15 of My Favorite Blog Posts & News Articles From January 2014

“We *should* blog less,” my good friend Jenny Blake said emphatically the last time we talked. “There’s a lot of great content online now, but there’s also so much noise competing for our attention. It’s not like back when we started writing.”

She’s 100% right — as Mark Schaefer’s post about content shock (below) covers in great detail.

With all the noise overwhelming our lives and our social streams it’s easy to miss the good stuff. Content like tweets, in particular, are especially perishable. That’s why I’ve always been a fan of highlighting some of my favorite posts at the end of each month. Though, the last time I did it was June 2011. I think that’s about the time Alaina (my *now* wife) started talking to me.

In truth, the highlight posts never did very well and that’s probably why I discontinued them. Maybe you all just don’t trust me as a curator yet. Either way, I’m thinking of bringing them back because I like being able to revisit them for reference or inspiration at some point in the future.

So here’s my effort to provide a little signal by curating some of the best/most interesting/funniest posts (and sometimes videos) I read during the month of January 2014. I do the hard work so you don’t have to.


How to Stop Feeling Guilty – Ramit

Feeling guilty is a choice — one that you can choose not to do through your actions. Here’s the simple framework to use: YES, IT’S MY RESPONSIBILITY! If something goes wrong in a social situation, don’t blame the other person for being an asshole. Ask yourself: Hey, maybe they are rude, but what did I do to cause that?

See, guilt is the first sign that something’s wrong. But most people stop there. “I feel guilty” is not the end, but the beginning of taking action. There’s a better way. When you take on this role — that I can’t control others but I can control myself — it’s actually empowering. Instead of the inchoate guilt you feel with no outlet for fixing it, you look at life like a series of experiments.


Healthy Benefits for the Long Run – David Heinermeier Hansson 

Employee benefits for technology companies are often focused around making people stay at office longer. Instead we (37 Signals) focus on benefits that get people out of the office as much as possible. One of the absolute keys to going the distance, and not burning out in the process, is going at a sustainable pace.

These benefits (listed in the post) form the core of our long-term outlook: Frequent time to refresh, constant encouragement to eat and live healthy. Pair that with the flexibility that remote working offers, and I think we have a pretty good package. We ultimately want 37signals to have the potential of being the last job our people ever need.

When you think about what it’ll take to keep someone happy and fulfilled for 10, 20, 30 years into the future, you adopt a very different vantage point from our industry norm.


But What if I Fail – Seth Godin

The answer to the what if question is, you will. A better question might be, “after I fail, what then?” Well, if you’ve chosen well, after you fail you will be one step closer to succeeding, you will be wiser and stronger and you almost certainly will be more respected by all of those that are afraid to try.


Content Shock: Why Content Marketing is Not a Sustainable Strategy – Mark Schaefer

This post demonstrates, in simple economic terms, why content marketing may not be a sustainable strategy for many businesses. Content shock = The emerging marketing epoch (important period of time) defined when exponentially increasingly volumes of content intersect our limited human capacity to consume it.

In other words, it’s about to become *really* expensive to get people to read and interact with your content. And that amount is likely to exceed the value of creating content, forcing marketers to adjust priorities.


The Role of PR in the Coming Content Marketing Collapse – Christopher Penn

In an excellent follow up to Mark’s piece (above), Chris asks: “What will be your strategy, if this content apocalypse is headed our way?” The most important strategic change to keep in mind is that earned media will become paramount in the Content Shock if you don’t already have a large, loyal audience. The battle for attention is entirely about the audiences you have access to.

Public relations professionals will need to understand and be able to tactically execute in the realm of paid media, because no content will succeed without a blend of earned, owned, and paid strategies working together.


How Successful People Make The Most of Their Weekends – Carolyn Cutrone

Over the course of our lives, we only get a few thousand weekends. The most successful people know better than to squander them by laying around or scrubbing the floors. Cutrone outlines how you can take control of your weekends by planning ahead, being selective with your time, and finally indulging what you love most. If you live to be 80, you’ll have 4,160 weekends in total, so don’t let any go to waste.


The Open Office Trap – Maria Konnikova

The employees suffered according to every measure: the new space was disruptive, stressful, and cumbersome, and, instead of feeling closer, coworkers felt distant, dissatisfied, and resentful. Productivity fell. They (open offices) were damaging to the workers’ attention spans, productivity, creative thinking, and satisfaction. An open environment may even have a negative impact on our health. Finally, noise has been repeatedly tied to reduced cognitive performance. Listening to music to block out the office intrusion doesn’t help: it impairs our mental acuity.


The Way to Happiness: Remember the 4 P’s – Eric Barker

Remember the 4P’s:

  • Purpose – The best lives have purpose. We really feel good when we make progress toward our ideals.
  • Perspective – Happiness is more about how you look at life than what actually happens.
  • People – Friends and family were nine times more important than money when it comes to being happy.
  • Play – You need to have plain old fun to really have a happy life.


