Author Archive | Newley

Book Notes — ‘The One Thing,’ by Gary Keller with Jay Papasan

Note: I have long kept written notes on index cards about the books I read. I decided to share some of these thoughts here, and will be posting them, one by one on individual books, in no particular order. I’ll group them all together on a central page later. Thanks to Derek Sivers for the inspiration.

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The One Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results
By Gary Keller with Jay Papasan
Published: April, 2013
Read: December, 2015
Amazon link.

Brief re-cap: This is a short book with a simple thesis: In every job, there is one single activity that you should focus on that will improve your value to your company or your customers. You should focus on that, above all else, even if it means neglecting other responsibilities, the authors argue.

I didn’t find this book revelatory, exactly, but it served as a useful reminder of the necessity of prioritizing the most crucial projects over all others.

My notes:

  • You must disabuse yourself of several common notions in order to have the biggest impact in your work and life. One is the idea that humans are adept at multitasking, that we can do it all. You can only ever concentrate on one thing at a time. So choose wisely.

    Another myth is the idea that willpower is available on demand. In fact, willpower decreases throughout the day, like a cellphone battery draining bit by bit. That means you must get your most important work done early in the day, while you’re still able to concentrate to the best of your abilities.

  • You should block out four hours on your calendar every day for your “one thing,” and treat it like an appointment that can’t be broken. Day after day of concentration on your most important work will yield big results down the line.
  • Embrace chaos. When you prioritize your “one thing,” some other stuff won’t get done. But that’s okay.
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    Norm Ornstein Explains the Rise of Donald Trump

    Norm Ornstein, of the right-leaning American Enterprise Institute, explains the rise of Donald Trump:

    When you look at populism over the longer course of both American history and other countries that have suffered economic traumas as a result of financial collapse, you’re gonna get the emergence of some leaders who exploit nativism, protectionism, and isolationism. They’re components — sometimes greater, sometimes lesser — that are baked into the process. So you’ve got a bit of that.

    But if you forced me to pick one factor explaining what’s happened, I would say this is a self-inflicted wound by Republican leaders.

    Over many years, they’ve adopted strategies that have trivialized and delegitimized government. They were willing to play to a nativist element. And they tried to use, instead of stand up to, the apocalyptic visions and extremism of some cable television, talk radio, and other media outlets on the right.

    And add to that, they’ve delegitimized President Obama, but they’ve failed to succeed with any of the promises they’ve made to their rank and file voters, or Tea Party adherents. So when I looked at that, my view was, “what makes you think, after all of these failures, that you’re going to have a group of compliant people who are just going to fall in line behind an establishment figure?”

    Related post from last month: Michael Barone: ‘Trump Can’t Break the Republican Party.’.

    To which Mr. Ornstein might reply: It’s already broken, and that’s why Trump’s the Republican nominee.

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    Book Coming Out Later This Year: ‘The Art of Atari’

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    “The Art of Atari,” a book by pop culture author Robert V. Conte and designer Tim Lapetino set for publication in October, looks really amazing.

    From the description on Amazon:

    Sourced from private collections worldwide, this book spans over 40 years of the company’s unique illustrations used in packaging, advertisements, catalogs, and more.

    And:

    The Art of Atari includes behind-the-scenes details on how dozens of games featured within were conceived of, illustrated, approved (or rejected), and brought to life!

    There’s more artwork to marvel at on the book’s official site, ArtofAtari.com.

    (Via Kottke.)

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    On Exercise and Weight Loss — and a Re-Plug for the Excellent ‘Why Calories Count’

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    There’s a Vox story doing the rounds on social media called “Why you shouldn’t exercise to lose weight, explained with 60+ studies.”

    Much of the post will be old news to those who have read the excellent book “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics,” by Marion Nestle and Malden Nesheim.

    In Aug. 2012, I recommended the book here on Newley.com, summarizing some of the points the authors made on exercise:

    Many people over-emphasize the importance of exercise in weight loss. The best way to lose weight, or to maintain a healthy weight, is not to overeat. Yes, exercise is important because it keeps our bodies functioning optimally, and it provides psychological benefits. But to maintain your weight, just as we’ve heard through the years, its best to consume fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, etc. Yes: this is common sense.

