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Letter #33 from a Learn-it-all

5 min

Evoking emotion with food, Breaking Rules, Compound Writing Community, Polina Marinova, Gung Ho, Originality, Creating better versions, Internet friends

Hello fellow learner,

Greetings from Chicago, Illinois!

What an interesting and stressful election week it was here in the States. The 70 degree and sunny weather helped to make up for it. My theory: Mother Nature realized 2020 had been a hard year and is trying to make up for it before the brutal winter awaits.

I had a lovely picnic outside with my roommates. I can never stockpile enough vitamin D before winter, so it was a dandy couple of days.  I got a modeling lesson from my roommate. Here's a picture of me and a lovely tree.

Now, let’s dive into letter 33 from a learn-it-all. Enjoy!

Some things I’ve learned through…

🚢 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.

Below are my favorite three this past week. I tried something new and the first two are poems:

For or Against Rules? - Creativity and mind-wandering are magical, but do they still need boundaries?

You are an Expert - Where is the line to be crossed to officially be an expert in something? At the end of the day, we are all aficionados in ourselves since no one knows us better than ourselves.

Simple yet Significant - This piece was inspired by my Performative Speaking teacher Robbie. When at a lack of structure, choose to be more simple especially while communicating.

✍️ Compound Writing

I joined the November cohort in Compound Writing. It is a collaborative writing community where I can ideate, draft, and edit my writing among peers to level up with more structure. I am excited to hone my craft so that these newsletters can improve too!

This past week Compound hosted a virtual event with the guest speaker Polina Marinova, author of The Profile: a weekly deep-dive on a prominent individual that takes you on a journey from their greatest triumphs to their most gut-wrenching failures. Polina documents the lessons they’ve learned along the way, and how you can implement them in your own life.

I related very much to Polina's story on never enjoying history while growing up in its abstract form. Through writing profiles, she immerses readers in unique perspectives of the most curious, innovative, and successful people in the world. While reading each Profile, it allows us to see someone else's point of view even if we might disagree; this creates empathy. People connect best with people and their stories.

A favorite piece I have read are her lessons learned to fully commit and launch her company after quitting her full-time job at Fortune magazine. It is inspiring and I highly recommend reading to overcome self-doubt for any project you pursue.

To become more original, Polina mentioned how you need to ask the right questions to innovate. She recommended an episode of Chef's Table that I jumped to watch after realizing the restaurant in the episode is less than one mile away from my home in Chicago.

🎬 Watching

On Netflix, I watched superstar American Chef Grant Achatz explain his story of how he got to where he is today at a top restaurant in the world called Alinea. Achatz went from being a chef who could not taste due to cancer, being recovered, then going above and beyond to continue to create a unique dining experience.

His goal is to create surprises that wow diners with mystery, emotion, discomfort, and magic. He fell in love at an early age to surpass his parents who owned a diner where the food lacked expression and creativity.

I admire Achatz's relentless exploration and questioning everything from why you should eat with a fork or a spoon to why you have to eat from a plate just because that was how it was done in the past. He is not an obedient rule follower. Through focusing on aromas and scents, he can play mind games with guests to bring about memories and evoke nostalgia.

I have walked by Alinea a gazillion times without realizing it. In my defense, it does not at all look like a restaurant in a traditional sense. It's not supposed to. Alinea means the beginning of a new train of thought.

🔎 Word to define

Gung Ho: unthinkingly enthusiastic and eager, especially about taking part in fighting or warfare.

Etymology: gung ho originated during World War II from the Chinese word gōnghé, taken to mean ‘work together’. Observers were impressed by how the Chinese troops worked together using a system of cooperation. It is now adopted as a slogan by US Marines to mean the highest compliment.

🌟 Quote to inspire

“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.” —C.S. Lewis

💭 Question to ponder

Is this the best version of this or how can I do it better?

Inspired by Grant Achatz always asked himself this to create better iterations of his masterpieces in Alinea. Your creativity can be of multiple mediums. How can you make it better?

📷 Photo of the Week

Featured is a past classmate from altMBA that I completed this past August. I connected with Dan McGlinn after the program ended, nevertheless, we started a book club soon after. Each time I meet another Internet friend IRL, it is surreal.

Topics of discussion: Seth Godin's newest book The Practice Shipping Creative Work, life resumes inspired by Jesse Itzler, the habit of running, and how tasty the burgers were at River Roast. Apparently, I need to try it with an egg next time.

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,


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