The Weeds and Trees Links Edition

Do you have poor information consumption habits?

Here's how you can tell — if you're constantly looking for the next thing or shiny object, you're addicted to the fast growth and short term life of weeds. Some of them are pretty. All the action is up top, yet they don't grow strong. Small roots.

On the other end of the spectrum are trees.

All the action is underground, so you don't really see it while it's happening — and at least for a while. Yet, once they grow, trees could be there for decades, stretching upward and providing a welcome respite for generations.

Weeds and trees

Is a metaphor for ideas I borrowed from my friend Peter.

This special edition of links is all about theory — it's not the size of the library that counts it's the way it's organized. We're all way too docile to the "do" culture, until what you thought about doesn't work.

Then we revert to theory. As Peter Tunjic said:

We’ve spent the last 100 years bemoaning theory as somehow esoteric -– real “men” are practical. It’s hard to tell someone that in fact that practical knowledge becomes  impractical without theory.

Theory is just another word for learning –- without it knowledge is impractical no matter what it says on the label.

I agree.

Which is why a pitch I received from a West Coast agency late last night became a one hour conversation about life, people, and meaning with a young brand manager.

Get the theory right, learn from experience, and you get the execution right.

Saturday three

The three stories that caught my eye this week are:


1A frank conversation between Dan Ariely and Malcolm Gladwell on social science. Journalist Resource reports:

What do people do with the things they read in books such as this? And my working assumption is that what they do is they talk about it. The reason people read a book like, books like ours — as opposed to novels — is that books like ours are fodder for continued thought and conversation.

[…] People are information-rich and theory-poor. If you can give them a way of organizing their experience, then their minds are wide open. Which I would not have not have necessarily thought. And if you can frame questions appropriately you can overcome all kinds of ideological — what you would have thought of — as ideological constraints.

Giving people a way of organizing their experience or a framework to think about what they do is central.


2Technology makes it too easy to keep clicking through for hours at a time. Happiness takes a little magic, writes Brian Lam, it's the most important metric in personal tech:

The first thing I did was to take back my time. I quit all the online content that was id-provoking and knee jerk. I stopped reading the stupid hyped up news stories that are press releases or rants about things that will get fixed in a week. I stopped reading the junk and about the junk that was new, but not good. I stopped reading blogs that write stories like "top 17 photos of awesome clouds by iPhone" and "EXCLUSIVE ANGRY BIRDS COMING TO FACEBOOK ON VALENTINES DAY." And corporate news that only affects the 1%. Most days, I feel like most internet writers and editors are engaging in the kind of vapid conversation you find at parties that is neither enlightening or entertaining, and where everyone is shouting and no one is saying anything. I don't have time for this.

Do you? As Lam says, Get on, make the most meaningful information and connections, and then get offline. Then, live purposefully towards happiness.


3Gina Trapani tackles the flip side of having a big audience:

Having a big audience means you're a commodity, and you get to constantly field pitches from strangers, acquaintances, former co-workers, and distant family members who you never hear from otherwise asking you to mention their new app, book, Kickstarter project, or MySpace page. People decide how important you are by your Klout score and treat you accordingly. Ad agencies look up how much your tweets are worth and recruit you to tweet on behalf of their clients for money. It's a bizarre and sometimes awkward crash course in saying "sorry, no" to the requests that just don't feel right (and most of them don't).

Trapani works with a freelancer mindset. Do you think about those professionals who are actual freelancers and consultants when you work on your programs?


Weedy ideas are in fashion. They grow so fast, compete with solid ideas, to then die in the sun and be replaced by the next weed of an idea.

Trees are another conversation altogether. There, all the action is underground, until they are no match for the weeds.

Is your program, book, talk, practice full of weeds or are you cultivating trees?


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