    Interestingly, one reason, the authors say, that weight loss strategies in the U.S. so often focus heavily on exercise — think about the workout scenes in “The Biggest Loser” — is that exercise doesn’t threaten the food industry or policymakers. If you tell people to eat less, then the question becomes: Eat less of what? And that raises problems for, say, companies that derive their revenues from packaged food products. (As the saying goes, you can only squeeze so much profit out of broccoli.)

    If you’re interested in nutrition, exercise, and the culture of food, the book is a must-read.

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    In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Singapore’s ‘Smart Nation;’ Trump on India; Conroy on SC Eats; Dog Hug Warnings

    The latest edition of my email newsletter has gone out to subscribers. It’s pasted in below.

    To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox, sign up here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe!


    Hi friends,

    Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter where I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

    What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal:

    Singapore Is Taking the ‘Smart City’ to a Whole New Level – I’m really proud of this story, which was months in the making.

    My colleague Jake Watts and I wrote about the Singapore government’s unprecedented effort to collect data and assist city planners in making the country run more smoothly. There are, as we note, some privacy concerns.

    We also worked with colleagues on this interactive feature, which includes three animated videos showing how some of the technologies work. You might recognize the narrator’s voice.

    The story has proven quite popular, spending some time among the most-read stories on WSJ.com over the last few days and attracting more than 50 comments on our site. As of this writing it has been liked and shared more than 9,000 times on Facebook, and has garnered more than 100 comments there.

    What Donald Trump Said About Indian Call Center Workers – At a rally in Delaware, the Republican front-runner described his experience calling his credit card company in what he said was a quest to investigate outsourcing.

    5 items that are worth your time this week:

    1) Dogs don’t like being hugged. I really hope this research is off-base, but it makes sense.

    2) Speaking of dogs: At a recent Atlanta Braves game, a dog in a hot dog costume ate a hot dog. I love it. (Via Patrick B.)

    3) “Why do thieves steal soap?”” An interesting look at the economics of theft, including fencing, market demand and retail value.

    4) Improbable quote of the week:

    “Now I hear millennials and people of all ages saying Crystal City is so cool,”

    Wait, is Crystal City, Virginia becoming…hip?

    5) Hunger-inducing quote of the week: Pat Conroy on South Carolina food – among the state’s many wonders:

    The subject of food is a serious one the length and breadth of this state. Our barbeque sauce is mustard-based and our peanuts are boiled and served in wet paper bags. An oyster roast in sight of a lowcountry river is an act of priest-like enjoyment and cause for a pagan-like joy. At a Charleston hospital during my Citadel years, I met a leper who told me he contracted leprosy when he killed and ate an armadillo. I’ve no idea if he was telling the truth or not, but I didn’t wish to shake his hand and armadillo meat shall never pass my lips – but that’s the kind of thing that turns up when you’re moseying around South Carolina and you don’t mind talking to strangers.

    (Thanks, Miles B.!)

    Reader feedback: Regarding the very strange upcoming flick “Swiss Army Man,” which I mentioned last week, Colin C. writes in to say: “I liked Swiss Army Man better when it was called Cast Away and starred Tom Hanks. That movie was delightful.”

    Agreed!

    Have a great week!

    @Newley

    P.S. If someone forwarded you this email, you can subscribe here.

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    In This Week’s Newley’s Notes: Alibaba in SE Asia; Social VC in Vietnam; ‘Pet Sounds’ Turns 50; Self-Elevating Chopsticks

    The latest edition of my email newsletter has gone out to subscribers. It’s pasted in below.

    To get these weekly dispatches delivered to your inbox, sign up here. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s brief — and few people unsubscribe!


    Hi friends,

    Thanks for reading Newley’s Notes, a weekly newsletter where I share my WSJ stories, posts from my blog, and various interesting links.

    I haven’t been as good of late about sending these dispatches out every single week, mostly due to general busyness and travel. But I’m aiming to change that.

    What I wrote in The Wall Street Journal:

    Alibaba to Invest $1 Billion in E-Commerce Startup Lazada – A huge tech story here in Southeast Asia: The Chinese Web titan is making a big move for Lazada – a company may recall I profiled back in 2014 – in a bet on the growth of e-commerce here.

    TLDR: Alibaba wants to expand and grow outside China, and Lazada is a leader in selling stuff online in a part of the world that is populous and primed for growth as more and more people get connected for the first time.

    Vietnam: The Challenges of Investing in Social Good – A colleague and I put together this video about a San Francisco-based venture capital firm that’s funding startups in Vietnam. The goal: make money – and improve lives. (You may recognize the narrator’s voice.)

