FS | BRAIN FOOD
Here is your weekly FS Brain Food Newsletter — a timeless signal in a world full of noise.
“We’ll be in a better position if we can face possible threats with a calm mind, alert to our internal signals but not anticipating every possible bad thing that could happen. While being told to stop panicking never helped anyone, we benefit by understanding that being overwhelmed by fear will hurt us more. Our imaginary fears harm us more than reality ever does.”
— Rethinking Fear
- People are loving the excerpts from The Great Mental Models volumes One and Two that we’re posting on Instagram. (Click here to be notified when hardcovers are back in stock on Amazon.)
THE KIDS ARE IN CHARGE
Our pop-up school aimed at kids in grades 3-6 continues to host amazing guest lectures for kids. Adults love it too. We post all the lectures on the school’s YouTube channel. This week Scott Young taught us how to learn, Biz Stanford introduced us to UX, and Brad Stulberg offered some thoughts on writing. We are so fortunate to have such wonderful speakers and I’m happy we can share them with the world.
THE KNOWLEDGE PROJECT
Brian Koppelman, writer and director of the hit TV series Billions, talks about his career ups and downs, dealing with fear, and learning to live a meaningful life.
“All of us … are afraid of exposing that part of ourselves that we hold most dear for fear that it will be rejected. But the artist has a duty to risk that. And it’s a duty to risk it so that you’re able to be better.”
— Listen to What Really Matters on Apple, Spotify, YouTube, or FS.
“In the theater, what it means to give a powerful performance is to accept and own the truth of what it means to be a human being: to be strong and weak, accomplished and fallible, powerful and powerless, all at once. This, actually, is the challenge that professional actors face every time they get in character. To play any part authentically, an actor must accept the character without judgment. And this is true for the rest of us as well. By accepting that each of us is all of these things, by learning to value all of these truths and show all of these sides of ourselves when appropriate, and by handling our mistakes with grace and equanimity, we become more resilient, less ruled by shame and self-loathing, and, ultimately, more powerful. Ironically, this is where authenticity comes from: not trying to be more yourself, but learning to accept more of yourself.”
— Deborah Gruenfeld in Acting With Power
“[M]y worry is that … you won’t put enough really excellent stuff into your brain. I’m talking about what you might call the “theory of maximum taste.” This theory is based on the idea that exposure to genius has the power to expand your consciousness. If you spend a lot of time with genius, your mind will end up bigger and broader than if you spend your time only with run-of-the-mill stuff. The theory of maximum taste says that each person’s mind is defined by its upper limit—the best that it habitually consumes and is capable of consuming. … In college, you get assigned hard things. You’re taught to look at paintings and think about science in challenging ways. After college, most of us resolve to keep doing this kind of thing, but we’re busy and our brains are tired at the end of the day. Months and years go by. We get caught up in stuff, settle for consuming Twitter and, frankly, journalism. Our maximum taste shrinks. Have you ever noticed that 70 percent of the people you know are more boring at 30 than they were at 20?.”
— A Commencement Address Too Honest to Deliver in Person
“But what I’ve seen to set apart great teams from good is a brutal focus on prioritization. This means generating an absurd amount of ideas and throwing 99% of them out of the window, to focus on the 1% that have the highest impact.”
— Erik Bernhardsson (Complement with Steve Jobs)
“One great portfolio manager I know told the story of being driven somewhere by an analyst on a rainy night when a truck swerved and almost ran them off the road. “Why is stuff like this always happening to me?” the analyst instinctively responded. But to the portfolio manager, that response reflected a terrible mindset, whether on the road or in the market: a sense that the world is acting on you as opposed to your acting on the world. It is a mindset that is hard to change. But from what I’ve seen, great investors don’t have it. Instead, they’ve come to understand which factors in the market they can control and which factors they cannot.”
— Graham Duncan (Complement with It’s All Your Fault)
WHAT I’M THINKING ABOUT
Asking myself “is this helping me get what I want” is becoming one of my favorite questions.
It works on kids too. Mine are 11 and soon to be 10. Whenever they start fighting, I ask them, “Is this helping you get what you want?” and it gives them the power to remember what they are really trying to accomplish. “You can argue with your brother about whether it’s a chair or a stool, or you can get what you want.”
Don’t lose sight on what you want to achieve. Every action is a step toward or away from you what you want.