Why 2014 is the Year You Change – James Altucher

You can’t ask the world to change… you have to change first. You’ll get scared, have arguments, feel guilt and probably cry. Change is very lonely.  At every stage of our lives, the people around us try to write our scripts. You have to rewrite your script. If you stay in the old script it’s like acting in a role that is not written for you. Evolution wants us to constantly change. Getting good at change (big, small, tiny – every day) means getting good at life. Do it without expectation. Wish for nothing. Care for everything. Happiness will be in between.


9 Timeless Business Virtues From a Self-Made Millionaire – Ryan Holiday

Graham’s brand of ambitious self-reliance was unforgiving. Today, our world — whether you’re an entrepreneur or teacher — is just as unforgiving. Do yourself a favor and check out his virtues on decisiveness, rules, education, humility, dedication and more.

Ryan’s one of the more thoughtful young people graciously sharing his insights all over the web. If you’re a reader (and you should be), I can’t recommend his reading list enough.


When You’re Feeling Self Doubt & a Lack of Motivation – Leo Babauta

  1. Stop Being So Self-Centered – Instead of worrying so much about myself, I thought about other people I might help. Thinking about others instead of myself helps solve self-doubt and self-pity.
  2. Loosen Your Identity – We all have this picture of ourselves, this idea of what kind of person we are. When this idea gets threatened, we can react very defensively.
  3. Remember This Day Counts – I only have so many days left on earth. I don’t know how many that is, but I do know it’s a very limited number. I know that each one of those limited days is a gift, a blessing, a miracle.
  4. Create Movement – It can be hard to get moving when you are stuck. Take the smallest possible step. Just opening up a document, just starting a list, just getting out a notebook.


10 Creative Rituals You Should Steal – Sean Blanda

Sustained creativity doesn’t come from a flash of brilliance or a single afternoon of inspiration. It comes from a consistent routine that serves as the bedrock for getting things done.

At 99U we’ve spoken with dozens of entrepreneurs, researchers, and creatives about their unique routines. Some of these include: taking quarterly vacations, napping every day, brainstorming at the bar and creating an “interesting people” fund. Click the link above to read the rest with explanations.


People Don’t Buy Products, They Buy Better Versions of Themselves – Belle Beth Cooper

A feature is what your product does; a benefit is what the customer can do with your product. Belle goes on to showcase some great examples of well-known companies who use benefits in their marketing strategy including: Evernote, Twitter, Nest, GitHub and more. The post is worth clicking on for the Mario graphic alone (i.e. are you listing the attributes of the flower or describing how awesome it is to throw fireballs?)


Why Designers Leave – Julie Zhuo

Every person who works in a creative field has an aspiration for her work, a yearning for that ideal plane which is the culmination of her taste. When an environment fails, over and over and over again, to provide her with a means to follow her internal compass, then she will leave. If you are in a position to influence that kind of environment, take heed. Lay the foundations for a space that nurtures, that yields the kind of work the best creative people can be proud of.


The Things You Will Always Regret If You Don’t Do Them – Charlotte Green

There is something about the courage of others that makes us extremely nervous. It calls into question every safe decision we’ve ever made, and forces us to ask what we’re really protecting when we do things in the most comfortable way possible. The biggest regrets we have — at least from my perspective — are the decisions we don’t make because we think we’re guaranteed something. And then we are confronted with the reality that none of this was ever guaranteed, and we only gave up on the thrill of our dreams because we were too afraid to see what else was possible.


[Long Reads]:

Why I Bought A House In Detroit For $500 –> http://ow.ly/sCpse  (via @drewphilp)

How an Applied Mathematician Re-Engineered His Profile & Hacked OkCupid to Find True Love –> http://ow.ly/sXtY6 



What if the NFL Logos Were Hipsters? –> http://ow.ly/sEIcG 

A Conference Call in Real Life –> http://ow.ly/sXAqU 



Two-year old skateboarding prodigy –> http://ow.ly/t6ENB 



“A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention.” – Herbert Simon

“Information isn’t what’s scarce; it’s the willingness to do something with it.” — @tylercowen

“‘Here’s what our product can do’ and ‘Here’s what you can do with our product’ sound similar, but they are completely different approaches.” — @JasonFried

“Most people don’t want advice, they wan’t validation.” — @AmberCadabra

“Complexity may be cool, but it’s hard to create, market and sell. The simplest solutions are the most successful.” — @NicoleFallon90


If you made it this far and found this post valuable in any way, please let me know in the comments which of these reads caught your attention. Better yet, why don’t you share something you’ve read recently that you think I’d find interesting.

If you like this post, you might also like: 45 of the Best Business and Marketing Posts of 2012.

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  • Cameron

    I saved most of these to Instapaper