1. How To Fail At Almost Everything and Still Win Big – Scott Adams
Counterintuitive thinking on how one attains success. It’s a fun read, he’s a cartoonist so you can imagine how much fun Scott has in a book. My favourite part was the first time reading through, he gives you some piece of contrarian advice and then follows it up with “remember, you are the one taking advice from a cartoonist”. He’s not afraid to make fun of himself. Read more
The first thing I tell my class when teaching is that I’m only good at two things, baking chocolate chip cookies (I’m really good at it) and getting excited about Volleyball, as in coaching or helping a team. Everything else I’m not that good at. When you really think about it, no one is amazing at a lot of things. I mean some people just seem to be really good in several areas of their life. But when you find someone who’s amazing at something, usually they lack in many other areas of their life. And when I say “lack” I don’t mean we’re bad at those things, we just haven’t had the practice we need. I feel a lot of people need to have the power of being “smarter” than others, be it ego, self esteem or lack there of. Anyone in a leadership role (coach, teacher, professor, manager, boss) should never deliberately act smarter than anyone else. This comes out in correcting others, arguing, overtly disagreeing, putting others down, and generally being a know it all. Don’t be that person in life. No one likes a know it all.
The Oxford Philosopher Isaiah Berlin wrote the now famous essay, The Fox and the Hedgehog. The Fox knows many things but the Hedgehog only knows one important thing. It’s an analogy that works for many different life situations. Psychologist Phillip Tetlock studied the political predictions of two different types of expert speculators, foxes and hedgehogs. Throughout the 20th century Hedgehogs were more likely to get prime time television slots on Fox political hour(they made the big bold predictions) but Foxes seems to be right far more often in their predictions. An anomaly in political predictions, the more press you get, the more you think you’re right.
“I am not very good at a lot of things.” -Jeph Maystruck
I like to look at the Fox and the Hedgehog in regards to my life. I was never the Jack of all trades growing up. I didn’t fix things around the house, I wasn’t overly helpful when things broke. I still don’t fix things around the house, I just not a fox. This amuses my family. I don’t change my own oil or winter tires. They usually bug me about it. Not any more!!
I say not any more because of what happened the other weekend. I bring my car over to my parents place and my family is going to help put on my winter tires. We get half way done when two tires won’t come off the vehicle. We literally tried and tried to no avail. I went home with two winter tires on and two summer tires. The next day I had to explain to the folks at Quicklane why I had two tires changed out already! ha! I told my family they can’t make fun of me for not wanting to be “handy”. I trust experts to do what they do best. Long live the hedgehogs.
You can get great at many things but you’re much better off to focus your attention on one thing and try to be the best in the world at it.
It’s a simple thought that has profound consequences.
If you wish to be the best, you must study the best.
If you want to be amazing at golf, study the great golfers.
If you want to be an amazing comedian, watch the great comedians.
If you want to be a world renown hypnotist, you’d be wise to study the greatest hypnotists in the world.
Never before has it been easier to study the masters of our craft. Whatever you do, whatever you’re into, you can find someone in the world who’s amazing at it and better yet you can subscribe to their YouTube channel.
Start following people you’d consider a mentor in your line of work.
For the past 5 years I’ve been listening to some of the greatest storytellers of our time. They study their craft, they try different things and they keep their audience coming back for more every week.
I regularly listen to Ira Glass from the This American Life podcast. Ira is one of the best storytellers I’ve ever listened to. If Malcolm Gladwell’s 10,000 hour rule is true, I’d be willing to bet that Ira Glass has told stories for well over 10,000 hours. He’s simply brilliant to listen to.
Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner from the Freakonomics series of books (Freakonomics, Super Freakonomics, Think Like a Freak), movie and now a podcast. I think Freakonomics should be one of the books you have to read in highschool, much like Shakespeare, but a new and improved fascinatingly remarkable Shakespeare.
Another long time favourite of mine, RadioLab. You have to listen to it to believe it. But Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich entertain week in week out. The production on RadioLab is probably the best out of any podcast I’ve every listened to. The saying “you never get more out of something than what you put in to it” couldn’t be more true for RadioLab. They tell some of the most fascinating stories.
In the marketing world, I like listening to the Six Pixels of Separation podcast. The host Mitch Joel is Canadian, he run an agency out of Toronto and Montreal. He always ends up asking the most interesting questions, he’s one of the smartest marketing minds in our world, you’ll see a lot more of Mitch Joel in the future. (oh yeah, and he’s CANADIAN! That’s awesome)
The BeanCast is another of my all time favs. Bob Knorpp invites 3-4 guests who’re are notable marketing minds from all over the world, you get a diverse opinion on many topics from Social Media to traditional advertising. Some of my favourite episodes are the ones with Peter Shankman, Edward Bouches, Scott Monty, and of course Saul Colt.
One last honourable mention goes to WNYC’s Planet Money Podcast. Always a new and interesting topic that the hosts seem to spin into the coolest story you’ve heard all week. You have to listen to Planet Money at least once, you’re guaranteed to learn a lot!
I want to be an amazing storyteller one day, I know that will take a lot of practice, but that’s the hard part you can’t fake past. But it’s never been easier to find our mentors, to follow our hero’s, and to watch the very people we look up to.