21 of My Favorite Blog Posts and News Articles from May 2014

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.

This is my effort to provide a little signal by curating some of the best/most interesting posts (of the 100’s I read) during the month of May 2014. Please use the comments section to recommend and share other posts you found useful and/or your best post from May.

The commentary below link is mostly the author’s own words that I’ve extracted as a key takeaway; however, sometimes I add my own commentary and make connections as well.

[Blog Posts/News Articles]:

The Science of Improving Your Performance at Almost Anything – Shane Parrish

“Improving our performance is something we all seek to do. Given that we spend a lot of time doing things that we never get better at, I thought I’d share my ‘developing world class performance’ file with you.”

Shane’s Farnum Street is a must read and probably my favorite blog to check out these days. Here are some other fantastic posts he’s written and shared this month:

But seriously, go subscribe to Farnum Street and you’ll go to bed each night smarter than when you woke up.

Rate-of-Learning: The Most Valuable Startup Compensation – Kyle Tibbitts

“Your rate-of-learning is a better proxy for how successful you will be than your current salary or stock compensation because it’s a leading rather than lagging indicator. Abandoning the cubicle at your normal job to throw yourself head-first into a startup is a fiery accelerant for growth, changing your career trajectory by orders of magnitude through a substantially increased rate-of-learning.”

Kyle’s article perfectly illustrates why I left the first job I ever loved to take a leap at a startup.

Also, Kyle wrote this article in April, but I didn’t stumble across it until this month so apologies to my anal retentive readers.

Live Like a Hydra: Thoughts on Getting Stronger When Things are Chaotic – Buster Benson

Antifragility + the Chaos Monkey + Switching between the seven heads of the hydra = Maximizing the life you have. (Just read it!)

  1. Think on the scale of months and years and decades (not hours, days, weeks).
  2. Think in terms of quality time with the people you love, passionate projects that you can pour your soul into, and your core beliefs (not day-to-day grievances, individual tasks, or short-lived challenges).”

7 Things You Need to Stop Doing to be More Productive, Backed by Science – CamMi Pham

“Sometimes, working less can actually produce better results. Time is a limited commodity. There’s a notable distinction between being busy and being productive. Being busy doesn’t necessarily mean you’re being productive. Being productive is less about time management and more on managing your energy. It is the business of life. We need to learn how to spend the least amount of energy to get the most benefits.”

Speaking of: The “average American” is actually working ‘one month’ more a a year than they were in 1976.

The Ultimate Guide for Becoming an Idea Machine – James Altucher

“Every day I come up with ideas. I haven’t had a business since 2009. And it failed, as mentioned above. Since then I’ve made more money than I know what to do with because I  come up with ideas for people, for companies, for me, for people who  have no idea who I am, for random anonymous things.

I then get  invited to share my ideas. Sometimes I get paid for them. Sometimes I  give them for free. Sometimes I get more introductions to people and  sometimes I get a chance to advise companies that do well and make me  money. And sometimes I write books.”

It Pays to Be Overconfident, Even When You Have No Idea What You’re Doing – Matthew Hutson

“Even when we’re unmasked as less skilled than our self-assured manner would suggest, there are ancillary social benefits to overconfidence. Overconfidence increases one’s status. It turns out, we tend to (over)use confidence as a useful proxy for competence — if you speak firmly, it sounds like you know what you’re talking about.

People who showed more confidence, regardless of their actual ability, were judged to be more capable and accorded more regard by their peers. (See: pundits & politicians). It’s easy to deride overconfidence as a big societal problem (which it is), but we shouldn’t overlook the reason it’s so prevalent: It yields real benefits for the people who exhibit it.”

Speaking of confidence… the New Yorker’s James Surowiecki says that confidence, and not risk-taking is the fundamental characteristic that defines entrepreneurs.

A Guide for Young People: What to do with Your Life – Leo Babauta

“The idea behind all of this is that you can’t know what you’re going to do with your life right now, because you don’t know who you’re going to be, what you’ll be able to do, what you’ll be passionate about, who you’ll meet, what opportunities will come up, or what the world will be like. But you do know this: if you are prepared, you can do anything you want.

Prepare yourself by learning about your mind, becoming trustworthy, building things, overcoming procrastination, getting good at discomfort and uncertainty.”

Ford’s Social Media Star, Scott Monty, Talks About Leaving—and Not Looking Back – Christopher Heine 

“It saddens me how social has been co-opted by marketing to become just another mass advertising/marketing channel. I think the promise of social is about relationship development, and I have always said that. While advertising can get you the attention by interrupting people, it’s more important to build relationships with customers and other people you want to reach. And I think communications and marketing and customer service have to band together around social.”

