently installed the Storj.io platform on an old PC that lets me sell access to spare hard drive space and get paid in Ether, a popular cryptocurrency. Not the easiest to setup, but not the worst either. I am currently sharing out 4 TB of space, of which ~250 Gb is being used by the platform. In theory, I should make just a little profit on this project, but with the volatile nature of ICOs and cryptocurrencies I am doubting this will really pay off monetarily, but I’m certainly learning more about ICOs, and possibilities of a distributed internet.

What I’m looking forward to

  • Getting responses to this month’s missive from you all, hearing about the cool stuff you are doing and the resources/lifehacks you are using!! (just hit the reply button and fill me in!)
  • The First Startup Beer Crawl in Columbia being put together by the Missouri Business Alert.
  • Seeing the results of the Hacking for Social Good and Start-up Weekend taking place in Columbia. Collin B is back at REDI and kicking ass with helping the local startup community get energized.
  • Reading Chaos Monkeys. Recommended by my friend Kris K. Should be a good follow up to Disrupted.
  • Giving a presentation with my friend Chris S at the Medical School about “Copy and Paste Hardware: How the Maker movement is accelerating innovation.” This is tentatively scheduled for mid-November.

 

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