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Letter #31 from a Learn-it-all

5 min

Karaoke, Performative speaking, Linchpins, moxie, the younger you

Hello fellow learner,

Greetings from Chicago, Illinois!

It was an exciting week. I leaned into spontaneity. I convinced my sister to come up on a stage and sing karaoke with me. I thought I had a bad case of stage fright. Steph needed a pep talk a lot more than I did. I convinced her that the worse thing that would happen is we would start dancing. Also, that of the 15 people at the establishment, we were unlikely to ever see them again. There would be no shame involved as long as we had fun.

We got up there and belted out one of my favorite songs: No One by Alicia Keys. Note to self: choose a song that requires a voice type that I have. This does not include soprano. What would you sing?

The other more exciting news is that I started onboarding and finished my first week as a content manager at a marketing agency. Astutely helps experienced founders become thought leaders. It is done by delivering empathetic communication: Messages that connect with their audience's hearts and heads. I am excited about what is ahead! More to come in the future.

Now, let’s dive into letter 31. Enjoy!

Some things I’ve learned through…

🗣️ Performative Speaking

I completed the first week of a Performative Speaking course. My goals going into this course are to become:

One of my first assignments is to record myself sharing my values. This has taken some time for introspection, but in order to be a better speaker, I need to be grounded in how the audience sees me. I can’t say that that I look forward to recording videos of myself so each week this will be an exercise of leaning into discomfort. I want to make this something that I look forward to.

🚢 Shipping It

I reinforced my daily writing habit and shared five Ship Its. Each of the pieces is less than 400 words. I explained my rationale behind starting it here.

My pieces from this past week were:

  1. Ignorance - The awareness of ignorance is the start of wisdom. As philosopher Epictetus said, "An ignorant person is inclined to blame others for his own misfortune. To blame oneself is proof of progress. But the wise man never has to blame another or himself.”
  2. Beginner's Mindset -  It means starting from scratch. To be a beginner again. Not many wish for this. There are many shortcuts in life. This is not the default choice. Why spend hours trying a new recipe for home-made cookies that might not turn out, when you can buy a batch at the store?
  3. Self-Chameleon - Someone who changes to their environment and atmosphere. They adapt their outlook depending on what the situation is. Adam Grant advises that we get out of our comfort zone to figure out where our regular fissioning is so that we can re-charge. We need to find our restorative niche to reorient.
  4. A letter to 10-year-old me - I know I viewed you as nothing special. You were below average height and weight. A twiggy, blade of grass. A meek dancer. A perfectionist student. An above-average swimmer. An inclusive friend. A timid sailor. A defensive soccer player. A dull pianist. A mourning granddaughter. A noob journaler. Despite all this, I miss your frivolousness.
  5. Loneliness is normal - There is an implicit problem with being a human. We bore into this world and enjoyed the basic comforts of food and hugs. Then society turns on us. The admission of loneliness becomes a taboo. Normalcy is created that since you don't grow up feeling lonely, it should stay this way.

📖 Reading

I read the first half of Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? by Seth Godin. It's about how there used to be two teams in every workplace: management and labor. Now there's a third team: the linchpins.

What is a linchpin?

They figure out what to do when there's no rule book. They're indispensable. They love their work, pour their best selves into it and each day becomes a kind of art. Linchpins leverage something internal, not external, to create a position of power and value.

There is a shift taking place since the last century. Godin defines the old American Dream to include: keeping your head down, following instructions, showing up on time, working hard, and sucking it up. He describes the new American Dream to embrace being remarkable, generosity, creating art, making judgment calls, and connecting people and ideas.

On the resistance and why creating art is not easy:

It turns out that it's biological. Deep within your brain lies the amygdala, the lizard brain. It sets out to sabotage anything that feels threatening, risky, or generous. Until you name, recognize and deal with the resistance, you will stay frustrated.

On regret minimization and success:

Successful people are successful because of one simple reason: they think about failure differently... They learn that the tactics they used didn't work or that the person they used them on didn't respond. You become a winner because you're good at losing.

On finding your path:

Emotional labor is what you get paid to do, and one of the most difficult types of emotional labor is staring into the abyss of choice and picking a path.

🌟 Quote to inspire

"It's time to stop complying with the system and draw your own map. You have brilliance in you, your contribution is essential, and the art you create is precious. Only you can do it, and you must." –Seth Godin

🔎 Word to define

Moxie: energy, pep, courage, determination, know-how, expertise.

Next time I sing karaoke, I want to have the sort of moxie that Anne Hathaway had while singing “Somebody to Love” in the movie Ella Enchanted.

In 1876, Moxie was originally a brand of carbonated beverage. It is among the first mass-produced soft drinks in the United States. It was created by Augustin Thompson as a patent medicine called "Moxie Nerve Food". Moxie's flavor was a unique, sweet drink with a bitter aftertaste. Thompson was convinced that Moxie was effective against "paralysis, softening of the brain, nervousness, and insomnia".

I had no idea that a soft drink used to historically claim to serve any other purpose than delight. I used to drink “pop” (as we say in Michigan) because it offers energy with its caffeine and the rush from the sugar high.

💭 Question to ponder

Instead of the older version of you on your deathbed, what would the younger ten-year-old version of you think of you today?

I appreciate you reading this! If certain ideas resonated or you have feedback to improve my future newsletters, I’d love you to leave a comment, reply to this email, or send me a message on Twitter @JenVermet.

Never stop learning 😁

Until next week,


P.S. enjoy this shot of my dad sporting a Canadian tuxedo— his new denim jacket (we bought together) in tandem with more jeans. I love walking the doggos with my dad.

P.P.S. Remember to rest and take cat naps. The legend that I live up to of doing this: my cat Smudge. She can easily sleep the whole day away in front of the fire.

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