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Letter #19 from a Learn-it-all

6 min

July reflection, why write, make climate change toast, executing, publicizing goals, succeeding in the unknown, zeitgeist

Hello fellow learner,

Greetings from Chicago, Illinois.

Happy August! I cannot believe we are here already. A year ago life looked much different. I was living at a Hyatt House in Addison, Texas for a 6-week training for my first salaried job at Korn Ferry. What an exciting time it was while simultaneously figuring out where I'd relocate to in Chicago. I met some amazing friends that are dispersed across the country. Shoutout to them and our adventure at Barton Springs in Austin, Texas a year ago today. I miss swinging from a rope, like Tarzan.

Now, let’s dive into letter 19 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!

Some things I’ve learned through…

🤔 Reflecting

Over the weekend, I did a review on the past month. It was extremely helpful to stop and pause. It's super simple and I highly recommend giving it a shot to recognize patterns in the actions that you take. Some highlights include:

What I lacked:

What I learned:

What I loved:

I appreciate you all so much. This project is ever-evolving and I want to make it the best it can be. I'd love to know: what keeps you coming back to read it? You can respond directly to this email and thank you in advance!

🖊 Writing

This week I reinforced my daily writing habit and shared 5 Ship It posts that I explained my rationale behind last week here. My favorite piece was Why Write:

My other posts are below:

🥑 Doing

During altMBA I had fun working with my learning group this week. We had the prompt of exploring empathy on a topic you disagree with since we are irrational. We also had some value proposition and target audience exercises.  My favorite part was collaborating on a marketing campaign to Make Climate Change Toast. It's targeted at millennials for their undeniable love for avocado toast and how they can be a part of the change they wish to see in the world. Composting can help fight climate change by creating healthier soil, growing foods more locally, sequestering carbon, and minimizing landfill waste. #Donotjustpostcompost

I have never been a composter but after this campaign, I am now enticed. Let me know if you have any tips for composting!

🎧 Listening

I listened to the writer, musician, programmer, and entrepreneur, Derek Sivers, get interviewed by Shane Parrish on the Knowledge Project. This is the first time I discovered Derek. Thank goodness the rock I was living under has finally been turned over. There was some gold to be heard. My highlights are below:

On his world view

It feels unnecessarily ceremonial. People imitates other without questioning them enough. I don't want to learn their way, I don't want to be like them. So instead, I just ignore it all and ask myself, "What's the real point of all of this?"

On why an idea's worth is based on its execution:

On how the timing of a life-changing book matters:

[After Tim Ferriss and I swapped favorite books] we realized that we both read these formative books ourselves when we were teenagers. I think it's more about timing. I don't know if Awaken the Giant Within is actually a great book, but I read it at a formative time when I was 18 and super ambitious and ready to take on the world.

On how he intersects ideas from notes in books to serve as separate atoms:

It's like I'm joining the conversation of these thinkers. I want to see what I can add... It almost feels like if I was a painter, and I was allowed to bring a blank canvas into a great museum and I could sit in the room of my favorite paintings ever and paint my own. It is not imitating their's, but it's influenced.

🎬 Watching

I watched a TED Talk by Sivers on why to Keep your goals to yourself. He explains how psychology research shows that publicizing goals makes you less motivated to accomplish them. The theory is that through openly sharing ambitions, the mind tricks you into already believing it is already complete. Once that satisfaction is recognized, you're less likely to do the hard work you set out to do.

Decide for yourself, but I do not fully agree. I see it as public accountability to follow through on my promises. It is part of the reason I wrote every day this past week after showcasing the goal to you all.

📖 Reading

I read Siver's short piece on How to thrive in an unknowable future. He succinctly describes six directives that I took away as being quite applicable for these uncertain times we're living in. They include:

1. Prepare for the worst.

2. Expect disaster.

3. Own as little as possible.

4. Choose opportunity, not loyalty.

5. Choose the plan with the most options.

6. Avoid planning.

Directives (1) and (5) resonated the most with me. They both emphasize helping your future self by optimizing in the present decisions. Which ones do would you implement yourself?

🔎 Defining a Word

Zeitgeist: (n) spirit of the time; the general intellectual and moral state or temper characteristic of any period of time; a cultural phenomenon

Author Anna Quindlen has shared that, "This is more difficult because there is no zeitgeist to read, no template to follow, no mask to wear. Set aside what your friends expect, what your parents demand, what your acquaintances require. Set aside the messages this culture sends, through its advertising, its entertainment, its disdain and its disapproval about how you should behave."

🌟 Inspiring Quote

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” - Thomas Edison

My interpretation: Do not see something as a failure when it is merely feedback. It is time to either make a tweak or go back to the drawing board. Failure does not mean giving up. Giving up does not mean failure. When something does not work, it is time to iterate and pivot.

💭 Pondering a Question

How could you turn on your motivation to do a task as easy as starting a car is by turning a key in its ignition?

I appreciate you reading this! If any of the ideas resonated or you have feedback to improve, feel free to leave a comment, replying to this email, or sending me a message on Twitter @JenVermet.

Never stop learning 😊

Until next week,


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