Medley 221: Gardens, Negatives, Farming, Memes, College, Meetings, Meat, Batons, Slowing Down...

This is the Monday Medley, a newsletter that goes out, you guessed it, every Monday. I republish it here for sharing and referencing, but if you'd like to sign up you can do so right here:

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Happy Monday!

Nothing much to announce today, so let's just get on to the Medley.

The World of Ideas

⏳ I absolutely loved this piece on "The Garden of Forking Memes: How Digital Media Distorts Our Sense of Time" The high-level premise is that our sense of time is dependent on the information and reference points we expose ourselves to, and that by creating a perfect memory of the world and infinite subcultures through which to interpret it, the Internet has created distorted senses of time for each and every one of us.

"We don’t have complete control over what we remember and when — there’s a subconscious system that “finds” old memories and “projects” them onto our mind’s eye... In many ways, social media’s recommendation algorithms are an externalized version of this mysterious inner search process. But they’re not optimized to help us survive; they have a financial interest in prolonging our state of timeless confusion."

🤐 One challenge with living in the Internet world is not having an opinion on something, or practicing "negative capacity." Defined as "the willingness to embrace uncertainty, live with mystery, and make peace with ambiguity."

🐢 If you want to have better ideas and opinions though, one good practice might be to think slower. As Derek Sivers points out:

"People say that your first reaction is the most honest, but I disagree. Your first reaction is usually outdated. Either it’s an answer you came up with long ago and now use instead of thinking, or it’s a knee-jerk emotional response to something in your past."

🧠 And if you want some good ideas to get your brain going, read a few of the "ideas that changed my life" from Morgan Housel.

The World of College

🏫 This is a phenomenal article about the opportunity many college students have before them, everyone in college should read it. A few quotations:

"The fact is, many colleges — especially private liberal arts schools, the ones that have driven much of the discussion in recent weeks — are cloistered, passive settings. Students are fed and housed, just as they were at home; their time and activities are structured, just as it was when they were still in high school. College may give them wonderful opportunities to think, form relationships, and self-define. But it seldom gives them the chance to productively engage with the world."

"We may regard teenagers as unruly and rebellious. But what they may really be is restless, pining for greater agency and productivity, utility... Rather than doing a crummy internship while you’re learning from home, go do something exciting! What do you want to build?

"Having the chance to be useful — not to their families, but to the world — is a luxury at this moment. Students ought to embrace it. They may be astonished by what they find."

👨‍🌾 And if you're not sure what you should work on, you should honestly consider some type of manual labor or farming.

"The day is long past when most school-age children benefitted from work and instruction that gave them in turn a practical assurance of their worth. They have now mostly disappeared from the countryside and from the streets and houseyards of the towns. In this new absence and silence of the children, parents, teachers, church people, and public officials hold meetings to wonder what to do about the drug problem. The screen problem receives less attention, but it may be the worst of the two because it wears the aura of technological progress and social approval."

The World of Meetings

👋 I like the idea of this scheduling system where you start the week with 1:1s between managers and direct reports, then they meet with their managers the next day to pass info up the chain, then you have your team meetings the day after. By the time you get to the team meeting Wednesday, a bunch of the little conversations that would normally take up a lot of people's time have already been done.

📑 Though in the interest of cutting down meetings, I also really like the Amazon model where everyone spends a few minutes reading all the updates at the start of the meeting, so that you don't have to spend time going through each person reading off their updates to each other.

☎️ If your company is new to working remotely, getting rid of unnecessary meetings or at least reducing how many people have to attend them is a really good way to progress through the levels of distributed work autonomy.

🏃‍♂️ And if you really want to level up how well you work in a distributed world, this idea of improving your baton handoffs is a great story from the Japanese track team.

The World of Food

🥚 Vital Farms, a popular seller of pasture-raised eggs, is planning to IPO soon. And there's something kinda crazy about their numbers. For every $6 carton of a dozen eggs, they pay farmers $0.80. If a farm wants a 50% margin just looking at labor, and if the labor costs $10/hr, whoever is collecting eggs needs to collect 25 dozen eggs every hour. That seems pretty aggressive for how natural and free-range their labeling is, but maybe that's possible? Either way, there's a noticeable difference between the eggs I can get directly from local farms vs. what Vital Farms supplies.

🤔 You might have heard about Siete cassava flour tortillas as a good gluten-free alternative to normal flour tortillas. But just being gluten-free isn't enough: for me at least, they absolutely wrecked my blood sugar levels. But corn tortillas had a much lower impact. This is extra interesting since Siete cassava chips have no impact on my blood sugar, so I'm not sure what's going on here.

🇬🇧 And big props to Boris Johnson who recognized how much his weight and poor health played into his COVID recovery, and for now pushing the UK to make fighting obesity part of their pandemic response plan.

Just for Fun

🥩This is a hilarious edit of Mark Zuckerberg's congressional testimony and the famous meat smoking video.

🎙 And Jeff Bezos's speech about starting Amazon and where it is today that he prepared for the same congressional testimony is quite elegant.

End Note

As always, if you're enjoying the Medley, I'd love it if you shared it with a friend or two. You can send them here to sign up. I try to make it one of the best emails you get each week, and I hope you're enjoying it.

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And should you come across anything interesting this week, send it my way! I love finding new things to read through members of this newsletter.

Have a great week,
Nat

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