Worthy of imitation

How to leverage our observations as creators

Ann Handley interviewed BJ Novack, and I learned this tip...

Just like BJ I used to take notes, but I never went back over them.... I could DO that!

Total Annarchy: 10 ways to be more creative: My interview with actor, writer BJ Novak, 2024-05-12 by Ann Handley

Prepare for inspiration; plan for execution.  BJ's creative process has two components: inspirations that he captures in a small notebook he carries everywhere (he pulled it out of his breast pocket onstage); and execution.


Every few weeks he blocks time to review the notebook, transferring the richest observations from his hand onto his computer—grouping and expanding ideas as he goes. That becomes the peat moss where insights and ideas take root.

How to do things if you're not that smart and don't have any talent

Adaobi has many great suggestions about how to make a difference on a team. Here's just one of the great ones.

Adaobi's Substack: How to do things if you're not that smart and don't have any talent, 2024-Jan-28 by Adaobi Adibe

Most people are super sensitive to being seen as annoying, and that’s the primary reason they don’t follow up and therefore watch opportunities go down the drain. Super simple solution, follow up! Most people just forget to respond, haven’t prioritized your request, or something else along those lines. But don’t just follow up, make it easy for the other participant to act on this too. For example, if you are following up on a due-to-be-scheduled meeting with someone, offer multiple specific times (including “now”), offer to meet them where they are (if possible), and send them light talking points so that they know the meeting won’t be a waste of their time. This will make it a lot easier for them to want to accept and actually turn up.

Working VS. Inbox Management

I pride myself on communicating well with people, and it's hard to realize the "inbox zero" is not an appropriate goal. But it's not.

The Browser: I Am No Longer Good At Email, 2024-Feb-8 by Caroline Crampton:

The task is the writing, the editing, the researching, the thinking. Using email to notify others of what I have produced or concluded is just what happens when I have finished. It is not a category of its own. There is no virtue in doing that promptly if the work itself is not good, nor in only looking at my inbox at certain proscribed times of day.

Made me laugh, and made me think, too!

I have to share this quote which struck me as SO funny and SO insightful. We "know" things based on our experience. And yet, our experience is not universal. The best way to make it more universal is to share it. Think about it! How many times have you swallowed your opinion when you ought to have shared it?

NY Times: The internet takes some time off, 2023-Sep-1, by Madison Malone Kircher

There is a pet theory I’ve long held about the internet. I will disclose upfront that it has absolutely zero scientific merit. The only peer review it has received is me telling my actual peers about it. You are now all my friends.


Better Storytelling with 3 Reveals, from Ann Handley

I'm still on the road to become a good storyteller, and Ann Handley recently offered a great tip. (A-ha: better way to connect with the reader.)

Total Annarchy newsletter: Yes, You Did See Me on MasterChef, 2023-Jun-4 by Ann Handley

Every story should reveal three truths. I call this the 3 Reveals (because I'm not great at titles).


  1. Reveal the writer to the reader: Help the reader understand the writer.
  2. Reveal the reader to the reader: Help the reader see themselves.
  3. Reveal an idea: Help deliver an a-ha moment.

Any story is a kind of partnership between the writer and the reader.

When one of the truths isn't present—a story falls flat. Feels inauthentic. Is boring.


A balance between all 3 Reveals is key. Over-indexing on one can easily throw the whole experience out of whack, like a wobbly wheel on a shopping cart that keeps listing too much to the right. You fight it—and the whole thing becomes annoying.


Building Trust in Marketing Messages

Michael Katz just published a great newsletter issue about building trust with your audience. It's fun to read, and I won't give away the message here!

Blue Penguin Development: Trust-Based Marketing, 2023-Mar-16 by Michael Katz

Trust is Not a Given

Since that day [first-time paragliding], I’ve given a lot of thought to trust (and life insurance). More specifically, what allowed me, with all my fears, to move ahead?

I think it came down to three things, all of which also relate to how prospective clients decide to commit (or not) and work with professional service providers like us…

#1. Professionalism....

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Our Favorite Peacenik on the Ukraine War

Nonzero Newsletter: The Ukraine Archives 2023-Feb-23 by Robert Wright:

I’m proud of the things this newsletter has published about the Ukraine war—not because I think they’re all great, but because collectively they represent a clear alternative to the perspective offered in mainstream media, where both reporting and commentary have tended to succumb to the conformist pressures that emanate from wars.  

So I thought I’d mark this dark anniversary by listing some of these NZN posts—both written pieces and podcasts—along with a brief summary and/or reflection for each. I’m confining the list of written pieces to the first six months of the war, but a few of the podcasts are more recent than that.

Almost all of these posts are “unlocked”—available to the entire reading public, not just paid subscribers.


Learn about yourself and your 4000 Weeks

Leader, software engineer, and designer Lee Byron has created an interactive tribute to Oliver Burkeman's book, Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals.

Lee's creation is lovely and thought-provoking. If you visit, you are asked to share your age so the number of days you've been alive can be counted. However, you don't have to put your real birthday into the form to enjoy the story.

Lee Byron:

A tribute to the book by Oliver Burkeman, an exploration of time management in the face of human finitude, and addressing the anxiety of “getting everything done.”


See it here.