    5 items that are worth your time this week:

    1) “Trump Can’t Break the Republican Party”. That’s the title of a WSJ op-ed by political analyst and author Michael Barone, who puts The Donald’s rise – and coming fall? – into perspective:

    Even if Donald Trump secures the Republican nomination and somehow overcomes current polls to be elected president, there will be few Trump clones among Republicans in Congress and in state and local office.

    If he is nominated and defeated by a wide margin, he will not leave behind a Trumpist movement with the popular and intellectual depth of the conservative movement following Goldwater’s defeat 52 years ago—his legacy may be little more than an impulse toward opposition to trade agreements and legalization of illegal immigrants. If he is not nominated and tries to run as an independent, he will not have the support of as significant a third-party apparatus as Theodore Roosevelt did 104 years ago.

    2) Here’s the trailer for “Swiss Army Man”, which appears to be a very…odd new film starring Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe. Dano looks to be stranded on a desert island, then encounters Radcliffe, whose body is effectively…a Swiss Army knife. I think?

    3) Internet access is severely limited in Cuba, and many people turn to couriers who deliver pirated versions of movies, TV and music via USB drives. Their deliveries are known as “el paquete semanal,” or “the weekly package.” Not the first story to be written about this practice, but a pretty detailed account.

    4) This week in eating implements innovation: “Gravity Chopsticks” are built so that when you set them down, the business ends are lifted up in the air, and don’t get dirty. There is also a video.

    5) Various artists reflect on The Beach Boys’ “Pet Sounds,” which was released 50 years ago next month. It is one of my favorite albums of all time.

    Have a great week!

    @Newley

     

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    Michael Barone: ‘Trump Can’t Break the Republican Party’

    Michael Barone, in a WSJ op-ed Friday, puts the Trump phenomenon in historical context:

    Even if Donald Trump secures the Republican nomination and somehow overcomes current polls to be elected president, there will be few Trump clones among Republicans in Congress and in state and local office.

    If he is nominated and defeated by a wide margin, he will not leave behind a Trumpist movement with the popular and intellectual depth of the conservative movement following Goldwater’s defeat 52 years ago—his legacy may be little more than an impulse toward opposition to trade agreements and legalization of illegal immigrants. If he is not nominated and tries to run as an independent, he will not have the support of as significant a third-party apparatus as Theodore Roosevelt did 104 years ago.

    As this is written, it seems likely but not certain that Mr. Trump will fall visibly short of the 1,237-delegate majority, and that he will inflict significant damage on the Republican Party by protests or perhaps an independent candidacy. But probably nothing like the serious, though temporary, damage inflicted by that vastly more talented, experienced and intellectually serious disruptive New Yorker, Theodore Roosevelt.

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    Digital Media Startups Encounter Financial Troubles

    Digial media firms have begun grappling with some difficult financial realities.

    At NiemanLab, Ken Doctorow surveys the landscape:

    At BuzzFeed, a 32 percent miss in 2015 revenue and a halving of its 2016 revenue target, according to the Financial Times.

    At Mashable, a massive layoff after the company failed to sell itself.

    At Yahoo, an upcoming sale of its news-producing assets, portending great uncertainty for journalists employed there.

    At Medium, a new way forward focused more on curation and licensing its platform for publishers and less on original content creation.

    The list of cutbacks — at The Huffington Post, at Gawker, at Al Jazeera, at International Business Times, and at Salon among others — keeps growing. And each round poses new questions for a news business struggling to find a way forward in this millennium. After all, even if the old world of news faded (like its readers) into older age, at least we could point to the cohort of digital-native outlets with a bit of optimism.

    I feared this day would come — the new digital news companies bumping into a wall.

    Read the whole thing.

    Meanwhile, here’s Shira Ovide’s take at Bloomberg:

    Let the events of the past week serve as the 4,271st iteration of the same lesson: Digital media is hard. Every six months or so, companies that seemed to have cracked the formula for success in digital information and entertainment hit a wall. Names like Demand Media, Gawker, Mashable, Upworthy and BuzzFeed figure out how to get people to click, surf and share – and expectations go up. Then because of changes in tastes, technology and advertiser habits, it becomes more difficult to get people to click, surf and share. Business models that had traction for a while stop working as well or can’t live up to high hopes.

    Interesting times indeed.

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