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Letter #34 from a Learn-it-all

5 min

Learning how to learn, core values, words for obscure emotions, Scattergories, life's meaning, seeking discomfort, WOP friend

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Hello fellow learner,

Good morning from Chicago, Illinois.

We now have 153 readers of these letters! I am beyond grateful for you all taking the time to read these. Please don’t hesitate to reach out and share any thoughts on the content I create and curate for you. I’d love to make these of more value to you. If this has been forwarded to you, I’d love for you to subscribe to join along in the journey.

This past weekend I feasted at a Friendsgiving. Too much food was eaten but it was really fun. Not only because of the noms, but also the new game I got to play. I'll explain more about this later on in the letter.

So, what's in store for this issue?

  1. Some highlights on learning how to learn
  2. A video explaining my core values
  3. A Tweetstorm with a story of why I love learning
  4. A TED Talk on beautiful new words to describe obscure emotions
  5. An explanation of why we are all creative
  6. Inspiration from the creator of the comic book Calvin and Hobbes
  7. A question to help create courage to leave your comfort zone
  8. A picture with a classmate turned colleague

Now, let’s dive into letter 34 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. I've written for 80 days of short-form pieces and have 20 left to go before I get to 100!

This past week, I reviewed my notes from my favorite MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) that I took in 2019 on learning how to learn with Dr. Barbara Oakley. This inspired my favorite posts below:

The Enemy of Einstellung - What you already know can hurt you. It is why I believe that know-it-alls exist.

Baking the Cake in the Background - While it takes focus to get all the ingredients while baking a cake, once it is in the oven, it takes patience and time to allow the reactions to occur that transform it. This is why the diffuse mode and focused mode of thinking are essential to partner together.

Choose to Learn Creatively - Learning doesn't have to have one right answer, like memorizing a fact. That takes the fun out of it. So many things in life are actually creative yet we lose sight of it. We grow up and get boring.

🗣️ Performative Speaking

For my performative speaking course, I finally got this video to a place to publish after some stellar feedback from my classmates. As a preview, this four-minute video explains how I use my core values of adventure, authenticity, and curiosity as my compass in my life.

I'd love to know any ideas of your own values by posting a comment or responding to this email. It was an extremely helpful exercise for me that I know you would reap rewards from as well.

🐦 Tweeting

I shared a story of why the heck I love learning so much in a series of tweets. I joined a challenge to do more of these Tweet Threads as part of Compound Writing, so you will be seeing more of these in the future.

🎲 Scattergories

Scattergories is a game where you roll a giant die with letters on each side. You fill out a list with random categories like actors, colors, things you find in a zoo. Each answer needs to start with the designated letter. You get a point for each original answer. The person with the most points wins.

The reason I loved playing this game is that it showed how everyone playing was creative in their own unique way. It also challenged me to try to think fast and move on if I couldn't think of a word. There's an opportunity to make a stretch with being abstract which makes it fun finding links. You also have a leg up if you can try to predict what is on your competitors’ minds. I liked the most hearing the responses of everyone and realizing how differently we had thought of a category.

This was my first time playing it and I look forward to playing it again!

🎬 Watching

In my previous letter 20, I defined the word Sonder. As a refresher, it means the realization that everyone else's lives are as complex and unknowable as our own. Little did I know, this word was made up by John Koenig. I watched his TED Talk called Beautiful new words to describe obscure emotions. John loves finding words that express our unarticulated feelings, so much so, he started writing The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows in 2009. It is an original dictionary of made-up words.

My key takeaways are:

🔎 Word to define

Anemoia: nostalgia for a time you’ve never known (taken from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows)

Looking at old photos, it's hard not to feel a kind of wanderlust—a pang of nostalgia for times you've never experienced. Those who lived and died before any of us arrived here, who sleep in some of the same houses we do, who look up at the same moon, who breathe the same air, feel the same blood in their veins—and live in a completely different world.

🌟 Quote to inspire

"Creating a life that reflects your values and satisfies your soul is a rare achievement. To invent your own life's meaning is not easy, but it's still allowed, and I think you'll be happier for the trouble." -Bill Waterson

💭 Question to ponder

How have you sought out discomfort in your life in the past? How can you do it again in the future to expand your comfort zone?

📷 Photo of the week

This week my friend Naseem Malik is featured. Naseem is the first person I’ve met in real life from my favorite writing class back in July. He's a supply chain aficionado and talent entrepreneur whose mission is to put the human back into the hiring process. It's been great teaming up together. Vitalize Talent has big plans in store for 2021!

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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