When Scott Monty first brought Social to Ford 6 years ago he changed the game. I still remember how excited I got with Scott first commented on this blog 5 years ago.Thank you, Scott! For all you’ve done to advance our field and always remembering that social is about the relationships we build.


[Long Reads]:

The Rise of Sadvertising: Why Brands are Determined to Make You Cry – Rae Ann Fera 

Have you been brought to tears by an ad, or five, over the last while? It’s not hormones/your meds/the lunar cycle/the polar vortex. In the above article, Fast Company looks at the most weepy ads of the last few years and talk to ad players about why brands have gotten so damn emotional.

Things You Cannot Unsee and What that Says About Your Brain – Alexis Madrigal

The line between perception and cognition is fuzzy. It is not that the real world doesn’t exist, but more that we experience it as a hybrid reality: our top-down categories and imagination of the world and our bottom-up sensory experience of the world blend seamlessly into the experience of walking outside into the sunshine or seeing a bird on a wire or eating an oyster or seeing Jesus in a tortilla.



The 21 Greatest Graduation Speeches of the Last 50 Years – German Lopez

Graduation speeches are the last opportunity for a high school or college to educate its students. It’s unsurprising, then, that these institutions often pull in some of the world’s most powerful people to leave an equally powerful impression on their students. Here are the best of those speeches and some of the sections that resonate the most.

I haven’t watched all of these, but Steve Jobs’ and Neil Gaiman’s speeches are two of my favorites.

Is it Better to Rent or Buy? (Calculator) – Mike Bostock, Shan Carter and Archie Tse 

[AMAZING RESOURCE]: The choice between buying a home and renting one is among the biggest financial decisions that many adults make. But the costs of buying are more varied and complicated than for renting, making it hard to tell which is a better deal. To help you answer this question, our calculator takes the most important costs associated with buying a house and computes the equivalent monthly rent.

And here’s an interesting read on why a mortgage is (typically) a terrible investment.

Two of the smartest people I know, Ramit Sethi and James Altucher, echo these sentiments:

I’m not saying don’t ever buy a home. (I’m probably will in the next calendar year). I’m just encouraging you to know what you’re getting into rather than trying to live the American dream by buying more house than you need without understanding the implications. Also, when you share it on Facebook… You’re a mortgage owner. You don’t own your home yet. The bank does. Probably for 30 years or so.



Since it’s that time of year and I’ve already shared Naval Admiral William H. McRaven and Vox’s list, I also really enjoyed Charlie Day’s (television producer and screenwriter best known for playing Charlie Kelly on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) commencement speech at Merrimack College.


[Thoughts I’m Chewing On]:

  • Consuming *much* less to open up more time for production, connection and reflection
  • The importance of getting enough (more) sleep


Getting enough sleep is key to living a happy, healthy life. Yet it’s the first thing we sacrifice to get our jobs done. (via )

In fact, NASA found pilots who take a 25 min nap are 35% more alert & 2x as focused. And Oxford University Professor and sleep expert says this about the cult of sleep deprivation: “We are the supremely arrogant species; we feel we can abandon four billion years of evolution and ignore the fact that we have evolved under a light-dark cycle.”



True will is quiet humility, resilience, and flexibility; the other kind of will is weakness disguised by bluster and ambition.” – 

People respect perfection, but they fall in love with imperfection.” –

“Most people who have privilege let it go to waste, and there’s nothing honorable or compassionate about that.” – 


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 previous installments:


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  • SLEEP! So important. When i don’t sleep enough or well enough I’m a depressed mess. I actually just wrote about this today


    Ryan Stephens Reply:

    It’s really been a revelation for me. I always used to pride myself on “only needing 4-5 hours of sleep,” which (in retrospect) was ridiculous, no matter how many times Gary Vaynerchuk tells us to “hustle.”

    The research is overwhelming.

    There’s even doctor’s who get paid to prescribe professional athletes sleep over additional practice sessions.

    I enjoyed your post and the visuals you scribbled as well. I know that I definitely feel better when I’m well rested, eating well and exercising frequently (which consequently helps with sleeping).

    For me, socializing just depends. For me, sometimes it can be draining rather than restorative. In addition, my stress levels greatly impact my mood and performance levels as well.

    In short, I think there’s definitely some over-arching things we can all do (sleep more, eat better, exercise frequently). Beyond that, it’s our individual responsibility to determine how we spend our time and to ensure that we do things that are restorative and help us perform to our full potential.


    Cameron Plommer Reply:

    Socializing is tricky for me to. As a natural introvert I have to get this balanced just right otherwise I’m drained or disconnected.